Captain America: Civil War finally hit theatres in North America this past weekend, the first film of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s the culmination of the twelve MCU movies that came before it, but also the springboard for the future of what has become one of the greatest cinematic sagas ever. I didn’t grow up a big Marvel Comics fan, but since 2008 I have been a devoted follower of the MCU, and rank some of the films among my favourites of all time. I could even like it more than the Star Wars saga, and that’s definitely saying something! I checked out Civil War last Thursday, witness it’s brilliance and have now ranked all of the MCU films, check it out below!
1) The Avengers (2012)
The hype level for “The Avengers” in 2012 was astronomical, and even though I wasn’t a die hard Marvel fan boy growing up, I was all about the Avengers hype. This movie far exceeded that hype and might be the greatest superhero movie ever! I remember walking out of the theatre on opening night on a high and immediately wanted to see it again. Joss Whedon set the benchmark for the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with this movie.
2) Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Even though this is a Captain America film and is totally a continuation of Cap’s story from “The Winter Soldier”, it really is an Avengers film. In many ways this movie is a direct continuation of Age of Ultron, and builds on many of the events that occurred in that film. What the Russo Brothers managed to do here is incredible: the battle of ideologies between Cap and Iron Man, the inclusion of so many supporting characters and the introductions of Black Panther and Spider-Man. It really is an incredible film, and would be #1 on this list; “The Avengers” still has the advantage of being the first of it’s kind, but “Civil War” comes pretty darn close.
3) Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Guardians was the MCU’s first foray into the cosmic side of the universe, and what started as a lesser known property became a new franchise that could even rival “The Avengers”. The best thing about the movie is the soundtrack made up of 60’s and 70’s hits that you would usually find on a Time Life commercial, but here they add a whole different dimension to this intergalactic tale. And despite introducing new characters that many fans (including myself before I picked up the “Guardians” comic), having a title like “Guardians of the Galaxy” makes the movie sound and feel like a team-up film, it’s like “The Avengers” in space.
4) Iron Man (2008)
This is the movie that started at all! I didn’t know much about Iron Man before I saw this movie back in 2008 and it was a great introduction. Robert Downey Jr. delivers an unforgettable performance as Tony Stark and it really sets up what we know as the MCU as we know it. In a summer when The Dark Knight dominated movie theatres, Iron Man came along and created a whole new template for superhero films.
5) Iron Man 3 (2013)
I know a lot of Marvel fans are not big on “Iron Man 3”, and I don’t get it! This movie is funny as hell and action packed, featuring some spectacular sequences: the attack on Tony’s mansion, the Barrel of Monkeys scene and the House Party sequence at the end are all really satisfying in the action department. I love the twist involving the Mandarin, and the performances are all stellar. This movie gets better every time I watch it!
6) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
You would think that a character named Captain America would be a flag waving, pro war, all American hero, but the character, and in particular the way Chris Evans portrays him, is much more complicated than that. This movie fires on all cylinders and really brings Cap into the modern world, and shows how this is a guy we can all relate to, American or not. Throw in some spy thriller elements and top notch action, and you got the makings of a modern classic. One of the best solo films in the MCU.
7) Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Like a lot of characters in the Marvel world, I knew their names growing up but not a lot about the characters themselves. I really enjoyed the World War II origins of Cap, and loved the classic “Indiana Jones” style adventure this movie offered. One of the best parts of this one other than Cap himself was Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter, who starts out as his love interest, but once Cap goes on ice she becomes so much more. I loved both seasons of the “Agent Carter” TV show which continued the period vibe of this movie.
8) Thor (2011)
The most I knew about Thor before this movie was that he was the favourite superhero of the little girl from Adventures in Babysitting (hey Vincent Donofrio!), and this film really introduced me to the character proper. Thor could be a silly character on film if done incorrectly, but thankfully Marvel Studios knew what they were doing and created a movie that is equal parts fantastical, funny and action packed. And it’s the movie that introduces the best villain of the MCU: Tom Hiddleston’s LOKI!
9) Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
This is where this list gets hard for me because I don’t dislike any of the MCU films, so even though Age of Ultron is at #8 on this list, I still really like it a lot! This film catches a lot of flack for not being as solid as the first “Avengers” film, but it’s a great comic book movie in it’s own right. Think of all the things we get in this film: the Hulkbuster, Scarlet Witch, the Vision, not to mention great scenes with Cap, Iron Man and the gang. The sequence of all the Avengers battling Ultron’s army during the film’s climax is worth the price of admission alone.
10) Ant-Man (2015)
A lot of people thought “Ant-Man” wouldn’t work as a movie, and they were proved totally wrong when it came out. This is really Marvel’s first full on comedy, but it doesn’t lack any of the superhero elements either. In a lot of ways this movie reminds of the first “Iron Man” – powered suits, corporate rivals, and a lot of laughs. And watching Ant-Man’s scenes in “Civil War” only makes this movie better in retrospect. Paul Rudd is a definite highlight in the role of Scott Lang!
11) The Incredible Hulk (2008)
This is the movie that feels most out of place in the MCU because Edward Norton didn’t continue on in the role of the Hulk. Even though it often gets overlooked, it’s a solid solo effort for the character. Every time I do a re-watch of the MCU I’m surprised how easy this film is to watch and how well it flows. A part of me still wishes that Edward Norton would have continued on as Bruce Banner/The Hulk in “The Avengers” but Mark Ruffalo is still awesome. There’s even a local connection with a lot of this movie being shot in Hamilton and Toronto!
12) Iron Man 2 (2010)
A lot of people give Iron Man 2 guff because they think it’s too focused on trying to set up “The Avengers”. In the end the film only has a couple scenes of set up, but it’s surrounded by a plot that wears a little thin. Mickey Rourke could be the worst villain in the MCU as Ivan Vanko, and in the end is too easily defeated by Iron Man and War Machine. This certainly isn’t a BAD movie, but it falls more onto the side of mediocre than awesome. Thankfully the quality has been on a pretty consistent upswing since 2010 when this one came out.
13) Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Poor Thor, the guy’s solo movies have never been well received by fans, even though they’re both solid efforts. Thor: The Dark World is a movie that continually ends up on the bottom of most MCU fans’ lists, but that’s just a result of the other MCU films being so damn good. The Dark World features solid performances and some good humour and action, but the Asgard sequences remind me of Star Wars: Episode II and Malekith is an under-used villain. Hopefully Thor gets the solo film he deserves when Thor: Ragnarok comes out in late 2017.