With Hawkeye and No Way Home!
I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is easily my favorite movie franchise of all time. Most everything from Iron Man to Hawkeye is just fantastic. I am officially making my MCU ranking a tradition. In 2021 alone, Marvel Studios released nine projects: five TV shows and four movies. And they don't look to be slowing down in 2022, with three more movies and five more TV shows. With that much content, it'd be annoying to re-release my MCU ranking every time a new movie or show came on. So, when the final MCU project of the year comes out, I will release my MCU ranking. So this will not be updated until probably The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is released. With that said, here is my most recent MCU ranking, updated with What If...?, Shang-Chi, Eternals, Hawkeye, and No Way Home.
Be sure to check out my MCU movies ranking!! If you like what you see here, I have a ton of other MCU and superhero content on the blog. Please consider subscribing so that you never miss a ranking or review. Also, come back later this week for all of my end-of-year rankings!! It's going to be fun. Click here for my review of Spider-Man: No Way Home and here for my ranking of every 2021 superhero movie and TV show.
Iron Man / The Incredible Hulk / Iron Man 2 / Thor / Captain America: The First Avenger / The Avengers / Iron Man 3 / Thor: The Dark World / Captain America: The Winter Soldier / Guardians of the Galaxy / Avengers: Age of Ultron / Ant-Man / Captain America: Civil War / Doctor Strange / Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 / Spider-Man: Homecoming / Thor: Ragnarok / Black Panther / Avengers: Infinity War / Ant-Man and the Wasp / Captain Marvel / Avengers: Endgame / Spider-Man: Far From Home / WandaVision / The Falcon and the Winter Soldier / Black Widow / Loki / Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings / What If...? / Eternals / Spider-Man: No Way Home / Hawkeye
Tell me what you thought about this year in movies and about the blog this year by taking my end of year survey! I really want to know your opinions on movies as well as feedback you have for the blog. Please consider taking this survey. It will really help me out.
Sweet N' Sour End of Year Survey
32. Thor (2011)
Thor is the worst. It sucks. I understand why people like Iron Man 2 and 3. The Incredible Hulk isn't that bad, and neither is Thor: The Dark World. However, Thor is just horrible. It is so boring because it isn't really a superhero movie. Since Thor loses his powers, it's more a bad fish-out-of-water comedy with some ugly CGI action. Nothing about this film is fun, which is something rarely seen in the MCU.
31. Iron Man 3 (2013)
I can understand and appreciate Iron Man 3, but I don't like it. The Mandarin twist is pretty bad. Aldrich Killian isn't that good of a villain. And the film just drags in the middle. There isn't really any forward momentum, but the action is pretty great. It also tries to close out Iron Man's character arc...but that doesn't work, because this movie is followed by the rest of the Avengers movies.
30. Eternals (2021)
Hmmm. Eternals. Chloé Zhao's follow-up to the Best Picture-winning Nomadland is a different type of Marvel movie, but suffers from a cast of underdeveloped characters and bland CGI action. The way that Eternals is told makes it hard to relate to or like any of these characters. And the pace is extremely fast and extremely slow at the same time. When it isn't trying to stuff you full of information, Eternals is trying to have meaningful character moments...with characters that we don't know anything about. Unfortunately, I did not like Eternals. The MCU took a risk, and it did not pay off this time.
29. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The Incredible Hulk isn't bad. It isn't good. It's just more like...eh. The biggest complaint is that it feels disconnected with the rest of the MCU. Abomination isn't really a great villain. The CGI is pretty abysmal. But the rest of the movie is just like a mediocre superhero film, which is fine. Not good. Not bad. Fine.
28. Captain Marvel (2019)
Captain Marvel is also good. The acting and comedic elements of it are great. Some of the stuff that sets up the Avengers is super cool. I do think that the entire Kree-Skrull thing didn't completely work for me, though. Also, the politics surrounding the movie were very stupid. People just needed to shut up about Brie Larson and how unfit she was to play a lead superhero, and she also needed to not provoke them by fighting back.
27. Iron Man 2 (2010)
Iron Man 2 had potential, but it suffered from sequel overload. There are two main plot lines: Tony's heart disease and Justin Hammer and Whiplash's plan. The subplots include the government trying to take away the Iron Man suit, setup for The Avengers, and Tony and Pepper's romance. Way too much in a movie that is only 2 hours long. If two of those plots had been eliminated, then it's a good movie.
26. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
Everyone loved Shang-Chi. I am not everyone. While I did love Tony Leung's Mandarin, I thought that Shang-Chi suffered from being an MCU movie. It had the usual Marvel requirements: big, spectacle action with lots of CGI, one-liners and forced quips, and big connections to the rest of the Marvel universe. I think that the development of Shang-Chi and the Mandarin was great. I think Simu Liu will be great in future movies. However, I was extremely underwhelmed by this movie.
25. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
If you sum up Thor: The Dark World in one word, that word would be forgettable. It's a pretty dull and bland movie that offers some Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston charm, which is entertaining. The dynamic between Thor and Loki is what keeps this movie out of the bottom three. Malekith is a terrible villain, the central plot is pretty bad, but the characters and acting are both top notch.
24. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
The First Avenger is a fun movie. Red Skull is a good villain. Captain America's origin story is really entertaining to watch. The film has one of the most heartfelt endings in the MCU that has amazing payoff in Endgame. Where the film loses me is the last half. The origin story is fun, but after he become Captain America, it loses interest. There's a bunch of time jumps and not great storytelling, but the first half is great.
23. The Avengers (2012)
The Avengers is considered by many to be one of the best Marvel movies. I understand that it was a groundbreaking, revolutionary movie when it came out. But, being 100% honest, it's never hit me completely right. Of course it's a good movie. But I don't think that it's one of the best. It takes a while to get going, and there's a lot of scenes that get very talky. The action is fantastic, though, as is the cast.
22. What If...? (2021)
What If...? was a fun novelty that became a legitimately great show when Infinity Ultron nearly destroyed the multiverse in episode eight. However, I was extremely disappointed with the finale of the show. It traded the interesting mythology of The Watcher and the multiverse for the worst fantastical action of the show. Even though the finale was ultimately underwhelming, the show itself had some great episodes. The Doctor Strange episode is one of my favorite things that Marvel has ever done. And, partly because of those great episodes, I can say I am excited for season two.
21. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
I know, I know. I have Age of Ultron above The Avengers. Unlike The Avengers, Age of Ultron delivers a story that interests me more. I like seeing the faults of our heroes and how their decisions can sometimes lead to terrible things. I think that Ultron was a pretty good villain. The action was just as good. However, most of the movie is pretty forgettable, besides a couple of sequences involving Thor's hammer.
20. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017)
Guardians 2 is definitely one of the more divisive films in the MCU. It belongs pretty much right in the middle of this list. I think that Ego is a good villain. His relationship with Star-Lord was the second best part of the film, behind Baby Groot. I think that this movie is a little bit too overstuffed, though. We have three big villains; Ego, The Sovereign (The Gold People), and Taserface. Along with those villains, there are a bunch of different plotlines, some of which are trying to setup Infinity War. All in all, it's a fun, but flawed film.
19. Black Widow (2021)
Black Widow brings in new characters and sets up the future of Phase Four with a cool spy thriller prequel that is about five or six years too late. I had a fun time with this movie. While I was extremely disappointed by Taskmaster, I loved the chemistry and charisma of the family. I cannot wait to see more of Florence Pugh and Yelena Belova in Phase Four.
18. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the most beloved MCU films. I don't love it, but it is a really fun and surprising movie. I would've never thought that I'd watch a superhero movie where a tree and a raccoon share a generally emotional moment. Ronan is a pretty bland villain, though. That brings this movie down a bit. I do think that it does a better job in 2014 of setting up Infinity War than its sequel did in 2017. Overall, Guardians is a fun, weird film that works very well.
17. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021)
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was good. It had fabulous action and character work, but it felt very claustrophobic in the way that the story was told. For some reason, they stretched WandaVision out to nine episodes when it probably could've been six episodes, but The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was constrained into six episodes when it should've been eight or nine. The structure of the show is a mess. But, like I said, the characters are fabulous and the action is incredible.
16. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Ant-Man and the Wasp was a very refreshing movie. It came right after Infinity War, meaning that it was coming off of the biggest cliffhanger in movie history. It's a fun, harmless movie that doesn't have the fate of the universe on its shoulders. Paul Rudd dominates the screen with his charisma and how much of an idiot his character is. Not as good as the first one, but I like Ant-Man and the Wasp a lot.
15. Ant-Man (2015)
Ant-Man is just loads of fun. Everything is exciting and funny. Paul Rudd plays this different, strangely stupid superhero that we can all relate to. The heist is fun. The connections to the bigger MCU works. I like Yellowjacket. A lot of people don't, but I think that he is a good villain. I think that Ant-Man is a great film, and an underrated one at that.
14. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Civil War is a great movie. Yes, it is total fan fiction. But Marvel found a way to take the ridiculous idea of Earth's Mightiest Heroes fighting each other and made it earned. What each character does to provoke the other makes sense. Iron Man is scarred from the creation of Ultron, so he doesn't trust the Avengers to operate on their own. Captain America has seen the faults of government in Winter Soldier, so he doesn't trust the government. Add some great action and the introduction of Black Panther and Spider-Man, and you get one of the best films in the MCU.
13. Doctor Strange (2016)
The most visually impressive film on this list, Doctor Strange is the best usage of the usual Marvel formula. The fact that it uses the Marvel formula isn't great, but it works well. All of the action and magic and world-building of this movie are fantastic, and Benedict Cumberbatch's performance is great. Doctor Strange may have been a retread of some previous MCU films, but it opened the door for more mystical stuff in the future.
