I’ve been quarantined or social distancing for close to four months at this point. Four. Months. That’s crazy. In four months, I’ve played a lot of Animal Crossing, I’ve binged a lot of television, we’re talking amounts that would be alarming to others, and I’ve read a number of books and graphic novels. In those four months, as previously discussed, I have not gone to the movies although it hasn’t fully prevented me from watching new films. For example, I made the unfortunate mistake of watching You Should Have Left, the Kevin Bacon “horror” movie, last night, and had it not been my house I was viewing in I would have left. Woof. I mean, if you’re going to do a crappy horror movie, at the very least please make it so I can make fun of it while I’m watching. You Should Have Left was just a painful, poorly acted, snooze fest. Literally, as there were at least three different times I got the nudge from my wife. You know, the “hey you’re sleeping and I don’t want to suffer through this crap alone” nudge. We’ve all been there.
During these four months though, I have really, really missed new Marvel Studios content. We should have gotten Black Widow a couple of months ago but that’s been pushed back to November as we hope that theaters will be able to open then. With the way the numbers have been spiking, I’m starting to wonder if Disney wouldn’t be better off making this a direct to Disney+ movie. And while we wait for Widow, properties like Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Wandavision, all slated to come out this year, have been put on hold. All this resulting in a year where we might not get any new Marvel content. Is that even possible? Haven’t we suffered enough?
Maybe a year of no Marvel adds more gravity to the events of Endgame and makes us appreciate the closure of that massive chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Maybe this pause is the best thing that could possibly happen to Black Widow, a movie that kicks off Phase 4 yet takes place before Infinity War and Endgame making it an interesting choice to start this new direction in the MCU. Maybe one should have used these four months to reorganize their MCU movie rankings. Maybe this column is exactly that.
It’s been over a year since I Am Geek has tackled ranking the MCU movies which means we are waaaaay overdue for a new list. We even have two movies making the rankings for the first time, that’s how much time has gone by since we last did this, which means there’s going to be some movement. Some movies stay relatively in the same spot while others see some dramatic changes. Such is the life of list-making.
Before we go forward, allow me to remind you of the rules of the list. For starters, this is my list that I composed based on my personal enjoyment of the MCU films and re-watchability. I mean, that’s basic list making 101. I don’t expect my list to match yours and I fully anticipate some blowback and discussion. In fact, I welcome it. What’s the point of making a list if you can’t discuss it? Since this is the updated version of the list, if the film warrants an explanation for my change of heart, I’ll write something up. If my reasoning is still the same then, well, you’ll have my blurb from the first time we did this.
Now that all that exposition is out of the way, what do you say we get started? We have twenty-three movies to discuss and little time to waste. We’re going to rank all these bad boys… whatever it takes. Starting with…
23. Iron Man 2- (Previous Ranking- 19)- Update- Honestly, I’m not going to say much about Iron Man 2 that I haven’t already said. In the grand scheme of things, I just have little desire to re-watch this. Unless I’m doing a massive MCU re-watch. It has it’s moments but mostly it’s a bit all over the place and jumbled. I wanted it to be better but sometimes you’ve got to make do with what you got.
Original- I just wanted this one to be better. It’s not as bad as I remembered but when compared to the great films within the MCU library, Iron Man 2 falls short of expectations. The ideas were there but the execution was not. Some very important MCU characters/moments were introduced that would come into play in later films. Things like Black Widow, Thor’s hammer, Peter Parker (kid in the mask), and Larry Sanders Hydra but at the end of the day Iron Man 2 just couldn’t live up to the success of the original.
22. Thor: The Dark World- (Previous Ranking- 20) Update- I know this movie is a train wreck and most likely the worst that the MCU has to offer. I know this. I know that not everyone was having a good time on set and that reflected in the final product. I know this. Yet, there’s a part of me that has a soft spot for Dark World. It may be a mess but I really enjoy the battle of Asgard. There, I said it.
