Variety recently released a ranking of Marvel’s movies thus far. So, of course Kel and I were discussing it and had our own rankings and I decided to post my own list.
Or if you’re looking for the Marvel movies in chronological order, we’ve got that too.
1. As great as it is, I had a hard time putting The Avengers in the top spot. Because I’ve seen it a THOUSAND times thanks to my nephews. Still, it’s smart and funny with a very good balance of action and character. It really set a new standard for super hero movies – how they can be grounded in the characters – take the material serious and still be fun. Marvel had been toying with that formula for years and The Avengers is the movie that feels like it finally, truly, clicked into what they were going for.
It kind of follows Joss’ standard plotting with a lull through the second half of act 2 (see Serenity). And suffers from the aftermath of the Colson debacle with Agents of Shield. But it’s still got great (clever!) one-liners. And that particular Joss perspective, on the female characters, and on how the characters fuel the plot and on the wit layered into the whole world makes it a very solid movie.
Rating: 4.5 of 5
2. I will be the first to admit, Thor: The Dark World leaves a lot to be desired. But it ranks so highly for two reasons:
a) it doesn’t leave something to be desired because it isn’t good but because it’s very nearly great and I want more – more depth and more characters and more time dwelling in their emotions.
b) it’s the most fun for me to sit through and watch the whole thing.
c) ok three reasons – while it’s lacking in some areas, it avoids all the pitfalls that really annoy me that you will see again and again in this list (vampy villains and lackluster action).
The things Dark World does right, really work for me. This is my favorite version of Loki! He’s hilarious in the hallway with Thor. He’s conniving and he’s broken and he’s malicious and the film is a brilliant playground for the character. The biggest pitfall is that I wanted the same for Thor who is underwritten in his own movie. The beats he has are solid and enjoyable which is why it works at all, but he isn’t given nearly as much as Loki.
Also, even though she’s only given a few moments, I really like Frigga. I want more characters in the Marvel universe like her and I want them given more time. I liked Jane as a character much better than the first movie. She’s a bit feisty in a much more fun way, though I still don’t see ANY chemistry with her and Chris Hemsworth. The action is solid and Darcy is kind of hilarious.
Rating: 4 of 5
3. Captain America: Civil War is a sharp, fun addition to the Marvel universe with lots of characters to enjoy, each with their own little arcs. It’s also funny and has great action (the airport scene that highlights each character’s strengths is fantastic!). And it’s full of characters with different and interesting abilities so being able to really see and enjoy the action is incredibly important. There’s plenty of humor and Black Panther is totally a suave addition to the ensemble. Iron Man was a bit obstinate but Captain America has an interesting choice to make regarding his loyalty that propels him into something new in the movies to come.
Rating: 4 of 5
4. Mostly this is a good movie. Though I almost ranked it below the first Thor.
Because I didn’t show up to hang out with Thanos and Vision. I wanted to hang out with Captain America and Spider-man and Thor and Doctor Strange. And other characters too, but those are my favorite. Civil War did a great job of focusing on characters I like. Avengers: Infinity War (by necessity but still) spent a lot of time with characters I liked less so I didn’t love the movie as much overall.
Rating: 3.75 of 5
5. Spider-man has kind of always been my favorite. And I love Tom Holland’s portrayal of him. Spider-man Homecoming gives him a chance to be funny and a high school kid and it’s all adorable and fun. Plus I love the acrobatics of his action.
6. Funny and good action. The first Thor suffers the most from the lack of chemistry between Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth but it’s also got a lot of Chris Hemsworth being both really strong (I like the fight scene as he’s making his way to the hammer in the rain) and really funny. Loki is a fantastic antagonist.
Rating: 3.5 of 5
7. The more good movies Marvel makes, the harder this list gets because there are so many I want in the top 5. But they just won’t all fit. Black Panther is sharp and fun and poignantly relevant in one fell swoop. I’m not so fond of one of the bad guys but the main bad guy is pretty good and there’s lots of badass warrior women to make up for it.
8. Guy Pearce is a super icky bad guy which I guess is better than a cheesy one, but he’s still my least favorite part of Iron Man 3 and the only reason it’s not higher on the list. I really liked Tony’s character arc in the aftermath of The Avengers. And Harley was the kid was too cute. The whole people on fire thing sometimes worked and sometimes felt like it was too much. But it’s funny and I liked the scene with all the people falling out of the airplane.
Rating: 3.75 of 5
9. I’ve only seen Doctor Strange once but I generally like movies more upon rewatches, where I forgive several of the flaws that bother me on first viewing. So I’m giving this a bit of a benefit of doubt. But it has my second favorite Marvel heroine in Rachel McAdams. And it’s largely well cast. It’s not as funny as the others but there is a different sort of humor, the villain isn’t cheesy and there’s good action.
Rating: 3.75 of 5
10. Haley Atwell! If the Red Skull wasn’t so campy then Captain America would be much higher. And if it didn’t have so many musical montage transitions. But apart from those things it’s got my favorite Marvel heroine in Peggy Carter (I would love to have seen more seasons of Agent Carter) and a lot of Chris Evans getting to be all noble and full of integrity (I like modern heroes and there aren’t many of them) and an un-tormented Sebastian Stan. It’s got a lot of great things.
