Rewind back to 2008 when Iron Man hit our theatres, would you have thought Marvel would be where they are now? If the answer is yes, then well done! You should be a psychic. The majority of people would have said no. Marvel, releasing several films a year has not only become an industry phenomenon but also a multi-billion dollar franchise.
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and Bryan Singer’s X-men series might have done very well in the early 2000’s, but remember these were produced by Sony and Fox. The only notable film that Marvel Studios actually produced was Blade. All the rest well…
enough said. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Number 16: IRON MAN 2
Iron Man 2 was the first sequel released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unlike the outstanding first instalment, which created the Marvel universe, the second is just bland and unmemorable. Iron Man 2 showed that as good as some Marvel movies can be, they can also be incredibly average, like many other comic book movies.
Number 15: Thor: The Dark World
Similar to Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World is average. You still have great performances from Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, there are also some amazing action scenes and good lore, but there was nothing memorable about this film.
Number 14: Avengers: Age of Ultron
After the amazing first film The Avengers, there was a huge hype around the sequel. The trailer showed a dark premise, which looked as if this would be the Empire Strikes Back of Marvel movies. So, when everyone went to see it, most of them were at least slightly disappointed. There were standout scenes such as when all the Avengers attempt to lift Thor’s hammer and the electrifying fight scene between Iron Man and Hulk. Unfortunately, these epic moments were paired with a lacklustre villain, a pointless tact on Thor plot and a rehash of the final fight in the first film which just felt repetitive and monotonous. After re-watching this film a couple of times in the past few years, I have managed to appreciate it a little more, but it still remains incredibly disappointing when compared to the first Avengers film.
Number 13: The Incredible Hulk
The Incredible Hulk was the second film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which in my eyes was far more inferior to Iron Man. However, it can still be considered an above average comic book movie. Compared to the Ang Lee’s Hulk, this is a masterpiece and is still the best Hulk solo movie ever made. That might not be saying much, but there is one standout feature of this film: Edward Norton’s performance as Bruce Banner. Norton showcased the impact of being the Hulk and what it can do to someone’s mental health and also demonstrated the brute physical strength of the Hulk exceptionally. Now, whilst this movie may not be on the list of the best comic book movies ever, but if you are at all interested in the Hulk, it is well worth a watch.
Number 12: Iron Man 3
Directed by Shane Black, Iron Man 3 was a disappointment for some and a good film for others. When it was announced that Shane Black was going to direct, it created a lot of excitement for its fans due to his past exceptional filmography including; Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang which featured Iron Man himself Robert Downey Jr. The film’s directing was great and it was miles better than Iron Man 2 but the villain, Mandarin, was its obvious flaw. There hasn’t been a solo Iron Man film since this, but hopefully, if they do make another it can reach the heights of the first.
Number 11: Ant-Man
When Edgar Wright was attached to this project, it was like a match made in heaven. After the teaser trailer, everyone went crazy. Unfortunately, Edgar Wright’s disagreements with Marvel resulting in him leaving the director’s chair and subsequently stirred up some considerable doubt around the film. Thankfully, Peyton Reed took over and managed to still keep some of the magic that we saw in the teaser. It wasn’t just a great comic book movie but a good heist movie. Some fans may rank this film much higher on their list, but to me, it was just a “good” Marvel movie.
Number 10: Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The First Avenger was an important movie, this was the introduction of the Avenger’s leader. The first hour or so of this film was something special, the setting of the World War 2 era was created spectacularly and watching the transformation of Steve Rogers start as a small man with a big heart, into a superhuman with that same big heart was a sight to see.Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull was great but could have been in the film a bit more and the supporting cast was also fantastic. The main complaint of this film is that most of the great scenes of Captain America fighting were put into a small montage, rather than showing us all the scenes in great detail. With that said, this was a great introduction to one of, if not the best characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Number 9: Thor
Thor was released late 2011 and was met with very mixed reviews. As time has passed, it is more fondly remembered. Chris Hemsworth began his fantastic portrayal of Thor and the supporting cast was all excellent. The fish out of water story really helped to introduce the magic and space themes that were going to come in the Marvel universe. It may not be the best story or the most entertaining of the Marvel films, but it definitely delivers a very enjoyable flick.
Number 8: Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Following the highly successful first film, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 had extremely big shoes to fill. What it was, in the end, was a fantastic sequel, introducing in-depth looks to all of the cast and a killer soundtrack. James Gunn delivered great cinematography and really got the best out of his actor’s performances. Not to mention the film featured “God Damn” Kurt Russel if that wasn’t going to make the film work, what else could.
