All Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies: Ranked from Worst to Best

5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Anthony & Joe Russo, 2014)

Captain America The Winter Soldier

Now we are getting into the good stuff. Whilst the two movies that followed the massive success of The Avengers were both successful and did what they were meant to do, it wasn’t until Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out that we were treated to something special again. Not only did the Russo brothers manage to successfully instil the movie with a seventies espionage-vibe, they introduced the Falcon and gave Black Widow a prominent role as Captain America’s side-kick, which allowed the film to feel like a mini-Avengers movie.

Apart from that, the storyline made one feel that the stakes were high and that the events in the movie were part of a larger universe and would have a severe impact on it, whilst simultaneously smartly echoing current events in the real world. And lastly there were Chris Evans, who is just as perfect in the role of Captain America as Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth are as Iron Man and Thor respectively, as well as a immaculately cast Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, bringing with him some of that seventies Three Days of the Condor-feel.

With a healthy dose of humour, stunning effects, great action set pieces (special kudos for that scene where Nick Fury is assaulted in his vehicle) and a intrigue-filled plot, Captain America: The Winter Soldier ranks amongst Marvel’s best so far.


4. Iron Man (Jon Favreau, 2008)

Iron Man

This is where it all started. Not only did Marvel succeed in making a movie with one of their lesser known characters and turn it into a sizeable blockbuster, they also introduced their now iconic post-credits scenes and hinted at the larger universe which was to follow when Nick Fury showed up to discuss the “Avengers Initiative”.

Director Jon Favreau had never done a movie of this scale yet but his love for the source material shines through as he grounded the fantastic proceedings in some believable contemporary real-life settings. And in retrospect, it’s hard to imagine that anyone else than Robert Downey Jr. could have played the role of Tony Stark. Up until this day the poster child for Marvel, Robert Downey Jr. immediately nailed the part, which turned him from Hollywood underdog to its highest paid actor overnight.

With a smart script, a great central hero and a strong supporting cast as well as plenty of action and humour, Marvel managed to make a movie which was as enjoyable for fans as it was for the general public, thereby laying the groundwork for what would soon turn into a large extended cinematic universe, unlike anything we had seen before.


3. Captain America: The First Avenger (Joe Johnston, 2011)


Putting Captain America: The First Avenger in the third spot might be the most controversial decision on this list but I honestly believe that the first Captain America is the most under-appreciated film in the MCU so far.

Director Joe Johnston, a veteran in the game closely associated with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and who had previously worked on some major franchises like Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park, delivers a truly unique origin story here, which greatly benefits from its wonderfully designed retro-futuristic art deco alternate reality in which it is set. It almost feels like he succeeded in doing here what he had set out to do twenty years earlier when he made The Rocketeer.

It doesn’t hurt that Chris Evans was the third consecutive actor to nail his superhero role and with Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones and Hugo Weaving rounding out a very impressive supporting cast (even for a Marvel movie, who have a knack for great casting), this one is a real winner.

Also noteworthy was the hilarious effect of seeing Chris Evans’ head tacked onto the body of a scrawny weakling before he is injected with the super-soldier serum. All in all, the first Captain America was a fantastic throwback to old-fashioned entertainment and as such, it remains one of my all-time favourite Marvel films to this point in time. And who doesn’t like a movie in which a superhero kicks some Nazi ass?


2. Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn, 2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy

Apart from successfully assembling an entire universe of inter-connected movies, the enormous success of Guardians of the Galaxy might in fact be the second biggest feat Marvel has been able to pull out of their hat.

Currently the second most successful film of 2014 at the box-office and third most successful film of all ten of Marvel’s movies, Guardians of the Galaxy was considered an enormous risk before it hit theatres. Not only was the group of intergalactic virtually unknown to all but the most die-hard of Marvel fans, it also opened a whole new can of worms by introducing the movie-going audience to the cosmic side of Marvel without any clear ties to any of the films which had preceded it.

But despite all that, Marvel defied all odds and turned this risky venture into a true winner. And they didn’t just do so financially, but also critically. In addition to that, director James Gunn managed to deliver a type of sci-fi adventure, filled with action, humour and plain old fun, which has sorely been lacking in Hollywood as the majority of science-fiction films produced there tend to be of the more serious kind.

What other movie would dare to have its main protagonist do a dance-off with with the bad guy in the film’s actual climax? Marvel was so confident in what they had on their hands that they announced the sequel before the first movie even hit the theatres. On top of that, every MCU fan out there is now waiting for the Guardians to truly cross-over into the Avengers universe.

Because seeing earth’s mightiest heroes team-up with these galactic rogues is going to be bigger than even the much anticipated Age of Ultron, especially now that we know for sure that Thanos will be the major threat in the third Avengers movie, which has actually been split over two parts and is scheduled to hit theatres in 2018 and 2019 and will also a quite a few Avengers we haven’t even seen yet.


1. The Avengers (Joss Whedon, 2012)


Putting the Avengers in the top spot of this list was no-brainer. The film was the accumulation of Marvel’s phase one and the whole reason they started building their cinematic universe. On top of that, the film became Marvel’s biggest success to date as well as the third highest grossing film of all-time.

Much of its success can be attributed to Joss Whedon, who co-wrote the story, wrote the screenplay and directed the whole affair. His biggest victory was coming up with the script, which managed to give all the main Avengers as well as the villain their time to shine and interact brilliantly. Whedon also defied expectations by recasting Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk not only making the character not only work, but turning him into one of the movie’s biggest scene-stealers.

After a slightly clunky first act, in which the main conflict is outlined and everybody is re-introduced separately, the film really comes into its own once the team actually assembles and does not slow down for a second from that moment on in. Whedon’s dialogue shines and the tensions within the team make for a fantastic second act, where as the third act of the film thrives due to impressive and well directed large-scale action scenes and the team ultimately coming together to face the greater threat.

Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Hiddleston are pitch-perfect in their respective roles and a slate of other Marvel regulars, including Samual L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Stellan Skarsgard, Gwyneth Paltrow and Paul Bettany make for an equally star-studded supporting cast.

A film, which will more than likely become one of the defining movies of its time when seen many years from now, The Avengers is about as good as big Hollywood blockbuster entertainment gets and is without a doubt a classic of the genre. Now bring on Age of Ultron and phase three.

Author Bio: Emilio has been a movie buff for as long as he can remember and holds a Masters Degree in Cinema Studies from the University of Amsterdam. Critical and eclectic in taste, he has been described to “love film but hate all movies”. For daily suggestions on what to watch, check out his Just Good Movies Facebook page: