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So, the world is still reeling from the colossal shock and power that was the third Avengers movie, yet the nineteenth MCU movie. As I was left awestruck by ‘that’ cliff-hanger, I began to think about my ranking of the MCU films. This is mainly caused by my girlfriend accusing me of not liking Infinity War. The truth is I liked it fine enough – it delivered the appropriate Marvel thrills – yet in the grand scheme of things, I rate a lot of the other MCU efforts before it. I found myself subconsciously ordering them in my head, all the while wondering why I have never done that on this blog before. So without further ado, for the next three weeks, I shall be explaining to you what order I personally think the Marvel movies come in. Please remember this is my personal opinion: Hemsworth fans, please do not be waiting outside my house with cricket bats. Again!

19 – THE INCREDIBLE HULK

The hardest film to rank was picking the one that came last. And in fairness, it speaks volumes for Feige’s universe that even his worst film has its fair share of qualities. To a degree, this is a franchise without a single poor movie to its name and, at 19 films and counting, that is half of an achievement. Even 007 hit the odd duff note (Moonraker), on its mammoth run. The bottom half of this list would be a lot easier if I could open it up to non-MCU movies, where quality stops becoming guaranteed (the Fantastic Four movies, Wolverine’s origin film). As it stands, the worst film here had to go to one of the very early efforts from Feige – The Incredible Hulk.

In fairness, there wasn’t too much that could be done with the Hulk. He has always been the hardest superhero to turn into a coherent storyline that isn’t just SMASH SMASH! There is something very bog standard about this film, as if Feige is just ticking boxes, putting his own stamp on the Hulk, before calling the character in for his big Avengers movie. It doesn’t quite feel like it fits in with the bigger picture either, with The Incredible Hulk, not really tackling an origin (it does a brief prologue and then jumps five years down the line), and Edward Norton not even making it for the big team-up. If it wasn’t for Downey Jr popping up in the post-credits sequence, you would think it was just another failed pre-Feige Hulk film. The final verdict of Incredible Hulk is that, it is probably as good as a Hulk film could be, but the idea of another solo Banner film doesn’t really appeal to anyone.

18 – IRON MAN 2

Another early effort for Feige. Iron Man 2 is another Marvel movie that feels strangely adrift from the other MCU efforts. It doesn’t really do anything for the wider universe. While Black Widow gets her own mini origin movie (although not really, as she is well into her assassin training by the time she appears), the rest of the film seems to be focused on the job of making Tony Stark as likeable as possible, so the MCU has a safety net, when things stop going their way. Essentially the end result is a very passable affair from Marvel. Enjoyable fun, but when you start comparing movies, this is the first one to begin to lose its shine.

17 – THOR: THE DARK WORLD

For the full review, click here.

Thor is a very frustrating hero for me. As a comic reader, I disliked the character. He felt like Marvel’s answer to Superman, an unstoppable muscleman, who could travel through space at crazy speeds and had the power of a God. It wasn’t really much fun watching him do his thing in the Avengers comics. At least Superman’s Clark Kent had charisma and a burning romance with Lois Lane; Thor speaks in Shakespearian language and swaggers through the Avengers team, like an arrogant spoiled brat. However, then Branagh cast Hemsworth and totally sold me on the character. Thor had depth, charm and entertainment plastered all over him and each one of his movies opened up the narrative into exciting places. The opportunities available to mine seemed extensive.

Yet the Thor sequels have really let the side down for me. The Dark World was the first time I remember feeling exhausted, not exhilarated, by the bulk of Marvel movies created each year. The plot seemed so promising with Thor jumping from his realm to Earth, battling Christopher Ecclestone’s Dark Elf army. We were assured a more thorough look at Asgard, diving deeper into the mythology that made Thor stand out from the other heroes. But the end result was a tattered mess, with a villain too caked in prosthetics to emote, a plot filled with MacGuffins and Norse babble and a supporting cast that weren’t too sure how to expand on their characters. Skarsgard went down the funny route. Portman awkwardly attempted to do something with Jane. Hiddleston felt under-used now Loki was stepping away from the spotlight. If it wasn’t for Hemsworth or an inventive finale fight, The Dark World would have easily fallen to the bottom of this list.

16 – THOR: RAGNAROK

For the full review, click here.

Sorry, Hemsworth fans. I am really not liking the Thor sequels.