Original– When I first saw Dark World, I loved it! I found the film to be a great deal of fun and would often re-watch when it was time to “throw” a movie on. When I re-watched Dark World during my Road to Infinity War I noticed that this doesn’t hold up… like at all. What a mess. This is a film that looks even worse when compared to the excellence of Ragnarok. Outside of the attack on Asgard and most things Loki, I think it’s okay if we keep this one in the dark.
21. The Incredible Hulk- (Previous Ranking- 21) Kind of the outsider of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hulk isn’t a bad movie it just feels incredibly different compared to the rest of the MCU. Part of that is because the color pallet is a little grittier and not as polished but it all boils down to Edward Norton. It’s hard to imagine a Hulk who isn’t Mark Ruffalo at this point, and while Norton’s Banner was good, it just feels strange and outdated when watching now. It did give us General Ross who has made a resurgence so there’s that.
20. Ant-Man & The Wasp– (Previous Ranking- 18) I enjoyed this movie. I sat in the theater and laughed along and got swept up in this isolated MCU side quest. With that being said, I really couldn’t tell you much about this movie outside of Goliath, a drum-playing ant, and the post-credit scene. Ant-Man and The Wasp was exactly the pallet cleanser we needed after Infinity War but it suffers because it barely touches on those events. All fans wanted was to see what happened next and the Ant-Man sequel did not deliver on that front. It’s an entertaining victim of a poor release schedule.
19. Doctor Strange- (Previous Ranking- 17) I feel like I’m going to take some guff for this one’s location, but I’m sorry, I’m not crazy about Doctor Strange. Visually, it’s stunning. The introduction of magic to the MCU is fantastic and really gives the universe a bunch of new set pieces to play with. Outside of that, it kind of felt like Tony Stark with magic. Benedict Cumberbatch is fantastic and well cast, but I felt this was a story I had seen already. Not to mention that they totally drop the ball with Mads Mikkelsen, so much wasted potential. Strange is one of those characters that works better when he doesn’t have to carry a film like Infinity War, Ragnarok, and Endgame. With this being said, I can’t wait for The Multiverse of Madness.
18. Thor- (Previous Ranking- 16) I like the first Thor movie. Is it perfect? No, but that doesn’t take away from its entertainment. We get our first look at Asgard and the Rainbow Bridge. Both Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston steal our hearts as Thor and Loki. I mean, Hiddleston just steals the show here. On top of that, we start to expand the Marvel Universe a bit as we see more of S.H.I.E.L.D. with a dash of Hawkeye and some of the other realms. Thor is one of those MCU movies that’s essential to things that happen down the road and can often get overlooked. Loki’s throne room scene alone makes it worth this spot.
17. Iron Man 3- (Previous Ranking- 15) Update- I just want you to know, this movie isn’t as bad as you think it is. It’s actually quite clever and gives us some real Tony Stark moments outside of the suit. I think this boils down to the fact if you like Shane Black movies then you’ll like Iron Man 3. I like Shane Black movies. Come on, who incorporates Christmas better than Shane Black?
Original- For an Iron Man movie, Stark sure spends a great deal of time out of the suit. This one has improved over time for me. I really enjoy the deep dive it takes into Tony. He’s kind of stripped away of everything, suffering from PTSD (flying through a hole in the sky will do that), and on this continued quest to redeem himself. Shane Black’s only Marvel movie is a solid edition with some pretty great character study, and while the Mandarin ended up being a sham the door was certainly left open for the true Mandarin to step out of the shadows.
16. Ant-Man– (Previous Rank-14) Update- Recently re-watched on a whim, and it’s just delightful. It never tries to be more than it is and Paul Rudd is so loveable. This is just fun within the MCU and sometimes that’s all you want.
Original- You would think that a character like Ant-Man wouldn’t work but even when Marvel Studios gambles on lesser-known entities they win. This movie is an absolute blast centered on the magnetic Paul Rudd and shows us that not everything within the MCU has to be focused around Infinity Stones. Ant-Man is such a welcome addition to this universe and everything about this film is fun. It’s kind of the MCU equivalent of a hug. Michael Pena’s Luis is a treasure who I wish would show up in more Marvel movies.
