Iron Man 2 
Following the huge success of 2008’s “Iron Man” (which also kicked-off the Marvel Cinematic Universe), I personally had high expectations for this sequel. To say that I was disappointed would truly be an understatement. With half-baked ideas and a villain that didn’t really bring anything new to the table (Mickey Rourke was sadly wasted), “Iron Man 2” remains my least favorite movie in the MCU.
Thor: The Dark World 
Easily the weakest movie in the “Thor” trilogy, “The Dark World” forces the audience to run an obstacle before the fun kicks in. The end result is an enjoyable but easily forgettable ride, because the story never really takes hold. That being said, the movie has its virtues. Credits go to Loki, again performed by the amazing Tom Hiddleston, who steals every scene he appears in. Thor may be dealing with a brand new villain here, but the core of this sequel is the relationship between him and his brother Loki. They both turn “The Dark World” into everything you wished for: a superhero film with a heart. Too bad it takes the movie so damn long to get there.
The Incredible Hulk 
Quite often, I forget that this movie is part of the MCU, and understandably so. Edward Norton was later on replaced by Mark Ruffalo and “The Incredible Hulk” basically faded into obscurity. It’s not a bad movie by any means (in fact, I remember having a lot of fun with it), but it just isn’t up to par with many of the films that came after it, hence the low ranking on this list.
Ant-Man and the Wasp 
He doesn’t get the credit he deserves, but Ant-Man (extremely well-played by Paul Rudd) has been on my superhero radar ever since his first movie hit theaters back in 2015. The sequel wasn’t innovative in any way, especially after a series of great Marvel films, but it’s a light and constantly funny adventure that truly fit the summer formula.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 
I may be hanged for this, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the second “Guardians” film. I know it must have been hard for writer/director James Gunn to cook-up a sequel to the hugely entertaining first film, but I think that he hasn’t fully succeeded with Vol. 2. On the surface, it is exactly the same; non-stop action sequences with the same loopy humor that made the first one so successful. And do I have to mention how awesome the soundtrack is? But at 140 minutes, my mind started to wander. Instead of being pulled into this world I felt myself drifting away from it. That’s not to say that the movie doesn’t have some kick-ass moments, mainly involving Kurt Russell, who gets all the best moments in this lengthy Volume. That, along with some eye-popping visual effects and action scenes may have been enough for fans of the series. For me, the finished product lacked originality and simply didn’t know when to quit. I still admire James Gunn’s vision and wish him nothing but good luck for Vol. 3, but his light touch from the first film was sorely missed here. More isn’t always better and this movie is proof of that.
Thor’s first solo adventure was highly praised by me at the time of its release, and there’s no denying that the movie is tons of fun. But 8 years later, I don’t think it belongs higher on this list. It’s still a dazzling example of a superhero movie done right, and I don’t think anybody could have pulled it off better than Chris Hemsworth in the lead, but I’ve seen better films since then.
Avengers: Age of Ultron 
Easily the weakest of the”Avengers” film, “Age of Ultron” felt like the middle child, stuck between the first one and the terrific “Infinity War”. It’s still spectacular and incredibly entertaining, but 4 years later, I don’t think I care for it that much anymore.
Iron Man 3 
“Iron Man 3″, total blast that it is, wasn’t as good as the first film, but it did surpass the forgettable sequel in every way. It’s a roller coaster ride that threatens to go off the rails, and does at some point. But director Shane Black knew exactly how to keep the action going. And at that point, it was the second superhero movie (“The Avengers” being the first) I can think of that made me laugh out loud, repeatedly. I still have fond memories of “Iron Man 3”, even many years later.
Smart, funny and highly enjoyable, “Ant-Man” completely caught me off guard with its intriguing premise about a small time crook (Paul Rudd), who is recruited by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas, as good as always), a scientist whose particle research has resulted in a suit that can reduce a man to ant size. And the rest is history as they say. I don’t think “Ant-Man” gets the credit he deserves, but his first solo adventure was truly a good time at the movies.
Captain Marvel 
By now, you probably know that “Captain Marvel” will play a major role in the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame”. So it’s only natural that Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers got a standalone film at this stage in the Marvel cinematic universe. And you couldn’t ask for a better movie to make your mouth water before the highly anticipated final showdown with Thanos. I wouldn’t call the story original, but it’s still an exciting one, with endless references to 90’s pop culture and enough humor for two movies. I had a blast watching it.
Captain America: The First Avenger 
Probably the most “old-fashioned” superhero film in the MCU, “Captain America” remains an underrated entry in the series in my humble opinion. Chris Evans not only embodied the physical character required, but also gave him charm and emotions, which is always crucial in superhero films. That’s not to say that the movie was flawless, but as a first solo adventure, it was quite refreshing, as it gave us a taste of what’s to come in future Marvel movies.
