A comprehensive ranking of every Marvel film
Part of every journey is the end, and Avengers: Endgame serves as a bittersweet sendoff to the original six Avengers whom fans connected with over the past 11 years.
Aside from ending the collective journey of the original Avengers, the film opens the doors to new journeys for many of the returning characters such as Black Panther.
Aside from setting up the future of Marvel Studios, Endgame is a love-letter to the 21 films that predated it. This is The Ticker’s guide to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, post-Endgame. And, of course, spoiler alert.
“I can do this all day” – The Best of the Best
1. Avengers: Endgame: No, this isn’t recency bias. What Endgame does best is what made fans invested in the first place; it focuses on the characters. They’re the reason the fans keep coming back and Endgame ensures every character has their moment to shine. The movie doesn’t skimp on action at all and features one of the best on-screen battles in history.
Fan service is often a negative term, but in this case, it’s nearly perfected, as moments built up over 21 films finally pay off in this film. Add that to a poignant story, emotional payoffs and laugh out loud humor and you have a recipe for the perfect MCU film.
2. Avengers: Infinity War: Arguably the darkest film in the MCU, Infinity War features an Empire Strikes Back-esque ending in which the villain Thanos actually wins. The most interesting part is that Thanos is arguably the protagonist. Most of the film is told from his lens, which led many viewers to connect with his vision to restore balance and harmony to the universe — nice. While it is one of the funniest movies in the MCU, it also is one of the most violent and shocking. While the film features more action than Endgame, it doesn’t flesh out characters or have them interact as much as the latter does.
3. Captain America: The Winter Solider: This film arguably changed the MCU and the way the films are approached. This film is perhaps the one most grounded in reality — despite the fact that the plot revolves around two 90-year-old super-soldier best friends who were frozen in ice for 70 years fighting on flying aircraft carriers.
The film is emotional, action-packed and cements Captain America as more than a guy in blue tights with a shield. It cements him as someone who is willing to pay the high price of freedom, despite learning everything he thought he knew to be true was wrong.
4. Thor: Ragnarok: Thor was always seen as arguably the most boring Avenger. That all changed with 2017’s Ragnarok, thanks to Chris Hemsworth’s expert comic portrayal and Taika Waititi’s direction. Thor went from boring and bland with a hammer to funny and emotional with supercharged lightning powers without a hammer. To say that Ragnarok is a soft reboot of the character is an understatement.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy: Heart: That’s the best word to describe this film. The comic Guardians have a legacy nowhere near that of the film Guardians have established just two films in. The entire cast make up a motley crew consisting of an orphan with a Walkman loaded with ‘70s music, a beast known as the Destroyer, a talking tree that can only say “I am Groot,” a blue-skinned outlaw with a southern accent, the adopted daughter of a genocidal warmonger and a talking raccoon. Together, most of this band of degenerates learns to work together and defeat Ronin the Accuser, How do they win you ask? By distracting him with a dance off.
6. Iron Man: Without this film’s surprise success, credited to Robert Downey Jr.’s comeback portrayal of Tony Stark, this article wouldn’t be written. The movie portrays a different kind of superhero — one who really is kind of a jerk. It also subverts expectations by ending the movie with the hero revealing his identity with four of the most important lines in the MCU, four words that hit so much harder after Endgame: “I am Iron Man.”
7. The Avengers: Joss Whedon’s 2012 Avengers took fans on one of the most exciting journeys in film up to that point. The film stands alone brilliantly, but it does a great job of explaining who is who in the film, establishing a clear arc and offering a mostly-definite conclusion, unlike some other Marvel movies — all while rewarding fans who had seen phase one films up to that point. Not only did it meet expectations, it blew them away.
8. Captain America: Civil War: “Civil War” was one of the biggest comic book runs of all time, and when fans heard it was going to be adapted to the big screen, they were thrilled. The film pits Tony Stark against Steve Rogers in a battle of moral ideology — should the Avengers have oversight.
The visuals are stunning; Black Panther and Spider-Man are introduced brilliantly and while the film can be seen as “Avengers 2.5,” it does serve as a fitting conclusion to Steve Rogers’ three-film Captain America arc while directly affecting the future of the MCU.
“Is it still the greatest movie ever?” “It never was.” – The Best of the Rest
9. Black Panther: Black Panther is easily one of the most groundbreaking movies of this generation. The film is the first comic book movie to feature a predominantly African-American cast and it absolutely thrives behind it. While the story is very much similar to that of other Marvel movies, it is still a poignant story of redemption, sacrifice and destiny.