15. Captain America: The First Avenger- (Previous Ranking- 12) Captain America is a special character and his first feature film is a special movie. Marvel Studios decides to go backward in time before the release of the first Avengers movie to introduce us to Steve Rogers a kid from Brooklyn who just wants to stand up for what’s right. What follows is a moving period piece that propels Captain America to the center of the MCU. Chris Evans was born to play Captain America and does so with heart, compassion, and leadership. Steve Rogers is the heart of the MCU and The First Avenger shows us why. If you ever needed an example of Cap’s character just watch that grenade scene. All questions will be answered.
14. Avengers: Age of Ultron- (Previous Ranking- 13) I feel that Ultron takes a bad rap. Look at all that we get from it- Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, Vision, the Black Widow/Hulk romance (which I have zero problems with), the final nail in the coffin towards Civil War, the first crack in the Avengers armor, the freakin’ Hulkbuster suit, “Language”, the loss of the Hulk, and our first real death within the MCU. With the first Avengers movie being so wildly successful in every possible way it’s an almost impossible task for Ultron to live up to expectations. I thought this was a strong movie for Cap that is instrumental for the next Phase of Marvel films. Plus, it might be when I fully fell in love with the MCU so it holds a special place in my heart.
13. Captain Marvel– (Previous Ranking- 10) Update- So, Captain Marvel kind of sees a significant drop in these rankings. It may only be three spots but it does drop Marvel out of the Top Ten. Nothing against the movie, I still really enjoy it. Quite a bit. But given some time from its release and taking into account how many times I’ve re-watched the film all add up for the dropping of three spots. The problem with the MCU is that there are so many incredible films that make lists like this difficult. Carol Danvers is still awesome and a massive part of the MCU future even if she’s fallen out of the Top Ten.
Original- I know, I know the movie literally just came out but after some soul searching I couldn’t keep it out of the top ten. There was a version of this list where the MCU’s latest fell to 11 or 12 but I think it deserves to crack the Top Ten. The fact that its Marvel Studio’s first female-led superhero movie cannot be ignored. On top of that, the rewatchability of the film is high. I’ve already seen the movie twice and would love to see it again before it gets released to DVD. This feels like a new era of the MCU as we start to look to life in the post-Endgame era, and it’s beyond exciting. Larson is fantastic as Carol Danvers and will only continue to grow into the role, I really enjoyed the Nick Fury origin story, we got our first look at Skrulls, Goose the cat (!!!), and more Kree mythology. Captain Marvel just made me happy inside and I already can’t wait to see her again in Endgame.
12. Iron Man– (Previous Ranking- 11) It was tough keeping this out of the Top Ten but as I made the list I found it right on the outside. Iron Man is what started it all. Without Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau perhaps we live in a world where there is no Marvel Studios. Seems unlikely, but the importance of the first Iron Man movie cannot be denied. It was exciting and refreshing while taking what some considered to be a second-tier hero and catapulting him to the top of the heap. Arguably the most important film in the MCU.
11. Spider-Man: Homecoming– (Previous Ranking- 7) This was the toughest movie to place on the list and the one that moved around the most. Tom Holland is the cinematic Spider-Man I’ve been waiting my entire life for. Homecoming has all those John Hughes feels to it while connecting Spider-Man to the larger MCU without re-hashing his origin story. They used the perfect amounts of Tony Stark and Happy to tie him to the greater scene but still allowed Peter Parker to stand on his own. What followed was a movie that spoke to my inner child. The one who would run around the house pretending to shoot webs from his hands.
I Am Geek Top Ten MCU Movies
10. Black Panther- (Previous Ranking-5) Update- With the inclusion of new films some changes had to be made, and I love Black Panther despite its dropping in the rankings. I think it’s such a bold statement with one of the most compelling and complex villains in all the MCU. Wakanda is beautiful and has become this central hub for some of the biggest events in the MCU’s history. Everything about this movie is beautiful. I just searched my soul, and there are nine other MCU movies that I would throw on before it. Sure, this all depends on the mood, but lately, I’ve been feeling these other movies a tad bit more but the ten spot is not supposed to be any disrespect to the only Oscar-nominated MCU film.
