Since 2008, Marvel Studios’ cinematic output has gone from strength to strength. Starting with Robert Downey Jr.’s franchise-defining turn in
Iron Man the studio, now owned by Disney, has 20 movies under its belt with Ant-Man and the Wasp the latest to reach cinemas.
Debate rages over what the best (and subsequently worst) Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are, particularly among Yahoo Movies UK’s trusted contributors who all submitted wildly varying rankings.
Here’s how we ranked every MCU movie to date.
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Louis Letterrier’s take on Bruce Banner (this time played by Edward Norton) is arguably the best Hulk solo film but it’s still not great. Lacking the depth and scripting quality we’ve come to associate with modern Marvel flicks, The Incredible Hulk might as well have been called The Interminable Hulk.
Thor’s sequel was a shorter, more concise adventure set mostly on Earth, but it was infinitely more boring. A forgettable villain, Natalie Portman on “contract obligation” mode, and a generic CGI-heavy finale contributed to the MCU’s undoubted low point.
Arguably one of Marvel’s low points and, as our list suggests, the worst Stark outing since Tony’s parents’ ill-fated car journey in ‘Civil War’. Not even Oscar-nominated Mickey Rourke’s addition can save it from feeling particularly frivolous and silly.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s Marvel debut transcended its fairly bog-standard origin tale trappings thanks to its stunning, mind-bending visuals and improbably amazing supporting cast that included Chiwitel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, and Michael Stuhlbarg.
Many were disappointed with Joss Whedon’s follow-up to the massive
Avengers Assemble, but that’s not to say Age of Ultron is a bad film. Joss Whedon’s follow up delivered some outstanding action set pieces, but where his first Avengers film felt effortless and light-footed, Ultron was plodding and overwrought.
Chris Evans’ first appearance as Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, is a lengthy but watchable affair. Largely reliant on the character’s origin story that bears a strong theme of American patriotism (and obviously so); the story’s a little sluggish and it’s all a bit cheesy. Serves as more of a stepping stone for Cap’s impressive solo adventures to come.
Chris Hemsworth took to the character like a Norse God to Asgard. We see a fairly balanced glimpse at his CGI’d homeworld as well as his amusing time on Earth, as he struggles to adapt to life amongst regular humans after being stripped of his otherwordly powers and banished by father Odin (Anthony Hopkins).
Ant-Man sequel is a welcome palate-cleanser after the seismic events of Avengers: Infinity War, and is fun, frothy, but ultimately remains a minor entry in the Marvel Studios canon.
James Gunn delivered another high-octane outing for the Guardians but Vol. 2 lacked the element of surprise of the first one. Many of the jokes fell flat as Star Lord dealt with his planet-sized daddy issues and despite another outstanding soundtrack, Vol. 2 just felt strangely inert.
By no means one of the studio’s most successful entries, but what the Paul Rudd-led story gives us is a different spin on the typical Marvel movie. More of a gamble than most, the pint-sized, far-fetched heist came out of production hell in pretty good shape.
The first of the MCU franchise films, Robert Downey Jr.’s charismatic, egotistical billionaire philanthropist was a sizeable hit that kick-started the Marvel machine. Boasting two sequels, this tale of Tony Stark’s ascension as Iron Man set the benchmark for all future entries in the long-running series.
Peter Parker’s solo return to the Marvel fold was an unquestionable success. Tom Holland proved to perfect casting as the web-slinger whose struggles with high school life were treated with the same respect as his battle for New York with Michael Keaton’s superb Vulture.
Captain America’s second solo outing marked the moment that Marvel Studios’ came of age, delivering the most grown up MCU movie to date. Now incorporating the Winter Soldier – aka Cap’s one-time WWII ally Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) – into the fray, The Winter Soldier also marked the Russo Brothers’ first directorial affiliation with Marvel, in what comes across as a politically-laced action-drama.
Introducing Black Panther and Spider-Man to the MCU, Civil War boasts an ensemble to rival and potentially crush the Avengers setup. With Iron Man and Captain America at loggerheads, it’s the beginning of the end for the band of heroes that eventually splinter off and rage war upon one another. The Russo’s sophomore effort is right up there as one of Marvel’s best.
Shane Black’s unique take on the fractured, imperfect world of Tony Stark was the first of Marvel’s solo movies to pass $1 billion at the box office. It’s also a well-rounded, and gut-bustingly funny follow-up to the disappointingly weak
Iron Man 2, with one of the MCU’s best ever reveals when it comes to Sir Ben Kingsley’s memorable The Mandarin.
The first Marvel movie not led by a white male lead had a lot riding on its shoulders, but Ryan Coogler’s afrofuturistic Marvel debut shrugged off those pressures with ease delivering a knockout entry to the franchise. Black Panther is unlike any other Marvel movie to date. Long live the king. (Disney)
Joss Whedon somehow managed to achieve the impossible with the first Avengers movie. Building on the world created in the five preceeding MCU films,
Avengers Assemble effortlessly brought all the disparate plot lines together in a coherent, moving, and brilliantly witty movie that managed to service every single character in a satisfying way. The film was also a (Hulk) smash making it the most successful MCU movie yet, a crown Infinity War will surely hope to steal this May.
James Gunn’s space adventure is arguably Marvel’s most enjoyable movie yet. Chris Pratt heads up the gang as the Guardians go on a poignant, thrilling, and excitingly epic journey around the galaxy. Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot form the most likeable bunch of misfits the genre has ever seen. And the soundtrack is the icing on the cake.
After the franchise low of
The Dark World, Marvel Studios wisely threw out the rule book for the third Thor film. Kooky Kiwi director Taiki Waititi gave us the funniest, and most out there, Marvel movie to date with Thor: Ragnarok. It also effortlessly managed to shoehorn in the Planet Hulk storyline without it feeling like unnecessary fan service.
10 years of Marvel Studios had been leading to this epic showdown between Earth’s mightiest heroes and the Mad Titan Thanos. The weight of expectation would have crushed lesser franchises, but the Russo Brothers delivered a barnstorming crossover event movie that looks set to change the face of blockbusters forever. It’s a rollicking ride with an epic scope that delivers everything a comic book fan could dream of and then some. Is this the greatest superhero movie ever? Probably.