Binge Watch: Ranking the MCU, Pt. 1

The Summer Movie Season officially begins with Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, which opens on May 6. In the run up to that, I’m going to be offering my ranking for the existing films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are 27 released so far, so for the next three weeks I’ll be looking at nine films a week, offered in ascending order. Today I kick off with films 27 to 19. Happy re-watching!

27. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
This was the second film for the MCU but it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work to the point that Bruce Banner was re-cast. It’s not the worst superhero movie I’ve ever seen but it certainly is the worst of the MCU films. This probably isn’t a controversial choice.

26. Ant-Man (2015)
Here’s where things get fun. I’m probably an outlier, but I really disliked the first Ant-Man film. Upon re-watches I moved it out of the bottom spot but I think it’s a misfire despite a likeable lead in Paul Rudd.

25. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
There’s only one Thor standalone film that has been truly great, but it’s an easy pick to say this sequel was a low point. Chris Hemsworth is great in the role but this film drags in weird ways. It is watchable, but that’s about the kindest thing I can say.

24. Iron Man 2 (2010)
Another sequel that doesn’t really work. Mickey Rourke feels wrong in the part and there is a lot about the production here that doesn’t quite work. The original Iron Man film is great, the sequels were just OK.

23. Thor (2011)
I like Kenneth Branagh, and I don’t think this film is awful, it just represents an MCU that was still finding its way. The style here isn’t for everyone. I liked the film OK but it doesn’t stand out as one of the best offerings in the MCU.

22. Iron Man 3 (2013)
I like Shane Black as a writer/director. He’s great at crafting a certain type of police film. I don’t know if this film let him ply his gifts perfectly. It’s not a bad film. It’s entertaining and is fun as a Christmas film—another Black trademark. But mostly it’s just OK.

21. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Maybe the MCU just wasn’t good at sequels early on? This is the second Avengers film, another film with lofty ambitions that don’t quite land. It’s probably not as bad as some people like to say but it’s far from incredible. Still, it features a number of things that help advance the MCU and it has some fun moments.

20. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
If you’ve been reading this piece, you know I didn’t care for Ant-Man. The character is fine, the film felt like a big swing and a miss. By contrast, I was kind of into this sequel. I know what you’re thinking—it’s still only ranked as No. 20. Well, that should tell you something about the quality and standards set in the MCU. There are at least 25 truly watchable films so far in the MCU for me. This is a decent film that was a lot of fun and a nice bridge between some heavier installments.

19. Doctor Strange (2016)
Some people didn’t care for the cinematic style here. I know the casting choice for Tilda Swinton probably wasn’t incredible, either, but I appreciate Benedict Cumberbatch in the role. I also enjoyed the cinematic style here and the characters played by Mads Mikkelsen and Chiwetel Ejiofor. I think this film is better than some have said.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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