The MCU Ranked, and Slightly Updated

Dave messaged me last week wanting to know if I’d be ready for an Endgame podcast by Sunday. I won’t. Given the hype, anticipation, and number of people that I know who’ve already bought tickets I can only imagine how crowded every single showing will be for opening weekend. My love of The Avengers will not win out over my hatred of seeing movies in a sold out theater. Anything over half full gives me anxiety these days. I’ll see it sometime next week when I’m off early on a weekday, and can get in while most everyone else is still at work. During these messages Dave also mentioned that he was doing an MCU ranker for the site this week, and asked me to do one too. As luck would have it I did the one below last year for the old site. Obviously he hasn’t memorized every single article I’ve ever written. What a jerk. And then he ended up not even doing the ranker he set out to do. Anyway, besides cleaning up the formatting I left everything pretty much as it was when I first wrote it. I could go back and start over-thinking things, but why? I did add Ant-Man and the Wasp, but you’ll notice that Captain Marvel isn’t here. The lame answer is that I just haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet. My life has been busy and complicated so far this year, and I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I also don’t understand having two Marvel movies in theaters at the same time. I’d have been a lot happier to see this one at home a few times before going to see Endgame. So I’ll probably see Endgame twice before I see Captain Marvel, but I will see it.

There was some jibber-jabber last month on the Needless Things Podcast Facebook page about people ranking the MCU. At the time that it was happening I was just too lazy to do my own ranking becuase I felt like I needed to explain my choices. That’s just too damn much for a Facebook feed. With the announcement of the Disney/Fox deal I was thinking about the MCU much harder today than before. How will the X-Men work their way into a universe that they’ve been excluded from for so long? Will we finally get a good Fantastic Four movie? How many Marvel movies are going to be flung at us every year to ensure that Disney recoups it’s 52 billion dollar investment? I’m guessing it’ll be a lot.

Like, really a lot. Think about Disney getting the rights back to 52 billion mutants (and they can finally call them mutants now too!) as well as all the other various heroes and villains that they weren’t allowed to touch. That Gambit movie no one besides Channing Tatum wants to see? It’s definitely gonna happen now. So before the entire MCU gets turned on its head I thought I’d finally rank the current 20 MCU movies (I may update once I finally see Captain Marvel). I’m going from worst to best in my own opinion. You can yell at me about Cap and Hawkeye all you want, but I’m not changing my mind about either one. Especially Hawkeye.

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  1. The Incredible Hulk

That this comes dead last will probably surprise no one, but besides being a decent science wimp Edward Norton was not a great Hulk. Probably better than Mark Ruffalo, but at this point there’s no going back. It probably only received the few favorable reviews it got because people were so happy to see Eric Bana and Ang Lee had nothing to do with this one.

  1. Iron Man 2

I don’t need to explain why it was bad. The only reason you’d ever even need to see it again would be if you were going for a continuity marathon. I mean sure it introduced Black Widow, and brought in Don Cheadle (who is way better than Terrence Howard as War Machine). Other than that I can’t think of much that it got right. It was even more disappointing as a sequel than Guardians 2 simply because this was our first real taste of what happens when things go wrong in the MCU.

  1. Thor: The Dark World

It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t something I’d watch many more times. Loki’s sudden but inevitable betrayal is always fun, and the Dark Elves are a nice extra touch of Norse mythology. It just seemed like the director of this one wanted to give it the gravity of the first Thor, but didn’t have the story to pull it off. Plus you can tell that Natalie Portman really doesn’t want to be there. Like Revenge of the Sith wants out. At least Thor doesn’t kill any younglings.

  1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America bores me in the same way that Superman does. I don’t like Boy Scouts. So in this one he’s conflicted because he finds out his bestest buddy is alive, and now a bad guy. Oh, the inner turmoil. But not really because he’s still Cap, and at least for now, is more worried about doing what’s right than anything else. Winter Soldier or not, Bucky is not a bad enough bad guy to be the only real villain in any movie. Some of the older Spider-Man movies spit out too many baddies. Cap 2 didn’t give us enough.

  1. Iron Man 3

It probably wouldn’t have been as well received as it was if Iron Man 2 hadn’t been so terrible. Tony Stark is not the same lovable douchebag from Iron Man 1 and 2. Now he’s a lovable douchebag with PTSD who tells a young boy not to be a pussy. That’s called character development my friends. I, for one, did like the twist on The Mandarin because it was unexpected and hilarious.

  1. Ant-Man and the Wasp

I didn’t see it in the theater because I’ve reached the point where I just can’t see every single Marvel movie the instant it comes out anymore. I don’t have time or money for all that. When I did get around to seeing it I liked it. I also don’t really remember anything about it right now other than it was cute, but not as good as the first one.

