This week, many of you will head to the theaters to watch Avengers: Endgame. This is, of course, the cliffhanger from last summer’s Avengers: Infinity War. How will this movie measure up to the other 21 movies that came before it? Let’s be honest, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been able to avoid any outright disasters. While some of the movies weren’t always great, they certainly didn’t flop completely. From a Thor sequel to last year’s Oscar-winning phenomenon that was Black Panther, there is a range of quality within this franchise. Which is why we’ve put together a list of every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie from worst to best. And if you’re going to see Endgame this week, do so responsibly and don’t spoil it for the rest of us!
The Incredible Hulk
I was not a huge fan of the original Incredible Hulk movie, but it wasn’t horrible. Ed Norton is well-cast as both soft-spoken Bruce Banner and then his furious alter ego. But I’ve got to say, he wasn’t quite as good as Mark Ruffalo. (Sorry. Not sorry) . That aside, the film was a good way to introduce Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk to the world of the Avengers.
Thor: The Dark World
This movie came in between Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and while it was ok, it definitely falls low on my list. The movie itself has incredible direction, but it stagnates in part to the villain, a bit of a dry romance, and a ton of mythological information that isn’t really necessary. I will say that Chris Hemsworth is definitely easy on the eyes, so watching the movie wasn’t that difficult.
Iron Man 3
Who’s a fan of an Iron Man movie when Iron Man isn’t really in the movie at all? The majority of the movie sees Tony Stark out of his super-powered suit. And while this is the entire point of the narrative, it is less of a superhero movie and more of an opportunity for writer-director Shane Black to fill time. If you thought Doctor Strange was odd, you’re going to wonder what happened with Iron Man. The movie itself was still funny, but it didn’t deliver what many of us were hoping for.
As you can see, I wasn’t a big fan of Thor. But at the same time, it was through the Thor movies that Marvel introduced one of the best bad guys. The Thor movies were also incredibly delightful, but they just can’t hold a candle to Captain America’s story. Also, the Chris Hemsworth/Natalie Portman chemistry left a lot to the imagination. And, if I’m being honest, we needed to see it! The Thor/Loki sibling rivalry was top-notch, and it was really what kept the movie together, in my opinion.
Thor: Ragnarok was definitely better than the other two Thor movies, and it was also very funny, but it was still lacking. The director was able to play up the deadpan humor and awkward interpersonal dynamics between all of the lead roles. This, in itself, makes it the strongest film in the Thor trilogy. The director was tasked with bringing Asgard to an end, he ended up breathing new life into Thor and the possibility for a solo series.
Ant-Man was cute. Maybe that’s not a good way to describe a superhero movie, but that’s really all I have when it comes to the movie. Paul Rudd plays an extremely likeable character, and even the storyline feels plausible. And what’s not to love about Michael Peña as the delightful sidekick? As a whole, Ant-Man is good enough to get by, but Rudd doesn’t really seem to get his comedic stride until Captain America: Civil War
Doctor Strange was a movie that seems to break all the Marvel rules. In fact, they build up the introduction for Stephen Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), giving the movie an overall different vibe. The special effects are nothing short of amazing showing us some jaw-dropping set pieces and generally taking us to new heights with the new wonders that can be seen throughout the film. That said, there wasn’t enough visual wizardry and I think many of us were looking for a more magical story. The good news is that there is an opportunity for a sequel, so perhaps Marvel will read this and take my advice.
Ant-Man And The Wasp
Much like Ant-Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp was also cute. Perhaps this had something to do with the introduction of Evangeline Lilly as The Wasp. Like the first movie, Ant-Man And The Wasp is basically a comedy threaded through a superhero movie. Even the villain in the movie is mildly sympathetic, leaving most of the drama to be seen between Hank (Michael Douglas) and Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) in the Quantum Realm. Rudd still plays pranks on everyone around him, and while I might have characterized the movie as cute, it is still a bright spot for the franchise.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
After the critical and box-office success of the first Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn returned his motley crew of outer-space weirdos with diminished, but entertaining results. The story of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) discovering his father is a literal living planet, only to learn he’s also trying to basically replace all existence with himself, is surprisingly sentimental, with Gunn delving deep into the family dynamics of Star-Lord. That said, Guardians Vol. 2 possesses both a warped wit, but also keeps it fun and engaging.
Iron Man 2
While Iron Man 2 is pretty low on the list, there is still a lot of really cool stuff going on in this movie. For example, the suitcase armor is still a very cool concept, and Tony Stark activating it while staring down Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko is a great moment. This movie features the introduction of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, who would eventually go on to become a core pillar of the Avengers movies.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe was largely overdue for a woman-led production. Black Widow remains one of the only main Avengers without her own movie. Which meant, Captain Marvel had a lot riding on it. And, as you know, Brie Larson was up for the challenge. At its heart, Captain Marvel is a movie about identity: Who are we if even our memories are suspect? The inspiring montage aims to lift the heart of every woman and girl who sees it. By the end of the movie, it’s obvious that if anyone can defeat Thanos, it’s the all powerful Captain Marvel.