Original- The only MCU movie to be nominated for Best Picture, Blank Panther rounds off the top five. What’s incredible about Black Panther, besides the massive impact it had pop culture and everyday life, is the fact that they take this fictional country of Wakanda and made it seem like it has existed forever. From the culture of the country, the language, the traditions, Wakanda is just as big of a character as T’Challa. Much like Captain Marvel, Black Panther is the future of the MCU and his first solo film raised the bar high with a kickass slightly sympathetic villain, that might be one of Marvel’s best, and an underlining current of hope throughout the film. Black Panther changed the game, not only for the MCU, but for superhero movies as a whole.
9. Spider-Man: Far From Home– (Previous Ranking- N/A) I think Far From Home was the exact movie we needed after Endgame. Spider-Man has long since been the heart of the Marvel Universe and it makes sense that he should be the heart of the MCU as well. With the death of Tony Stark, the loss of Steve Rogers as Captain America, the MCU in a great deal of flux, along comes Peter Parker to show us what’s important. To help us deal with loss. To get us ready for what’s to come next. Far From Home is touching, it’s funny, it’s exciting, and it’s everything we want out of Spider-Man stories. The awkward teen trying to manage life and being a superhero and the sacrifices that entail. Holland’s chemistry with Zendaya is off the charts and their budding romance is so charming and lovely. There was little shock that Mysterio was the going to end up the villain, especially if you’ve read a comic book, but Jake Gyllenhaal is clearly having so much fun in the role and his illusion sequences are stunning. Throw in Happy coming to terms with Tony’s passing, more Skrull action, and that shocking post-credit scene and you got yourself a gem here.
8. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2– (Previous Ranking- 9) Don’t you dare sleep on Vol. 2. This might be the most emotionally charged film in the entire MCU catalog. Seriously. The last shot of the movie is a crying raccoon for Christ’s sake! For those who were looking for a carbon copy of the first Guardians film probably left disappointed, but what we got instead is something a bit more layered. Rich with character, heavy with the importance of family, the adorableness of Baby Groot, and space adventures for all, Vol. 2 is the emotional centerpiece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and deserves another watch. It’s visually stunning (Gamora sitting in the field is breathtaking) and takes our loveable group of misfits and turns them into the family they’ve been searching for.
7. The Avengers- (Previous Ranking- 8)- Update- I still hate Cap’s suit but everything about this movie is a wonder. It’s made even better with the events of Endgame.
Original- It’s hard to imagine a world without these shared universe event movies, the MCU has spoiled us in that regard, but back in the day, The Avengers was the very first one. The pressure and expectations were high and Marvel with the help of Joss Whedon gave us a movie that surpassed our wildest expectations. Here were all the heroes that we loved growing up, on the screen together at the same time fighting to save the world. It was an incredible experience, one I’m not sure can ever be duplicated, that delivered on all fronts. It was action-packed, it was funny, it set up the next fifteen films, it was everything we had imagined. Nothing has been the same since.
6. Captain America: Civil War– (Previous Ranking- 6) Update- One of the MCU movies I re-watch the most. If I’m ever in a bind trying to think of something to throw on, a large number of times I turn to Civil War and it never lets me down. Ever.
Original- Or Avengers 2.5. The Captain America trilogy is hands down the best trilogy in the MCU and it’s capped by the most excellent Civil War. This is a movie that introduces both Black Panther and Spider-Man to the MCU. This is a movie that completely changes the board by dividing our heroes in ways we didn’t think possible. This is a movie that gives us one of the most spectacular fights in movie history. All this and it’s still able to maintain the heart and integrity that drives the Captain America movies. Civil War makes Ultron a better movie and sets the table for the last half of Phase Three where everything changes. At the center of that change is Captain America… just like he should be.
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier- (Previous Ranking- 3)- Update- This is a tough one because dropping to the five spot may seem like an insult to The Winter Soldier but I need to assure you it’s not. It again speaks to the scope of these Top Five MCU films. I played with it for a while but I couldn’t place them any other way. The Winter Soldier is a masterpiece that put the MCU on the map and deserves allllllll the praise. All of it.
