Ranking the MCU
With the Loki TV series premiering this week, I thought I’d share my personal ranking of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies and TV shows. However, before I reveal the list, I need to qualify a few things.
First of all, what do I mean by the MCU movies and TV shows? Well the movies are fairly obvious, it is any Marvel movie in the same universe as 2008’s Iron Man. That includes the two Tom Holland Spiderman movies as they are basically made by Marvel studios even if they are released under the Sony banner.
TV gets a bit more difficult. There have been a whole of TV spin-offs from the MCU but I’m only including the two Disney+ series made by MCU studios released so far – WandaVision and Falcon and Winter Soldier – and Agent Carter. While it wasn’t made by MCU studios it was written by the writers of the Captain America and last two Avengers movies and includes the only TV character so far who crossed over to the movies.
In general, the vast majority of the MCU is much of a muchness. They are solid seven out of ten movies but very little depth – beyond a few. Honestly, the difference between many of these entries really isn’t much.
With all that said, let’s get started:
26. The Incredible Hulk
Very forgottable which the MCU in general has done.
25. Thor: The Dark World
The MCU’s attempt at a PG Game of Thrones and it is as bad as that suggests. Also the first isn’t-mental-illness-funny characters in the series.
24. Iron Man 2
Trying to do too much at once. The difficult second album after Iron Man one and before the MCU truly found its formula.
23. Falcon and the Winter Soldier
The Iron Man 2 of the Disney+ shows. A mess of a story which ends up confused and shallow as a result.
22. Thor: Ragnarok
I think this one will get me the most blow back. The tone just didn’t work for me. Too much bathos and silly gags for a story where the main character’s family and friends die and his world is literally destroyed. Best way to sum it up, is imagine the Snap in Infinity War played for laughs.
21. Avengers: Age of Ultron
The dullest Avengers movie. Lacks the sparkle of the first with more confused storytelling and an ending which should have been used to set up Civil War. The worst part is the trope bait and switching towards the end of the movie.
20. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Neither Guardians film really worked for me. I understand what Gunn was trying to go for and he probably succeeds but it didn’t work for me. Doesn’t help I find the portrayal of Mantis as problematic.
19. Captain America: Civil War
This one didn’t really work for me. From the oddly artificial conflict to total lack of consequences the whole thing felt like a plot point more than a story
A fun heist movie but you can feel the growing pains the film underwent to get to the big screen. Never quite sensibly explains why Scott Lang is needed when Hope Pym is right there!
17. Spider-man: Far From Home
Again fun movie which over comes its over stuffed plot. The heart of this movie is Peter Parker finding his place in a post Tony Stark world. Shame they played the consequences of the Snap for laughs.
16. Ant-man and the Wasp
A fun little heist movie and an improvement on the original. Hardly ground breaking but fun. The very definition of a seven out of ten movie.
15. Guardians of the Galaxy
A fun Sci-fi romp which gets over its causal sexism and the standard Chris Platt performance.
14. Spider-man: Homecoming
Another fun film with a truly school aged Peter Parker. Michael Keaton is also great, shame they didn’t turn the lights on for the final fight!
13. Avengers: Endgame
A film of some truly amazing sequences but no need to be three hours and more than a few problematic issues – let’s all laugh at Thor’s PTSD. Only here cos of Portals and Captain Marvel’s second arrival.
12. Iron Man
The film which started it all off. A fun film although the final figure is just robots hitting each other.
A Shakespearean feel to his MCU entry. I think it is a little under loved these days.
10. Doctor Strange
Yes it is Iron Man with magic but it has one of the interesting ending of the MCU and the visuals are stunning even if Nolan folded cities first.
9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
In many ways this film defines the MCU more any other. It helps it is a good film while the twist was surprising at the time even if it removes the moral challenge Captain America was facing up to that point.
8. Captain Marvel
The MCU’s first female lead and an interesting attempt at changing up the origin story format. Brie Larson is great, has brilliant chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson and pulls off another great twist in the MCU
7. Agent Carter
The first season is better than the second but overall it is one of the best entries in the MCU. A nice mix of future-retroism, 1940s spy drama seen through the eyes of one of the best supporting cast the MCU has.
Great fun, full of fantastic performances and some great dialogue even if the rest of script doesn’t quite work if you think about it too much.
The first Disney+ series and the first real gamble of the MCU. A fascinating show of sitcom tropes which when it works, it works. The ending is very Marvel but well worth a watch.
4. Iron Man 3
The most interesting of the Iron Man movies as it deals with Stark’s PTSD without making a joke out of it. It was a perfect ending to the character which Age of Ultron sadly ignored. Oh and I loved the villain twist.
3. Avengers: Infinity War
I still can’t quite believe this film worked as it really shouldn’t have. Great fun with a stunning ending.
2. Black Panther
Probably the best Marvel movie and a fantastic portrayal of an alternative Africa. You can tell this film was trying to say something as well as being an entertaining movie.
1. Captain America: The First Avenger
It is my favourite MCU movie despite all the issues with it. Has the best supporting cast and it is a shame we had to say goodbye to them so quickly. It is silly when it wants to be and serious when it has to be. Plus most of the jokes land.