The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special has officially ended the MCU phase 4, and now is the perfect time to take a step back, look at all 30 MCU movies, and rank the 10 best films Marvel has made since Iron Man changed the whole movie industry in 2008. Obviously, there are going to be a lot of spoilers down below, so if you haven’t watched all the films in the franchise yet for some reason, be sure to come back later and check out the Top 10 best MCU movies ever.
10. Captain America: Civil War
An almost Avenger sequel, this movie’s greatest asset is that its central conflict is the ideological disagreement between Captain America and Iron Man and not some planet-destroying villain. The script gives enough to see both points of view and understand where both characters are coming from. As this is a hero movie, they can’t discuss their ideas over dinner but have to fight it out.
What most people remember of this movie is the spectacular fight between all the heroes in an Airport in Germany, in what at that time was the best MCU kerfuffle, and the one with more heroes involved, leaving fans amazed by everything that happened there.
Captain America: Civil War is also the MCU’s welcome party for Black Panther and Spider-Man, the first time we see how Ant-Man can also get gigantic, and the introduction of the surprising chemistry – in an 80s cop movie of characters who hate each other until they love each other kind of way – between Falcon and the Winter Soldier, that would be explored later in the Disney+ show of the same name.
The ending combat between Captain America, Iron Man, and The Winter Soldier is brutal and shows how much is going to be needed to mend fences. The fight choreography in the scene is also pretty innovative, as is the first time we see a two-against-one fight with superpowers, creating surprising new ways of attacking the three heroes. it’s a fun movie with a real conflict between heroes where, for once, not everything is neatly resolved at the end.
9. Spider-Man: No Way Home
The expectation for this movie was gigantic, as it looked like it might unite all the Spider-Men there’s ever been on the big screen, and yet, the film still delivered. It’s the best movie in phase 4, and it gives the fans fun cameos like Daredevil, many villains from past films like Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, or Electro, and three different Spider-man, as Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield come back to play their versions of the role.
There’s time for fun and jokes of seeing this Peter Parker bond with the other versions, getting to ask questions about their different experiences. There’s also time to fight Doctor Strange, try to redeem both Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus, and give closure to Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man as here he saves MJ after he couldn’t do the same with his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy.
The film also gives one of the saddest moments in the whole MCU, which made everyone in the cinema get watery eyes, with the death of Aunt May, who in this reality is the person that gives Peter the speech “with great power comes great responsibility.”
After an amazing fight in The Statue of Liberty where the three Spidey’s collaborate and capture all the villains from the different universes, and after a sweet goodbye between the three, this universe Spider-man does the ultimate sacrifice of getting forgotten by everyone, even his best friend and his girlfriend, so he can save the world, a world that will never know or remember him. It’s a sad ending, but one that opens thousands of story possibilities if the character comes back.
8. Iron Man
Without this movie, there would be no MCU. Jon Favreau’s film nailed the tone and created what would become the MCU standard. Iron Man gave the fans jokey dialogue, unique action scenes, mid-credit surprises, and actors who can move between comedy and drama with ease; all those ingredients most Marvel movies still have. This film also had the most important casting decision in the whole endeavor, one that back then looked very risky: Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark.
Iron Man also has the first of many toothless villains acted by great actors, in this case, Jeff Bridges, something that would become an MCU problem over the years. This joyful origin story also showed secret identities weren’t going to be a big thing in the MCU. The moment when Tony admits he’s Iron Man is still one of the most surprising moments anyone has experienced at the cinema in the last century.
7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
This is the first Spider-Man film where the hero appears after everyone met him in Captain America: Civil War. Here he’s just a high-school kid with all the problems a teenager has, an idea the other Spider-Man movies didn’t use that much: Spider-Man is still learning to use his powers, and everything is small stakes, including the villain, Adrian Toombs, aka The Vulture, a small-time criminal, whose motivations aren’t just evil for the sake of evil.
The movie cast is great: from Marisa Tomei as Aunt May to Jacob Batalon as best friend and “guy in the chair,” and especially Zendaya as a reimagined MJ. Having Iron Man as his mentor and being who gives Spider-Man his first tech-advanced suit helps reinforce the sense of a shared universe between movies. The emotional relationship between the two would be explored and mined for emotion in future installments of the MCU.
This John Hughes high-school movie but with superheroes is a funny, charming teen drama. Spider-Man has to learn how to juggle his two lives, teenager and hero, both getting the same amount of respect, as asking the girl you have a crush on a date is as important and life-altering moment as fighting any criminal and almost dying. That’s why is so genius of the script to make the villain the father of Spider-Man date, mixing both worlds, as there’s nothing scarier in high school than your date’s father.
6. Avengers: Infinity War
Thanos has been lurking in the shadows for many movies, and this is when he finally goes into action, and boy, was it worth the wait. Making him destroy the Hulk and kill Loki is the best introduction possible, as it shows he’s like no enemy the heroes have faced before and has to be feared.
Avengers: Infinity War brings all the MCU characters together, creating new fun combinations between them, as Thor goes with Rocket and Groot, and Tony Stark has to work together with the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy, who, with their unique tone, exasperate him.
There’s an incredible climatic battle in Wakanda, but what’s most remembered (other than the ending) is all the fun and jokes the writers are having, mixing and matching the different characters of the many MCU films. In retrospect, it’s obvious Iron Man and Doctor Strange would clash as both are egomaniacs who always want to have the last words, and it also makes perfect sense Thor would bond with a raccoon and a talking tree.
The ending with the snap is an incredible cliffhanger and the most miserable and dark the MCU would ever get, even though knowing most of the dead characters had movies lined up for the future took out a lot of the shock value to that ending.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy was the film that proved that a good director could make a group of unknown characters the most unique, fun, and badass in the whole galaxy. James Gunn’s script gets this group of lovable outsiders and makes them team up while also showing each of their personalities and idiosyncrasies and why they click.
