With Avengers: Infinity War coming up shortly, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about the break new ground with a superhero epic on an unprecedented scale. They’ve made some fantastic movies already, but if Infinity War is as good as it seems, it’ll probably knock off one of the entries on this list; but before that happens, we’re going to look at the best that the MCU has delivered so far!
5. Iron Man
This is what kicked us off, all the way back in 2008 when Robert Downey Jr. debuted as Tony Stark, and arguably the most popular character in the entire MCU lineup. His origin story was compelling and gave a template for how the extended universe was going to unfold in terms of tone and approach. One of the best things about this movie is how balanced it is, providing action, comedy, drama, and science fiction elements in equal measure, and announcing the Marvel universe in emphatic style.
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America’s first entry into the universe was passable, but not the best we’ve seen. Its successor, though, knocked it out of the park. The lore of the Winter Soldier is highly significant in Captain America’s mythology, and this movie kicks off a character arc for Cap that reverberates through a few of the movies following it. It plays out like a rollercoaster of a spy-thriller that blends fantastic action sequences with the gripping story that sets up the significance of the third entry in this list perfectly.
3. Captain America: Civil War
The rivalry between Cap and Iron Man comes to a head in this team-up consisting of a who’s who of Marvel’s greatest characters, building directly on the events in both The Winter Soldier as well as Avengers: Age of Ultron. The greatest achievement of this movie is introducing characters that had until this point been peripheral in the universe, and also assimilating them into the wider universe to set up their own standalone stories. The biggest beneficiaries of this are Black Panther and Spider-Man – both of whom featured in their own highly-successful outings following Civil War. It also wins extra points for doing an incredible job of combining an ensemble cast of characters with a focused and engaging story arc between Cap and Iron Man.
2. Thor: Ragnarok
As the 17th film in the MCU, Thor: Ragnarok could have easily become bogged down in Marvel lore. Instead, the film is largely standalone, with just a few connections to the larger Avengers story going on in the background. Chris Hemsworth also deserves credit for the film’s success. After showing off his gift for comedy in Ghostbusters and Vacation, Hemsworth went full-bore in Thor: Ragnarok. His combination of charm and sarcasm fitted Thor’s isolated situation perfectly, and he carried it all off with the ease of a seasoned movie star. Casting off the shackles of the super serious Thor from the first two films, Hemsworth clearly had tons of fun in Ragnarok, which is what fans were dying to see.
1. The Avengers
Joss Whedon’s universally-acclaimed The Avengers has become the standard for what a good comic book movie looks like. Beyond having a solid story arc and some of the best visual spectacles on the silver screen, it’s also an impressive ensemble film that had to balance many characters and do them all justice. The preceding movies set the foundation for the MCU perfectly, and it culminated in the Avengers as a team having a breakout debut. As a well-executed and entertaining rollercoaster, it’s difficult to find an equal for this film, although a potential challenger to the throne will be hitting theatres shortly.
Much of the team dynamic that was set up in The Avengers will serve as a foundation for Avengers: Infinity War, with the subsequent movies in between adding to the full roster of characters that the Marvel universe needs to defeat their biggest threat. The main question for many fans will be: where will Avengers: Infinity War fall in their own top 5 list?