The Marvel Cinematic Universe Films Ranked No. 1


 Finally, we are at the film in the MCU that I feel is the best and it is Avengers: Endgame, which was the culmination of all the previous 22 films.  The movie works the best for those who are MCU fans who can pick up on all the fun little moments (easter eggs and call-backs).  I have no idea how it feels to be a casual fan who barely remembers the other films, I have seen them all too many times to forget.  I imagine the movie will still be effective with the casual fan but the moments that might make a hardcore fan get excited, cheer, cry or yell might be lost on the casual fan.  Endgame feels like the first film ever to fit together that many previous films into one cohesive movie.  The James Bond films series also has a lot of films, but they rarely connect and reference previous films.  The work done behinds the scenes to make everything work together from previous films building up to Endgame was a gargantuan task.  Marvel has been intentionally quiet about what the future holds for the MCU, yes there have been films announced but we still do not know what the next Avenger movie will be if there is even one (I'm sure there is).  Disney recently did an investors call that talked about the future (Disney Investors Call Sheds Light on the Future of Disney Plus) of the MCU, giving more details about the upcoming films and TV shows, but nothing was mentioned about an Avengers film.  In my previous article on the MCU (The Marvel Cinematic Universe Films Ranked No. 6 - 2) I spent a lot of time talking about Captain America, and how he became my favourite character in the MCU.  In Avengers: Infinity War Cap was not given a whole lot to do, and in the lead up to Endgame, it was assumed that Cap would play a bigger part.  The assumption was that Cap would be the one to sacrifice his life in order to bring everyone back, the ending that Cap was given in Endgame was fantastic.  I have been avoiding spoilers so far but as of this point if you read any further there will be spoilers.  If you have not watched Endgame yet, turn back now and come back after you watched it.

THE PLOT OF ENDGAME

The film is a true sequel to Infinity War and Endgame picks up shortly after the end of Infinity War.  The opening scene is with Clint (Hawkeye) and his family and he is teaching his daughter to shoot a bow and arrow.  Clint's daughter hits a bullseye, and she disappears (snap related), and he turns to see his wife and two sons also disappeared. The Marvel logo appears and the song Dear Mr. Fantasy by Traffic plays while we see Tony trapped on the Benatar with Nebula.  The mood is sombre as Nebula and Tony are trapped in space on a broken ship with no fuel, Tony records a message for Pepper as he expects he will die before they are rescued.  While Tony is laying in the pilot seat a bright light appears in front of him and it is revealed it is Captain Marvel.  We then see Cap shaving in the Avengers base and the remaining earth heroes watch as Captain Marvel brings Tony, Nebula and the Benatar to the base. Tony is reunited with Pepper and Nebula and Rocket hold hands.  As the Avengers recount what is the current state of affairs Tony picks a fight with Cap and then passes out due to his weak state of health.  The Avengers minus Iron Man find out where Thanos is and decide to go after him to get the Infinity Gauntlet back and use it to bring everyone back.  They find Thanos and realize he used the gauntlet one more time to destroy it, without a way to bring everyone back Thor goes for the head this time and decapitates Thanos.     

