Ranking the MCU: 16-11

Continuing on with a ranking of the Marvel Cinematic Universe from bottom to top. Here’s 16-11.

16. Ant-Man and the Wasp

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The Wasp and Ant-Man in “Ant-Man and the Wasp.”

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” had a lot of pressure on it considering it came out not long after “Avengers: Infinity War.” While it’s not perfect, the movie holds its own.

The best part of the whole movie is the battle couple dynamic from the two lead characters. This is one of the only movies of its kind to feature a romantic superhero couple and watching them work together is a real treat.

Again, not all of it works. The stakes feel so low here that the tension never gets all too high, and Michelle Pfeiffer’s seemed somewhat out of place. Overall, though, it’s an alright entry.

15. Doctor Strange (2016)

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Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange in “Doctor Strange.”

I’m going to get the negative out of the way first. “Doctor Strange” is a bit rushed. It felt like Strange went from being a rich doctor, to being depressed because of his injuries to learning mystical arts, very fast. The first act just was a bit too quick for my liking and the movie also had very noticeable similarities to the first “Iron Man.”

With that said, once the pace starts slowing down a bit in the second half, things improve, and watching the protagonist develop is compelling. The film really hits its stride in having Cumberbatch being perfectly cast as Strange as well as giving an audience a visually amazing experience.

Plus, the film has one of the best climaxes in any Marvel Studio film. Instead of going with a typical action filled sequence, the movie has Strange come up with an interesting concept to defeat the big bad without throwing a punch.

14. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

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Spider-Man and MJ in “Far From Home.”

“Far From Home” never surpasses its predecessor “Homecoming,” but it still does a lot right and for the most part is an above average Marvel entry. There are issues with the execution on the villain, but this one is still a fun follow-up to what happened in “Endgame.”

13. Captain Marvel (2019)

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Brie Larson as Captain Marvel.

“Captain Marvel” is in the upper echelon of the MCU but doesn’t quite crack the top 10. The movie is weighed down by a rough first act, a sequence in the middle about the protagonist’s past that moves too quickly and some of the 90s jokes missing their mark.

However, the film still has a lot going for it. The movie really hits its stride in the second act when Captain Marvel and Nick Fury start working together in a buddy cop kind of way. This is of course helped by the solid performances from Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson. Additionally, the picture boasts a fine supporting cast. On top of that, the action is on point.

12. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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Captain America battles Iron Man in “Captain America: Civil War.”

There are a lot of things I like about “Captain America: Civil War,” especially the last half hour. There’s a great moment of dialogue between Black Panther and the film’s main villain, as well as an emotionally wrenching fight between two heroes you’ve come to really enjoy watching.

The film also deals with some important themes, such as how much control should be given to the Avengers, considering they’re basically an independent military force, as well as how far can loyalty and friendship go in extreme situations.

The film, however, hit some snags. The second act, for example, gets bogged down with some side-quests. This is most noticeable with Tony Stark recruiting Spider-Man. Now, as a character, the film got Peter Parker and his alter ego completely right. However, considering how many powerful characters Iron Man had on his side *cough* Vision *cough*, bringing in Spider-Man to help confront Captain America didn’t seem necessary.

Plus, there’s the fact that much of the main antagonist’s master plan was based on a lot of coincidences happening. If they don’t happen, the Avengers probably wouldn’t go to fight each other like they do. And that’s another thing, the only time this felt like a real conflict was at the end. During the big fight at the airport, it seemed like a light scrimmage, especially with so many characters having quips and one-liners. Not only did it make it feel like the stakes were low, but it was also rather jarring when War Machine was injured.

11. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

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Chris Evans as Steve Rogers in “Captain America: The First Avenger.”

Here we go with the top 10 and rounding the list is Cap! The first outing for Steve Rogers was also the first film showing how Marvel Studios could change the formula for superhero pictures. The film did this by mixing a superhero origin story with a World War II epic. In doing so, the film was able to create its own charm, incorporating elements of a war movie while still having its other worldly, sci-fi pieces.

Rogers was also handled very well as a character. The movie was able to make Captain America, who at first glance seems like a simple, overly patriotic hero, into a developed character who’s a bit more complex than one might think. It’s a great balance the character has here, where Cap acknowledges the symbolism he carries with his uniform and shield, while still being completely selfless with a tight focus on finishing the mission at hand. He wears the stars and stripes, but there’s more to him than that.

Making this work is a solid performance from Chris Evans, who convincingly plays Rogers as a noble man with an iron will. The film also wisely had Tommy Lee Jones as the military commander in the movie, which really added to the film’s war feel.

So, not top 10 material, but right on the border.

All photos courtesy Marvel Studios.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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