Now that there are 10 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s time to do what we all do and put ’em in a list. Of the ten films, five are great and five are suspect at best. These are the growing pains of building a world, though, and the highs have certainly made up for the lows. Let us know what you think.
10. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
One can understand the need for this being the introduction to Captain America in the grander Marvel scheme but it just fails to entertain in the slightest. The silly-looking CGI with Chris Evans’s head on the smaller body is just creepy. Even though most people can get behind fighting Nazis, this one is difficult to root for. Like this cinematic dog food, Nazis plus Skulls is not a great combo.
Favorite moment: After credits sequence teasing “The Avengers”.
9. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Ed Norton’s performance is all that keeps this from being at the bottom. No offense to Mark Ruffalo but replacing Norton was a mistake. At the very least, it’s hasty. Blaming him for the awfulness of the script and direction is like blaming Ben Affleck for “Daredevil”. There’s just no polishing a turd.
Favorite moment: Any scene where Norton was just Bruce Banner are the best parts but no one scene really sticks out. Obviously, there is no film without the Hulk itself but it just goes to show that the character probably shouldn’t have its own feature.
8. Iron Man 2 (2010)
If you liked the first “Iron Man”, how would you feel about an almost identical plot with a few new actors as a sequel? Not liking that idea? Tough. That’s exactly what you got. Not really much to celebrate in this one. Mickey Rourke should have just stayed on the set of “The Expendables”. Yep, “The Expendables” is more enjoyable than this.
Favorite moment: Black Widow reveals herself and beats up some security dudes.
7. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
What made the first “Thor” so good was the lack of high tech gadgetry and macguffin. Enter, spaceships?!? Huh? Maybe it was the departure of Kenneth Branagh from the director’s chair that forced some kind of “Transformers/Star Wars/Thor” mash-up. No matter the cause, the results were bleh. This was Michael Bay’s idea of a great comic book movie.
Favorite moment: The only redeeming parts of the film are Loki in his cell. Following his mother’s death, Thor visits Loki and sees through his glamour to reveal a very depressed and disheveled god of mischief. That’s the kind of movie this is, when the highest point is really a downer.
6. Iron Man 3 (2013)
This is here almost by default, as the other movies were just plain bad. Based on the incredible “Iron Man: Extremis” series, writer/director Shane Black did his very best to make this a really expensive version of “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”. “Iron Man 3” isn’t even as good as that. Very little made sense as to Tony Stark’s motivations, most notably why he felt the need to destroy all of his suits in the most expensive fireworks show ever. The seeming lack of sense and vision did, however, lead to some entertaining moments. All could have been saved with the death of Pepper Potts, but no.
Favorite moment: The Mandarin is just an actor. Most fans hated it but it was the most clever part of the movie.
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Almost a mini-“Avengers” with Black Widow and Nick Fury taking larger roles alongside Cap. This proved to be really smart because Captain America just isn’t a terribly interesting person (not to mention the stone-faced acting of Chris Evans). Introducing Falcon and possibly (spoiler?) the next Captain America with the return of Bucky, the story is excellent, and the aftermath sends ripples through out the entire Marvel Universe.
Favorite moment: Black Widow infiltrates the HYDRA-controlled Triskelion with a facial cloaking device that starts a back-and-forth can-you-top-this tech poker game.
4. Thor (2011)
“Thor” marks the point where it was absolutely clear that there was a world being built for all of these movies through the recurrence of Agent Coulson with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the introduction of Hawkeye. Loki is still the most captivating villain in the MCU, as he proved in “The Avengers”. The film is just beautiful and boasted the most accomplished cast of any Marvel movie at the time.
Favorite moment: The final fight between Thor and Loki resulting in the crumbling of the Bifröst bridge. Loki chooses death over life under his brother’s rule. Of course, he had a different plan all along…
3. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
The funniest, most heartfelt, most weird installment in the MCU is shocking in just how great it is. Who would have guessed that a crying Raccoon-like creature crying about the “death” of a tree could be so touching? The cast and crew were unconventional gambles that paid off huge. The most Marvel-y movie so far.
Favorite moment: Star-Lord attempting to dance-off with Ronan the Accuser just long enough…
2. Iron Man (2008)
The one that started it all. “Iron Man” was the mission statement of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its entire existence hung in the balance of the reception of “Iron Man”. Stating their intentions of taking the task seriously was the casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, one of the truly perfect casting choices in Tinseltown history. Despite maybe a lackluster final fight, the blueprint was still a solid building block and great film.
Favorite moment: Iron Man going back to fight the terrorists that held him captive.
1. The Avengers (2012)
The granddaddy of them all, the crown jewel of superhero movies, “The Avengers”. This flick made adults feel like children again, recapturing an awe in the theater that they hadn’t felt in years. Joss Whedon was the perfect man to assemble Earth’s mightiest heroes on-screen. His ability to balance such a powerhouse ensemble and craft emotionally charged moments amid soaring action was a godsend.
Favorite moment: Besides all of it, especially the Tony Stark/Loki banter scene and the Hulk slamfest at the end.