We are told that it is five years later, and the survivors are trying to move on, but a rat accidentally turns back on the quantum generator and Scott Lang (Ant-Man) comes back from the quantum realm he has been trapped in.  Cap goes to the Avengers base to see Black Widow; we hear that Clint has been doing some bad things for the last few years.  Cap and Natasha (Black Widow) talk and they both admit it is hard to move on, it is a deep and moving conversation.  Scott eventually makes his way to the Avengers base and shares his story with Cap and Black Widow, they could use the quantum realm to go back in time and retrieve the infinity stones.  The problem with using the quantum realm is they need a way to navigate it.  Cap, Scott, and Natasha visit Tony who is now a father to a little girl, they try to convince him to help.  Tony refuses to help because he doesn't want to lose the life he now has; they pivot to another big brain.  They have lunch with Hulk who is now a combination between Bruce and The Hulk, and he agrees to help.  Tony is doing the dishes and see a picture of him, and Peter (Spider-Man) and he starts to experiment on finding a solution to the quantum realm problem.  Tony is able to solve the problem, we see his relationship with his daughter which is both sweet and funny.  Tony tells Pepper he solved the problem, and she pushes Tony to do the right thing because she knows he will never be able to live with himself if he does nothing.  After Bruce's attempts to solve time travel fail, Tony arrives just in the nick of time to help.  Tony shows up and tells Cap he is there to bring the people that are missing back, he does not want to lose what he has.  They need to get the Avengers back and that means finding Hawkeye (Clint) and Thor.  Thor is easy as he has set up a new community called New Asgard. but Thor himself has kept to himself.  Rocket and Hulk find Thor living with Korg and Miek, Thor has let himself go (gotten fat) and he seems lost due to his failures.  

Natasha (Black Widow) goes to find Hawkeye, since he lost his family Clint has been on a killing spree, Clint has been targeting people who survived but he believes should not have.  Natasha goes to Tokyo to find Clint, after he kills an entire gang Natasha confronts him and tells him they have a way to get everyone back.  With the team assembled they begin to plan, using the various films in the MCU as reference points for interactions with the infinity stones they make a plan of when and where to grab the stones.  Tony, Cap, Scott, and Bruce go to New York in 2012 to grab three of the stones that were there when Loki attacked.  Natasha and Clint go to Vormir to get the soul stone, War Machine and Nebula go to Morag to take the power stone from Quill and Rocket and Thor head to Asgard to get the reality stone out of Jane Foster.  Tony and Scott fail to get the space stone which winds up in the hands of Loki who uses it to escape, which will set up the Disney Plus Loki series.  Cap manages to get the mind stone by uttering Hail Hydra to some S.H.I.E.L.D/HYDRA thugs, Cap does need to eventually fight his 2012 self.  Hulk goes to the Sanctum Sanctorum to get the time stone from Doctor Strange but instead finds the Ancient One (as Doctor Strange was still a surgeon in 2012).  Hulk convinces the Ancient One to give up the stone by agreeing to make sure the stones are brought back to the point in time they were taken so as to not disrupt the timeline.  Thor panics in Asgard and Rocket is forced to get the reality stone out of Jane Foster, Thor does see his mother (on the day she will die) and she restores some of his confidence.  As Rocket and Thor are about to leave Thor summons Mjolnir proving to himself that he is indeed worthy.  War Machine and Nebula are easily able to Stop Quill and get the power stone, but Nebula's cybernetics cause issues.  We then see the 2014 version of Thanos with Nebula and Gamora, when Nebula has issues and sees War Machine talking about getting the stones Thanos then wants to see everything in Nebula's memory bank.  Thanos kidnaps the future Nebula and replaces her with the 2014 Nebula as Thanos now has a plan to get the stones and squash the Avengers.  After the failure to get the space stone, Tony realizes there is a way to get the stone again and get more Pym particles (which are needed to travel through the Quantum Realm).  Tony and Cap head back to the 1970's where Hank Pym, Howard Stark and Peggy Carter were working for S.H.I.E.L.D. at the time.  Tony goes after the stone while Cap goes after the Pym particles, Cap easily gets the particles but ends up in Peggy's office avoiding security staff.  Cap watches Peggy through a window and sees a picture of his pre-serum self on her desk.  Tony gets the stone but runs into his father, Tony and his father have a talk about fatherhood and Tony is able to get the closure he has always wanted with his father.  On Vormir Natasha and Clint are told by the Red Skull (who is now the keeper of the soul stone) that in order to get the stone you must sacrifice a soul to get the stone.  Clint and Natasha talk but they quickly realize they both want to sacrifice themselves so the other can get the stone, they tussle but, in the end, Natasha is able to jump to her death as Hawkeye watches.  

