Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies

I’m a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and have been a fan of Marvel comics and cards ever since I was a kid.  After seeing Avengers 2 a few months back, I decided I was going to embark on a rewatching of all the Marvel movies starting with the original Iron Man through Guardians of the Galaxy.  I own all of these movies on either DVD or Bluray so it wouldn’t be inconvenient to watch them again, and I can pause and take notes or rewatch a scene if I wanted to help with my rankings.

Due to Avengers 2 not being out yet (legally), it will not be included in this ranking.  Also Ant-Man, which comes out very soon (or just came out depending on when I finish and post this) is not included for the same reasons.

A quick note – there may be some spoilers below.

  • The Phases

The MCU Universe is split into what they call Phases.  Even though it appears the story spreads across all phases, I guess each phase ends with a big movie at the end.  The first phase ended with the first Avengers movie.  The second phase will be ending with Ant-Man.  So I don’t really know what the difference in the phases is except that the first phase has primarily the first movie for each of the main characters, though it does include Iron Man 2.  In fact, Phase 2 starts with Iron Man 3.

Each of the first two phases includes six movies, though as previously mentioned the last two in Phase 2 (Avengers 2 and Ant-Man) will not be included.  Anyway, I will be ranking the movies first in each phase, then as a whole.

So the ten movies that will be ranked follow, presented here in chronological order of release date.  Movies 1 through 6 are Phase 1, 7 through 10 are Phase 2.

  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 Winder Soldier
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy


  • Phase 1

6) Iron Man 2 – I like the Marvel characters and universe, and I generally think all of these movies are at least decent.  Iron Man 2 is decent too me but if any movie would be the exception it would be this one.  Justin Hammer ended up being a very weak and non-intimidating bad guy.  Mickey Rourke was all right.  The second half of the movie suffered greatly as it went on too much of a tangent focusing on setting up the Avengers movie, and it really impacted the main plot.  Robert Downey Jr. Is of course still fantastic.

5) The Incredible Hulk – Honestly, Thor, The Incredible Hulk and Captain America could all be interchanged in spots 5, 4 and 3.  I liked Edward Norton as Bruce Banner.  The bad guys were weak here also in my opinion as Abomination and the General just didn’t do it for me.  To me, the story kind of just went along, and it was a fine ride, but the distribution issues with Marvel and Universal withstanding, I also think another solo Hulk movie wouldn’t fare too well on its own.

4) Thor – I’m putting Thor here though because I feel that even though it had a top-notch cast and director, the movie seems constrained.  Half the movie takes place in the rinky-dink town in New Mexico, and it really lacks in these moments.  The Asgard scenes and when Thor and Loki are going at it along with the conclusion are great.  Probably would be lower if not for Tom Hiddleston being a great villain and Natalie Portman for being hot.

3) Captain America: The First Avenger – I know a lot of people who didn’t care for this movie.  I like it.  I think the origin story of Steve Rogers is told well and Chris Evans is believable, even when he’s made skinny.  The building up of Rogers before being transformed, and then having to go through adversity again when he’s not utilized fully until the end is well done in my opinion.  Action scenes are good and a quality villain help.

2) Iron Man – I really wanted to make this #1 because of nostalgia, but I feel that the Avengers is just non-stop fun so it has to take the top spot here.  This movie has good writing, good directing, and phenomenal acting by Robert Downey Jr.  He just is Tony Stark and Iron Man.  It started the whole thing, so it has to be pretty good, right?

1) Marvel’s The Avengers – To me, this movie is close to perfect.  It’s got a great story, it’s fun watching the team get assembled, Loki is even better here as the bad guy, and once the action gets going, it’s fantastic.

  • Phase 2

4) Thor: The Dark World – I don’t think it’s as much that the second Thor movie is a bad film, as I do find it entertaining.  It also has to contend with some other very good movies in this phase.  The story is interesting and we get to finally see another infinity stone.  It’s just not as good as the rest here.

3) Iron Man 3 – Ok, we all know what was done here with the Mandarin was a tragedy.  It’s just awful.  Even still, Guy Pearce is good here as Aldrich Killian and Iron Man 3 regains its focus without having to prop up the next Avengers movie.  The action scenes are good, especially the final battle at the end as the “House Party Protocol” is engaged.  Downey Jr. Continues to kill it as Tony Stark.

2) Guardians of the Galaxy – What a breath of fresh air!  This movie is funny, the main characters have great chemistry, the supporting characters are great, the action scenes are awesome, and It’s finally nice to see some of the other parts of the Marvel Universe other than Earth and Thor-related areas.  I’m hoping Ant-Man brings this type of different feeling to the MCU.

1) Captain America: The Winter Soldier – This movie has it all with a good story with the secret Hydra invasion of Shield, Cap integrating into modern times, the introduction of Falcon, quality action scenes, the possible love interest with Sharon Carter (Peggy’s niece), and of course the revelation about the true identity of the Winter Soldier.  It’s quality from beginning to end, and people I know who don’t like comic book movies liked this movie.

  • Overall Rankings

Looking at all ten movies overall, here is how I would have to rank them.  At the same time, I feel that all these movies are entertaining and enjoyable, and I would rank my least favorite in the list (Iron Man 2) a solid 6 out of 10.

10) Iron Man 2
9) The Incredible Hulk
8) Thor: The Dark World
7) Thor
6) Captain America: The First Avenger
5) Iron Man 3
4) Guardians of the Galaxy
3) Iron Man
2) Marvel’s The Avengers
1) Captain America: The Winter Soldier