In this second part, we rank the remaining movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Age of Ultron is the follow up to the first Avengers movie, which might be one of the best superhero movies of all time. Yes, I realize that it’s not quite at the top of the list, but it couldn’t be any closer. Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, and of course, things go awry. He is quickly joined by Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. While I love the individual movies like Captain America, I love it, even more, when all the superheroes come together.
Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Infinity War brought us one step closer to Endgame. The movie opened in an interesting way, and it was fun to see Tony Stark and Stephen Strange getting into it as they did. But it was also fun to watch Thor trade quips with Rocket Racoon. That said, the movie was action-packed. Some might even argue that there were too many fights, but I’m not sure that it’s possible. This movie is also being called a “waiting game”, essentially filling in time between Avengers movies. What we won’t really know is how well it sets us up for Endgame until later this week.
While I did enjoy this movie, I’m starting to get tired of all the Spider-Man reboots over the years. That said, this version leaves the radioactive spiders behind. We are introduced to Peter Park in the months after he gained his powers, and he’s super awkward. The film combines just enough action and CGI with what you might expect to see from a teenage superhero – friendship, parties and other coming of age stories. Tom Holland gives Peter a new kind of energy that we’re just not used to seeing. Looking forward to seeing him in Endgame.
Captain America: The First Avenger
The Marvel Cinematic Universe wouldn’t be what it is today if they hadn’t nailed the landing with Captain America. In fact, The First Avenger rejects a lot of what Marvel tries to do later on, and yet, it somehow still works. The movie is about a tiny kid (Chris Evans) in the 1940s who is desperate to join the war. Not to kill Nazi’s, but rather just because he doesn’t like bullies. The movie works because of the big-hearted way that Chris Evans plays Cap. But not enough credit goes to the supporting characters, especially Peggy Carter. Who did get a two-season spin-off on ABC, but she deserved better than that.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy was the first time that we were introduced to Peter Quill. Along with that character, the great cast, extremely tight pacing and on point sense of humor, Guardians is basically an Avengers movie – but with a twist. This team of space misfits assembles to track down the latest MacGuffin and fight off a world-ending threat. It’s along the way that they become a family. And who doesn’t love a little bit of dancing every now and then? That is why we’ve ranked Guardians higher up on the list.
Often times, origin stories can be a bit of a drag. They do give us a back story that we might not have previously known or understood, but they can also represent the storyline before any of the fun begins. Iron Man, on the other hand, proves that theory to be wrong. Iron Man does tell us what happens before, but it also builds a character arc for Tony Stark that comes through in the other movies. But this movie is also the origin story for the entire franchise, and it establishes some strengths – like a good sense of humor and great acting. It remains one of the most satisfying, and well rounded Marvel films, even a decade later.
Captain America: Civil War
While Captain America is an Avenger, the movies that he stars in aren’t intended to be “Avengers” movies in the proper sense. However, Civil War somehow manages to juggle a dozen characters, and never once shortchanging the regular characters while introducing new ones. And it’s this reason that Captain America: Civil War is a lot like an “Avengers” movie. Some might argue that the movie is more of a crossover event than an actual Avengers movie, but I don’t know that I would go that far.
Everyone who sees the African paradise of Wakanda instantly recognizes it as a utopia worth fighting for. And they do. This movie might have one of the best-written, and most understandably motivated villains in the franchise’s long, troubled history with antagonists. Singling out Michael B. Jordan’s performance, however, would be to gloss over the sheer volume of immense talent including – Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, Sterling K. Brown, Lupita Nyong’o and Martin Freeman. Black Panther set a new standard for what a stand-alone, “smaller” Marvel film could look like and we certainly look forward to more of its kind.
I was honestly torn between these first two movies. The very first Avengers movie is one of the best (as you can see from its placement on my list) and on which all future Marvel movies will be judged. Under Nick Fury, the story unites Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton in a battle against the God of Mischief. The characters are well established and really start to take shape, the humor is on point, and well the final fight scene could be classified as epic. But you already know this!
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
For me, the reason that I ranked Captain America: The Winter Soldier as high as I did, is because everything seemed like it was going bad for Steve Rogers. Almost like Marvel was either going to tank his character, or they were trying to elicit some kind of emotional response – and well, they did. This movie isn’t as funny as some of the others, but it has a unique way of balancing the exciting “Hollywood” thriller, with the fact that it is a Marvel movie. I also kind of thought Robert Redford’s appearance in the movie was incredibly interesting. While it wasn’t a mainstay of the movie itself, it added an “accent” to the movie, where we weren’t sure how it was going to end and who was really on the “good” side.