The team gets back to the present with all stone accounted for, but they are missing one member (Natasha), they make a gauntlet using Iron Man's tech and affix the stones to it.  They then argue who will wear the gauntlet with Thor wanting to use even though it may kill him because he wants to make things right.  Bruce takes charge and says he will use it as Thor might not be in the best state of mind to try and wield the stones.  Bruce puts on the gauntlet and immediately his right arms begins to burn, but he is able to snap.  While they are trying to figure out if it worked Nebula has sneaked away and activated the time machine to bring Thanos from 2014 to the present.  The Avengers realize the snap worked and before they can celebrate Thanos's ship starts firing on Avengers headquarters.  The team is separated and Thanos awaits them on the battlefield, Thor Cap and Iron Man will take on Thanos together.  Thanos overpowers them and is on the verge of killing Thor when Mjolnir hits Thanos and we finally Cap wielding Mjolnir.  Cap fights Thanos with Mjolnir and his shield but he is also overpowered, and his shield broken.  Cap gets up and is ready to continue his fight with Thanos when his radio kicks in and we hear Sam (Falcon), portals open up and we see all of our fallen heroes have returned and reinforcements have joined them.  Now there is a full out battle between Thanos's army and the Avengers.  Hawkeye was able to recover the gauntlet but is now being chased, the Avengers work together to try and deliver the gauntlet to Scott's van which still has the quantum generator in it.  Thanos sees their plan and makes an attempt to stop them until he is confronted by Scarlet Witch (Wanda) who wants Thanos to pay for killing Vision.  Thanos is overmatched against Wanda and orders his ship to fire on the battlefield, his plan works as Wanda is hit by debris.  The ship is then destroyed by a returning Captain Marvel (Carol) who then fights Thanos.  Just when it appears the Avengers are going to get the gauntlet to the van Thanos throws his spear and destroys the van.  Thanos then gets the glove and is about to snap his fingers when Iron Man stops him, Thanos eventually pushes Iron Man away and snaps his fingers but nothing happens.  Iron Man took the stones out of Thanos's gauntlet and incorporates them into his gauntlet, Iron Man snaps his fingers thus eliminating Thanos and his army.  The toll of wearing and using the gauntlet has left Tony in bad shape, Pepper arrives to tell him it is okay he can rest now, and he dies while she weeps.  

The team assembles at Tony and Pepper's cottage for his funeral, they are watching a holo recording he left behind in case he did not make it.  The team then pays their respect to their fallen team member.  We see Thor leave New Asgard in the hands of Valkyrie and goes off with the Guardians of the Galaxy for more adventures.  The last thing to do is to return all of the stones (and Mjolnir) to the places and times they were taken from.  Cap says goodbye to Bucky (Winter Soldier) and Sam (Falcon) then enters the quantum realm; he is only supposed to be gone a few seconds, but he never reappears.  Bucky then draws Sam's attention to an older man sitting on a bench nearby that they did not notice before.  Bucky encourages Sam to go over and Sam sees an older Cap sitting on the bench.  Sam realizes that Cap went back and stayed in the past instead of coming back, Sam also notices a wedding ring on Cap's finger.  Cap declines to comment on the woman, but he does give Sam his shield and sets up Sam to take over the mantle of Captain America.  We then jump back in time to see Cap and Peggy Carter dancing (they finally got that dance) together as the credits start to roll.