Number 7: The Avengers
The Avengers was the magnum opus that the first five Marvel films were leading up to. Simply put, it was born to be a smash hit. No one thought that the film would be as explosive as it was. Now, it wasn’t perfect but was damn near close. Joss Whedon crafted an incredible superhero team and brought them together in a believable and highly entertaining way. The action was intense and the main villain Loki is still one of Marvel’s best. Every Hulk scene stood out and when everyone first saw The Avengers in cinema, it was unlike anything they had ever seen before. Is it as good re-watching it now? Arguably, not, but this is still the film that solidified the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is here to stay.
Number 6: Doctor Strange
After the first Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel found out that their audience didn’t just love traditional comic book movies but also the ‘stranger ones’ (no pun intended) and wackier comic book films. Doctor Strange took this to a new level, it was heavily inspired by Steve Ditko’s original art and brought the comic’s trippy nature straight to screen. Benedict Cumberbatch was a brilliant choice for Stephen Strange and his spectacular acting ability was used in full force throughout this film. Doctor Strange also featured the character of Dormmamu, who I never thought would be in a live action film, never! The film could have gone in an even crazier direction like the comics, but let’s wait for Doctor Strange 2 for that.
Number 5: Spider-Man: Homecoming
Spider-Man finally came home in Spider-Man: Homecoming (Pun intended this time)Spider-Man: Homecoming. After the lacklustre Amazing Spider-Man movies, we finally had a truly spectacular Spider-Man get introduced in Captain America: Civil War. Tom Holland shines as a younger Peter Parker, the way he talks, his body movements and his one-liners are all very Spider-Man. Michael Keaton, of course, gives an outstanding performance as the Vulture and has become one of the best Marvel villains in the universe. It is too soon to tell if this film is as great as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, but it is easily debatable and stands out as one of the best movies this summer.
Number 4: Captain America: Civil War
Taking its lesson from Captain America: Winter Soldier, the producers in Marvel and Disney decided to take another famous Marvel story, that story being Civil War. Although it couldn’t deliver the exact same story because they were unable to get every Marvel character due to different studios owning different characters, Captain America: Civil War ended up being an incredible film. It’s what Avengers: Age of Ultron should have been, delivering the insane airport fight scene and the heartbreaking end fight scene between Captain America, Bucky and Iron Man. The story contained heavy themes about loss and if people are to be blamed for actions they may not be aware of and gave every character more depth than they ever had. To sum it up, Captain America: Civil war is the perfect ensemble comic book cast ever put to film.
Number 3: Iron Man
Iron Man is the movie that started it all. Released in 2008, a year that also gave us the gritty and great Dark Knight, Iron Man showed another version of the comic book film. While Batman was dark and realistic, Iron Man was gritty but also hilarious and fun. It introduced us to what would be and still is Marvel’s style. At the time, hiring Robert Downey Jr. was quite frowned upon, he was a former star who had personal life troubles which brought his career down, but Iron Man boosted his career back up and has kept him up ever since. Still to this day, re-watching this film is highly entertaining and better than most of the comic book films coming out these days. We must give credit where credit is due; if it wasn’t for Iron Man, there would be no Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Number 2: Guardians of the Galaxy
When Guardians of the galaxy was first announced, it seemed as though everyone who saw the trailer just said “who?”. Little did we know that the Guardians of the Galaxy would be as beloved as The Avengers or Justice League. The oddball cast of characters included Rocket Raccoon, a talking racoon, and Groot, a talking tree that can only say “I am Groot” and Chris Pratt got shredded and became a star, not just known for his comedic talent anymore. The movie introduced us to the insane galaxy of the Marvel Universe and opened up everyone’s minds to a new layer of the universe. There’s so much good in this film that it would be impossible to list it all. Another standout that I cannot forget to mention is the soundtrack, which became a top-selling album. The only thing stopping this film from being number 1 is its villain Ronan the Accuser, he was forgetful and standard. However, the film’s emphasis was based more on the Guardians of the Galaxy and their friendship, as opposed to the presence of the villain.
Number 1: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The number one best Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date is… Captain America: The Winter Soldier. More of a spy/espionage film rather than a comic book film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier took the best parts from the first Captain America and utterly destroyed all the worst parts. Taking its story from the equally amazing Winter Soldier storyline in the comics, the film to this day is easily the best Marvel movie. The Russo brothers showed what they could do and they shined, very soon after taking over the next Avengers movie and directing the third Captain America. The action choreography was pulsating, the story was full of twists and turns and the villain was an equal match for Captain America and remains as one of the best in the universe. Simply put this is the best Marvel film.