  1. Spider-Man: Homecoming

I wanted to like this movie more than I actually did. I do appreciate that we didn’t get yet another origin story about a character on his 3rd movie reboot, but a little “here’s how we got from point A to point B” might have been nice. Did Tony Stark sneak into his school and build him a high-tech magic changing room? To be totally honest I only ranked this one as high up as I did because Michael Keaton was so fucking fantastic as Vulture. It’s funny how 10 year-old me didn’t get it, but 44 year old me can’t stop giggling about a character called Shocker.

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I know we did a podcast about this when it came out, but that doesn’t mean I can’t throw in a few more lines about it now. Did you love Drax, Groot, and the soundtrack of the first movie? Be very careful what you ask for since that’s about all you’ll get from Vol. 2. It’s still funny, and tries hard to have a heart, but it just can’t compete with the first one. It suffers from sequel-itis as much as, if not more than, any other second installment on this list. The only thing that saved it was that the first one was so damn good. Even an okay Guardians movie is better than most original movies coming out now.

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  1. Thor: Ragnarok

I’ve already written a review so I’ll keep this short. If this were a Guardians movie it’d be great. You’ve taken away Planet Hulk, and left me with nothing but jokes and an increasingly silly bunch of side characters. Not a fair trade.

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger

By now I think I’ve established how I feel about Cap. I do like Peggy Carter, but it’s sad to see Hugo Weaving wasted as a bland and not very threatening Red Skull. Cap is a plucky kid who won’t give up even when he knows full well that his presence on any battlefield will get people killed. Fuck those guys, acting as a human target for Nazis is more important than preserving the lives of American soldiers.

  1. Avengers: Age of Ultron

The Avengers are a lot more than a god, a guy in a fancy suit, an old man, and the Green Giant on steroids. Now we get Vision, the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and the horrific destruction that leads to the group dissolving. Is it too big and too messy in parts? Yeah, probably. It’s also big and messy in a pretty good way sometimes. Joss Whedon knew that this would be his last Marvel movie so he pulled out all the stops. There are jokes, epic battles, attractive women in danger, a moving speech by a useless guy, and the death of a blonde. He just hates them for some reason. Is James Spader frequently a little over the top as Ultron? Sure. Could anyone else have done that part? Nope.

  1. Captain America: Civil War

This isn’t ranked as high as it is because of Cap. It’s ranked highly because it’s what needed to happen in the larger story arc, and it did it well. I’ve read the Civil War comics, and played a video game that followed the same plot-line. There are a lot of differences (no Mr. Fantastic or mutants or many other heroes), but it’s the same basic outline. Except for that shit where Cap has to choose between Bucky and Tony like he’s Molly Ringwald picking a prom date in Pretty in Pink. When I first started reading comics as a kid I wondered who cleaned up all the mess, and why normal people put up with their cities getting destroyed. The Civil War comics gave me those answers, and I had been waiting for the MCU to explore that story for a long time. It was totally worth the wait.

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  1. Black Panther

I really did like it a lot, but not nearly as much as everyone told me I was going to. I do disagree with everyone who said that Killmonger was a perfect villain though. Sorry that your uncle killed your dad, but that doesn’t mean you get to kill your cousin and become king of a country you’ve never been to before. Here’s where Iron Man needs to step in with his “don’t be a pussy” talk. The Wakandans were all excellent though. T’Challa is an interesting guy, and the supporting cast was better than a Marvel movie has seen in a very long time. The only reason I didn’t see it sooner was that I never read any of the comics as a kid. I knew him from cross-over books, and from video games. I’m to the point where I’m not going to rush out and see every single movie with the Marvel name attached to it. I don’t have the time or the money for all that. Unfortunately, I was at this point when Black Panther came out. You can blame Thor: Ragnarok for doing this to me.

  1. Thor

Yes Chris Hemsworth hadn’t gotten fully built up his acting chops, his humor, or his facial hair coloring together in this first outing. And it doesn’t matter one bit. Besides Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings the cast are all excellent. Am I the only one who misses Sif? Well after Ragnarok I guess I’m going to miss them all, but at least the “warriors three” got to die on screen. I think I covered why I liked the first Thor movie so much in my review of Ragnarok as well so I won’t go nuts again here. This thing is turning out to be longer than I thought it would already. Let’s just move on to…

  1. Ant-Man

Another one I’ve already reviewed, but it was everything I needed after the huge world ending behemoths that the other movies had become. A story about a man who loves his family, but gets involved in some shit that’s way over his head. It’s small, it’s silly, and it’s one of the best things Marvel Studios has done.

