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And finally, we are here. The last part of my Marvel movie ranking list. By now we have whittled out the worst of the Marvel movies and the average ones. By the end of the second half, we were actually getting pretty good with the expectation-defying Guardians of the Galaxy and the fun-filled, entertaining Age of Ultron. But now we have hit the top five. The best of the best. For the stragglers who found this article via Google, we you can find Part One and Part Two here. For everyone else, please dive in.

5 – BLACK PANTHER

For the full review, click here.

There is a lot to like about Black Panther. Let’s start with the political reasons for liking this film first. It is a movie that doesn’t just have a black leading man, something embarrassingly absent from a franchise with this many movies to its name, but an entire black cast. Talk about making up for lost time. Black Panther finds its own tone, humour and style, breaking away from the stock Marvel movie and becoming something special in its own right. Yet, this also isn’t the film that a few audiences members feared it would be, the political and cultural aspects of Black Panther burning in the subtext on the movie, rather than dominating the plot. Black Panther stands on its own two feet, so looking back, when the idea of current affairs that Black Panther’s narrative has become a part of has died down, the movie still works.

It is an entertaining thrill-ride from start to finish. Ever since quietly stealing the show in Civil War, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther has proven a character capable of an interesting exploration. The writers work hard to break his regal origins away from the style of Thor and create an original figure in T’Challa. He is surrounded by a great supporting cast, with Michael B. Jordan’s villain surprisingly easy to side with, Letita Wright becoming one of the better characters from the MCU and Andy Serkis providing the stock Marvel figure, but playing it with such glee and charisma you want him to stick around longer. By the time the movie hits its stride, you forget how important it actually is – that is for the media to pick apart later – right now, your job is to be entertained. And that job has rarely been easier.

4 – IRON MAN 3

For the full review, click here.

Iron Man’s movies have been surprisingly low on the chart up until now. Perhaps it is the fact that Robert Downey Jr’s previous movies marks a time when the MCU felt like generic superhero movies, albeit very good ones. Iron Man 3 feels like Stark revisited after the first Avengers movie and modernised.

This sensation is strengthened with this sense that Shane Black, one of the sharpest writers in Hollywood and a treasured contact in Downey Jr’s phone book, is going through the Iron Man filmography and corrected the themes as he goes. The first realisation Black makes is that Tony Stark is more interesting than Iron Man. Therefore, he writes in a slickly plotted narrative that forces Stark to spend more time out of the suit. Part of that is having a new upgrade where Stark’s suits don’t necessarily need him inside them to work. Part of it is simply having Stark sharp enough to handle himself without his armour. Stark becomes more of a sarcastic 007 in this entry, always thinking on his feet and surviving even when he is on the backfoot.

But the real reason Iron Man 3 is the fourth best Marvel movie in my book is the conclusion. Back when Black was gifted the script, Robert Downey Jr’s contract has run out and he was scheduled to leave the series. While he has always been tempted back in because of a meaty storyline or an extortionate amount of pay, at this point in time, Iron Man 3 was looking like Stark’s last foray into the MCU. And Black writes such a fond farewell to the character that it marks one of those rare treats (Dark Knight Rises, Logan), where you don’t mind never seeing the character again, because he has just been given such a strong ending. When Downey Jr decides it is time to leave, for real, the writers are going to have to work very hard to top this effort.

3 – CAPTAIN AMERICA – THE WINTER SOLDIER

For the full review, click here.

There was a time when Marvel movies began to get a bit predictable. A big, nasty villain showed up at an appropriate in a hero’s character arc, caused some mayhem, got beaten – usually in a big CGI fight in the sky. While the MCU managed to find fresh ways to tell this story, there did definitely seem to be a system in place, a formula that made Feige’s Marvel movies a little bit too easy to see coming. That was until The Winter Soldier.

To say that the twist ending here is the only reason Winter Soldier is a good movie is doing it a lot of injustice. There are several pockets of superb moments buried in this film, including but not limited to the finest fight scenes in Marvel’s running, the growth of certain characters and the fact that Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury is given more to do than he has in a long time. However, the shock twist hidden in Winter Soldier (and I am not even talking about Bucky’s return, which, in retrospect, was the easily guessable twist that was supposed to hide the fact that there an even bigger shock coming), is so mind-blowing and narrative-crumbling, the very essence of the MCU was changed. If S.H.I.E.L.D could be brought down, what else would Feige be willing to do? We have never looked at the movies with the same sense of comfort since, which makes it even more gut-wrenching that we didn’t see Infinity War’s climax coming.

