Quarantine Marathon: Marvel

One of the parts of the Covid-19 outbreak that has disrupted my life the most is the closure of movie theaters, which hit especially hard because “Black Widow” was supposed to come out this month. But since quarantine started I have been rummaging through my movie vault, so in honor of the postponed “Black Widow”, and due to the fact that I recently marathoned all of them, I decided to rank all 23 Marvel movies. I took into account, quality of the movie standing alone and connection to the larger story to come up with a full ranking, so here we go.

#23 – The Incredible Hulk

Oh poor, sweet Incredible Hulk. It is very much the forgotten MCU movie. It was the second movie in the MCU, right after the success of “Iron Man”, and they didn’t really know what they had yet. Edward Norton was pretty ok as Bruce Banner, and while the plot isn’t bad, it also isn’t as complex as the other MCU plots usually are. It mainly loses points because, as I mentioned, it is sort of forgotten. People like to think that they just bounded up the stairs from “Iron Man”, to “Thor”, to “Captain America”, right into the first Avengers movie, but the truth is they tripped on the way there. So dead last, yeah, that seems about right.


#22 – Thor: The Dark World

In terms of pure quality, I’d say that the dark world is the worst the MCU has ever done. The story isn’t super compelling, Chris Hemsworth hadn’t really found his groove with the role yet, a couple characters seem really shoehorned in, and the dark elves are pretty horrible villains. The only redeeming factor for the dark world is that we do get some good character development for Loki and for Thor and their relationship but other then that this movie is pretty lacking


#21 – Iron Man 2

Here’s the thing; I kind of don’t hate “Iron Man 2.” It is my guilty pleasure MCU movie. Don’t get me wrong it has its flaws. Is the plot kind of dumb? Yeah, the plot is kind of dumb. Is the villain so bad I can’t even remember his real name? Yeah, lightning whip guy was pretty stupid. But you cannot deny that Iron Man 2 has some awesome moments. The Monaco racing sequence is awesome, the Iron Man/ War Machine back to back fight is pretty cool. In the grand scheme of things, this movie is pretty bad, but I will still watch. 


#20 – Avengers: Age of Ultron

“Age of Ultron” had a pretty hard job. It was meant to be the bridge between the mostly humble beginnings of the MCU and the massive universe that it has turned into. I like some of the stuff they did, I am a Hawkeye fan so seeing more of him was nice and Ultron was a pretty decent villain. However, there were just so many characters and storylines and things to set up for future movies. “Age of Ultron,” ultimately buckled under the weight of all that it had to carry, and just kind of missed its mark.  


#19 – Thor

Thor, on its own, is a very average movie. I like his ark and I like the human characters that he was with, they all complimented each other pretty well, and Loki was a great villain. Retrospectively, I think they missed some opportunities. They had this crazy, outlandish world and they tried to ground it and it just seems so small in scope compared to the other movies that came out around it.


#18 – Iron Man 3

Say what you will about how they handled the Mandarin. I didn’t read the comics so I wasn’t super upset by it, but I know other people were. It was cool to see Tony Stark, without all his resources and his suits, and the Air Force One scene is cool. I really don’t have a lot to say about “Iron Man 3” . There isn’t a whole lot that’s good and there isn’t a whole lot that is bad, it is just kind of there.  


#17 – Doctor Strange 

“Doctor Strange” probably would have done better if it came out earlier. But it didn’t, and we had already seen his origin story in other characters and that took a little from the movie. I like the angle they took with the special effects and all that, but it was kind of underwhelming from a story standpoint. When you watch all the movies together, you get a better Idea of each movie’s function, related to the MCU as a whole, and “Doctor Strange” really just feels like a means of getting the character into the mix so that he can do more interesting things in other movies. 


#16 – Captain Marvel

Again, “Captain Marvel” really would have benefitted from coming out earlier, and even worse than “Doctor Strange”, it came out at the worst possible time. A lot of people really dislike this movie, I think it’s good. My main issue with it is that she was surrounded by so many great characters like Fury and the scrolls, there were times when it didn’t even feel like she was the star of her own movie, which is a little disappointing. 


#15 – Ant Man and The Wasp

“Ant Man and The Wasp” is a palate cleanser. It came out right Infinity War and Marvel played it brilliantly. Infinity War was dark and suspenseful and Ant Man and the Wasp is so fun and light hearted and funny, it really did its job. If we are thinking of this as one of their most average movies, it is a really good standard. 


#14 – Ant Man

“Ant Man” is actually one of my favorite origin story movies, and yeah I know it is basically just Iron Man. Hank Pym is a great character, Hope is a great character, Scott Lang is a great character. I’ll be honest I was really unsure about Paul Rudd as Ant Man but he really stepped up to the plate. It is a pretty run of the mill MCU movie, but it is so much fun.


#13 – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

There we’re really high expectations for this movie after the first one was such a success and for the most part it succeeds. It tells this really personal story for Peter and for Yondu and even for Rocket. This movie is Marvel’s best example of doing one of the things that has made them so good for so long. You need to change things in your sequels to make them fresh. If you change too much, they become alienating, if you change to little it is bland and Baby Groot toes that line perfectly. 


