Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Inevitable Re-Ranking of MCU Films

Doug: Now that the dust has settled from the release of Captain America: Civil War, the next conversation that - to be honest, probably happened immediately - is "Where does this film lay in your ranking of MCU films?" I know that I've mulled it over with my sons, and you've probably had the conversation, too.

Karen: It is a constant topic with my husband and I.
And it gets harder with each new film, since I have pretty much liked them all, except Iron Man 3.

For those with faulty memories (raises hand), here are the 13 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that have been released to date, chronologically listed:
  1. Iron Man
  2. The Incredible Hulk
  3. Iron Man 2
  4. Thor
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger
  6. Marvel's The Avengers
  7. Iron Man 3
  8. Thor: The Dark World
  9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy
  11. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  12. Ant-Man
  13. Captain America: Civil War

Doug: Let's hear your rankings. I imagine that for many of us our top 5 will be pretty similar, although I'm sure there will be some surprises (heresies, even) along the way.

Doug: For me - and this could change tomorrow - I would rank the films as such:
  1. Marvel's The Avengers
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  3. Iron Man
  4. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  5. Captain America: Civil War
  6. Guardians of the Galaxy
  7. Captain America: The First Avenger
  8. Ant-Man
  9. Thor
  10. Iron Man 2
  11. Thor: The Dark World
  12. Iron Man 3
  13. The Incredible Hulk (I've not ever seen this film all the way through, so maybe "N/A" is best)

Karen: I mentioned to Doug offline that my husband and I had made our own lists of the (then 12) films at Christmas and compared them, but since then I had tossed out that list. My first two answers haven't changed, and neither have my final three. But I think the middle has moved around a lot. The thing is, with the exception of Iron Man 3, I actually like all the films! So deciding where to put them is really difficult, as in many cases, it's a matter of perhaps characters winning out more than quality -that's why Thor ranks higher for me than Ant-Man.

  1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  2. Marvel's The Avengers
  3. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  4. Captain America: Civil War
  5. Iron Man
  6. Iron Man 2
  7. Thor
  8. Captain America: The First Avenger
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy
  10. Ant-Man
  11. Thor: The Dark World
  12. The Incredible Hulk
  13. Iron Man 3

Doug: For further consideration, and after you've done your MCU rankings, think about non-MCU comic book flicks and where you'd slide those in. With that in mind, here's a revised Top 10 for me (again, this changes with the wind and I hope I'm not forgetting anything):
  1. Marvel's The Avengers
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  3. Spider-Man 2
  4. Superman 2
  5. Iron Man
  6. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  7. Batman (1966)
  8. Captain America: Civil War
  9. Batman (1989)
  10. X-Men: First Class
Karen: I've had some time to think about this, and I'm not sure anything else breaks into that Marvel top ten. I have a sentimental love of Superman and Superman 2 but I'm not sure they slip past Ant-Man or Guardians. Maybe. The X-Men films, particularly X2 and First Class, are strong contenders. Spider-Man 2 is another solid one. But I can't honestly say any of them beat this current crop of Marvel films for me. Part of it may be, they are all so much part of a piece. Sure, stylistically they are all the same -but that is part of the appeal, at least to me. So no second list for me -I'll stand pat on this one.


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Edo Bosnar said...

I love most of the Marvel films, but I really find it hard to rank them, as my thoughts on them change from day to day (or least from one time I think about them to the next). All I can say is that of that list of 13 at the top of your post, the Incredible Hulk is the only one I didn't care for very much.
Also, I have to agree with Karen that none of the preceding superhero films push out any of the Marvel features (except for Hulk) in my esteem, although X-men: First Class and Days of Future Past come close, and the first two Superman movies get some kind of honorable mention in my personal rankings (those two actually would maybe even crack some kind of top ten for me if it weren't for two deep flaws in each - the 'changing the past by spinning the planet backward' bit in the first, and the 'slip Lois a ruphie to make her forget' bit in the second one).
Also, I'm still a bit puzzled by all of the apparent hate for Iron Man 3; in general, it seems of a piece with the preceding two IM installments, and as I keep repeating (and just did so on a FB post yesterday), that aerial rescue scene is one of the best in any superhero film ever.

