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MCU ranked: part 1

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When I was made redundant earlier this year, there was only one thing I wanted to fill my spare time with… rewatching all of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in time for Avengers: Endgame.

I started on the morning of March 14th and ended on the night of April 20th, with the climax coming on April 25th – the release date of Avengers: Endgame.

This challenge meant that I lived eleven years of cinema within the space of a month and a half, 2,871 minutes of which were spent solely on the MCU.

There were a lot of ups and there was certainly a fair share of downs, but I got through it and it wasn’t going to be for nothing. With new-found knowledge and revisited rankings of each film, this is part one of my ranking of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

22. The Incredible Hulk

Kicking things off with a rather predictable choice is The Incredible Hulk.

The second film of the MCU, this was clearly at a point in which Marvel were experimenting with its movies in more ways than one to find a formula that worked.

Unlike the other Marvel films, this one does not seem to go for humour at all, bar a few minor jokes at the beginning of the film. And it’s also a lot more violent than every other entry to the MCU – at one point Hulk pulls a bone out of a creature’s body and spikes it into their head. Pretty brutal.

There are some good bits: the first thirty minutes are genuinely exciting and kick off the film brilliantly, plus Tim Roth’s simple, but effective villain is an excellent addition. However, sadly The Incredible Hulk just has nothing to it. There’s little to no plot, resulting in a boring movie that’s impossible to care about and somehow produced Edward Norton and Liv Taylor’s worst performances. How is that even possible!?

Overall it’s an interesting experiment within the Marvel world, but Marvel has essentially retconned it completely. It’s pretty much the worst MCU movie.

21. Thor: The Dark World

By far the worst Thor film and one of the worst MCU movies, Thor 2 is an unoriginal bore-fest.

It starts by ripping off the opening to Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring and tries very hard to be a fantasy movie, despite never having done so with any other Thor movies. While it fixes a few problems created by the original Thor, such as Jane and Thor’s chemistry, it isn’t enough to elevate it into a better movie.

20. Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange features some of the most astonishing special effects of all time, creating some truly stunning imagery. Sadly, the rest of the film doesn’t get the memo and you have to strain to even see Stephen Strange on screen due to the ridiculously dark lighting.

Doctor Strange features some of the most astonishing special effects of all time, creating some truly stunning imagery. Sadly, the rest of the film doesn’t get the memo and you have to strain to even see Stephen Strange on screen due to the ridiculously dark lighting.

While Doctor Strange offers up these spectacular effects, unfortunately, that’s almost all it offers, due to a boring story followed by a predictable structure.

19. Thor

Tainted angles. SO. MANY. TAINTED ANGLES.

Starting off with around one hundred tainted angles in thirty seconds, Thor follows the Marvel formula of following an unlikable hero as they develop into a good person.

Luckily, Thor’s development is very natural and once he begins to change, he becomes an incredibly likeable character.

Of all the Marvel films, it’s safe to say that Thor is one of the most epic, playing host to some extremely cool moments (such as Thor gaining back the power of Mjolnir, Heimdall breaking out of his frozen state and Thor destroying the Bifrost.)

While Thor is fun and stupendously entertaining, the direction and script ultimately drag it down.

Marvel Studios’ THOR: RAGNAROK Thor (Chris Hemsworth)

18. Iron Man 2

The second film in the Iron Man trilogy and the third film of the MCU.

Despite being almost a complete mirror image of the first Iron Man, the two films are also polar opposites.

While Iron Man was an explosive beginning to the MCU, promising something the world had never seen before (apart from the Kevin Smith fans out there of course), its sequel Iron Man 2 was merely a damp squib in the franchise.

Iron Man 2 follows Tony Stark living the life of a glamorous playboy who must face off against a villain created due to Stark and his family history. A familiar story in the Iron Man universe which sadly takes a little too long to develop this time around, with Stark acting like a petulant child for half of the film.

It makes you dislike Stark a little too much, creating a boring, disinteresting film with an unlikeable protagonist. The portrayal of Tony Stark is Iron Man 2’s biggest problem, but it’s not helped by the addition of two terrible villains. It gets better once Nick Fury gives Tony a row in a doughnut shop, but it just isn’t enough, creating one of Marvel’s lowest on the list.

17. Ant-Man and the Wasp

Whereas the first Ant-Man’s humour seemed to be ever so slightly outweighed by its action, the second instalment in the Ant-Man series focusing much more on comedy.

This isn’t a problem, as the movie is hilarious (the script was penned by Paul Rudd so makes sense), but almost everything else suffers. The film is still entertaining but suffers from one of the weakest villains Marvel has ever produced along with some disappointing action scenes.

16. Avengers: Age of Ultron

The second adventure that brings the gang back together should have felt like a huge event, but instead just comes across like any other Marvel movie.

The events that unfold go on to shape the entire MCU and bring on the events of Captain America: Civil War, but it just doesn’t seem like all that big of a deal.

The Sokovia Accords were brought about due to what the Avengers finished, not what Ultron started and it reflects in this movie with a severe lack of suspense as to who’ll win the battle.

There are some fun moments (Hulk vs Hulkbuster), some lovely character development for Hawkeye and brilliant foreshadowing towards Infinity War and Endgame, but it’s not enough to elevate Age of Ultron any higher than the drab affair that it is.

15. Ant-Man

Edgar Wright was originally set to direct this Marvel blockbuster but famously left halfway through shooting.

While this would usually lead to a messy film, Ant-Man’s problems come as no fault of the swapping in directors – Peyton Reed does a fantastic job in keeping with the tone and feel of the film that Wright started to create.

However, it was the script that brought problems. It’s enjoyable and as good as MCU’s introduction to Ant-Man could have been, but it offers nothing up to the MCU apart from Ant-Man’s debut and ultimately makes the film seem a little unimportant.

14. Captain Marvel

This was the latest MCU movie to be released, just before Avengers: Endgame. Captain Marvel has the first female lead in the form of Brie Larson. While the end credits of Avengers: Infinity War made the arrival of Captain Marvel very clear, this was our official introduction to the character.

Sadly the whole point of the film is seemingly the key problem. We know Captain Marvel will appear in Endgame, yet the film is set in the past, meaning that there’s no suspense whatsoever. Captain Marvel also possess a terrible villain.

In spite of these problems, Captain Marvel is still fun and manages to tie in neatly to the rest of the MCU.

13. Guardians of the Galaxy

Bursting with colour, charisma and an excellent soundtrack, this is the entry into the MCU that made it as popular with fans as it is with a general audience.

While it’s undeniably fun, hilarious and stupidly enjoyable, it’s the bad pacing that really lets it down, as well as some other major problems such as the forced relationship between Gamora and Starlord.

12. Captain America: First Avenger

The Fifth instalment to the MCU and the introduction to two characters who became critical members in the universe: Steve Rogers and James Barnes (Cap and Bucky).

This early instalment to the MCU is a tad slower paced than some of the more recent entries, taking its time to reveal the transformation of Steve Rogers to Captain America.

It’s easy to tell that it’s a product of the early days of the MCU due to the underwhelming villain, choreography and some rather dated CGI, but the origin story of Captain America alone is enough to make this one of the better entries.

11. Iron Man 3

It’s a shame Jon Favreau wasn’t chosen to direct this instalment of the Iron Man series, but Shane Black was the perfect replacement and his signature marks are all over it – most notably the buddy cop relationship between Tony and Harley.

While Tony having to spend the majority of the film without his suit isn’t exactly a unique idea in the world of superheroes, it does make for some genuinely exhilarating viewing.

Ready for part two? Find out who’s at the number 1 spot.

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