Original- This is arguably the most important movie within the MCU. I think this is when everything turned for Marvel Studios as people started to learn that these movies could be more than just superheroes. Winter Soldier is part political thriller, part spy movie, and all awesome. Learning that Hydra had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. is a mega reveal and changed everything within the MCU going forward. It seems that all the big MCU events are either centered around Captain America or happen in his movies and Soldier was the first. As far as Marvel movies go this could very well be the best of the best.
4. Thor: Ragnarok– (Previous Ranking 4)- Update- This has become another go-to re-watch. When in doubt throw on Ragnarok. Each time I find something new to enjoy about it. Thor’s progression through Ragnarok, Infinity War, and Endgame is some of the best character work within the entire MCU.
Original- Man, this movie is crazy town banana pants and I love every second of it. This another MCU movie that takes the events of Ultron and helps make them better. The Planet Hulk storyline may have differed from the comic but that didn’t stop it from being super entertaining and adding a new layer to not only the Hulk but Bruce Banner. We got a Thor movie that seemed to be more centered on Thor opposed to Loki, even though he had parts to play. I just love how we strip Thor of everything we know about him, and he still is able to show why he’s one of the most powerful heroes in the MCU. On top of that, this movie is funny as hell. Korg, Jeff Goldblum, the color choices, Hela, and the use of Led Zepplin make this one of Marvel’s best.
3. Avengers: Infinity War– (Previous Ranking- 2) Here we go! This was a tough one to rank but at the end of the day, Infinity War’s importance could not be ignored. This movie is ten years in the making covering a cast of characters that is borderline ridiculous in size. By all accounts this should not have worked… but it did! Infinity War is a celebration of what makes the MCU amazing while also propelling it forward. It’s not quite the end of an era, that will be Endgame, but it sure felt like it. Thanos was the villain we’d been hoping for and exceeded any and all expectations. Infinity War is the very definition of what a comic book movie could be. This is an event and one that might not ever be duplicated.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy- (Previous Ranking- 1) There is no other movie in the MCU that brings me more joy than the first Guardians of the Galaxy. Centered around a cast of characters that no one knew anything about at the time and now they’ve all become household names. Guardians has the most heart of any MCU movie. The characters are tremendously fleshed out and real, and that’s saying something considering two of them are a talking raccoon and tree. We get our first true look at Thanos and the cosmos here. It’s connected but not really connected to the rest of the MCU. And it just makes me happy. Every time I put it on. That, and the bitchin’ soundtrack.
1. Avengers: Endgame– (Previous Ranking- N/A) You guys, what can be said about Endgame that hasn’t been said before? Seriously. This movie should have been impossible. The hype was through the roof. The stakes were incredibly high and yet Marvel found a way to not only stick the landing but surpass our expectations. Endgame is not only a celebration of everything that makes the MCU so friggin’ great but also delivers on years and years of character building. Of universe building. Every detail of the MCU matters and Endgame highlights that with each passing moment. I would argue that Endgame and Guardians Vol. 2 are the two biggest emotional movies in the MCU. I can’t watch Endgame without crying. Hell, I cry when listening to the score. This is a masterful achievement. A movie that is heavy but funny and charming. A movie that is long but never feels long as it’s paced beautifully. I could have watched another hour of this without blinking an eye. It’s epic in ways we hadn’t experienced before. It’s a love letter to all things Marvel as well as a love letter to the fans. Thanking us for believing. And while this closes the door on a number of stories, it opens just as many doors on stories yet to come. Endgame is the height of the MCU. Something that probably can never be duplicated. It is hands down one of the greatest theater experiences of my life. I love it 3000 and I always will.
There you have it Geeklings, the updated I Am Geek MCU Movie Rankings list. I fully expect you to have some discrepancies so let them rip. My part here is done. Let the great debate begin! Be sure to share your thoughts or lists in the comments or throw me a line on Twitter @iamgeek32. I want to hear your order and I want to defend mine. This is my list… until Black Widow drops anyway.