2 – CAPTAIN AMERICA – CIVIL WAR

For the full review, click here.

However, in terms of Marvel movies being totally different than what you would expect, has any broken expectation as much as Civil War? I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few people out there who classed Civil War as the worst of the Marvel movies. It breaks expectations so freely that, especially clocking as the longest Marvel movie to date, some may feel cheated by the end product, lengthy fight scenes and all-powerful villains replaced for emotional drama and talking head scenes. But Civil War recognises the characters at the heart of this story as some of the most three-dimensional a superhero movie has ever had. Feige deemed it time to unlock some of that raw characterisation. This is a movie not trying to win the audience over with massive rug-pulls or plot twists, but a movie more concerned with the smaller shocks, gradual changes in relationships that sees a character totally evolve in the space of a movie. By the time, Captain America and Iron Man get together for the finale, you are left emotionally drained by the sheer drama in this movie.

Of course, the Russo Brothers saw fit to include at least one extensive punch-up, so the superhero trademarks were at least present. What follows is one of the greatest moments in Marvel history with heroes turning on heroes. It is the playing with each power and character that makes the scene so interesting. Those age-old questions are answered: who is stronger – War Machine or Falcon? Can Spider-Man’s webs hold Winter Soldier? What happens when Black Widow and Hawkeye meet on the battlefield? The fight is Marvel at its most inventive, introducing new characters in great fashion and also working in old heroes in new lights. Who expected Paul Rudd to steal the scene with such great fashion? It is one of those cracking set-pieces that proves just how talented the writers behind Marvel truly are.

1 – AVENGERS ASSEMBLE

For the full review, click here.

But the greatest Marvel movie of all time still has to be the movie that brought them altogether. Avengers Assemble is so mesmerizingly great that it is surprisingly hard to actually put into words. Just how well Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige managed to pull this big universes together and tie them into a coherent and balanced storyline.

Faith was one thing. Compare it to the Justice League movie which appeared to be unsure of itself. It threw in messy plot points, CGI villains and unneeded punch-ups. Avengers Assemble believes in itself, trusting in the movies that came before it. People like Iron Man. People like Thor. Instead, they open on the less known supporting characters. Nick Fury takes the first scene, developing him as more than a man behind an office chair, while letting us know that Loki will be on bad guy’s duties this time around (reason enough to place this movie first). Then we turn to the less established characters like Black Widow and the newly-cast Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk. We fall in love with their characters, which helps put everyone on an even keel. And then we slowly remind ourselves about the bigger faces, with small yet exciting re-introductions. There is no need to overdo these bits of the movie, because that means there is more time and budget for later. Restraint is another massive winner here. Justice League forced big moment after big moment. Whedon focuses more on the inter-play between the heroes, most of the movie set on their home-turf, as the stakes are ramped up.

Then there is the fact that Whedon appears to unlock the best in every character. While we have had these heroes and actors before, Whedon takes them to new levels, realising what makes them tick and which elements of the characters the audience would appreciate seeing the most. Whedon and Downey Jr seem to synch up in term of sarcasm. Scarlett Johansson gets a feminist make-over, taking her from the sex symbol in Iron Man 2 to the bad-ass warrior of Assemble. Whedon recognises the fun that can be had with Loki and writes a villain that brings true menace to proceedings. Avengers Assemble really marks the moment where the characters we loved actually picked up all the things that made them tick. After this movie, there is a real sense of the MCU walking away with a clear idea of how to continue the series. Phase 2 saw everyone pick up their game and hammer home Feige’s vision.

And then there is, of course, the fight scene. That big splash page where Cap, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Widow and Hawkeye take on an alien army in Manhattan. Yes, it is silliness at its best, every hero apparently immortal and capable of taking on hundreds of foes at once – the Chitauri mark the biggest red shirts of the franchise so far. But it also feels like the exact thing Feige got into the superhero game to see. There is nothing outside of the MCU quite like this battle – from the 360 shot of the heroes together at last, to the tracking shot that picks out each hero in the battle, to the end which sees Loki get smashed by the Hulk. Perfection!

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One thought on “All 19 Marvel Movies Ranked (3 of 3)

  1. Great list! It’s funny, I just did my own ranking of the Marvel movies, and interestingly enough, our #1 and #2 are the same! *High five*

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