It’s been 10 years since Robert Downey Jr. first donned the Iron Man armor and kicked off the most successful studio run in movie history from Marvel and Disney. Iron Man ushered in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), a shared world where all its properties theoretically live. and opened up endless possibilities of crossovers and cameos from comic legends.
During its 10 year run, the studio has released an astonishing 20 movies, all of which I’ve seen, and some that are clearly superior to others. So, in honor of this cinematic milestone, I put together my definitive ranking of all the Marvel movies. The order is based on how much I enjoyed the film, nothing more. Also, potential spoilers ahead. If you want to check out more geek content, be sure to visit our newest site, The Nerdy where you’ll find the latest news and opinions from comics and beyond.
20. Thor: The Dark World
What a mess this was. The villains were hardly threatening, the acting was stiff and the plot muddled along. This was the only movie in Marvel’s history I’m never watching again.
19. Iron Man 2
I feel for Director Jon Favreau here, audiences really saw some studio meddling. Too much was crammed into one film for anything to stand out, which was a shame, Sam Rockwell (who, fun fact, was almost cast as Tony Stark) gave a great performance that was vastly overshadowed by Mickey Rourke’s bad Russian accent. But at least we got to see that awesome Mark V race track scene.
18. Avengers: Age of Ultron
The second coming of the Avengers was such a critical miss it caused director Joss Whedon to quit social media. I was actually at the premiere of this was and was beyond pumped. I actually own Avengers #55, the first named appearance of Ultron, I love the character. James Spader did an admirable job bringing him to life, but the plot and plot holes made this one a big letdown for me. It did go on to make over $1.4B so I don’t think Marvel is too hurt by my poor ranking.
17. Iron Man 3
This is where I think some of you will start to disagree. While the Mandarin twist at the end was interesting, the real lack of an omnipresent villain didn’t sit well with me. I liked what Director Shane Black did with getting back to a story-driven narrative, but for me, Iron Man 3 wasn’t bad, it was just forgettable.
16. The Incredible Hulk
This movie was a mess, but the parts that were good, were great. I loved Tim Roth’s Abomination. The idea of another hulk-esque opponent who could match him in strength is incredibly appealing. I wish Tim Blake Nelson’s turn as the Leader could have come to fruition, but who knows, he’s still out there somewhere in the MCU.
15. Ant-Man and the Wasp
I really enjoyed this sequel. The first surprised me (which is why it’s higher on this list) this one keeps the formula the same. It’s main villain, Ghost, is incredibly forgettable, but man, that mid-credits scene got me wondering…
Our first trip to Asgard was a fun ride. Admittedly I never read or had any interest in the Thor comics so I knew very little about Bifrost or any of the mythology accompanying Thor. The best thing about this one, our introduction to Tom Hiddleston’s Loki.
13. Doctor Strange
Magic in the MCU still seems odd, but in a world where people have super powers, I suppose I need put my reticence to rest. This mostly seems like Iron Man’s origin story but with mystic arts. It was enjoyable if predictable.
12. Marvel’s The Avengers
Now we are starting to get to my favorites. Getting all the Phase 1 heroes together is no small task, but doing it in the confines of a coherent story is borderline impossible. Whedon did an admirable job, and created a movie with heart and humor. That Hulk and Loki ‘puny god’ scene still ranks as my favorite in all 20 movies.
11. Captain America: The First Avenger
It was hard to see Chris Evans’ as anything but the Human Torch, but his first turn as Cap was awesome. Aside from seeing the hero brought to life, Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull was perfect. His voice, the look, everything was so spot on. Whenever this is on, I’ll always give it a watch, plus it’s fun to see the characters interact with the Tesseract and have no idea what the Space Stone inside is capable of.
10. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Drax. This movie was all about Drax for me. Dave Bautista’s deadpan delivery of his lines made this more like a comedy. From his interactions with Mantis, to the belly laugh, I couldn’t help but smile through this whole movie. Nevermind if the story was silly and a bit recycled… it had Drax, that makes it a top 10.
9. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Spider-Man is my favorite comic character of all time, so to see him finally join the MCU after so many failed attempts with Sony was a dream come true. Tom Holland (despite his British accent coming back at times) epitomized the teenage angst of Peter Parker. It was great to see an age-appropriate actor finally taking on the role… and one without an Emo dance routine.
If any of the Marvel movies seemed like a potential flop, it was Ant-Man. A lesser known character with a silly same had no business working. But wow did it. I was at the premiere of this one as well, and you could feel the excitement in the theatre. Paul Rudd was at his best, Michael Pena was stellar and this heist movie with a heart won me over so much that I’ve watched it now over 10 times.
7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This is the film where Evans really started to feel like Captain America to me. The action was awesome, the plot was solid, and it was just entertaining from start to finish. It didn’t try to do too much, but what it did do, was just about perfect.
6. Black Panther
People tend to be split on Black Panther, but it was the incredible cinematography and costuming that won me over. The world building that had to be done to bring Wakanda to life is incredible. Everything about this film from start to finish was incredible.
5. Thor: Ragnarok
Taika Waititi brought new life to this franchise that was pretty much left for dead after The Dark World. His unique blend of humor, charm and oddly his acting (he was Korg) left Ragnarok as one of the crown jewels of the MCU.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
This movie shouldn’t have worked. It was a property no one cared about featuring a lead actor not at all known for action, and oh yeah, a CGI raccoon and tree. But somehow, James Gunn not only made it work, but made it incredible. It was funny, had heart, and made the audiences care about Rocket, Groot, and the rest. If any movie is a testament to the power of Marvel, it’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
3. Captain America: Civil War
I’m not gonna lie. This one is three on the list only for the airport battle scene. It’s the first time Spider-Man officially joined the MCU, it had Ant-Man going full Giant-Man, that scene was everything. Sure there was a pretty decent movie surrounding it, but if I could pick one scene in all 20 movies to watch over and over again, it’s this one. It’s also, kinda sadly, the first time Robert Downey jr. started to look a bit older, perhaps signaling the near end to his tenure in the MCU.
2. Iron Man
Speaking of RDJ, remember the trailer for this? It still give me chills. We didn’t know it at the time, but Disney had an entire shared universe and billions of dollars resting on Downey’s shoulders, and he didn’t let them down. This is the best origin movie In the entire MCU, has some of the best action, and featured a villain so brilliantly acted by Jeff Bridges he able to go toe-to-toe with the fast-talking Downey Jr. I’d imagine you haven’t seen this one in years, go back and watch it again, and bask in its amazing soundtrack.
1. Avengers: Infinity War
Despite clocking in at over 2.5 hours this movie seemed over in a snap. The culmination of 10 years did not disappoint. Infinity War delivered a compelling story, with finally real stakes for the characters. The action was amazing, the story enthralling, the villain oddly relatable, Infinity War has it all, and I can’t to watch it again when it comes out on digital.
What’s your list? At the very least what’s your top and bottom five? I’d love to know why you disagree and why you agree? Here’s to another 10 years!