This was a star-making performance for Chris Pratt as an almost incompetent Han Solo figure that he’s tried to replicate in many of his other movies. It also showed Dave Bautista had a sense of humor and that we could fall in love with a raccoon if he was sarcastic and voiced by Bradley Cooper.
The unique visual style, the soundtrack, and the jokes made this film something surprising and completely different than everything that had become before in the MCU. And let’s not forget that they defeat the bad guy by dancing, a unique ending for this one-in-a-million movie, one that was also the first adventure outside Earth, making the fans want to spend more time with this great cast group of characters.
4. Black Panther
After his father’s death, T’Challa comes home to Wakanda and must prepare himself to be king while thinking about what kind of ruler he’s going to be. A new villain might change his point of view and how Wakanda must be in the future.
Black Panther got what Chadwick Boseman had done in Civil War and expanded the character and his world beautifully. In this film, Wakanda looked like a real place, an afrofuturistic paradise with its own traditions, ideas, and way of living. The score also helps, full of percussion, and has become a leitmotiv every time Wakanda appears in the MCU.
Boseman has an incredibly charismatic performance at the center of the film, and he’s surrounded by a great cast: Lupita Nyongo’o, Danai Gurire, Letitia Wright, Angela Basset, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, and especially Michael B. Jordan as Eric Killmonger.
The conflict between T’Challa and his cousin Killmonger touches on ideas like colonialism, slavery, and isolationism, creating a film with more complicated themes the Marvel films usually got, and Michael B. Jordan gives the best villain performance in the whole MCU. Killmonger has a point, at least until he wants to start arming people all over the world.
Black Panther is the closest a Marvel movie can become an auter film, as Coogler’s influence and mastery are all over the movie, especially in the action scene in Korea, a Top 5 action scene in the whole MCU.
3. Thor: Ragnarok
Taika Waititi did something that looked impossible with Thor: Ragnarok, and that’s making a Thor movie fun and enticing. Whereas the first two movies are a complete snoozefest, the third installment is heavy metal, not only because of its soundtrack but also because it’s big, bold, colorful, and surprising.
This movie could’ve only come out of Waititi’s brain, and it shows, as his deadpan humor is on full display in the script, and you just never know what’s going to happen next, including the appearance of Jeff Goldblum as his most Goldblum-est. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor changed after this movie, and never looked back, letting his timing and chemistry with everyone, from his brother Loki to the Hulk, and even director Taika Waititi himself as Korg, shine.
Thor: Ragnarok proved what the MCU can be like when they let the directors’ personality and talent shine through as this is Taika Waititi as much than a Marvel movie, proving that when the MCU gives big swings, it can get the biggest of rewards, an inventive, memorable, hilarious film.
2. Avengers: Endgame
It has been five years since the snap, and the surviving heroes are still trying to get by. Everything changes when Ant-Man gets on the scene and suggests a time heist so they can get the Infinity Stones and bring back to life everyone who died at Thanos’ hand, literally.
The culmination of the Thanos saga was everything the fans wanted and more, surpassing everyone’s expectations. After twenty-one movies, eleven years, and a three-hour movie, they nailed the ending.
The film starts rather depressing but gives the remaining heroes a real emotional resonance of how they would’ve been dealing with grief after what happened in Wakanda. After a rat – the real hero of the whole MCU, as without it, everyone would still be dead – brings back Ant-Man from the Quantum Realm, everything changes. The optimism, jokes, and team camaraderie starts to build while still showing how the heroes have been scarred by the past. Fat Thor will always be funny, and so is Smart Hulk.
This movie has many exciting moments: Captain America holding Mjolnir because he’s worth it, resurrecting every dead character from the previous film, the “Avengers Assemble” line fans had been waiting for more than ten years. There are also two emotional deaths people still talk about: Black Widow and Iron Man.
Tony sacrificing himself for the better good, while Steve decided to be selfish and stay with Peggy, showed how much they had influenced each other, as these decisions would’ve never made sense before they met. A great ending to Phase 3 and a beautiful goodbye for Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, and their characters.
It’s undeniable this movie is a historical feat for its scope and long-run planning and that it stuck its landing. It’s easy to say there’s not going to be ever again in the whole cinema industry a movie that has been building up for so long and giving us an emotional ending that affected emotionally the fans, as these had been our friends for more than a decade.
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Steve Rodgers was always a boy scout with values that didn’t always work in the 21st Century. Making him confront those ideals in a real world with much more gray and nuance is such a great idea and gives him good motivation and is such a solid foundation for making a great movie like Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Giving Captain America a villain who not only has the same abilities but also has an emotional connection with him served to ups the stakes to a new level that wasn’t present in the previous film. The moment when he understands his best friend Bucky is The Winter Soldier is still one of the saddest in all of the MCU.
To counterbalance the sadness, Captain America gets a new sidekick in Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, and has fun conversations with Black Widow, with some banter that could’ve been taken from a 50s rom-com. After they kiss, to mislead the goons who are looking for them, Black Widow makes the question everyone has been wondering: has Captain America ever kissed a girl? The reaction is priceless and one of the biggest laughs in the whole film.
All that would make the film be Top 5 in the MCU, but what makes it jump to the top is Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s great set pieces. From the car chase where they try to kill Nick Fury to the elevator scene where Steve fights with many Hydra goons and the first fight with a knife-wielding Bucky.
Everything about this movie screamed exciting action thriller, and it delivered, giving the MCU a new genre flavor, one that was the perfect mix of paranoia, thriller, action, jokes, surprises, and character development. That’s why it’s the best movie in the MCU.
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