After I watched Captain Marvel (great movie: you should check it out), I had completed all of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In point of fact, I had watched every MCU motion picture released to date.
That’s a lot of movies, over a lot of years.
23 movies, in fact, over 11 years. Some I watched in the theater; others I watched at home or in hotel rooms. Some I loved. Some I just liked. And a few, well, I can’t say I hated any of them, really, but I will say that a few I didn’t like as much. From these 23, I’m going to choose my Top 10, which is only slightly fewer than fifty percent of the total. To raise the degree of difficulty, I’m going to rank them as well, from 10th overall favorite to 1st.
#10 — Guardians of the Galaxy
The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie made the Top-10 over other fun movies such as Ant-Man and Black Panther because it offered up a group of heroes with whom I was unfamiliar, and did so in a different way, while still maintaining the MCU brand. I loved the sense of fun and humor, and the mix-tape soundtrack. Plus, Groot and Rocket Racoon! If you had just described the movie to me, I might never have watched it.
#9 — Thor: Ragnarok
The central action set piece of this movie, the battle between Thor and the Hulk, was anticlimactic, I’ll admit. Perhaps a bit of a gyp, to tell the truth. However, this one was easily my favorite of the three Thor movies. While I liked all three, it was for different reasons. This one didn’t take the whole Norse mythology thing so seriously and I felt it was a better movie because of this.
#8 — Spider-Man: Homecoming
This one was special because it was literally a homecoming for Spider-Man into the MCU. I’m not really comparing it to any of the non-MCU Spidey movies here, although I did watch the Tobey McGuire ones. The introduction of Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man brought a much needed something back to the story. Add Michael Keaton to make the Vulture a cooler villain than he ever was in the comics, and you have the recipe for an excellent Marvel movie.
#7 — Avengers: Infinity War & Avengers: Endgame
My list: My rules. Since both of these movies tells a single story, I don’t think I’m cheating by placing them together on the list. The Infinity Saga played at least a small part in every MCU movie that came before these two, but this is where we got the payoff. While I’d never say I hated Avengers: Age of Ultron, I will admit here and now that it wasn’t close to cracking my Top-10. These two movies were always a lock.
#6 — Captain America: The Winter Soldier
For me, this one was more like another installment of the Mission Impossible series—with superheroes—than just another comic book movie. The introduction of Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier was suitably momentous and an excellent addition to the Steve Rogers/Captain America mythos.
#5 — Doctor Strange
For me, the casting of my favorite Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch, as Dr. Stephen Strange made all the difference in this movie. The special effects were mind-blowing and very much in tune with the original Steve Ditko designs. I didn’t mind that the Ancient One was now a bald Caucasian woman either, or that Mordo was now African American. Some people just want to find things to complain about.
#4 — Captain Marvel
While I knew about the existence of the character Captain Marvel, I never followed her (or his) adventures in the comic books. This over-the-top action flick, set in the 1990s, made me a Captain Marvel fan. I actually watched Endgame before watching this one, and her appearance in that movie didn’t thrill me overmuch. I think the results would have been different if I’d watched this one first. Right after I watched this movie, it would have given my top-3 a run for their money in list position. With such a good list, #4 is still quite respectable.
#3 — Iron Man
This is the one that kicked off the entire MCU and catapulted RDJ to worldwide stardom, and deservedly so. Robert Downey Jr was the perfect casting choice for Tony Stark, and without him, this movie wouldn’t have been the same. It also had the Black Sabbath song in it.
#2 — Captain America: The First Avenger
Chris Evans managed the leap from Johnny Storm to Steve Rogers in this movie, which retold the familiar origin story of Captain America in a way that was patriotic and nostalgic without becoming too hokey. I’ve probably watched this one more often than any of the others, and it still hits me right in the feels. Plus, it gave us Agent Carter for a short time as well.
And, first and unequivocally the most:
#1 — Marvel’s The Avengers
The non-stop action spectacle that was this movie was proof-positive that the comic books of my youth had been fully realized on-screen at last. The Joss Whedon connection didn’t hurt either. This movie is the template that all team-oriented action movies should be based on. It treats the source material with respect and doesn’t insult its core audience. Plus, it’s a rollicking roller-coaster of a movie in which all of the characters remain in-character.
There really wasn’t any internal debate over my #1 MCU movie (so far). I predict it may be impossible for any future movie to knock it off the pedestal I built for it.
If I were a more negative person, I might write a Bottom-10 post as well. But, why bother. There are only 12 other movies on the list. Since I already mentioned that Black Panther and Ant-Man were in the running for the #10 spot, you already know the rest.
I will tell you this, though. The battle for last place is between The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2, both of which I would probably watch again on a slow day.
Now…On to Phase 4!!