Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe



The Marvel Cinematic Universe has dug its roots deep into my life and what has blossomed is a reality consumed by bright lights, CGI, and Chris Hemsworth's biceps. I don't live anymore, I merely exist between releases. So here it is, the absolute objective indisputable etched-in-stone ranking of the MCU.


Thor


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There are people who love this movie but I just don't see it. Yes, even worse than the Hulk movie Marvel pretends doesn't exist. It's a shitty fish out of water romantic comedy where Natalie Portman clearly doesn't even want to be in the movie. It's the Prequels all over again. It took every conceivable idea of what I would want in a movie about a Norse God with a giant magic space hammer and then did the opposite. 

Asgard is gorgeous, so gorgeous in fact that i want to spend the entire movie there. Then we go to a fucking desert with Kat Dennings' awful comic relief and Hawkeye in a meaningless scene obviously added in post-production. The giant monster thing they fight whose name I can't bother to remember is trash. Anthony Hopkins sleeps through the entire movie (that makes two of us hey-oooo). The only things I really enjoy are Hemsworth and that English dude. No not Cumberbatch, the other weird gangly one Tumblr is obsessed with. Hemsworth is the embodiment of Thor and my spank bank, but he's really underrated for his comedic chops. The fish out of water bits that do work only when they're resting on his capable and firmly-toned shoulders. 

I didn't mind this much the first time, but on rewatch it was dreadfully boring. The entire movie is in New Mexico with no Thor powers. I hate that shit in every Metroid game and I hate it now. Hiddleston is really good as Loki but honestly I don't care about the power struggle for king of Asgard because the movie doesn't take place there and Asgard doesn't mean dick in the MCU. As of now. Maybe Ragnarok will fix it all. 

That being said I'd probably watch it again before Man of Steel or Batman v Superman. Maybe. 


The Incredible Hulk




Ah yes, the movie Marvel forgot. The Incredible Hulk is less of a massive Summer blockbuster global cinematic event and more something I leave on FX in the background on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The type of movie you can clean your house to, taking a brief break from vacuuming when he uses a police car as boxing gloves. 

The Incredible Hulk is...fine. Hulk doesn't need his own movie and he probably won't get one any time soon considering the rights to him are being split with Universal Studios. There's some decent action, Edward Norton isn't bad as Banner, and it ends with a big dumb monster fight. It's a perfectly fine hangover movie. Edward Norton is so super serious and Tim Roth is so over the top that it almost works. Almost.  

Granted I'll probably never watch it again, but it is inoffensive and forgettable. It's just hard to care about a solo Hulk movie because the central plot is that he doesn't want to turn into a giant green monster and endanger people. That's all I want, Bruce. I want Hulk to smash. That's why I'm here. 


Thor: The Dark World



Didn't take long to round out the entire Thor duology, huh? I think I've seen this at least 4 times because it was on Starz and I couldn't be bothered to get up and still, with that many viewings, I couldn't tell you the villain's name with a gun to my head. Maybe "magic space elf wants to make everything dark" wasn't the best idea, but I'll still watch this over the original any day of the week.

It's not really a good movie, but at least something happens that isn't Thor learning proper table etiquette in a coffee shop. Loki actually does things besides throwing a tantrum because his fake dad likes Thor more than him. Thor and Loki have great chemistry together. Sif and the Warriors 3 actually did things. Anthony Hopkins took another long nap until the fighting was over. I can't definitively state whether or not that was a contract stipulation, but I would bet that's the only way they got him to wear that big silly outfit of his. 

My advice: skip ahead and start the movie at the viking funeral, because ironically enough everything up until then feels like a funeral dirge. The movie gets some life afterwards. 

Iron Man 2




Hahaha that outtake you sent me of Mickey Rourke talking about his bird in that accent was really funny.

Wait, what do you mean that's in the movie? Really? The electric whips too? Well at least tell me you guys cut all that shit with Nick Fury out.

I'm not gonna shit a shitter here. Let's not pretend the movie doesn't slow everything to a crawl starting at the doughnut shop scene. It's awful. The villain is even worse. But Iron Man 2 has 2 things going for it: Sam Rockwell and the Monaco scene. The suitcase suit is the dopest shit I've ever seen. Everything else is pretty dumb, but Rockwell's scenes might be my favorite parts of hte entire Iron Man trilogy. He is a treasure. 

All of the excitement from the post credits scene in part 1 and you're like oh fuck, it really is Mickey Rourke with whips, huh? I'll take Jeff Bridges again. Throw him in the Lazarus Pit and cauterize his wounds IN A CAVE. WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS. 

It introduces a gorillion characters and subplots and then remembers oh SHIT, this movie has to end at some point. I can almost understand how bloated it is because I'm sure Marvel thought they could do no wrong. This and Avengers 2 are the only real bad offenders of this IMO. 


Iron Man 3




It pains me deeply to dislike a Shane Black movie as much as I dislike this. And no, it has nothing to do with the Mandarin. It has its defenders now and they say it’s not a good Iron Man movie but it’s a good Tony Stark movie. Yes, it starts as one. Then Guy Pearce gets glowing magic powers and there’s a precocious kid and rando villains with lava powers and who could possibly care about any of it. Especially that climactic battle. Yikes.

I’ve seen Iron Man 3 a couple of times and it always goes the same. I finish it and my immediate reaction is that it kind of sucked outside of a couple choice parts. A bit of time will go by and I’ll think to myself “you know what Me, maybe you were being too hard on it. A lot of people seem to enjoy it, maybe I just need to reset my expectations.” I give it another shot and then that kid shows up and Guy Pearce shoots Pepper Potts with his evil revenge lava and who could possibly care? 

I will give it credit though, despite not liking it that much I still find it hilarious that The Avengers made a trillion dollars and Shane Black said "yeah, no, I don’t care about any of that. Here’s Tony Stark dealing with PTSD." It loses even more of its meaning when there's a grandiose meaningful gesture of Tony destroying all of his suits and leaving Iron Man behind to live as Tony Stark, but then Avengers 2 needed to happen so it was never mentioned again. Speaking of...


Avengers: Age of Ultron




I don’t understand the pure vitriol that follows whenever Age of Ultron is brought up. No, it’s not as good as the first. Yes, the Hulk-Black Widow romance is horrendous. But other than that it’s middle of the road, perfectly serviceable popcorn fodder. It didn’t meet my expectations but I don’t think it ever could. Sure it’s overcrowded with world-building, but it’s no Fant4stic Four or Batman and Robin. It’s the suck line of Marvel movies, it’s batting league average.

I don’t love it by any means but boy howdy we all collectively jumped on the hate train real quick. The only thing worse than the shitty romance is Scarlet Witch’s accent. But James Spader voiced an evil robot and I got to see the Hulkbuster. I’ll call it a wash. 

That being said I completely forgot Quicksilver was ever in the MCU until sitting down to write this. 


Captain America: The First Avenger




The worst part about the first Captain America is that Red Skull is probably still the best villain we’ve gotten so far and we’ll never see him again. Chris Evans is Captain America. No matter who takes over the mantle down the line, he will always embody Cap to me. He plays Steve Rogers as such an unabashed goody two shoes. The most earnest and selfless hero to ever exist - but it’s never played to a comical degree. 

Cap being set during World War 2 means all that is played completely straight without a hint of irony or nodding and winking. It’s old fashioned heroism you can set your watch to. He’s not a brooding tortured soul, he’s Uncle Sam with big arms that I want to hold me forever. It’s a breath of fresh air in a grimdark superhero world and for my money (what little of it I have) it's what Man of Steel should have been. 

God damn do I want Hugo Weaving to put that silly makeup on again more than anything.

Ant-Man




Guardians was the movie that made me so they could make anything work. And then Edgar Wright dropped out and I was like "well...fuck." And then this movie worked despite the nightmare behind the scenes and I realized I’m just going to trust Disney with my life. 

I don’t love it, but I love the characters enough that I’m way more excited for the next installment with them than I am for another Iron Man or Thor solo story. Paul Rudd is my dreamboat and Michael Douglas really shines as a bitter old man who controls an army of ants. As you would expect. The perspective changes when he’s shrunk are amazing and in turn Ant-Man wins the distinct honor of being the first Marvel movie where I genuinely enjoyed the final battle. I mean the villain (fake Billy Zane) is balls and I had no doubt in my mind how it would end, but it looked cool as shit. 

The only thing I don’t really like is the entire scene with Falcon. It doesn’t fit at all and is horribly tacked on, kind of like every single piece of set up for the next crossover in all of these dumb movies. But I digress, if it directly led to his involvement in Civil War then so be it. 

Iron Man


Next time, baby


I can't help but respect the sheer balls it takes to boast that you're going to create this huge series of movies that culminates with The Avengers, and the grand finale of the first entry that everything hinges on is Jeff Bridges in a robot suit.

