Well, the MCU movies produced by Marvel Studios. Otherwise it’d be gigantic. Though it might be fun to do a follow-up of the non-MS movies at some point. I did watch the hell out of my VHS of the 1990 Captain America movie with the Italian Red Skull. Because…. well, there wasn’t much choice. But anyway, here is my own personal ranking of the MCU movies. I’m not counting the co-production with Universal, The Incredible Hulk. I guess it kind of sort of counts. But Avengers feels like they rebooted the character. Let me just say, before we begin, that I love all these movies, really. There hasn’t been one that I’ve hated. And even the ones at the bottom of the list are great movies in my book. Just less great than some of the others.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy – Oh man, the battle for the top spot is a difficult one. I’m no Johnny-Come-Lately when it comes to GOTG. I actually became a Star-Lord fan thanks to a little-read (at the time) 3-part mini-series written by Timothy Zahn and painted by Dan Lawlis. Around that time, Marvel was trying to launch more of a sci-fi imprint, and Star-Lord was one of the titles. So when he came back in Annihilation and Guardians of the Galaxy (much improved in characterization) I was there. The fact that they made a movie of GOTG… and that it was so. damned. good. still amazes me.
2. Iron Man – The reason it’s so hard to choose #1 here is that GOTG and the first Iron Man movie are really neck and neck for me. Guardians has the advantage of just being a bit bigger in scope, being one of the most recent movies with a bigger budget. But my two favorite comics as a kid were Iron Man and Fantastic Four. So it made me giddy when RDJ was cast. But I had no clue how perfect he’d be. The rest is history. I still love how much practical effects work is in the movie. It’s something I did miss in Avengers: AOU.
3. Captain America: Winter Soldier – Brubaker’s run on Captain America is one of my absolutely favorites, and this movie leans on it pretty heavily. It feels fresh and different to what’s come before, and probably has the best characterization of Cap yet. Plus, Mackie as Falcon nearly steals the show. I can’t wait to see more Falcon!
4. Avengers – There’s no denying the thrill of this movie. Just seeing all these heroes on the screen together… and with their character interactions written so wonderfully… seeing AOU makes me realize how special this first movie is. And, what an accomplishment it is that it works so well. It also benefits from a healthy dose of Loki.
5. Iron Man 3 – I’m an empathetic fellow. I like to try to understand other people’s point of view. But I really don’t understand people who don’t like Iron Man 3. Yes, Iron Man (the suit) isn’t in it a lot. But Iron Man (the man… Tony Stark) is. And that’s the whole point of the movie. Maybe the humor is just up my alley. But I think it’s got humor, style and action to spare. If it’s the last solo IM film we get (at least with RDJ… and it’s weird of thinking of doing it without him) then it goes out with a bang.
6. Captain America: The First Avenger – I love that they made the first movie a period piece. It works so well in so many ways. They could have just had his time in WWII be the opening sequence, but getting to spend quite a bit of time with him pre-Cap, getting to know Hayley Atwell’s Agent Carter, and his relationship with Bucky not only sets up future Marvel entertainment better but also makes his sacrifice mean that much more. Possibly still my favorite costume for Cap, and the production design is spectacular.
7. Thor – It’s almost hard to remember how tricky Thor was to pull off. Or, at least, how tricky it seemed it’d be. So far all the other characters had been pretty grounded. Now, we were really starting to get into the more fantastic part of the MCU. This movie does an amazing job of it. I loved how gorgeous Asgard looked. The supporting cast is fun. Hemsworth is both hunky and funny and—of course—we are introduced to the best villain Marvel has produced yet, Loki.
8. Avengers: Age of Ultron – I enjoyed AOU a lot. And, in fact, I enjoyed it more the second time. It is a bit messy in structure. The humor doesn’t land as well as the first Avengers. But, it does juggle a large cast of characters well, and I thought James Spader was great as Ultron. I have heard some people say he lacked menace, but I didn’t get that. I am intrigued to see what the rumored extended edition will feel like. I was happy that Hawkeye finally felt like the comic character (though that ONE revelation struck me as a bit of an odd note) and the ending made this old-school Avengers fan happy. Because it’s just so Avengers.
9. Thor: The Dark World – There’s a lot to love about this movie, most of which is carried over from the first. Still top notch casting. I think the major issue is the “magic thing someone is trying to claim” story is already running thin and is combined with a pretty forgettable villain who looks cool but doesn’t make much of an impression. Especially coming after Loki. Also, Jane just seems less interesting this time out. I wish she had more to do. Oh, and my dearest wish for Ragnarok is that Heimdall gets more screen time.
10. Iron Man 2 – Some people say the villains in this are weak, but I like both Whiplash and Justin Hammer. I’m just not sure they get enough to do. I think one or the other would have been plenty for a movie and would have strengthened the movie. The intro to Black Widow feels weird, too. She has some great scenes, but the character just feels a bit odd overall. That being said, this has some of my favorite Iron Man action set pieces. And getting War Machine on the screen is a great moment. Seeing him and Iron Man in action together is a treat. It’s a shame the final battle falls a little flat.