The Definitive Ranking of MCU Films

Okay, I saw this list on Buzzfeed, and I had some STRONG disagreements. So, presented below is the ACTUAL definitive ranking of MCU films.

23. Thor: The Dark World: I watched this for the first time on an airplane. ON MY NEIGHBOR’S SCREEN. Yes, that’s right, it didn’t have sound. And it still prevented me from watching Marvel films for years. Thor: The Dark World is like a DCU film: overly serious but not good enough to be any kind of art. We don’t have enough to really feel Loki’s “death”. It’s just a big “meh”.

22. The Incredible Hulk: Alright, this is a good enough movie. But compared to the other MCU films? Meh. Also loses points for pretending it’s in the MCU when really the Bruce Banner doesn’t even act the same and they totally forget about his girlfriend.

21. Ant-Man: Look, I LOVE Paul Rudd. I love his friend that tells stories Drunk History style. But this is just a big eh from me.

20. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Better than its predecessor. Still meh.

19. Thor: You guys, I’m gonna be really honest here. I love Thor. But this movie kind of sucks and it’s time we all admit it. Important introduction to Thor and Loki’s characters, but when it stands alone, it’s kind of hard to get into. The worldbuilding isn’t amazing and also comes at the expense of actually caring about the characters. Why wouldn’t they let Chris Hemsworth be funny? (except for the one moment below)

18. Iron Man 2: I actually really enjoy this one. But it’s a horrible film on its own. It’s barely got a plotline, and Tony is just a dick (which is normal, but this time he really doesn’t have any of his redeeming qualities). Though I love Don Cheadle, points off for recasting. Also a confusing plotline with that – so Tony wanted to create War Machine? Why all the fuss, then? And then they were just friends at the end??

17. Doctor Strange: A really, really solid (if trippy) film. I actually thought I wouldn’t like it/that Doctor Strange was just a Tony Stark knockoff, but it actually was pretty well done. Loses points for lack of connection to other characters in the MCU and a kind of overdone plotline of skilled asshole loses said skills (we saw it in Thor).

16. Avengers: Age of Ultron: Look, I wanted to like this one, I really did. But it feels like a knockoff Avengers film. It just doesn’t live up to the other three, and Civil War feels like a way better film. It set up a lot of character conflicts nicely, but the conflict was a little bit confusing because it didn’t have a strong villain and hero. Ultron had nothing to do with the bigger plotline (involving Thanos, which all other Avengers films have), and Vision is kind of just eh. It also felt like the Avengers never took responsibility for what happened in Sokovia, and the fallout is unclear (though they do a great job of doing all that in Civil War). Also, the Natasha Bruce storyline felt rushed, and Thor kind of felt randomly thrown in.

15. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol II: This is a great, funny film. But did anyone feel the need to watch it more than once? It’s not as good as the first, and is just kind of “there” compared to it.

14. Iron Man 3: I feel like this move gets undeserved hate. I actually loved it, but maybe I’m just a sucker for RDJ. I loved the way in which it showed the actual fallout on Tony’s mental health from the Avengers, and the twists it had. Also, Pepper was a BAMF.

13. Spiderman: Far From Home: This is a funny, sweet film. I absolutely love Tom Holland and Jake Gyllenhaal, and I loved the twist of his character, and especially the twist at the end. But it had a lot of pressure on it as the first post-Endgame film, and I felt like it didn’t quite live up to it.

12. Captain Marvel: I love the female empowerment message, the hero-villain switch, the relationship between Carol and Fury, and the 90s nostalgia. Points off for the beginning being a little confusing.

11. Captain America: The First Avenger: a really good, solid introduction film. Has literally every superhero trope in the book, but does them all well. Loses points for being so far in the past.

10. Spiderman: This is honestly a really cute film that does no wrong. It feels much smaller than the other films, and I kind of love that.

9. Captain America: Winter Soldier: A great film. There’s nothing I love more than a mind control storyline and good old fashioned brotp. Great personal conflict mixed with wider implications for the whole MCU. Points for Natasha and Sam’s inclusion.

8. Black Panther: I hate putting this so low. It’s amazing, and it got me to watch all of the MCU films. The music alone puts it in the top ten. It literally can do no wrong. Only reason it’s not higher is the others are a bit more important to the universe.

7. Captain America: Civil War: I love the character conflict we get here (can we all agree Cap was in the wrong here??). I love all the characters we get to see/meet (Hello, T’Challa and Peter Parker). But most of all, I love that Bucky’s back to Bucky and he finally really reunites with Steve.

6. The Avengers: A classic. Does a really good job of introducing Hawkeye, Natasha (disregarding Iron Man 2), and Ruffalo’s Hulk, while also blending Cap, Tony, and Thor’s storylines well. Honestly iconic.

5. Iron Man: I mean, this is the film that started it all!! It’s got to be in the top five! “I am Iron Man” has got to be one of the most iconic MCU lines ever. I seriously get chills just thinking about it.

4. Avengers: Infinity War: I honestly can’t believe how many characters they packed into this movie without it feeling weird. They did such a great job of blending all the stories. Points off for Steven and Tony never meeting.

3. Avengers: Endgame: I mean, come on. The perfect conclusion to the series (except for Nat, they did her dirty). Funny, heartfelt, exciting, dramatic…I loved it. I cried six times. Best part: Peter and Tony reuniting.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy: Okay, I know this doesn’t tie at all into the other films really (though it heavily features the power stone), which goes against what I’ve been saying this whole time. But it’s the one Marvel film I make people who don’t like Marvel films watch. It’s just a damn good film. Funny, crass, and heartwarming, with amazing music and an amazing cast.