Martinex1 said...

1. Captain America Winter Soldier
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
3. Marvel's Avengers (I think that is the official title here in the states)
4. Ant-Man
5. Captain America Civil War
6. Iron Man
7. Captain America
8. Avengers Age of Ultron
9. Iron Man 2
10. Incredible Hulk
11. Iron Man 3
13.Thor 2

I tend to like some of the light hearted movies better (like Ant-Man and GOTG) but I also like the action and suspense in the Cap movies. Ultron has fallen way down my list; I saw it again and the weaknesses stood out to me. Ultron, the character, left me wanting and although I like the characters I didn't feel anything for Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch this time around. I think Scarlet Witch is so much better in Civil War. In general I think Civil War did an outstanding job with the character's personalities. I really dislike the Thor movies (dislike being relative of course), I think the set pieces seem very staged in Thor and I don't find the side characters compelling. I like Thor himself, and Loki, but that's about it. There are parts of Hulk I really like.

As far as non-Marvel films, X-Men 1st Class and Spider-Man 2 would make the cut, probably right above Hulk therefore bouncing both Thors from my list.

William said...

Wow! I actually thought there were more movies than that. I guess with all the other non-MCU films (Spider-Man, X-Men, FF, etc.) it just seems like a lot more.

Anyway, here is my list:

1. Marvel's The Avengers
2. Captain America: Civil War
3. Avengers 2: AOU
4. Captain America: Winter Soldier
5. Guardians Of The Galaxy
6. Ant-Man
7. Iron Man
8. Captain America: First Avenger
9. Incredible Hulk
10. Thor: The Dark World
11. Thor
12. Iron Man 2
13. Iron Man 3

The first Avengers movie is still my favorite. It just got so many things right. Still the best comicbook-to-movie ever made, IMO.

I didn't care much for either of the Iron Man sequels. I felt neither lived up to the promise of the original, especially IM3. If you're going to call a movie "Iron Man 3" it should maybe have some Iron Man in it. It seemed more like "Tony Stark: The Motion Picture". Also, I didn't like the Mandarin bait-and-switch, or the way Pepper became Super-Pepper at the end. Meh!

On the other hand, I liked "Thor: TDW" better than the original. I just thought the first Thor movie felt a little "small" for a movie about a Thunder God visiting earth. Plus, I didn't like how he was de-powered through most of the film. Not a big fan of that kind of plot device.

William said...

Oh BTW, I think that "The Incredible Hulk" is a very underrated movie. As a Hulk movie it actually got a lot of things right. In fact, if you try to pick it apart it actually holds up quite well. But it seems kind of like it's the "forgotten" Marvel movie. Probably because Edward Norton didn't continue on as Bruce Banner into the other films. So, it doesn't seem as much like it is part of the same shared universe. If Mark Ruffalo had starred in it, then I suspect it would be remembered more fondly.

Anonymous said...

I find my ranking changes on which ones I’ve seen most recently as I like many of them very much. I have no real hindsight yet. Case in point: I saw Xmen Apocalypse yesterday and was blown away by the visuals, the scale, the effects, the sound design and some great performances and cheeky nods to the cognoscenti. Maybe the initial shine will wear off in time, but yesterday I was blown away. Conversely, I didn’t really like DOFP, but then I perhaps need to watch it again.

I very much enjoyed Ant Man first time and I loved the scale and scope of the Thor movies. I was concerned they’d just make him another super hero, but they went full-Asgard. It fills me with hope for the Doc Strange movie.

Doug / Karen, I‘m surprised you both rate Cap 2 highly above 3. I’d find it harder to choose. And both of you rate Age of Ultron above Cap 3. For me, Cap 3 was not just a better movie, it was actually a better Avengers movie.

