The Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU, has been going on for nearly 10 years. With Avengers: Infinity War coming out soon, we have decided to take a look at the previous movies and rank each one from our favorite to worst. This is clearly opinionated and does not represent the views of everyone at Word of the Nerd or Marvel fans in general.
1. Best MCU Movie: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR really questioned the idea behind superheroes. It really made fans think: are more super-villains attacking because of the Avengers, or would they have come anyway? It also questioned whether superheroes should have no limits and no supervision. The Russo brothers did a good job in balancing the different story arcs and introducing new characters without it feeling forced.
2. THE AVENGERS
THE AVENGERS brought together everyone’s favorite heroes from Phase 1 of the MCU and really gave them a reason to come together. The movie made it possible for these characters interact with each other in a way that feels genuine and real. The team had a real reason to come together and it really showed.
3. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER had an interesting ideology with Captain America dealing with today’s security. He sees how security comes at the expense of privacy. Captain America also has to deal with and come to terms with today’s world in general. Instead of making a comedy where Captain America is trying to understand how cell phones work, the Russo brothers decided to put Captain America in today’s world and add to the interesting discussion of security vs. privacy.
4. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING showed how Spider-Man interacts in a larger universe but still deals with many problems. It was great that they didn’t show his origin story, and great that the movie really showed how Spider-Man represents the little guy and doesn’t have to worry about saving the city or the world all the time. But Spider-Man still has to deal with the complications of high school, school dances, and super-heroics. The movie was able to provide a comedic tone and feel more like a high school movie than just another superhero movie.
5. BLACK PANTHER
Similar to SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, BLACK PANTHER did not feel the need to go over the origin story of the character. It is discussed in flashbacks and in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, but not heavily brought up. The movie could work as a standalone movie but does not shy away from being part of the MCU. Audiences got to see a great movie with an African superhero and learn more about the history and culture of Wakanda.
6. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY was one of the biggest risks Marvel took when creating their cinematic universe. The Guardians of the Galaxy were not as well known as Iron Man or Captain America, but after seeing the movie, everyone wanted to learn more about them. This movie was hilarious and also explored the cosmic side of the universe, something that isn’t really seen that much.
7. IRON MAN
IRON MAN was the movie that started it all. Audiences really saw the evolution of Tony Stark from an egotistical jerk to someone who really wants to make a difference. When you watch that movie, it doesn’t feel like they are trying to kickstart a universe. It feels like you are watching one character grow and evolve into a superhero.
8. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER transported audiences to World War II with some interesting plot points. It’s impressive that they focused on Steve Rogers pre-Super Soldier Serum. They showed who he truly was, not a bully, but someone who wants to do the right thing. That usually gets tiring in comics and movies, but here it felt refreshing. Seeing the movie being able to balance Steve Rogers pre and then post-Super Soldier Serum really provided a nice story arc and showed the values a hero should have.
9. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2.
The sequel to GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY had more heart to it than the first one. It only made sense to add more heart because the first movie was to introduce the team and the characters. The sequel really focused on the family issues that both Peter Quill and Gamora had to deal with. Not only did it bring the team closer together, it made audiences care about them more.
ANT-MAN was not one of Marvel’s well-known heroes. In the comics, Hank Pym is a founding Avenger, but is not as memorable as Iron Man or Captain America. Hank Pym in the comics has also done some terrible stuff like creating Ultron and hitting his wife Janet Van Dyne. It was a wise choice to focus on Scott Lang, because an ex-thief trying to do good is a better story than just another scientist with a suit that wants to be a superhero.
11. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON was by no means a bad sequel. It just had so much wasted potential. Baron Von Strucker and Ultron are two memorable comic book villains and not threats to be taken lightly. Yet in the movie, Von Strucker is barely utilized and Ultron decides to just create an army to take over instead of trying to take over through technology. Having Tony Stark create Ultron was a more interesting idea, but the whole movie just seemed like an excuse to create some new Avengers. The movie also put a lot of focus on the future of the MCU, including Infinity War, instead of just focusing on what is happening now.
12. DOCTOR STRANGE
DOCTOR STRANGE was a fun movie, but had too many similarities to IRON MAN to make it truly unique. To the movie’s defense, Doctor Strange and Iron Man do have similar personalities and go through a similar struggle to make them a better hero. Seeing full-on magic in the MCU was truly amazing, but the story wasn’t that impressive. The villain was somewhat forgettable and the scene with Dormammu got boring after the first two minutes.
13. THOR: RAGNAROK
THOR: RAGNAROK was the change that the Thor franchise needed. They tried taking themselves seriously in THOR: THE DARK WORLD, but it was just too boring. THOR: RAGNAROK focused on the comedy and was just a fun blockbuster that really evolved Thor and Hulk. While it was fun to see Thor and Hulk fight each other in the gladiator ring, there was potential for a much more interesting story.
14. IRON MAN 3
IRON MAN 3 tried to evolve Iron Man some more as he was dealing with the fallout from THE AVENGERS. He was suffering from PTSD and had to face the Mandarin, who seemed to be a really interesting villain. In the end, it turns out the villain was just another rich, white guy who had a grudge against Tony Stark. The villain twist was just disappointing and the rest of the film seemed to signify the end to Tony Stark as Iron Man, even though that wasn’t the case. It would have been a really interesting story if aspects of this were still in focus throughout the MCU.
THOR really showcased how Asgardians are not different from humans. It was the classic story of how a jerk learns his lesson after going through some obstacles and becomes a better person in the end. While there was a certain charm to Thor becoming more human, the story wasn’t that interesting. Loki turning from hero to villain to hero again just got confusing. It would have been more interesting if Laufey was used more in the movie.
16. IRON MAN 2
IRON MAN 2 tried to adapt Iron Man’s Demon in a Bottle storyline, but the MCU couldn’t do a direct adaptation since children were going to be watching the film. Instead, it seemed that the movie wanted to focus more on the whole universe instead of just Iron Man. It brought in Black Widow, and put more focus on Nick Fury trying to help Stark than on Stark learning on his own. The villain’s motivations don’t make sense. War Machine was forced into the movie and Peter Parker was retconned in for no reason.
17. Worst MCU Movie: THOR: THE DARK WORLD
THOR: THE DARK WORLD took itself way too seriously which possibly was its downfall. The villain was boring and had no motivation other than being evil and Loki being there just felt forced. The movie felt like it needed to add another Infinity Stone so that they could plan for AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. Thor was never the strongest point of the MCU and this movie makes it easy to see why.