  1. Doctor Strange

On the Facebook feed about rankings no one else seemed to think as highly of Doctor Strange as I do. I can’t imagine why. Benedict Cumberbatch is the most perfect casting since Robert Downey Jr. put on the Iron Man suit. It’s weird and mind-bending in an Inception sort of way, but it’s also a well told story of an arrogant dick who needs help and can only ask for it in the most ass way possible. Is that why you guys didn’t like it? The only dick this universe needs is Tony Stark? I think there’s plenty of room for both. And if you’ve read enough comics (or seen enough superhero movies) you’ll know that those aren’t the only arrogant bastards around either.

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  1. Guardians of the Galaxy

So so funny, and at the time so very different than everything else we’d come to expect from comic book movies. I remember being hesitant to see it when I first heard about it since all I knew of the Guardians was that they had a talking tree, and a smart-ass talking raccoon. Then I read about how hard Chris Pratt worked to get the part of Star Lord, and how Dave Bautista cried when he found out he got the role of Drax, and thought it would be worth looking in to. And for the record, I would have liked Chris Pratt even if he had remained chubby. Four years doesn’t seem like that long ago, but there wouldn’t be jokes in our Marvel movies without Guardians. Without jokes we might not have gotten Deadpool, and without Deadpool we wouldn’t have gotten Logan. It’s all tied together. Wibbley-wobbly, timey-wimey.

  1. Avengers: Infinity War

During my nerd version of a “lost weekend” I saw Infinity War, and I couldn’t take my mind off Hawkeye. Where is he, when is he going to show up, what’s he doing and/or wearing right now? Yeah, you guys know me better than that. I really did expect him and Ant-Man to show up and help out at some point though. I get wanting to protect your family, but the whole universe is in danger you bitches! I really wasn’t prepared for Thanos to be as sympathetic as he turned out to be, and I can’t help but wonder if he’ll feel remorse and try to fix things himself somehow. More likely Hawkeye will turn up as Ronin only to realize that “sword guy” is as useless as “arrow guy”, and then Ant-Man will have to go all quantum to do something that somehow breaks the gauntlet. I’m really just guessing here. Even though we know those deaths aren’t permanent it was still good to see some people finally go. Sorry Bucky, you’ve been around since 2011 and Cap is the only one who’s sad to see you get dusted. We’re all far more upset about the new Spider-Man who’ve we’ve only seen in bits and pieces until last year. The time stone is in play, and Doctor Strange gave it up for a reason. It’ll all work out next year. At least it had better.

  1. Marvel’s Avengers

Remember when they had to remind us who they belonged to? Is it Disney Presents Marvel’s Avengers or Marvel Presents Disney’s Avengers now? This Disney land-grab is getting tough to keep up with. While we were all watching out for Google and Amazon, Disney snuck in and snatched up everything we love most. It’s still a great movie, and the best superhero team movie ever. Sorry X-Men. You were my first love, but I can’t forgive you for not having Angela Bassett as Storm, and for Toad being there at all, and the fact that you led to X-Men: The Last Stand. Even Hawkeye doesn’t bother me in the his first outing as an Avenger. He doesn’t really do anything useful, but he plays a good damsel in distress to his much tougher friend Black Widow. The wordplay between Tony and Thor is good, and I never get tired of seeing Hulk throw Loki around like a rag-doll.

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  1. Iron Man

If you were paying attention you knew I was coming to this. If you weren’t paying attention then, surprise! The first is still the best. Looking back I do kind of miss the innocent Tony. I mean innocent as in he hasn’t been through epic space wars in a tin can yet kind of Tony. He’s just a rich brat who ends up going through some crazy shit, and is betrayed by his business partner/friend. I didn’t know what a ridiculous excuse for a human being Gwyneth Paltrow was at this point so she didn’t bother me, and it was just so funny and new and exciting at the time. I miss those days sometimes. But since Iron Man, and presumably a lot of our other old favorites will be moving on soon I’m glad that the one of the first wave came out on top here.

When I sat down to write this tonight I absolutely did not think I’d still be sitting here 3 hours later, but it was difficult. Seriously, I did not plan my rankings out in any way. I sat down with a list, slowly choosing the worst, and working my way up. I started with 2 movies I didn’t like and said, “Okay. If there was a gun to my head and I had to watch one of these or die which would it be”? I kind of worked my way up less violently from there. Do you agree, disagree, or do you want to bug me about Hawkeye? Sound off and let me know. I may agree to disagree, but I’ll at least hear you out. Unless you want me to think Hawkeye is going to save the world in Avengers 4. Suspension of disbelief can only go so far.

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