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The Marvel Cinematic Universe Ranked

Avengers: Infinity War comes out today and a decade’s worth of movies are going to culminate in the biggest superhero crossover film ever produced.  It looks to be epic, and I’m incredibly excited to watch it in theatres.  To celebrate this event in pop-culture, Talkies Network is proud to present our ranking of the nineteen films (that’s right we are including Infinity War) that form this cinematic achievement.  Before we get to the list, a special thanks to our newest writer Pran Sathiy, who wrote an excellent Infinity War review which informed that film’s place on this list.

19. Thor: The Dark World

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This is the worst MCU movie to have graced the silver screen – well ‘graced’ definitely isn’t the right word – and it is terrible.  The jokes never land, the villain is dull and what should be a crisis level event just never feels compelling.  Thor’s character arc, which is present in the other two films in this series, is entirely absent.  Loki’s relationship with Thor and Tom Hiddleston’s performance in general are the only good aspects of this film, but it can’t save the film from having a lousy script and poor direction.

18. Iron Man 2

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The sequel to the film which began the MCU never reached the heights its predecessor did, lacking the intriguing context that defines the original entry in the series.  The villain, despite having an interesting connection to Iron Man, is not memorable with the film failing to show him as a credible threat to Stark.  Tony’s self-destructive path feels like a regression of all the progress made in the previous film, and it feels as if this was added to the script to create forced drama.  Frankly it’s a very uninteresting film and the only thing to take away from it is how awesome Scarlett Johansson is as Black Widow.

17. The Incredible Hulk

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This film – which never felt like a part of the MCU until Captain America: Civil War – much like Iron Man 2, is really boring.  The film is uneventful and the character relationships that should be essential to the film never feel compelling. Multiple times the film tells you that Bruce Banner and Betty Ross love each other, but it never feels genuine.  Even her relationship with her father, General Thunderbolt Ross, never clicks with the audience.  The writing and performances in this film are weak despite the talent involved, and the action sequences never feel like they have any stakes.  This movie is anything but incredible.

16. Ant-Man

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A movie that had the potential to be something unique, is the most painfully conventional film in this long-standing franchise.  Despite interesting concepts like the micro-verse, Cold War era super spies and the structure of a heist movie; the film is a generic action romp that tries to create character drama from too-often used archetypes.  It’s only these interesting concepts and a few quirky moments that place the film above those that rank lowest on this list.

15. Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Ultron was originally created as a character bent on humanities destruction, who in this Joss Whedon helmed film, was turned into a quip machine with all the menace of Jay Baruchel.  The characters who aren’t Ultron are entertaining as always and most of the performances are solid, but the new additions to the cast never generate much interest when they’re on screen.  In fact it’s Whedon’s humorous dialogue being delivered by these great actors and a great Hulkbuster fight that make this film watchable This poorly planned sequel never lived up to the greatness of what came before and, despite the large scope of the film, doesn’t come close to the grandeur of the original film.

14. Iron Man 3

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The Iron Man franchise has a very bad track record when it comes to sequels, but at least there was some improvement between the second and third entries in the trilogy.  The film introduces dozens of cool Iron Man armors and focuses on exploring the character of Tony Stark when he’s faced with a world that’s so much bigger than himself.  I really enjoy this movie, but it does suffer from a lackluster villain, a stupid plot twist and a middle section that slows down the story for a character relationship that goes nowhere.  It’s not a terrible movie, but still ranks low on this list.

13. Doctor Strange

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The best thing about this film are some great performances and the stunning visuals employed by the director to depict the mind bending magic associated with the titular character.  The story is generic and the characters beyond Strange are largely undeveloped.  The film does have a unique and highly creative ending, which along with the visuals keep it from being as forgettable as the films that precede it on this ranking.

12. Thor

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The Thor series was never this franchise’s highlight, but this film is fairly enjoyable.  Loki’s relationship with Thor makes for a compelling villain and the hero’s personal journey leads to real growth on his part.  Thor’s interactions with the modern day human world also leads to some admittedly hilarious moments.  The film suffers in its third act with an anti-climactic ending and doesn’t make use of what could have been a great supporting cast for Thor.  The Thor franchise up until the release of Ragnarok was defined by the failure of Dark World, but this movie’s pretty good.

11. Captain America: The First Avenger

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This fantasy depiction of World War 2 depicts the origins of Captain America and while the film’s story as well as it’s direction are nothing that exceptional, the emotional core of the story makes this an engaging viewing experience.  Steve Rogers is the underdog that any viewer can get behind, and the film is rounded out by a great supporting cast.  Steve’s relationship with Peggy Carter is one of the best parts of this film and is one of the most well-developed romances in any MCU movie to date.  What keeps this film from truly being great is the use of a montage to show Captain America in action and the Red Skull, who is a forgettable antagonist.  The film’s premise is also too generic to be memorable, and it’s only Steve’s personal journey that makes this film worth watching.