Spider-Man: Homecoming 
Ever since Tom Holland’s Spider-Man made a brief (but memorable) appearance in “Captain America: Civil War”, Marvel fans were eager to see if this reboot could finally win them over again. I personally didn’t hate Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, but his movies were far from memorable. Which is why “Homecoming” could well be the best “Spider-Man” movie since 2004’s “Spider-Man 2”. There’s only one reason why this reboot works so well, and his name is Tom Holland. This friendly, funny neighborhood guy gets the last laugh on the internet buzz that deemed him too “boyish” to play the role. Holland reinvigorates a tired franchise and he does it with an actor’s skill that puts you on notice that Spidey is really back in business. And the thought of him joining the “Avengers” made us all drool.
Doctor Strange 
I approached “Doctor Strange” with no particular expectations. What I got in return was a spectacular entry in the Marvel universe fueled by stunning visuals and a true sense of discovery. And then of course there’s Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role. The story has many details to cover, perhaps a few too many, but at the end they all fit neatly in place. Cumberbatch, in a role he was born to play, gives us plenty to cheer for. And director Scott Derrickson, who’s never tackled something this huge before, orchestrates all the components of this complex universe. His “Doctor Strange” is smart, original and constantly entertaining.
We were constantly teased about it ever since “Iron Man” hit the screens back in 2008, and it did not disappoint. Feverish action? Check. Dazzling spectacle? Check. Devilish fun? Check. All all the actors did something even more resonant for their superheroes: they gave them a soul. A lot has happened ever since, but the first “Avengers” still holds a special place in my heart. It’s a blast.
Black Panther 
The only film in the MCU to be nominated for an Oscar in the “Best Picture” category, “Black Panther” may not be my personal favorite, but it’s visually stunning, sharply-written, and directed with a keen eye for detail by Ryan Coogler. As a standalone film, it’s a knockout. As a build-up to “Infinity War”, it made our mouth water. God knows we’ve seen too many superhero films this past decade. And yet, “Black Panther” feels fresh, and that’s no easy feat. By pointing the way to the future of Marvel films, it ranks up there with the very best of them.
Iron Man 
The movie that kick-started everything basically. It was also the year that “The Dark Knight” was released, which means we got two great superhero films in one year. And what a great achievement “Iron Man” was. From Robert Downey Jr.’s sensational performance as Tony Shark to a terrific climax with baddie Jeff Bridges, the movie was a constant pleasure. 11 years have passed since then, but this is where it all began, and this movie has to be on my top 10 list.
Guardians of the Galaxy 
I may not be a big fan of the sequel, but the first “Guardians” movie had some terrific writing and a great cast to bring it to life. From Chris Pratt to Zoe Saldana, there are no weak links here as everyone got a chance to shine. Best of all, the movie had a great villain; Lee Pace sinks his teeth into the evil Ronan. He’s sly, dangerous and cruel. It’s a delicious performance. And with a sure footed sense of pacing, director James Gunn has injected his movie with wonderfully funny sequences. It really is one of the best superhero movies of the decade.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier 
Marvel sequels were tricky business at that point, which means I couldn’t care less about “Iron Man 2” and “The Dark World”. By that standard, the Captain America sequel should have followed in their footsteps. Not this time. “Winter Soldier” is spectacular in every sense of the word. It’s also darker, deeper and more dangerously subversive. The first movie reinvented Chris Evans as an action hero and a genuine movie star. The sequel didn’t jazz us with the thrill of discovery. But it kicked ass. Hard.
Thor: Ragnarok 
I don’t know what awaits the God of thunder after “Endgame”, but “Ragnarok” was an instant classic to me and probably the only Thor movie that people will talk about for years to come. From a hilarious opening sequence to a pulse-pounding climax (fueled by Led Zeppelin’s mighty “Immigrant Song”)”, “Ragnarok” is a constant reminder of why we fell in love with the MCU in the first place. I don’t say this very often about a superhero movie, but I loved every minute of it.
Captain America: Civil War 
You’d think after so many movies, this series would run out of steam by 2016. Not a chance. Instead, “Captain America: Civil War” emerged as one of the best superhero movies ever made. It’s smart, original, dark, funny. Hell, it’s everything a superhero movie could hope to be and then some, making it vastly superior to most films in the MCU. For that alone, Marvel earns my gratitude and respect.
Avengers: Infinity War 
The biggest superhero gathering of all time left everyone shocked for weeks, and rightfully so. It’s epic in every sense of the word, a feast for the eyes and the senses, an exhilarating ride from start to finish. So much in fact that I had to stay in my seat for a few minutes to take it all in. Kudos to every single person who worked on making this the best possible reunion I could possibly ask for. It’s a triumph on every level from writing, directing, pacing, special effects to you name it. The Russo Brothers have raised movie escapism very near the level of art. “Infinity War” is blockbuster entertainment at its best, a fantastic achievement that will stand for years to come. And now for the million dollar question: can “Endgame” top this?
Categories: action, adventure, The Twenty-First Century
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