Oops, I kind of forgot I was intending to post this, then it just sunk to the bottom of my drafts until I was just going through them today. I guess I should put a cap on this and rank all the movies I’d spent a year reaching and agonising about writing about.
Just to note, I haven’t included Spider-Man: Far from home in this list. In part because it still feels too recent, but also because I made the incredibly arbitrary decision to talk about the movie up to the end of Endgame, because that felt like such a natural end point to the story being told with the first Iron Man.
The three movies I feel are on the bottom of practically every-bodies list who writes one of these. While Tom Hiddleston is amazing in Thor two, had he not being there, the movie would have been nigh unwatchable for me. Dour, joyless and shakespearian in all of the worst ways. Like I mentioned in my review of it, the character of Thor is moping throughout most of the movie, his development stalled after it closed in his first movie. None of the comic relief worked for me and it has the most hollow of any of the MCU villains.
Hulk is barely an MCU movie, with all references to Shield and Stark Industries super obviously added in post production. The movie itself is fine, but ultimately moved away from. To great effect considering how amazing Ruffalo ends up being in the role later on.
And Iron Man 2 is just a sequel. Don Chedle is a great recast as Rhodey in my opinion, and Sam Rockwell is real fun as an anti-tony stark. But ultimately the movie is just more of the same, with less charm.
Maybe this chunk of the list is a little more controversial. I’ve made my feelings known about Captain Marvel this point, it’s an uncharacteristic late game mis-step from Marvel this late the bracket. In the end though, they chose to focus on the wrong aspects of Carol’s story and it ends up being to the detriment of both the movie and her own character going forward. She’s just inherently uninteresting.
Thor might be the placement that comes as the biggest surprise to people, but in the end I feel like it’s the movie that’s aged the worst from the first bunch, based on how I felt about it at the time it came out at least anyway. Thor’s story is open and closed in the span of a single movie, and in the retrospect of seeing what they’ve done with him in Ragnarok and Endgame since, makes it even more dated.
Iron Man 3 on the other hand has always been an underrated movie in my eyes. The vast majority of the movie focuses on Tony Stark without his armour, and showing us that he doesn’t necessarily need the suits to be a hero. Plus the dynamic between him and proto-peter parker is top tier. It’s not a movie without problems, which is why it’s still this low on the list, but I feel like it gets way more flack than it deserves.
And thus we move out of the “movies that were alright” segment into the good movie segment. One I feel like people might be ridiculing me for after this goes live. But, I don’t get how people can think the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie is better than the first one? It’s just doing what the first one did again, but not as good. Drax just becomes a quotable line machine and is hardly a character, and Baby Groot still just feels like a marketing ploy to me.
Yondu, follow closely by Nebula are the best parts of this movie by far. Otherwise it just feels like a sequel for the sake of a sequel, much in the same way Iron Man 2 was.
As much as I liked Ant-Man and the Wasp more upon visiting it, it still doesn’t do enough to elevate it beyond some of the greater movies in the franchise. I liked it well enough, but I also don’t feel super strongly about it in any way.
Age of Ultron is a movie that’s only gotten better the further we’ve gotten away from it. To be exact, seeing Ultron after Infinity War and Endgame happened makes the much much better in hindsight. People get hung up on what a disappointing villain Ultron ended up being in the movie, but they forget about all of the other amazing stuff that happens throughout. The Hulkbuster fight, the introduction of Scarlett Witch and Vision. Hawkeye is under-appreciated as hell.
Ultron acts as the first real stepping stone on the road to Endgame.
Here’s the point where I feel less need to justify my placement of these movies on the list. I feel like many people might question why Black Panther isn’t higher, but I’ll be honest, as important as the movie was, it just wasn’t for me in many ways. The main character gets overshadowed by the rest of the cast and ends up feeling a little weak in comparison to the villain and his drives and ideals. This is just personal opinion though, I still think it’s a great movie.
Throwback corner. I love the first Captain America. It really does establish all the things I love the most about Chris Evans’s Steve Rogers. Plus, it’s the first period piece in the franchise. I hold a great fondness for all the Cap movies, as the list from here onward will prove. The first Avengers certainly feels dated now, especially in comparison to Infinity War and Endgame, but it’s still one of the great comic book fan movie events of all time.
And the first Iron Man, what is there to say. Looking at it now, it feels very different to the movies as they exist now. The weird, talking over one another dialogue, the bigger focus on music and pop culture. The fact that it feels more like a “normal movie” in comparison to the established MCU style that followed. It might be the first, but it’s still one of the best.
We’re at top seven and looking at these three, they’re all amazing movies. Fantastic genre pieces, with great comedy, character drama and villains. All three of them reinvented their main characters to some extent; Thor from his stagnation that begin at the end of his first movie, Spider-Man from the barely competent clutches of Sony and Cap having to really adjust to a modern day setting.
For about four months, Winter Solider was my favourite Marvel movie. Purely because it showed they could take themselves a little more seriously while also rolling with the inherent silliness that comes with having a comic book as your source material.
Civil War: the unofficial Avengers movie. Once again showing that the Cap movies were amongst the best of the entire franchise. A lot of the lists I’ve read online agree that Winter Solider is a better movie than Civil War, but I just can’t agree. The introduction of Spider-Man, the delving into the characters of both Tony Stark and Steve Rogers and what makes them tick.
The fact that the villain achieves exactly what he sets out to do. And that Airport fight scene, oh man. My only regret is that the amazing twist/fake-out leading to the final confrontation between Cap and Iron Man was spoiled in all of the trailers.
And then Infinity War is the greatest Avengers movie that isn’t Endgame. An amazing coming together of all these characters, all buzzing around Thanos as the primary characters. For it’s scale, it’s ambition and heartbreak, Infinity War is an amazing movie for the people who have been deeply invested and seen everything leading up to.
I adore the first Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s something about that movie’s tone, its sense of humour, its setting and its soundtrack that hit me in all the perfect places. Going back to it as a part of this series made me realise just how much I loved that movie, and how let down I way by its sequel. I thought about putting it at the top of my list, but in the end, nothing beats out Endgame.
Let’s be real, for the people who care, how can anyone argue anything but Endgame topping this list. The sheer scale of it all, all of those storylines coming together and coming to a conclusion over the course of a decade. It’s hard to compare. Even as a stand-alone movie it’s an incredibly fun romp through time and space, all pulled together at the end by a ridiculously huge action sequence.
If you desperately wanted to know where I’d have put Spider-Man: Far from home, then it’d probably be #13, between Ant-Man and Doctor Strange. It didn’t do as much for me as the first one did, but I haven’t rewatched it, so that feeling might change.
Anyway, its time for me to put an end to this long-ass series. I had originally intended to write a series of post-movie blog talking about different aspects of the series, like if Cap was always worthy and the evolution of Iron Man’s armour. But in the end, I wanted to take a break from the MCU and just focus on the new movies that might eventually come out. Black Widow might come out some day.
It’s been nice going back to the MCU, but I realise that in the time I’ve been watching these movies, I’ve hardly watched a movie that wasn’t a part of this series. So I need to go back and catch up I think. But then again, I feel like the Clone Wars is going to be the all-consuming series that follows this one. At least I’m getting through that at a quicker pace.
Thanks for reading anyway, I hope the MCU isn’t past its peak. But with the number of Disney+ series announced it’s difficult to predict what the hell is next for the series, and if it’s going to cool down or just get impossibly larger. Only time will tell.