Listing the Marvel movies is an interesting re-evaluation period for me. 2017 was a low point for the MCU in my books, because all three Marvel movies aimed for laughs, ignoring depth. Whedon definitely sparked a quipping first-drama second nature that made a few of the riskier gambits easier to digest. However, perhaps with DC highlighting how disastrous cutting out the jokes could be, it felt like Marvel were desperate to not back-track. Therefore, movie after movie failed to take itself seriously, creating a sensation that Feige was slowly losing his touch on the franchise. However, was my disdain for each movie actually a case of each movie getting worse, or was it simply the chronology, where any film that failed to correct what went wrong last time seemed like an even more heinous mistake in my eyes. Therefore, I looked over the “funny” films once again and re-evaluated which ones were actually the big offenders.

And Thor: Ragnarok became that for me. My biggest issue with Ragnarok was that the humour didn’t always feel needed. Sometimes it just got in the way. There was a tremendous storyline at the heart of Ragnarok with a scorned half-sister rising up to take Asgard, able to crush Thor with scary ease. Ragnarok was a fish out of water tale of Thor working his courage back up to take her out. Yeah, it has been done before (every Mission Impossible movie), but with Jeff Goldblum’s alien gladiator ring and the appearance of the Hulk, there was enough here to make it feel exciting. However, Ragnarok never stopped laughing at itself to realise how golden a script it had. Some will admire Waititi’s vision here, but my opinion is that the writers were too busy making each other laugh to take their job seriously.

15 – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2

For the full review, click here.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was the next funny 2017 film that disappointed me. Its advantage over Ragnarok is that, at the very least, Guardians was meant to be funny. No one came here for dark drama; this is a story about a bickering cowboy, scorned alien, hulking warrior, smart-mouthed raccoon and a tree trying to live together. No, Guardians’ jokes felt natural – yet there was still an emptiness here, as though Marvel could have done something more. There is this feeling of security which bothers me about Guardians 2; some of the jokes just come too easily. Let’s play another nostalgic song while someone does something funny. Let’s build up a big fight and undercut the tension with a pun. Guardians 2 is the class joker of the Marvel universe, able to win people over with a smile and a nod, but when you begin to dissect what makes them great, you are left with a shoe-horned David Hasselhoff cameo and Pratt flirting with an alien queen in space.

14 – ANT-MAN

For the full review, click here.

You have to feel for Ant-Man. I struggled to find anything that Ant-Man really did wrong; the sad truth is that it is just a middle-of-the-pack film. A superhero that shrinks just doesn’t lend itself to cinematic excellence and the entire film seems dancing around the fact that it is stuck with the bottom of the barrel in terms of storylines. They do the best they can with three terrific lead actors in the foreground. Evangeline Lilly is one of the flag-bearers for female Marvel heroes, Michael Douglas can do no wrong and Paul Rudd is a left-field, yet inspired choice for leading man. With Rudd at the helm, the movie feels like it has a good salesman at the helm of the project. He is funny, charming and provides a heart that holds a bridge out to the audience.

There are a few things that hold Ant-Man back though. One – the film was a production nightmare with the incredible Edgar Wright leaving the director’s chair early on. Ant-Man will always feel like the shell of a much better film, because of that very large shadow. Every moment it is just good enough feels all the more criminal. Take the villain, Yellowjacket, who is the most average of all the Marvel villains. He isn’t bad – just not exciting. There isn’t enough of a draw to take you back to Ant-Man time and time again. You just fancy sticking another Iron Man on.

13 – IRON MAN

For the full review, click here.

Here, we begin to see Marvel hit its stride. To a large degree, the only reason Iron Man is this low down on my Marvel list is because that it was the first one and Feige hadn’t quite laid the groundworks for what he wanted to do. Like The Incredible Hulk, this was before the universe-building, so if it wasn’t for a Nick Fury appearance late on, which feels more like a self-aware fan service than the start of something amazing, the MCU’s game plan would be just a blip on the horizon. Iron Man is simply another origin story.

That being said, what an origin story! Robert Downey Jr is one of the casting choices of Feige’s career, a risky has-been, who turned into a hero who spews charisma with the tiniest line of dialogue. This is Robert Downey Jr’s movie, as he struts and swaggers through the entire production. At the same time, the movie finds unexpected emotional highs, as Iron Man’s journey of redemption accidentally mirrors with the actor’s own rise from the ashes. Perhaps another reason this is so low on the list is because it does feel like an one-man show, but that is nothing more than a slight niggle in the back of your mind. At the end of the day, Iron Man is a highly entertaining movie and more than enough reason to instantly start franchise-building.

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