The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a poster child for a film franchise. Over the past six years it's dished out a number of high budget superhero films, almost all of which have earned huge profits at the box office. The shared universe between these films generated enormous amounts of hype for its main event, The Avengers, which united all these iconic heroes into a massive ensemble blockbuster; set to replicated next year with Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The likes of Sony and Warner Bros. are highly keen to mimic the success Disney has now achieved, and although Harry Potter remains the highest grossing film franchise, the MCU will surpass it by next year.
Despite their profitable outcome, the quality of the films is mixed - and so we will rank the current releases right now in this list!
I'm not gonna repeat my feelings on this train wreck of a movie, so I'll make this quick. Thor: The Dark World is truly nothing special, but so much so that it can't even be classed a half decent movie. Notable flaws include a weak villain, awful comedic timing and no heart to the narrative whatsoever. The filmmakers made no effort to innovate a tired formula and so we get a generic setup and generic final fight; nothing else flourishes in this overlong pile of rubbish.
#9 - Iron Man 3 (2013)
Though not an unbearable watch from start to finish, Iron Man 3 is nonetheless a massive disappointment and a lacklustre entry to the Avengers canon. It starts up well, and seems to have a very promising villain, but an infamous plot twist negates all of that effort and turns the film into an unfunny, unfocused bore. Stark has never been so unlikeable despite a decent performance from Downey, and so Iron Man 3 becomes a memorable superhero flick - for all the wrong reasons.
#8 - Iron Man 2 (2010)
Iron Man 2 is once again not a terrible film, but it doesn't equate to a satisfying experience by the time the credits roll. Fun action sequences and impressive visual effects aren't enough to save the film from its terribly contrived plot, unlikeable rendition of Stark, and poor villain. Compared to the first Iron Man, this is a thoroughly disappointing sequel.
#7 - The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Perhaps one of the MCU's lesser known films is the rebooted Hulk movie from 2008. Starring Edward Norton who has now been replaced by Mark Ruffalo, The Incredible Hulk was met with disappointing box office returns which is why there's been no sign of a sequel in the six years since. Its CGI effects are weak and its story dull, but fast paced action scenes and a solid cast add up to an enjoyable film regardless.
#6 - Thor (2011)
Thor is lacking on the action front, and perhaps could've timed its jokes better, but otherwise it's a solid superhero flick with the usual visual splendour we've come to expect from MCU films. Though it recycles countless cliches in Hollywood filmmaking (particularly with its romance), a fantastic villain, solid emotional focus, and a brilliant climax add up to one of the MCU's better entries.
#5 - Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
After the unspeakably awful 1990 film, Captain America's return to the big screen is undoubtedly one of the MCU's finest titles. Overly patriotic as it is, The First Avenger is still an all round enjoyable popcorn flick; the story isn't that intelligent, but this paves the way for an all round fun experience with plenty of action, likeable characters, and a threatening villain.
#4 - The Avengers (2012)
Four years into the MCU's lifespan, the first ensemble blockbuster arrived in the form of The Avengers; collecting over $1.5 billion across the globe, it has become one of the highest grossing films of all time and undeniably had comic book fans orgasming in excitement upon its launch. It's a brilliant film, no doubt about it; Joss Whedon has a solid script which he's directed beautifully with tons of thrilling set pieces, a heart to its characters, and some excellent jokes. Its story is a little thin and sometimes contrived, but otherwise, this is definitely one of the best superhero films ever made.
#3 - Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Despite The First Avenger earning a mediocre $370 million, extended familiarity with the character after Avengers dramatically increased the hype for The Winter Soldier, which has gone on to earn over $700 million globally. Much different from its light hearted predecessor, The Winter Soldier is an exploration of interesting political themes within a surprisingly dark story, packed with some superbly choreographed action. Featuring a notable performance from Robert Redford and of course the rest of its star studded cast, The Winter Soldier succeeds in being a tense and thrilling superhero flick.
#2 - Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
The Guardians of the Galaxy are one of the lesser known superhero teams, with the current lineup only being introduced back in 2008. In spite of this, their first entry to the big screen won over its audience with a fun premise that results in a light hearted blockbuster suitable for a wider demographic. A seemingly goofy story is embraced with tons of humour, yet the film never sinks into a brainless parody and still has a sweet emotional tone along with thrilling set pieces and wonderful performances from an excellent cast.
#1 - Iron Man (2008)
In 2008, the MCU began with Iron Man's cinematic debut - which earned over $300 million in the US and $585 million worldwide. Such earnings don't go undeserved - Iron Man is a thoroughly entertaining hit that rests on a brilliant script and excellent direction. The film isn't crammed with bags of unnecessary action, but because the story itself is so gripping and the film so well paced, we continue to be entertained as everything unfolds. The fantastic cast comprised of Robert Downey, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Terence Howard all perform wonderfully - this is currently the only MCU film to actually have a likeable rendition of Tony Stark. He transforms from an arrogant douchebag to a genuine hero, but still retains his witty humour, and such care to character development is missing in quite a lot of superhero flicks these days.
Funny, visually dazzling and superbly acted, Iron Man in summary is easily the best film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Thanks for reading!