12. Iron Man (2008)
The first film in the MCU is still one of the best. Marvel took a risk with this film. The director of Elf and the actor who was in prison for drug use teaming up for a movie about a B-list superhero. Nobody had an idea that Iron Man would become the cultural phenomenon that it is now. It launched the most successful franchise in cinematic history, but remains one of the best for the story, villain, and, of course, Robert Downey, Jr.. It does sometimes pale in comparison to other, bigger MCU movies, but out of respect for being the first film in this incredible universe, I put it this high.
11. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Homecoming was one of the best experiences I've had in a theater. It was so much fun to watch. Vulture was a great villain. The twist was very surprising. Tom Holland's innocent portrayal of Peter Parker is the best version of the character that I've seen yet. Even the stuff with the extra technology in his suit is amazing. It's very rewatchable and very enjoyable, even if you aren't an MCU fan.
10. Hawkeye (2021)
I expected Hawkeye to be a lesser version of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Boy, was I wrong. Instead of feeling bogged down by the Marvel superhero formula, Hawkeye pulls inspiration from the Marvel Netflix shows in more ways than one: a smaller scale story, street-level action, and even a main villain that returns from Daredevil. Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld steal the spotlight as Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. While I wasn't crazy about the story as a whole, the characters and infections fun surprised me, making me love this show.
9. WandaVision (2021)
I loved WandaVision. Elizabeth Olsen was amazing and the story was really unique and fun. I'd say it was the second most emotional story that Marvel has told, behind Endgame, which is a high bar. The show's finale did not completely live up to expectations, but it was good enough. There are some frustrations created by fan theories, but it's an overall great and wonderfully different show that proved Marvel is staying right where it has been for the past ten years...at the top.
8. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Ragnarok takes the darker tone of the first two Thor films and tosses it out the window. I think that this is tied for funniest film in the MCU with Far From Home. The movie has some very funny moments, some great action, and a great soundtrack. Hela is one of the better MCU villains. We get to see Thor go absolutely sicko mode. I think that this would've closed out the Thor series perfectly, so hopefully, Love and Thunder lives up to Ragnarok.
7. Loki (2021)
Loki got progressively better. I dug the first episode. I wasn't crazy about it, but the second episode allowed me to get on board with the show. Episode three was a bump in the road. But then episode four had one smoothly played twist that launched the show into the stratosphere. The finale delivered on all fronts, introducing one major player and ending on an Infinity War-sized cliffhanger. I cannot wait for the second season where we see more of the TVA and more of Kang the Conqueror.
6. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
No Way Home is probably the movie that connects to the MCU the least. Homecoming and Far From Home are MCU movies. No Way Home is a Spider-Man movie. It culminates the Spidey saga in an extremely satisfying and wondrously fun way. All the fan service and nostalgia don't stop the character arcs and emotional moments from being great. This movie pushed Spider-Man up a spot, tying him with Batman for my favorite superhero of all time. I love what they did with it, and it's one of few movies that have truly met/surpassed my already sky high expectations.
5. Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Endgame is a finale done almost perfectly. There will never be another film like this. Everything pays off in the right place at the right time. The scale is massive, the stakes are huge, and we get the Avengers assembling for one last time. The last thirty minutes of Endgame are actual insanity. So much fan service after ten years of build up. The reason that this isn't number one is what they did with Thor's character. I did not like that. Otherwise, this movie is basically perfect.
4. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Far From Home delivers a very fun, funny, and action-packed sequel to Endgame. Some of the Mysterio sequences are breathtaking. I do think that Mysterio is one of my favorite MCU villains. He is played perfectly by Jake Gyllenhaal. The story works for me. I think that the EDITH glasses are fine. This acts as a good epilogue to the Infinity Saga, ending with a massive cliffhanger in those after-credits.
3. Black Panther (2018)
The only film on this list to be nominated for Best Picture, Black Panther is one of the most compelling and important films ever made. It's incredibly sad that we lost Chadwick Boseman, because he represented black power in superhero movies. Either way, we have one of the best villains in the MCU and possibly one of the best villains of all time in Killmonger. The story is so interesting and deep. This is the best directed film in the MCU, and it has some great action. On a quality level, Black Panther may be the best film in the MCU. Just a couple films beat it out on my list.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Winter Soldier is the most thrilling movie in this franchise. By making it a political thriller, the Russo brothers created a very fun, very exciting, very action-packed ride. Winter Soldier has the best choreographed action in a superhero movie that I have ever seen. The story is amazing, the performances are great, and the direction is fabulous. This may not be the biggest or most talked about film in the MCU, but it's one of the best.
1. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Simply the best. Infinity War was just so awesome when I saw it in the theater. Since 2018, I have seen it probably fifteen times. Absolute perfection. This is Thanos' movie. By making it almost a character study of him, we get one of the most interesting and complex mass murderers ever put on screen. Put in the action, the snap, and the exciting hunt for the Infinity Stones, and you have the best Marvel movie and the second-best superhero movie of all time.