Here’s my biggest problem: the ending is weak. Here’s what’s great: everything else. It could so easily have been Green Lantern and I never would have dedicated my life to watching guys named Chris in silly costumes fight British guys in silly costumes. It saved Robert Downey Jr. and it’s the reason the MCU even exists. It is the architect of my pain 

I mean in the grand scope of all things Marvel, who gave a shit about Iron Man? It’s so well made and such an early entrant in the huge comic book movie boom we’re all living through that it makes you wonder how so many movies continue to fuck up origin stories. I guess that guy from Swingers is pretty good at making movies. 

The Avengers




I don't think anything besides The Force Awakens has topped the pure childlike awe I was in the first time I watched this.

As a film, I could pick apart dozens of issues I have with it, but as a spectacle it's a moviegoing memory I will cherish forever. The only reason its not higher is how jam packed with nonsense the first hour is. There are a million things going on and the more I watch it the less patience I have for it. 

As nonsensical and bloated as that hour is, it’s eclipsed by how much I felt like I kid when I sat in the theater and got that trailer shot of the entire team standing in the street as the camera circles around them. By then I’d forgotten that the villains were nameless aliens who didn’t matter because I was kicking my feet in excitement like a toddler. When he says “Hulk….smash” nothing else in the world matters. 

Guardians of the Galaxy




As much as I love the humor and overarching style and sense of fun that encompasses the entire movie, I think the reason I like it as much as I do is the fact that it’s so completely separate from the rest of the MCU save for a couple of exposition scenes. They don’t cut away from the main plotline to establish Hawkeye’s family, Nick Fury doesn’t lock Peter Quill in his house for the second act, and not one person, animal, or gleep glop alien mentions Bucky. 

It’s fun. That’s all there is to say. It’s fun to watch and it looks like they all had a blast making it. It’s such an entertaining watch that it overcomes glaring flaws I would decimate other movies for. As an example, despite seeing this at least five times, I still had to Google the villain’s name. It’s Dallas Von Hammer, if you were wondering.  


Captain America: The Winter Soldier




I fucking love The Winter Soldier. I love the Russo brothers almost as much as I love the idea of Cap holding me in his big arms and brushing my hair and whispering that it’s going to be ok. 

I love everything about it. Up until a certain movie came out earlier this year this was my favorite MCU movie by a landslide. It wasn’t even close. The highway action scene is a thing of beauty. The action is well choreographed and shot and has a weight to it that makes you believe that at any moment some serious shit could go down. The relationships between characters actually matter and feel important. The movie deals with real themes that mirror life right now, not magic space elves or a big purple man in a chair searching for 6 shiny stones. 

It’s a perfect balance of elements that other movies in the MCU excelled at. It’s an amalgamation of everything I’ve loved mixed with easily the most intense action in the series. Falcon is a terrific addition to the MCU, Cap gets some fantastic character moments that give him a depth he didn't have in Avengers, and best of all Robert Redford is in a superhero movie. What a time to be alive.

It was my favorite movie. Until...

Captain America: Civil War




The airport scene. I had half a mind to just leave it at those three words. Civil War isn’t perfect and I’d be lying if I said comic book fatigue wasn’t starting to set in for me, but it doesn’t matter because oh my fucking GOD the massive superhero fight is everything I’ve dreamed of seeing in a theater since I was old enough to know what a Spider-Man was. 

Did I mention I love the Russo Brothers? Because they can do no wrong. Not only does it have a scene that takes me back to a state of childlike glee I didn’t think my jaded bitter soul was capable of, but it has the best interpretations of multiple characters. It’s a better Ant-Man than we had in Ant-Man. It’s a better Tony Stark than anything since the first Iron Man. The best Spider-Man sine the second Raimi movie. Black Panther is established into public consciousness and immediately one of the most anticipated movies. I went in excited for one movie and left eagerly anticipating at least 3. 

It has an Avengers-sized cast and juggles the characters better than either of those 2 movies. The spectacle fight is amazing, yet the climactic final battle is personal and intimate. It doesn’t build to a CGI laser fest, but to a showdown between two long time friends. It officially puts Captain America up there as one of the best movie trilogies of all time. 

The only thing that could have made it better is if it was revealed that Bucky’s mother was named Martha. 



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This ranking was written by Big Bob Pataki. Comment below and tell him how wrong he is. No registering necessary (until one of you ruins it for everyone). If you enjoy this feel free to toss a buck my way. Just the tip, to see how it feels.

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