For nearly 10 years now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated cinema screens all over the world. Over 3 different phases of film, beloved comic-book heroes have hit the big screen. Thanks to the portrayals by famous stars, like Chris Evans, Scarlet Johansson and Benedict Cumberbatch, the quality of these movies has been way up there. While there have been a few rough patches over the years, (I’m looking at you Dark World) there have been many more good patches. In this list, I’m compiling my favourite’s in descending order, and I’m going to explain why they do the job for me. I’ll also be updating this list as time goes on and more movies are released. Without further ado lets get going.
10. Iron Man 3
Oh boy this is one that’s going to get me in trouble with a lot of folks at home. First I just want to say that this movie should be renamed “Tony Stark” because that’s what this movie is about. Tony was the first big player in the MCU and sparked a joy of super heroes into my 10 year old self. When I saw this movie at first I was happy, because I love Tony Stark just as much as I love Iron Man.
But I also deeply understand the hatred to the fact that Marvel betrayed the audience immensely with the Mandarin. What was going to be one of the coolest villains turned into a joke very quickly. That’s something not a lot of people are going to forgive and I’m on board with that. At the end of the day I still value this as a Tony Stark story in the Marvel Universe and that’s why it makes its way onto this list over any other contenders.
After the success of Guardians, Marvel must have realised that the weird misfits are always a hit at home. Ant-Man isn’t one of the first names that comes to mind when you think of Marvel. But thanks to the 2015 hit, I’m proud to know who this big guy is. Paul Rudd makes his marvel debut as Scott Lang and brings a high level of comedy with him. In a movie that was set to be directed by non-other than my boy Edgar Wright, I was excited to see what was cooking in this film. The final product certainly delivered in terms of comedy despite dropping Wright during production, as well as boasting some impressive visual effects.
However there’s not a lot that goes on during Ant-Man, and as I write this I’m struggling to recall anything about the villain or the overall plot. The show is effectively stolen by Rudd and his character as the audience is fascinated by his powers as well as his character. I for one was lost for words seeing his powers in full force during some exciting visual scenes in the second act of the movie. However the third act begins to loose its way, a lot of the jokes don’t hit as well and again the overall plot feels a little out of place for a Marvel movie. It’s not a bad film by any regard, but it doesn’t deliver as much as it promised to me.
8. Avengers: Assemble
Marvel set history with this enormous movie team up in 2012, featuring all the heroes the audience met over previous films. This wasn’t just going to be some sort of suicide squad with characters just thrown in. Everyone here had been developed and introduced to the bigger picture through their own solo movies (Okay Hawkeye doesn’t count). Even the movies main villain Loki was imported directly from Thor to introduce them both to the rest of the Avengers. However just having a team-up doesn’t automatically make a good movie.
While yes all the characters all shine together, the actual movie feels weirdly paced. Poor hawkeye only shows up for a solid 10-15 minutes of the movie, and you can feel Robert Downey Jr’s pay slap you in the face throughout. Iron Man does like to take centre stage in general just due to his character, but I’m finding it hard off the top of my head to remember solo moments from the other heroes. The movie was exciting for the time due to the idea of throwing up a team up on screen. However now we feel it’s been done and Avengers just doesn’t hold up in terms of ‘Epicness’ compared to what we have today.
7. Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange wasn’t something I was hyping myself to see, as result of that I waited to see it on disc. However after I saw it, It made me feel I’ve missed out on a visual showcase on the big screen. Doctor Strange takes more of a mystical approach to the Marvel universe and feels almost separate to everything we’ve seen up to this point. Being mystical it offers a larger display of effects and cinematography that a simple fist fight can offer, and they really hit the mark with this.
As an origin story to this hero, it serves its purpose to build up our hero from the ground up to learn everything at his disposal. Despite this, you can’t help but feel you’ve seen this before. In fact to me it reminds me of Iron Man quite a lot, as a man who owns everything he learns to see the bigger picture and use his situation to aid those in need. I don’t know if I’m being entirely accurate but nothing really felt brand new to me in terms of character. The main appeal of the film was the visual art and Benedict Cumberbatch rocking a cape. I look forward to seeing Strange again but I’m not in an immediate rush to see this film over and over.
6. Captain America: The Winter Solider
Captain America quickly become one of my favourite Avengers, he’s a noble man who fights for what’s right. This film see’s him deal with the concept that the people he fights for might not be the good guys. Featuring the mysterious Hydra as well as the Winter Solider, this would see with Steve adapting to the time he’s in as well as dealing with friendship and loss. While being an exciting film to watch, it also becomes one of the first Marvel films to actually hit a good third act of a movie. The finale is memorable and satisfying, what makes it more than anything will always go to Chris Evan’s portrayal of the cap as we feel for him more than anyone.
While I do praise this movie it has become one over the years I’ve seen the least out of any other Marvel movies. When I think about it all I see are muddy colours and a deep narrative focus on the Winter Solider, who to me is pretty C-list. For the life of me, I can’t remember why Black Widow has such a prominent role in this movie either. However after seeing the movie each time I can’t help but feel better for doing so, and it always leaves me with a stronger feeling than a lot of other hero based movies.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
I absolutely adore each character present in the Guardians, this movie delivers the need to know a bit more about all of them without just giving you their character notes written in full. They are a bunch of assholes and I think they know that, however they show their weaknesses to each other in times of trouble. One of my favourite main characters was Rocket, who shows more to the audience than I could have expected. We see someone broken and torn up about the past, his ability to feel that in Yondu makes him feel better and makes me feel better to see.