10. Spider-Man: Homecoming: Homecoming feels more like a coming of age movie than a super hero movie, and that’s okay. Robert Downey Jr. returns to “mentor” Peter Parker, played by Tom Holland, who struggles to balance his normal life with being Spider-Man.”
The film deals with Peter’s journey trying to do too much for the neighborhood — he simply wasn’t ready, according to Stark — before reaching rock-bottom, losing his suit and facing off against his girlfriend’s father, Vulture, played by Michael Keaton. It’s a fun ride and serves as one of the better installments in the MCU.
11. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Coming off the heels of Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp serves as an MCU palate cleanser. However, to understand Endgame, this is a must watch film, as it really explores the Quantum Realm — used for time travel in Endgame — and introduced Hope Van Dyne’s iteration of the Wasp. It also explains Scott Lang’s absence in Infinity War and builds on his relationship with his daughter. The MCU is very much so about family and Scott Lang’s family — or families — are integral in his journey from a petty crook to a hero.
12. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: It’s nearly impossible to live up to the hype of the first Guardians film, however, Vol. 2 very nearly does so. Much like Ant-Man, this film expands on the concept of family through the relationship between Peter Quill and his evil god-like father, the relationship between sisters Gamora and Nebula, the relationship among the Guardians themselves and the relationship with Rocket.
What ensues is a heartfelt, yet laugh out loud funny adventure among the stars with the dysfunctional family we all feel we’re a part of. Plus, the soundtrack only gets better.
13. Ant-Man: The first Ant-Man film was no tiny feat — pun intended. Ant-Man was always an important comic character, but never front and center — especially Scott Lang’s version. The film centers around father-daughter relationships and their emotional weight while being incredibly funny. Scott Lang even suggests that “the first thing [they] should do is call the Avengers.” However, in the end, they didn’t need the Avengers and created a new, albeit tiny hero.
14. Avengers: Age of Ultron: Audiences were split on the film’s comedic portrayal of Ultron as well as the film’s second act which features a strange Thor subplot and the Avengers holed up at the Barton safehouse. However, this film gets a lot of love in Endgame, and in retrospect, it’s an incredibly important chapter of the MCU.
15. Captain Marvel: Captain Marvel is arguably the most powerful hero in the MCU. Rightfully so, however, her first solo outing portrays her as a fish out of water in the 1990s with no clue of how much potential she has. The film features unexpected twists and turns along the way and serves as an incredibly fun way to introduce Captain Marvel.
16. Doctor Strange: Visually, Doctor Strange is one of the most beautiful movies in the MCU. The plot is very similar to that of Iron Man — a rich guy faces adversity and saves the world soon thereafter. However, Doctor Strange is far more mystical and spiritual along that journey and allows for a fun ride that ends with one of the most intriguing final “battles” in the MCU.
17. Iron Man 3: One of the most divisive movies in the MCU features Iron Man in name, Tony Stark in practice, which is what makes it so enjoyable. Sure, fans were upset about the Mandarin “twist” at the end, but it’s still a fun ride. His words to Peter Parker in Homecoming are derived from his experiences in this film — if you’re nothing without the suit then you don’t deserve it. Tony proved he deserved his suit and that with or without it, he is still Iron Man.
18. Captain America: The First Avenger: The film introduces us to a scrawny Steve Rogers and leaves us with Captain America. It also introduces us to Peggy Carter, the love of Steve’s life, teases his last dance and leaves fans with the most heartbreaking last words of a film, “I had a date.”
“Dread It, Run from It.” – Still Fun, but Forgettable
19. Iron Man 2: Iron Man 2 isn’t a bad movie, but falls into the same category as the other bottom-tier MCU movies. It’s still a fun ride that introduces fans to Don Cheadle rather than Terrence Howard as War Machine. It also introduces more of the Avengers Initiative, introduces Black Widow and shows a broken, alcoholic Tony Stark who sinks to his lowest depths before rising back up.
20. Thor: The film’s extensive use of the Dutch tilt and incredibly Shakespearean tone make it slightly boring. However, it does introduce the character and his evil brother Loki effectively and paints him as the more traditional Thor. Still, however, Hemsworth’s portrayal of the God of Thunder is incredibly fun, especially in Thor’s first moments on Earth.
21. Thor: The Dark World: See: Thor, except add a portion explaining that an infinity stone— or angry sludge — is shown in the film and that Thor’s mom dies tragically. Oh, and Dark Elves. Those happened too — as Thor said in Endgame “ooh scary.”
22. The Incredible Hulk: This movie isn’t that bad, but it’s forgettable, especially considering that the main character of the film was recast and any loose ends are left untied and the film doesn’t do much to help Hulk as a character. However, it was one of the first MCU films and it’s still a fun popcorn movie.