Ranking Marvel Movies (as of September 2014)

10: Thor: The Dark World
Released in 2013, “Thor: The Dark World” is Marvel’s weakest entry into their universe. While it included some good banter between the hero Thor and his brother Loki and an ending fight scene with an interesting teleportation concept, the rest of the movie was lacking. An overuse of secondary comic relief characters and an uninteresting villain with no personality resulted in a plot that was difficult to get invested in. Hopefully, Thor can rebound in future films.

9. Thor
I’m really not trying to hate on the God of Thunder, however, I found both of his films to be rather mediocre. After seeing “The Incredible Hulk” and the first two “Iron Man” films, “Thor” just seemed a bit lackluster in comparison. Chris Hemsworth is a great Thor and seeing him learn life lessons was interesting. Plus, the land of Asgard looked great. There was a little too much comedy in this one, though, which made it difficult to get invested in the world of monsters and gods. Also, the romance between Thor and Jane (Natalie Portman) seemed rushed.

8. Iron Man 2
“Iron Man 2” was an example of a movie that had simply too many ideas which resulted in too much going on. The film tried to explore Tony Stark’s problem with alcohol, the forming of SHIELD and the Avengers and on top of it, the villain Whiplash. It was a lot to take on and made the movie come off as being all over the place. Plus, the climax of the film wasn’t all that great. The villain was taken out way too easily.

What helped “Iron Man 2” was the acting of Robert Downey Jr., who is perfect as Tony Stark, and the supporting cast of Don Cheadle and Mickey Rourke who were solid in their roles. Plus, the special effects looked great on screen and helped with the entertainment value.

7. Iron Man 3
“Iron Man 3” had some disappointing moments, yet it was still better then the second movie. Downey Jr. is once again good in the role as the lead character, the action was great and the climax was exciting. The flaws come in through the story telling, though. The movie had a poorly executed twist that wasn’t needed, a main villain whose motives were weak and a sub plot about a kid who helps Stark in the middle of the movie which honestly could have been cut.

6. The Incredible Hulk
Probably the most underrated film from Marvel, “The Incredible Hulk,” had everything an audience could ask for. Academy Award nominated actor Edward Norton brought a good level of depth to Dr. Bruce Banner’s character, making it believable that the Hulk was a curse the protagonist had to carry. The supporting cast of Liv Tyler as Banner’s love interest Betty, Tim Roth as hardened, power hungry soldier Emil Blonsky and William Hurt as General Ross were all fantastic, too.

On top of the good acting and well developed characters, the movie knew how to unleash the Hulk and have a lot of fun. Case in point, there is a scene where the Hulk rips apart a police car and uses the two halves as boxing gloves to punch the villain. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the reception it deserved.

5. Captain America: The First Avenger
This is a film that, at first, just seemed like a big commercial for “The Avengers.” After repeat viewings, though, it actually turns out to be a fine super hero origins flick. What helps is that the film plays out like both a super hero movie and a war film, which makes it more unique. It also benefited from some good acting from Dominic Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones.

The best part, though, was Chris Evans, who was perfect as Captain America. He embodies everything Captain America is supposed to stand for, risking his life for POWs, and balances that with his alter ego side of Steve Rodgers, which shows in the line “I’m just a kid from Brooklyn.”

4. Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel’s most recent film is one of its best. This is the first film to break away from Marvel’s “Avengers” universe, yet it did just fine on its own. The movie is made great by its cast who had remarkably good chemistry and fantastic writing which resulted in hilarious dialogue. The characters were so great that I’m already excited for the 2017 sequel to see them on another adventure. The film also benefited from a fun soundtrack.

The only downside to “Guardians” was its lackluster villain and simple plot. These flaws can be overlooked, though, just because of how funny the film was and how great the characters were.

3. Iron Man
In 2008, this was the movie that started it all. Marvel took a gamble, to create one unified universe, and “Iron Man” made that gamble work out for the best. The movie was helped by its Oscar caliber cast of Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow, as well as a solid performance from Terrence Howard.

The main star of course, though, was Downey Jr., making his first appearance as Tony Stark. Downey Jr. perfectly captures Stark’s arrogant attitude while at the same time displaying his genius. Director Jon Favreau also deserves credit for capturing Stark’s transformation in the film, both in terms of who he is and how he goes through redesigns of the Iron Man armor. The film also had fantastic action moments. The first scene where Iron Man flies around the city, for example, was very memorable.

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
What helped “Captain America: Winter Soldier” work so well was that it was more of a spy/thriller than just a super hero film. This allowed for a more flexible plot, where Captain America was immersed in the world of espionage and assassins. Once again, Evans was fantastic wearing the stars and stripes. He still holds onto the polite nature of his World War II era self, and yet isn’t afraid to challenge what he believes is wrong. Evans was also joined by a great supporting cast of Samuel L. Jackson as SHIELD Director Nick Fury and Scarlett Johansson as agent Black Widow, who both delivered A+ performances.

The film excelled in its action, too. Captain America was a surgeon with how he threw his shield and he was given a great adversary in the Winter Soldier assassin. In a genre that usually has a lot of other worldly battles, this flick went back to intense hand-to-hand combat and gunfighting basics that were very well shot.

1. The Avengers
The culmination of Marvel’s cinematic universe to this point, “The Avengers” did what people would probably say was impossible 15 to 20 years ago. “The Avengers” brought together four actors playing characters from vastly different backgrounds and put them together on one super hero team.

Through the use of fantastic humor, strong dialogue, great writing and perfect chemistry between the actors, “The Avengers” turned out to be one of the best super hero movies. Not one Avenger was over shadowed, each one got to show off what they could do. Watching these characters interact and learn to work together was also very well executed. “The Avengers” also benefited from a good performance from Tom Hiddleston who played the villain Loki.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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