For me the soundtrack delivers once again despite not carrying as many chart toppers from back in the day. Each song carries a purpose narrative wise and you can see Peter’s emotions carried in some of the songs. While being lower than the original movie on this list, I definitely had a lot more fun watching this one, there’s something very charming and emotional about it all. However it does carry a few story stumbles in the early portion and takes a while to get comfortable with what it’s doing, which is why it isn’t as high as the others here.
4. Captain America: Civil War
Civil War is one of my favourite comic events and for good reason. It takes a look at superheroes from a moral standpoint and questions what a superhero can and should be allowed to do in the world. It also features a large assortment of characters and character development. As always Iron Man steals the show in his own way, but this is a Captain America movie after all and it’s the decisions he makes that shakes everyone to their core. Iron Man has a habit of enhancing his character without getting in the way of the rest of the movie. However this time it becomes a main role into what makes the Avengers cut each others throats.
One thing I really like about Civil War is trying to pick a side. While I understand Steve is a patriot of freedom and choice, he has an almost eccentric attraction towards Bucky that ruins everything for everyone. Seeing Tony’s story about his parents come into play makes us want to love Tony so so much even if this isn’t his movie. Civil War also does the magnificent job at introducing my favourite comic hero: Spider-Man.
But while the movie brings everyone we love together, it does a harder job at trying to let them go. There’s no real consequence to our heroes outside of a few Injuries and becoming war criminals. No one dies where it feels like they should and the constant focus of Bucky annoys me way more than it should. While I love the movie, it looks visually ugly, and feels like a smaller version of the entire event from the comics.
3. Spider-Man: Homecoming
I’ve explained in my recent review why I like Homecoming so much and it’s issues at heart. But for me Spider-Man means a lot and to see him presented to me in MCU style was the biggest treat I could have for my birthday. Tom Holland delivers the version of Peter Parker I’ve been waiting to see for years. He bumbles around and awkwardly tries to be nice and it’s perfect to see on screen. The supporting cast is also surprisingly great. But all of this combined with the music and excitement of seeing spider-man again has me smiling in my seat thinking about it.
If you recall I’ve said that I feel there was a lot missed overall about his character which is why it isn’t number 1 for me. While I understand wanting to get on like we’ve seen everything before, it does hurt the viewer coming out and thinking about all of these character traits that were missing. But I’ve been able to look past most of these small issues to have a truly exciting experience. Once again I have to give credit to Downey Jr for somehow developing his own character without taking any thunder for spider-man. He’s here where needed and leaves lots open for the audience to interpret. God I love Spider-Man and Iron Man to bits.
2. Iron Man
Speaking of the Iron Man so much, here he is in the flesh, or metal, whatever. What makes Iron Man so delightful is Robert Downy Jr. A man so born to play Tony Stark that they might as well be the same person. He’s charming and witty and turns Iron Man from a 3rd grade comic character, into one of the most well-known super heroes of our time. I watched this movie again the other day and felt every bit as childish and excited as I was when I first saw it so many years ago. From this moment we’ve seen the character of Tony Stark develop so much and grow as a person. Which is why now that I think of it, he turns up a lot of times in the movies on this list.
Every-time Stark is present, he is either oozing with genius and fidelity that gets you excited, or he’s making sweet talk that makes you wish you were him. The time spent in the actual suits is justified and carries meaning throughout the story. Our man is rich and takes life for granted. However he realises on his own accord that the company he’s built over the years has become the enemy of mankind, making it his personal mission to end his legacy for the good of the people. For a movie made nearly 10 years ago, it’s crazy how good it looks and how well it can still relate to the audience today. While being very close to my number one spot there’s only one movie that could take that spot.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
One of the biggest surprises for me as a movie viewer was Guardians of the Galaxy. I never thought I would feel emotional towards a tree that only says “I am Groot” but here I am wondering how I got here. There’s a lot going on that puts Guardians miles above the other Marvel films. One of those being the soundtrack that is present throughout. The film utilises the soundtrack not in the way of a music, but as a companion to the action. It exists to the characters on-screen as well as the audience at home, therefore we feel a shared experience with Peter Quill on-screen.
The characters and their chemistry on screen become one of the best reasons to see this film. You could show this to a non Marvel fan and they will be in tears over the jokes and characters. Not to mention the amazing cast of characters present which probably sits as my flawless team of heroes. There’s not a lot of reason to hate any of them, they all have strength and weaknesses but they don’t make them obvious to each other. That’s what normal people do really, you don’t meet someone explaining all of your mental history and problems. Besides Draxx who uses his weakness as a weapon, all the characters have a lot of learning to do about each other and that adventure is what we get on screen. Which by the way, is beautifully crafted by James Gunn and his incredible vision for everything that shows up in the movie.
I’ve loved being around for the Marvel adventure over the last few years and I’m sad to see it ending too. I’ve come to see characters and locations that will stick around with me long after their movie time is up. Downey Jr. as Iron Man has been one of the most personal and emotional journeys I’ve seen take place over the last 9 years. I can already feel the journey continuing into the events of Infinity War, which is set to take place May 2018. For all you comic fans out there, I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey too and will be there with me in 2019 when this all comes to a conclusion.