1.Thor: Ragnarok: This is one of my favorite films of all time. They actually let Chris Hemsworth be funny, and it really paid off. Bonus points for introducing us to Queen Valkyrie, finally having a good Loki/Thor bromance, and Jeff Goldblum (enough said). Also, it was a stroke of genius to add Hulk in.

Opinion: Why Does DC Entertainment Suck?

In the mid 2000s, DC’s superhero brand (and in particular, Batman) was thriving.

Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy was critically acclaimed and commercially successful, a hard feat for not only superhero films, but for any film. The gritty, dark tone lined up with their Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson-led trilogy from the 90s, and continued to prove that stories about (mostly) men in costumes could be Serious Cinema.

Marvel Comics – partnered with Sony and Fox respectively – were putting out similarly successful Spiderman films with Tobey Maguire, and X-Men films with Hugh Jackman. They were not as critically acclaimed as the Batman films, and Spiderman fell down a bit of a meme-worthy rabbit hole, but they did well in the box office.

And then Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment.

You don’t need me to tell you that Disney is a mastermind of marketing and basically owns the world – and it’s easy to say that Marvel’s current success is due to Disney. Its name, merchandising, and theme parks alone are enough to catapult Marvel’s films to success. But what did Marvel and Disney do so well together that DC and Warner Bros have not been able to replicate? How did Avengers: Endgame become the highest grossest film of all time, and Justice League fail so hard?

As usual, it all comes down to branding.

Disney helped brand Marvel into an entire universe with 23 connected films (and even more tv shows). It turned Marvel’s films into exactly what the comics were: a giant series of characters and stories that sometimes connected. You didn’t have to read every single Marvel comic to be a fan – everyone had their favorite characters and issues. Disney took advantage of its mass catalogue of IP, utilizing littler-known characters like the Guardians of the Galaxy so that they weren’t just relying on a single character to run a franchise.

DC Entertainment did this too, eventually setting up their own universe in 2016 with Batman vs. Superman. But this move came sloppily, and too little too late. Batman had already had so many recent versions (much like Spiderman), and Affleck was a controversial choice to begin with. Marvel, on the other hand, set up their franchise with a single character’s origin movie, relying on a popular Marvel character rather than the most popular cinematic one. By introducing three main heroes in their own films (Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger), by the time they actually had a crossover film with The Avengers, the audience was excited to see the characters meet, and had already begun to know and love Tony, Thor, and Steve (as well as the actors in those roles). They were invested, unlike in Batman vs. Superman. That film also made the crucial mistake of pitting heroes against each other too early on; Marvel didn’t do this until Civil War, and was thus able to build enough history to make this emotionally resonant.

Marvel’s films were good, but they were also campy and silly. They later embraced this even more with Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy, finding a formulaic sweet spot of one-liners, bright colors, good music, found family, badass female characters, and exciting action scenes. (This formula is very evident in Captain Marvel.) Marvel’s films were built for fandoms, wanting to inspire the same amount of fan loyalty as their comics – and they did even more than that with their fan servicing storylines, fanfiction inspiring relationships, and little winks to the audience. Their huge cast features many beloved stars and has great chemistry – meanwhile, an interview featuring Henry Cavill and a clearly unhappy Ben Affleck promoting Batman vs. Superman became a giant meme. Simply put, Marvel’s films are just a lot more fun than DC’s.

It’s unclear if DC Entertainment was trying to position themselves as the darker, more serious, critically acclaimed superhero option. It makes sense; after all, many of the comics were gritty and artful, and not just fun. But whether or not they meant to, in Disney’s monopolizing of the “fun” market, that’s what they became.

There are inherent problems in this position – first, critically acclaimed films do not always make money. Second, it’s hard to create a formula for a critically acclaimed film. I don’t see Tarantino doing the next Batman, and even if he did there’d be no way to ensure it would be any good. But at least if DC had gone this direction, they would’ve had their own brand and fandom.

The other option was to copy Marvel. This was potentially a good option – they actually successfully did so with their TV shows, creating fun and campy series building off the more serious Arrow, much like the MCU started with Iron Man. They truly built up their characters and fandoms before committing to crossovers, and it worked.

They could have done the same thing with their films. Or they could’ve gone the critically acclaimed route.

Instead, they did neither.

Wonder Woman seemed a return to the critically acclaimed films of DC’s past, getting rave reviews. But this film came on the heel of the dramatic failure that was Batman vs. Superman and the Marvel knockoff-turned-trainwreck that was Suicide Squad, and was later followed by Justice League, which certainly didn’t bode well with the brand. DC is just all over the place; the prime example being the frenzied recut of Suicide Squad to make it more “fun” after the stunning reception of the lighthearted trailer. They’re always scrambling to meet market interests far too late, a fatal mistake in branding and marketing.

Which brings me to my main point: DC Entertainment (at least when it comes to movies) has no solid brand. They refuse to commit to either side, and in doing so make it impossible to succeed at either. Sure, they may have a hit every once in a while, but they’ve yet to find a formula that works.

It will be interesting to see how Marvel moves forward in the wake of its original superheroes retiring, and what DC puts out after the upcoming Joker film (and casting yet another Batman). But for now, I’m good just sticking with The Flash.