The Marvel Cinematic Universe Films Ranked No. 23-18


 The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been in existence for 12.5 years and 23 films and I still am excited to see what comes next.  Right now, is a weird time to be a fan of the MCU, the main story they have been telling for 12 years is over and we are at the beginning of the next chapter.  Since Black Widow was announced, I have found myself curious as to what the story would be and how it is supposed to be the first film of phase four.  I am going to warn you now, there will be spoilers for all MCU films if you haven't seen them and want to please come back after watching them.  With the spoilers warning out of the way I think it is a weird choice for Black Widow to lead phase four since Black Widow died in Avengers: Endgame.  I have some theories about why this movie came out now and not before Endgame as I would have thought it would.  One theory that I think is likely based on the trailers I have seen is that Black Widows sister will take over the mantle of Black Widow by the end of the film.  Another theory might be that Black Widow is revealed to be alive, Hulk did say he tried to bring her back.  We might not have seen her come back but it does not mean she didn't, based on the early tease featured at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home we could be seeing a Kree/Skrull war I hope get more Black Widow.  When I went to make my ranking, I did not realize that I am going to have rank movies I do like near the back.  I have enjoyed every MCU film released and even the lowest-ranked film has great moments that I enjoy.  I want to spend a little more time with each movie, so I am going to rank the movies over four articles likely to be released weekly.  

23) The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The second MCU film to be released is the lowest-ranked film, at least in my opinion.  I always found casting Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/Hulk was weird, when it was announced I was excited but aware that it was a surprise Norton would do a movie like this.  After the success of Iron Man, Hulk was released just a month later and reviews were a little less solid.  If the rumors are true Norton was unhappy with the final cut of the film and chose not to appear as Hulk because he wanted more freedom with his acting roles.  Norton is fine in the film, but he and Liv Tyler have zero chemistry and the villain (played by an unhinged Tim Roth) was okay but never got the time to be fleshed out.  All the scenes with Hulk are good (though the final fight does not look good), the scenes with Banner were lacking.  I think Mark Ruffalo was a better Bruce Banner, he felt more human while Norton's Banner felt too cold.  It is an early MCU film that lacked the charisma from its lead actor that Robert Downey Jr brought to Tony Stark.  Norton is a three-time Academy Award nominee, but he just was not a good fit for the role, and I am glad Mark Ruffalo ended up playing Banner/Hulk.

22) Thor: The Dark World (2013)

The sequel to Thor (2011) is the next lowest-ranked MCU film, I have watched it several times and there are some great moments I just don't enjoy it as much as I wanted to.  The Dark World was hurt by two main issues, the main villain was incredibly weak and under-developed, and the climax of the film felt disappointing.  The climax where Thor is moving through time and space fighting the dark elf Malekith was underwhelming.  Underwhelming is a good word to describe The Dark World, it has the pieces to be great, but the execution was lacking.  The film introduces us to the Aether (reality infinity stone) and in hindsight from seeing Endgame and Infinity War they make poor use of the Aether.  Natalie Portman was wasted as Jane Foster, and the only good thing about the film was the chemistry between Hemsworth and Hiddleston.  Endgame was able to give fans a reason to be thankful for The Dark World, but it does not save the film from being ranked 22nd out of 23 films.

21) Iron Man 2 (2010)

The first MCU sequel film, Iron Man 2 was a disappointment to fans who had been waiting two years to see Iron Man on the big screen.  I think the film is not bad and if it were not for the palladium poisoning storyline, I think the film could have been one of the better ones.  Tony Stark dying and feeling sorry for himself while also having everyone abandon him because he is being a jerk but not telling them why he is acting out feels too cliche.  Mickey Rourke was swinging for the fences (in a good way in my opinion) with that Russian accent and Sam Rockwell is great as Tony's rival Justin Hammer.  Having Scarlett Johansson play Black Widow was a great surprise and the fight at the end between Iron Man, War Machine and the drones was great.  The movie could have been deeper had they spent more time with Tony refusing to give his armour over to the military.  I admit to having a soft spot for the film, with the palladium plotline being the only thing about the film I don't like.  The palladium is such a big part of the plot that I need to rank the film lower because of that.  If you hate Iron Man 2 give it another watch and ignore the palladium stuff.  

20) Iron Man 3 (2013)

I am a big Shane Black fan, and when he was announced as the director for Iron Man 3, I was very excited.  The movie is good and is definitely a Shane Black film in the dialogue (minus a lot of swearing), but that might be the issue as the movie feels too Shane Black and not enough of an Iron Man film.  The finale was great with all the Iron Man suits Tony had created joining the fight and the villain twist with Ben Kingsley was also a lot of fun.  I think the film was good, and I always enjoy watching it, but it also feels like it does not belong in the MCU.  Iron Man 3 feels like a stand-alone film in the MCU rather than a film set in the MCU.  Out of all films in the MCU I feel Iron Man 3 had the lowest stakes and the smallest scale, the Ant-Man films are similar, but I enjoyed those films more.  I place Iron Man 3 so low on the list not because it is a bad film, but rather because it sticks out as being the most different MCU film.

19) Thor (2011)

I myself was surprised that on my bottom six films in the MCU that two of the Iron Man and Thor films would appear.  The success of Thor: Ragnarok has made it clearer than ever that Chris Hemsworth was underused in the earlier Thor films.  Hemsworth as seen in numerous films since Thor has shown that he is incredibly funny, and the earlier Thor films did not make good use of his comedic chops.  The first Thor film features the debut of fan favourite Loki, and Tom Hiddleston had a star making performance as the mischievous adopted brother to Thor.  The story of Thor needing to prove he is worthy to wield his hammer Mjolnir was a good story but much like Iron Man 3 felt too low stakes.  At the end of Iron Man 2 the post-credit scene featuring Agent Coulson in New Mexico gave us our first glimpse of Mjolnir.  That sneak peek had me excited and I walked of seeing Thor both happy and a little disappointed.  I think the Thor we ended up seeing by Age of Ultron was the Thor I wanted to see, the first Thor film felt a little bland but it was still an entertaining film and the depiction of Asgard was awesome.

18) Marvel's The Avengers (2012)

I think a lot of people will disagree with me placing Marvel's The Avengers 18th on the list, I have my reasons which we will get to shortly.  Avengers was a film I did not think I would ever see on the big screen and even though it was hinted in Iron Man I never thought we would make it that far.  The setup of Thanos as being the one pulling Loki's strings was a great reveal that was paid off in Endgame and Infinity War.  Seeing all of the characters interact and fight together was great and I enjoyed the early scenes of assembling the team.  I was blown away by the fight in New York and it took years for that awe to give way to a feeling of lacklustre.  It is hard to describe but the film feels too manufactured now, I see all the little strings being pulled by Joss Whedon the writer and director of the film.  The film is still a lot of fun to watch but I do feel slight disconnected from the film now.  I think it is the weakest of the Avengers films, but it had to do a lot of heavy lifting setting the group up, the later films only got made because of the success of the first film. 

That is my list of MCU films numbers 23 through 18, join me next week as I cover numbers 17 through 12.  I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on the films comment below on your rankings of the MCU films.  

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