10. Thor: Ragnarok

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One of the most surprising films to come out of the MCU is also one of it’s most fun films.  Ragnarok is the perfect culmination of the Thor trilogy and provides a satisfying conclusion to the character arc which began in the first film.  In terms of performances Taika Waititi manages to use Hemsworth’s comedic talents to strong effect, and Cate Blanchet makes for a menacing villain.  Valkyrie is Ragnarok’s breakout character and makes a wonderful addition to the sprawling cinematic universe.  The film is brought down by the amount of humour, as while much of it works, the rest falls flat.  While this tone is what makes for some of the film’s best moments, the movie bombards the viewer with jokes and one-liners, largely ignoring the dramatic potential inherent to it’s chosen story.

9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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Like most second films in the MCU, this one is not a great as it’s predecessor, but despite its flaws is still an engaging viewing experience.  The pacing towards the middle of the film is problematic, the comedy does not always work as well as James Gunn wants us to believe and the character’s personalities are heightened in all the wrong ways.  All that being said, the character relationships are still strong and they largely drive the film’s story.  Gunn’s selection of music is top-notch as usual and the third act is incredible, largely making up for the weaker aspects of the film’s middle.

8. Spider-Man: Homecoming

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Spider-Man’s first solo entry into the MCU is a fun teen superhero film that evokes the work of John Hughes, which creates an engaging coming of age story for the young protagonist.  Peter Parker learns how to be his own hero and do what he thinks is right, moving out of the shadow of his mentor Tony Stark.  Jon Watts’ film shows the difficulty in both learning to grow up and balance one’s responsibilities in one of the franchise’ most relatable movies.  It’s not a perfect film as the direction and action sequences are not always as good as the writing, but this character driven film is still a great viewing experience.

7. The Avengers

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The first cross-over film in the MCU, the one the defined the franchise and provided the direction that lead to Infinity War, was incredible.  It has the distinction of being the first major superhero cross-over in live action which immediately makes watching it a memorable experience.  It’s also a very fun, action packed film with talented actors portraying well-rounded characters.  The Battle for New York is a great action set piece and showcases each of the Avenger’s skill sets.  The Avengers has – as it’s only major flaw – a very generic concept behind its narrative, but the character interactions are what make this film special.

6. Captain America: Civil War

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This film, when you really think about it, makes absolutely no sense.  The thought process used by characters to arrive at the decisions they make seems questionable and exist purely to push the story forward.  The main villain’s plan would fall apart without a series of coincidences occurring that he could have in now way planned for… but the film is still great.  The emotional core of the film makes up for it, with Captain America’s friendships with Bucky driving the story as it comes into conflict with the relationships Rogers has built with his fellow Avengers.  The Airport Battle sequence is amazing to watch, with the film also debuting two character that would go on to become important parts of the MCU going forward.

5. Avengers: Infinity War

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While this film is by no means perfect, with some problems in how characters are portrayed and developed as well as allocations of screen time, it is an amazing technical achievement.  Infinity War is an epic film with numerous moving parts which the Russo Brothers do a good job in balancing to create a cohesive story.  Thanos, finally taking center stage after ten years of teasing, turns out to be a great antagonist who provides a very real threat to Earth’s mightiest heroes.  Add in a great musical score along with stunning visuals and you have one of the greatest superhero team-up movies ever made.

4. Iron Man

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By far the most underrated movie produced by Marvel, Iron Man is an entertaining and thought-provoking film that turned a B-list character into a household name.  Exploring war profiteering, the risks of advanced technology and the responsibility that comes with power – Iron Man is a riveting story that tells the tale of one man’s quest to better himself and to account for all the consequences of the life he had lead up until that point.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy

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An unexpected hit that no one saw coming, Guardians of the Galaxy was a risky venture that turned out to be an exceptional film.  The James Gunn lead superhero space-opera is about a group of outcasts who became a family, who could rely on and trust each other.  This thematic element, coupled with a kick-ass soundtrack and great cinematography make for one of Marvel’s best movies.

2. Black Panther

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What puts this film above the rest is how it directly addresses troubling aspects of history in it’s story and use them to create one the most well-developed antagonists to appear in an MCU film.  Now the film does have its fare share of pacing issues and suffers from poor CGI in more than one scene, but Ryan Coogler and his crew have crafted a superhero film that is both a compelling family drama and reflective of the discrimination experienced by minority groups.  Black Panther is an incredible viewing experience and one of the few MCU films to address real-world issues in a story that never feels ‘preachy’.

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Containing the political elements of previous films but lacking the pacing problems of Black Panther and having more intricate plot than Iron Man, The Winter Solider is the best MCU film thus far.  A well though out thriller that questions the blind faith that we can give out authority figures and questioning if invasions of privacy can be justified for the sake of National Security, this film weaves a compelling tale of one man learning that the world is bigger than some WWII propaganda.  With great direction from the Russo Brothers, amazing action set pieces and a twist no one saw coming; this film easily takes the number one spot on our list.

That’s our list! What’s your favourite MCU film? Let us know in the comments down below and on social media!

Avengers: Infinity War flies into theatres on April 27, 2018

 

 

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