#12 – Captain America: The First Avenger

Ok, so if you know me, you know that I love Captain America. I’m not even going to try and say that I’m not biased, because I am. I’m super biased. Captain America is the best. The First Avenger had everything. It had action and war, friendship, sacrifice, romance, comedy all the things, this movie had at least a little of it. It feels a lot like “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, it is just a fun adventure that I will never get tired of watching.


#11 – Iron Man

In terms of quality, I’d say it is very average. Robert Downey Jr. was a great Iron Man and Jeff Bridges was a pretty good villain. It is a fun enough movie to watch and that is kind of it. But we owe so much to this movie I couldn’t put it any lower. If Jon Favreau hadn’t done his job, if RDJ hadn’t shown up the way he did, If Iron Man was a dud, where would we be?


#10 – Spiderman: Far From Home

Marvel does this thing where it slips into other genres for movies. Like how the Captain America movies are sort of political thrillers, the Spiderman movies are teen comedies, and they are really good teen comedies at that. Most teen comedies aren’t very good. Far From Home had a really great  journey for Peter Parker, dealing with the aftermath of Endgame, and Mysterio was a good villain. 


#9 – Spiderman: Homecoming

I was really pleased with how Marvel respected its audience because we already know who Spiderman is, we don’t need to see poor uncle Ben get murdered again. We also got to meet Ned, one of the most underrated MCU characters and we got a really cool relationship between Peter and Tony and that was fun to watch. I think this movie gets a bad rap because the Vulture is kind of a dumb villain, but when Michael Keaton was just being Michael Keaton he was terrifying and it worked so well.


#8 – The Avengers

There was so much hype and so much buzz around this movie. People we’re nervous before they even released the poster for this movie. “Oh, there are so many characters, it’s never going to work”. It is almost amazing this movie wasn’t a disaster. It isn’t a disaster because Marvel is so good at writing characters. Loki was great, Captain America was great, Hulk was great, Black Widow was great, Thor was just kind of there. All in all this movie was a huge success and it was Marvel’s biggest test that they passed with flying colors. 


#7 – Black Panther

“Black Panther” was really cool because it was an origin story without really being an origin story and it walked that tightrope really well. It was super entertaining and the Shakespearean story was just so well done. The only thing that I didn’t like was that the standout character was the villain. Michael B. Jordan was a fantastic Killmonger and I’m really disappointed that we don’t get to see more of him.    


#6 – Captain America: Civil War

This movie was given a very similar task as “Age of Ultron”– just with all the characters and the storylines that it had to manage. I remember reading about it before it came out, I read they were going to introduce Black Panther and Spiderman in the movie along with having all the other characters in it, and I thought they were gonna butcher my favorite character’s movie. The difference between this and “Age of Ultron” is that it handles the weight. Because the characters and the storylines were already so built up it didn’t crack the way that “Age of Ultron” did.


#5 – Avengers: Infinity War

One of my favorite theater experiences ever was “Avengers Infinity War”. It was so effortlessly dark and gritty while also staying true to Marvel’s brand of comedy, it just meshed together so well. Thanos was amazing, out of all the characters he actually has the most screen time. Even though Iron Man and Captain America are the heroes, this movie really does belong to Thanos and it set the table perfectly for Endgame.   


#4 – Avengers: Endgame

It is the “Return of the Jedi” of our generation. Once again character development drives everything and it works so well. It was the most satisfying ending they could have possibly given with great fan service and great twists. It ties up almost all of it’s loose ends in really satisfying and impactful ways. Yes, there are some plot holes when you think about, but just don’t pull on that thread and enjoy the ending.


#3 – Thor: Ragnarok

There is an inherent ridiculousness to the Thor character and the Thor universe that the first two movies didn’t get. Taika Waititi took over and found it instantly. Chris Hemsworth finally found his stride with this character and it was so well written that it feels so competent and together the way that the other movies didn’t. It also set the stage for Infinity War and really helped us care about what was happening to Thor in his next few movies. I’d argue that Ragnarok saved the Thor character when he otherwise would have gone down the drain. 


#2 – Guardians of the Galaxy 

At this point Marvel was at their highest point. They had just been bought by Disney, they were rich and they had audiences in the palm of their hands, and everyone’s fear was that they were going to get into a routine and there would be nothing original and it would get boring. And then “Guardians of the Galaxy” came out and we all said “this isn’t boring at all”. It was the biggest risk Marvel has ever taken and it worked out fantastically. The characters were great, the movie was so action packed and funny. It’s like they took the avengers and smashed it in with some recycled star wars stuff and put it in the oven and an hour later it was a perfect souffle. This movie is great.  


#1 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The reason this movie is the best is because of, you guessed it, character. This movie shaped how we would feel about Captain America and Black Widow and Falcon and even Bucky for the next ten years of movies. There was so much groundwork laid in this movie that would come back and be so impactful in later films. It also shaped how we would watch the MCU going forward. It was the first movie directed by the Russo brothers who would eventually do both “Infinity War” and “Endgame.” It is a top notch action movie and political thriller that more than any other movie emphasized it’s characters and its story and it’s connection to the overall universe and it is the best movie Marvel has ever made. So far.