WHY THIS FILM ROCKS

I know a big part of my love for this film stems from the ending that Cap got since he is my favourite character.  A bigger reason why I love the film is because it managed the tough feat of wrapping up and paying tribute to almost all of the preceding films.  The film also sets up some future films/series with Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy likely working together and I hope we one day get a movie or series that follows Cap returning the stones.  There were so many emotional moments in the film and even though the action took a backseat in Endgame the film never felt slow.  Tony's death and funeral were really emotional especially considering there was not death bed speech, it was the people that mattered to Tony saying goodbye.  The funeral also had some emotional moments as Tony ended his goodbye message with "I love you 3000" and Happy Hogan sitting with Tony's daughter and asking her what she wants, and she says hamburgers (which is what Tony wanted after returning home after he was kidnapped in the first Iron Man film).  The interaction between Quill and Thor at the end about who is in charge was hilarious, Chris Hemsworth is too good looking to be that funny.  We see Quill is searching for Gamora, which I assume will be a big part of Guardians 3.  Gamora from the current timeline like Natasha is still dead, but the Gamora from 2014 that came with Thanos and then helped the good Nebula get free is likely alive but left after Thanos was defeated.  The film had so many plot threads and they managed to weave it all together to give fans a great ending to a majority of the original Avengers.  I assume we will still see Banner (confirmed to appear in the She-Hulk series), Hawkeye (got his own series) and Thor.  I hope we one day get to see another Cap (Chris Evans was amazing and I hope he comes back one day), there have been rumours that we will see Tony again (though likely as an A.I. voice or a hologram).  Black Widow (Natasha) is where things get interesting, we know Natasha died in Endgame but there is the Black Widow film which is set after Civil War but before Infinity War.  In the Black Widow film, we see her family and that Natasha has a sister (who will appear in the Hawkeye series) so I am going to predict Black Widow will not be played by Natasha's sister.  

The only part of the film that I do not love is the climactic battle as it is just too big to follow and there are too many moments that feel manufactured.  The beginning of the fight between Thor, Iron Man, Cap and Thanos is great, the portals opening up was great but once the big fight starts, I zone out a bit.  Once Thanos destroys Scott's van the battle becomes good again until Iron Man ends things once and for all.  Going into the film I was expecting Cap to be the one to sacrifice himself since we saw that Tony had a daughter.  Cap has already sacrificed enough, and it was good that they were able to give him an ending he deserved.  Having Cap and Tony go back to the 1970s was a great idea as it gave them both moments they needed.  Cap seeing Peggy gave him something he never expected which was to see her again, which likely led to his decision to go back in time and give her that dance and make a life with her.  Tony was finally able to get closure on his troubled relationship with his father, we saw that it was an issue for him in Civil War.  Tony got to see his dad right before he was born and see that his father was a good man and that he did love him even though they did not always get along.  One of the things that does not get mentioned enough is the musical score by Alan Silvestri, it uses the themes from the other films at all the right moments while also giving us new music too.  A good musical score can help a filmland the right tone for a scene, and Endgame did a great job of making the emotional moments land due to the score.  The Russo Brothers (Anthony and Joe) directed the hell out of this film while the writers Markus and McFeely (Chris and Stephen) did a great job on the script.  The film's success is a true team effort and no matter what happens after, Endgame gave fans of the early MCU films a fitting end for some of our characters.  

In terms of my favourite films of all time, Avengers: Endgame makes that list, and it might be the only MCU film that makes it.  I have enjoyed every one of the MCU films so far but only Endgame makes it on my list of favourite films because I love how the film rewards fans who paid attention to the films that came before.  I could see Endgame being the film I rewatch the most because it is such a fun film, and because of the emotional punch it packs.  I should not doubt Marvel, but it is hard for me to believe that they will ever be able to deliver a film as good as Endgame.  The MCU will continue long after Endgame, but I wonder how Marvel will be able to top Endgame.  There are a lot of films announced and a lot of films that are likely still being kept under wraps, but Endgame was a culmination of the previous 22 films.  I do not see how the next set of films will be able to achieve the heights of Endgame, I am positive all of those films will be great, but the bar has been set incredibly high after Endgame.  After Black Widow, and really all future MCU film releases I might revisit the list and adjust accordingly, but I think it is safe to say that Endgame likely is not moving off the top of the list anytime soon.  

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