Edo – totally agree about IM 3. Karen if you didn’t already do this – please watch Edo’s favourite bit….the aerial rescue and then watch the DVD extras where they explain how they actually did it (basically, they ACTUALLY did it!). This is my favourite stunt sequence in any film. The end with him jumping from suit to suit is just overkill, but the parachute sequence is the actual peak of the film for me.

No love for the Nolan/Bale Batman? Doug, I note you place both the 1989 Burton one and the 1966 one (for presumably sentimental reasons) above the whole DK trilogy. Holy Subjective Taste!


JJ said...

Last week I put in my DVD of Iron Man 2. I hadn't watched the film since I initially saw it in the theater. I had a lingering impression that it was a bad film. It's not. In fact, it has a surprisingly thoughtful screen story. It's flawed in that it doesn't quite fully develop its themes and stick the landing, but there's a lot of meat on its bones.

If only Iron Man 3 had continued this. In Iron Man 2 Stark is looking for a noble way forward and is concerned with both his father's legacy and his own. Thus the Stark Expo. In Captain America: The First Avenger Tony Stark's father plays a prominent role as a young man, and in Civil War we once again touch on Howard Stark's fate and how meaningful that was to Tony, despite burying his feelings for years behind hyper-verbal bravado.

If Iron Man 3 had continued this theme we would've had such an engaging connective tissue bewteen all these films, and the Iron Man trilogy would've been something truly special. Instead we got Iron Drones 3.

Just wanted to get that off my chest. My MCU list thus far:

1. Marvel's The Avengers
2. Captain America: The First Avenger
3. Captain America: Civil War
4. Iron Man
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
6. Ant-Man
7. Iron Man 2
8. Thor
9. The Incredible Hulk
10. Avengers: Age of Ultron
11. Thor 2: The Dark World
12. Iron Man 3
13. Guardians of the Galaxy

Edo Bosnar said...

Richard, thanks for backing me up on that IM3 scene.
However, I have to say that on the subject of the Bat-films, my rankings are similar to Doug's: I like the 1989 and 1966 ones much better than any of the others.

Dougie said...

My top five MCU films are:
1) Winter Soldier
2) Cap First Avenger
3) Thor
4) Avengers
5) Ant Man
I chaperoned a group of school kids to Civil War ( my 2nd viewing). They and I were bored by much of it.
First Class would be high in my top ten, if it were eligible.

Anonymous said...

Well, bearing in mind that I haven't seen "CA: Civil War", I'd put the first two Cap movies and the two Avengers movies in the top 5, then maybe the first Iron Man; Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man would be next...after that, I'm not sure. The rest kind of run together for me.

Mike Wilson

Karen said...

Regarding IM3, I agree with William and JJ on many levels. It doesn't feel so much like an Iron Man film as a Tony Stark, action hero film. While the aerial rescue is spectacularly filmed, it loses much of its heat for me knowing that it is Iron Drone and not Iron Man performing the rescue -Tony is not in any jeopardy at all (although admittedly, the plane passengers are). All in all, I found IM3 to have boring villains and a rather mean spirit pervading it.

Richard, I rate Winter Soldier above the rest because I think it is the best overall production of all the films -in writing, action, production values, etc. While I love Avengers for that visceral thrill of bringing all those characters together, Winter Soldier is the better story in my opinion.

While I enjoyed Civil War, it felt a bit over-stuffed to me. In some ways, I might have preferred seeing the film focus simply on the Bucky storyline, with Cap and Falcon chasing down Bucky, with Panther also in pursuit, and leaving out all the Avengers stuff and conflict with Stark. But they wanted to go big, so that's what we got. It's fun, but I think it loses some of the more personal side of things.