Rating: 3.75 of 5
11. Mostly good but I wasn’t big into the whole “hydra not only still exists but is the big enemy behind all this” plot. And also everyone loved that it’s like a spy thriller, but I didn’t get that vibe from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Plus, lots of Black Widow and I’m not fond of Scarlett Johansson (though she is less annoying in this than some other Marvel films). I did like how Chris Evans upped his game with the parkour moves. And Sebastian Stan’s knife moves were also very cool.
Rating: 3.5 of 5
12. Ant-Man and the Wasp is funny and the resizing of different props creates a unique action scheme. Evangeline Lily is alright but she’s a little too serious, maybe as a counterpoint to Scott. Maybe because that’s how she decided to play the character. At least this time she doesn’t have bangs. The movie is best when Luis is telling a story and Evangeline Lily is the best when she’s channeling him. Michelle Pfeiffer is fantastic so with one great lady, one pretty good one and a nice bit of funny this earns it’s spot on the list.
13. I wasn’t super fond of Guardians of the Galaxy the first time around. But with several rewatches (see, I like things considerably better the second or third time around) I enjoy the tone more. Like Dr. Strange it has a different sort of sense of humor but it works well. Gamora is a very cool heroine though I still want more girls. It’s not my favorite role Lee Pace has ever done because he’s soooo serious and stoic and has his armor on too tight. And Peter Quill isn’t my favorite hero. I like that he’s goofy but not so much that he’s crass. But overall I now enjoy the vibe the whole thing has.
14. Captain Marvel is placid but it’s not terrible. There’s a couple of good jokes and some good effects and it ties threads of the larger universe together nicely. Given that it’s bland enough to be neither good or bad, even though it’s 14 this is kind of the mid-point of the list. Everything below this point has something I actively dislike enough to keep it from reaching any higher.
Rating: 3.25 of 5
15. It’s kind of impossible to tie up a saga like the Marvel movies up to this point, but Avengers Endgame gives it a good shot. I hated Fat Thor. Also not a fan of combined Hulk/Bruce Banner. And all the depressing (though realistic) parts before Scott shows up. The time travel theories are totally flimsy, but all time travel logic is. But once you get past those things, the opportunity to revisit moments from earlier movies was really fun. And Captain America got a great ending. So it almost all worked out.
16. I didn’t think I’d like Ant-Man and I didn’t think it would work. But it did. And there’s an element of silliness to it that it doesn’t quite escape (like the training montage with the voiceover) but it’s also genuinely funny. And I don’t like Evangeline Lilly’s haircut but I mostly do like her. The bad guy is just so full of camp he’s like Jeff Bridges in the first Iron Man. Which makes the showdown kind silly – at moments the silly works when Paul Rudd acknowledges it and makes a clever joke – it almost gives it a Guardians of the Galaxy vibe. Then other times it’s just silly. And I normally don’t like Paul Rudd – but I like him in this. I’m super curious to read the Edgar Wright draft of the script and see how it was different.
17. The first and third act keep me from really enjoying Iron Man. I appreciate that it set the template for Phase One (which was better than previous superhero films even if it wasn’t quite The Avengers yet). But the whole time in the desert is just too dark and grim for me. And Jeff Bridges as the bad guy isn’t as campy as Red Skull but he’s only like one step back from that. The second act when Tony’s back home and trying to build the suit. That’s a lot of fun and if the whole movie was more like that, it’d be much higher.
Rating: 3 of 5
18. The action is too fast too track and Avengers: Age of Ultron lost a lot of it’s heart. I listened to an interesting interview with Joss Whedon that’s like an hour long and he talked about some of his struggles with Marvel and keeping the character moments in and the battles he both won and lost there. Ultimately, I think it’s too much movie – too bloated with uninteresting action and too many characters that, while they each have their own moment, make it feel like there’s too much story to fit into the film. Plus I didn’t love the whole scenario with Scarlet Witch that set Tony in motion. And I agree with Variety (only this little bit): “What there’s less of is streamlined storytelling, visual elegance, and general coherence.”
Even with those flaws though, it’s a cast of characters that is fun to spend time with and it is funny and those moments each character has – they’re pretty good moments. I especially like them all at the farm.
Rating: 3 of 5
19. I was pretty disappointed in Thor: Ragnarok, even though everyone else loved it. So, fitting it into this list was difficult. Ultimately, even though I didn’t like the tone and it’s pretty low on my rewatch list, the characters are still some of my favorites. The only reason it ranks higher than Guardians 2 is for the scenes with Loki and Dr. Strange because that’s pretty amusing.
Rating: 3 of 5
20. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is sort of fun and all but it’s also sometimes trying too hard to be funny. And it’s crass. And a couple of the good guys are ugh. But it does have Baby Groot which goes a long way.
21. There’s just about nothing redeemable in Iron Man 2 except Scarlett Johansson’s stunt double gets to do some very cool moves. Mickey Rourke is so icky. And Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer is an annoying tool. And I don’t like Tony’s character in this one. It’s like they highlighted the worst traits in him and took out all the fun. So it’s just not any fun for me to watch.
Rating: 2.75 of 5
I didn’t count The Incredible Hulk. But if I did, it’d be way down here at the bottom anyway. A) Liv Tyler. B) ugh. I don’t even remember the plot but I remember Tim Roth was a lame bad guy.