This Summer, Marvel’s latest addition to their ever-growing franchise, ‘Ant-Man’ rounded off Phase 2 of their cinematic universe. The upcoming ‘Captain America: Civil War’ will begin Phase 3. Here is my ranking of the first two phases:
Marvel Cinematic Universe – Ranked!
12) The Incredible Hulk
It has a couple of moments of brilliance and a couple of well-choreographed action sequences but ‘The Incredible Hulk’ is ultimately a very lazy, boring and uninspired film that doesn’t feel as if it belongs in this cinematic universe. Tim Roth, however, does make to be one of the better villains that Marvel has had so far though as the aggressive Abomination.
11) The Avengers: Age Of Ultron
A sequel to a near-perfect original that is overstuffed, boring and all over the place. I admire director Joss Whedon for trying to not make a typical sequel and Marvel apparently interjected in production and made Whedon get rid of some scenes and film some new footage that would link to future instalments. This film is so concerned with setting up future films that it forgets that it is a film in the first place and fails abysmally to entertain.
10) Iron Man 2
‘Iron Man 2’ is a disappointing, overstuffed sequel that is all over the place in its pacing and is very boring in parts. Luckily though, director Jon Favreau manages to retain the humour and charm of Tony Stark’s character and the film boasts a couple of top-notch action sequences. It’s a shame watching Mickey Rourke here as he put a lot of work into the role of the main villain, Whiplash, but apparently a lot of scenes were cut during the editing process.
At this point, the rest of the films are much better in terms of quality…
9) Captain America: The First Avenger
A pleasant, nostalgic watch that successfully sets up future instalments and the characters are well-developed. The film does have some issues in pacing and overfamiliarity in places and is at least 20 minutes overlong but what is here is very promising.
8) Thor: The Dark World
Not as good as its predecessor, but still a fun sequel with a brilliant middle section with a couple of impressive action sequences. It would rank higher if the film didn’t feel like it was made so much by Marvel executives – director Alan Taylor doesn’t make a single director’s stamp onto this film at all. The film also relies way too much on humour which with the right measure is good to see in a comic book film but there are too many stabs at cheap humour that it ultimately lowers the tone of the film considerably. It’s also a bit of shame that Christopher Eccleston is woefully underused as the main villain, Malekith, who apparently lost a lot of scenes during the editing process.
Kenneth Branagh’s take on the Norse God is entertaining and the sets are very grand and the film is complimented by a brilliant script. This film is also Tom Hiddleston’s debut as the best villain Marvel has so far, Loki and he really is a perfect fit to the role. What stops this film ranking higher is it is a little confused in its pacing with a rather drawn out beginning.
The films jump up in terms of quality agin here…
6) Captain America: The Winter Soldier
A superior sequel to ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ and a very promising career turn by the Russo brothers who had previously directed comedies. It’s good to see them ditch the unnecessary humour that had plagued ‘Thor: The Dark World’ and the fact that they don’t rely on CGI for the action sequences, instead they try and shoot action practically is also very promising and makes the action sequences all the more enthralling. They also manage to make the film a political thriller first, a comic book film second which is very impressive. However, this film is massively overrated. The opening half an hour or so is very patchy in its pacing and the film does feel overly familiar at times where a character dies but as usual, comes back to life. Marvel, if you are going to kill a character off then JUST DO IT!
5) Iron Man 3
A massive step-up from the disappointing ‘Iron Man 2’, this film almost reaches the heights of the original. The plot is particularly strong as is the acting, with newcomers Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce very convincing in their roles. What is very impressive is that the film takes a *BIG* risk plot-wise which ultimately pays off. The film is a little incoherent which stops it ranking further up the list, but overall it’s a very solid sequel that isn’t obsessed with referencing other Marvel films too much.
4) Guardians Of The Galaxy
A fun, feel-good film that successfully sets up the space world to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film has a very warm heart and the characters are developed very well and are relatable. Acting is top-notch and the pacing is spot-on, as is the feel-good soundtrack. I was initially very sceptical of this film as the director, James Gunn, has a bad track record but he is perfectly suited for this world. What stops this film ranking any higher is it is a little generic in its plot, but makes up for it in sheer entertainment.
Now into the top three…
3) Iron Man
The film that started it all and still ranks as one of the very best. ‘Iron Man’ boasts some brilliant acting by Robert Downey Jr and some exhilarating action sequences. Jon Favreau is perfect for this franchise as the film has just the right blend of action, humour and thrills.
‘Ant-Man’ is an excellent and entertaining character-driven film that has a warm heart and innovative action sequences. Wright’s input is incredibly obvious and is all for the better and the casting is near perfect. The storyline is fun and the pacing is spot-on as well. However, one cannot stop themselves from unpacking the film when watching it to distinguish all of Edgar Wright’s directorial traits in it and ultimately ponder what Wright’s finished film would have been like. However what has remained is very, very promising and Marvel have another series to their name and rightly so. What sets it apart from other films in this universe is that Ant-Man is fighting for a purpose, to protect his daughter and this elevates the film tremendously.
So the best film is…
1) The Avengers
‘The Avengers’ is the result of all the world-building and five films that set it up, the crowning jewel of Phase 1. A team-up of superheroes in film has never been done before so this film would either cement the universe’s future or would be a underwhelming climax to what had been set up. This film is the best Marvel film there is to date and rightly so. The action sequences are top-notch and the script is first class – it has just the right blend of humour and plot-line. The characters really bounce off each other well. It’s just a shame that director Joss Whedon was unable to make a satisfying follow-up.
Marvel can be very proud of what they have achieved so far and DC are looking to emulate their success with the release of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ and ‘The Suicide Squad’ next year. Whilst all the films differ in quality, what they have is very solid and their best films are truly superb. Here’s hoping for an equally satisfying Phase 3, which will culminate in ‘The Avengers: Infinity War’ where the superheroes will battle supervillain, Thanos, who has been teased for a couple of films now.