I saw X-Men:Apocalypse this weekend, and talk about over-stuffed...While I enjoyed First Class and also Days of Future Past, one thing I've come to realize with these films is that most of the characters are there in name (and powers) only. Sure, they do a pretty good job with Prof. X, Wolverine, and Magneto, but Cyclops in this film is nothing like Scott Summers from the comics. In this series, his brother Alex was an X-Man before him. Mystique has become a rebel hero. We know nothing really about Nightcrawler or Angel, and Storm's origin is now connected to Apocalypse. It just goes on and on. Because they decided long ago to mix and match X-Men from different time periods, the X-Men film universe has never really felt like the comics. I suppose one just has to accept it as being "inspired" by the comics but not truly based on the comics. That's one thing about the Marvel Universe films: they really do feel like the comics to me.

Doug said...

Hi, Richard and everyone else --

Sorry I was not able to respond to any individual comments before now. My wife and I were traveling home from a weekend getaway for our anniversary (albeit a few days early).

I really find no joy in the Nolan Batman films. For me, they epitomize the dark, depressing aspect of comics that sought to be only grim and gritty -- the 24/7 version of g&g. And, looking at DC's follow-ups in Man of Steel and BvS, I probably rate them even lower simply on the basis of the legacy those films have wrought. While Burton's first Batman film was dark, it was comic book-y, if that makes sense. The Nolan films were just dark without any sense - to me at least - that they had any comic book element to them.

I hadn't planned to see X-Men: Age of Apocalypse for the same reasons Karen mentions. I'm tired of that series of films doing whatever they want with X-Men chronology and characterization. "Based on...", indeed. But that would be all.


Anonymous said...

Whoo boy ranking films has always been a difficult balancing act for me. So, like Edo I'll refrain from doing any lists simply because my rankings would vary depending on what mood I'm in.

Having said that, I'd rank Cap:Civil War (CCW) up there, ahead of Age of Ultron (AOU). Ultron basically was a letdown, and yeah Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch didn't have their characters developed properly. The best thing about AOU was the introduction of the Vision. Still, CCW trumps AOU in almost all other departments - better storyline, better character development. Heck, as I've said before CCW is a better Avengers movie than AOU!

- Mike 'until we see Kang in the Marvel cinematic universe' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Unknown said...

Here are my opinions regarding the ever-expanding MCU.

Iron Man 2 and 3 didn't appeal to me as much as the first instalment. To a non-comic book fan unfamiliar with Iron Man's background, the events that transpired in Iron Man 3 were incomprehensible.

Incredible Hulk was a quality movie, but it seemed very much a standalone entry. The reason I perceive this is most likely because Ed Norton did not reprise his role.

Guardians of the Galaxy was entertaining in a sophomoric way but overrated, and it is amazing that a team of such unknown characters could have led to such a spectacular box office success. I myself am a bigger fan of the original GotG team than the new iteration.

The Thor films are entertaining, and of course Loki's mischievous malevolence steals the show, but they are not the strongest entries in the MCU films. Still, they turned out to be far better than I'd anticipated prior to their release.

The first Avengers movie was a tremendous blockbuster and was a nearly perfect vehicle for the Big Four--Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk. The second Avengers film was a weaker film. To me, it seemed to focus unduly on the breakup of the team instead of the dangers posed by Ultron. I felt that Ultron was a great villain, but not enough was done with him; he could have been so much more. I was very impressed by Ultron from what I saw of him in the trailer, and therefore my expectations were very high.

The Captain America films are, to me, the pinnacle of the MCU. Now a complete trilogy, it's a cut above the rest. I especially like #2. Spectacular action sequences and a compelling conspiracy story elevate the film. Cap's fight with Batroc and Cap's close-quarters battle inside the elevator were everything a fan could ask for.

I'd rate the MCU films as follows:

(1) Captain America trilogy (2, 3, then 1)
(2) Avengers 1
(3) Iron Man 1
(4) Incredible Hulk
(5) Thor 1 & 2
(6) Avengers 2
(7) Ant Man
(8) Guardians of the Galaxy
(9) Iron Man 2 & 3

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