The Marvel Cinematic Universe is by far my favorite franchise in all of film. The characters, story arc and epic cinematic moments are just the tip of the iceberg of what the MCU can truly accomplish. Now, I am the biggest Iron Man stan you can find on the internet, but I can still come to terms and admit the fact that the Captain America trilogy is by far the best solo trilogy in the MCU. Consistently good, amazing performances and in my opinion, two of the top 5 best films in the MCU. Today, as part of the 10 year anniversary of Captain America: The First Avenger, I’m going to give my ranking of all 3 Captain America movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
#3: Captain America: The First Avenger
Directed by: Joe Johnston
SYNOPSIS: During World War II, Steve Rogers is a sickly man from Brooklyn who’s transformed into super-soldier Captain America to aid in the war effort. Rogers must stop the Red Skull—Adolf Hitler’s ruthless head of weaponry, and the leader of an organization that intends to use a mysterious device of untold powers for world domination.
The first is, in my opinion, the weakest. Marvel Studios was still in the process of figuring out what they wanted to do in terms of storytelling, both in an origin story, but for the overall story of the universe. With that being said, it is a messy film that is still trying to attempt to gain its identity. Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan’s relationship as Steve and Bucky is the best part of the film (Besides the WWII montage). Steve’s story is well written and the chemistry with Peggy is infectious. The death of Bucky is heartbreaking and the stakes in the film are real (until Winter Soldier). One of my biggest issues is with Red Skull. He is a fine villain, nothing too bad and nothing too good. Again, this is when the MCU is still getting its feet under it, so the villains are still not in full form with Iron Man 2 being another example. This is the weakest of the bunch, but the upside is absolutely there.
#2: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Directed by: Joe and Anthony Russo
SYNOPSIS: After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America is living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy—the Winter Soldier.
A complete tonal shift for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The thing so successful and groundbreaking about this film is how it decided to push the boundaries of superhero movies and tackled a different genre. The spy-espionage genre is one that I love, and to take that and infuse it into a superhero movie was something not really done before. YES, I know the Dark Knight trilogy broke the barriers of genre in superhero movies, but I’m talking about the MCU here. Robert Redford is a brilliant villain, the realization that Bucky is back is shocking and all of the twists and turns make this a thrilling story from start to finish. It also houses one of the best action sequences in the MCU (elevator fight). The MCU debut of the Russo Brothers and one of the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
#1: Captain America: Civil War
Directed by: Joe and Anthony Russo
SYNOPSIS: Following the events of Age of Ultron, the collective governments of the world pass an act designed to regulate all superhuman activity. This polarizes opinion amongst the Avengers, causing two factions to side with Iron Man or Captain America, which causes an epic battle between former allies.
The best movie of the bunch. Not only does it have brilliant action set pieces and realistically act as an Avengers 2.5. But it also has the best story of all three. Steve Rogers is conflicted, not just because of the Sokovia Accords, but because of a personal demon that ends up severing the relationship between Steve and Tony. The film’s writing is perfect, starting as a conflict between the Avengers and transforms into a psychological battle between two best friends, culminating in the loss of not just a partnership, but that friendship. The film is the catalyst to what is to come in the MCU and the window necessary to guide us to the epic conclusion in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
The MCU has become one of the best written franchises in terms of pure world-building the story combined. The Captain America trilogy is one of the best examples of this storytelling in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Happy birthday Captain America: The First Avenger, look how far we’ve come. Who would have thought after 10 years that we’d be where we are today with this wide expansive universe of characters and stories.