This list has been in the works since early this summer. In a collaborative effort with my brother at ianhauer.wordpress.com, we decided to rank all the Marvel movies (sans the Blade trilogy and Punisher films). There are thirty-six individual movies to blurb about in this post, so we might as well get started. Here’s a link to Ian’s post.
36. Fantastic 4our (2015)
Fantastic 4our is a bullet to the head for cinephiles, comic-enthusiasts, and anyone who appreciates a mediocre movie. One of the countless problems with this movie is its lack of pinpointing where it went wrong. The reboot was advertised as something to match the likes of Avengers or X-Men. Now while we weren’t surprised that it didn’t meet expectations, we were taken aback at how awful of a movie it was. A tasteless script, miscast actors, weak special effects, poor editing–and a climax you didn’t know was happening until the credits started rolling? Thank goodness Fox pulled the plug on any hopes for this movie to become a franchise.
35. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)
The only reason you could possibly get through this mindless, bad CGI-fueled turd is because of two good actors: Idris Elba and Ciaran Hinds. Take away those short beams of hope-filled light, you have a flick that matches the recent Nic Cage quality of Drive Angry or Left Behind.
34. Daredevil (2003)
Bad cast, bad script, and bad chemistry–one of the most plotless movies I’ve ever seen. Ruined a superhero I looked up to since I was a kid. Thank the Lord we now have the Netflix gem starring Charlie Cox!
33. Elektra (2005)
The only reason it holds a spot above Daredevil is because I went into this without any medium-high expectations. Aside from the random billowing drapes, I enjoyed Terrence Stamp…?
32. Hulk (2003)
It seemed that Marvel’s first attempt at unleashing the green giant had potential for a good movie. But there must’ve been some miscommunication between the director and the storyboard artist, because this movie was all over the place. The CGI had some very weak moments. I’m in full support of the cast (sans Nick Nolte), but why get Ang Lee involved? Why?
31. Amazing Spider-Man 2
I see what Marc Webb was trying to do, but…it was too much (specifically the villains), too unbalanced, and ultimately, a waste of time and talent.
30. Spiderman 3 (2007)
While it introduced some cool concepts that had been missing from the previous installments, I can’t look past three big issues: Topher Grace as Venom, James Franco’s shaky Green Goblin, and Peter Parker’s evil hair (and dance!).
29. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
If you want to know how to ruin a groundbreaking trilogy, look no further. While the movie has some brief redeeming qualities (or moments, better yet), it would seem it was a huge mistake to leave this third installment in the hands of Brett Ratner and not Bryan Singer. Another example of too much in too little of time. A major letdown.
28. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Unfortunately, the second FF movie was unsuccessful capturing my favorite Marvel superhero of all time: the Silver Surfer. The movie is, overall, meh. There is nothing exceptionally bad about it, because there was nothing exceptional about it to begin with.
27. Ghost Rider (2007)
A once-in-a-blue-moon guilty pleasure, I admit. It’s a bland retelling of the Ghost Rider origin, but I do enjoy seeing Peter Fonda as The Devil, and Sam Elliot is kickass!
26. Iron Man 2 (2010)
Iron Man 2 was a rushed, bad-cast villain disappointment. I guess the vast majority of Marvel buffs love it because it introduces Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha to the universe.
25. Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
I wasn’t all that excited about the reboot, but I tried to keep an open mind while watching. Too me, this film fixes the flaws that were in the original Spiderman (2002), while overlooking its own. A good cast with an increasingly distracting storyline. It was hard for me to stay focused.
24. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Nothing real good, ‘n nothing real bad. It evens out, overall.
23. Spiderman 2 (2004)
Good villain, good character development, and a deeper-diving story than the first one.
22. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
It’s a good movie, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t care for the Bourne-like feel it was trying really hard to go for. Also, SPOILER: I don’t like how they brought Bucky back.
21. Fantastic Four (2005)
A classic Hollywood interpretation of comicbook superheroes! It’s corny, has plenty of action, just a bit of romance, and a perfect cameo for Stan Lee. It’s a popcorn movie you can enjoy without any guilty afterthought.
20. The Wolverine (2013)
It’s a shame I have to put this one so far down on the list. The movie suffers from a weak storyline with very little character development (or attachment), but manages to fix a decent amount of the mistakes that X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) made. We should take a minute to applaud Hugh Jackman on the physical transformation he made for this movie, though!
19. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
It was hard not to go into Apocalypse without constantly hoping for Days of Future Past greatness, but I’m guilty of that, and paid the price. The movie has unexpected strengths at unexpected parts, but could not jump higher on this list due to its so-so screenplay. Thumbs up for the awesome Wolverine cameo!
18. Deadpool (2016)
Deadpool is a game-changer. While the story is nothing original, or the way it tells it, it offers some deliciously funny scenes, goofball action, and Ryan Reynolds’s never-ending hilarity.
17. Spiderman (2002)
Possibly the first superhero movie I was excited to see. Like any comicbook-frenzy kid, I was absolutely in love with Spiderman! I was overjoyed when I finally got to see the wall-crawler on the big screen. My nostalgia for it is probably the reason it’s this high. Even though Tobey Maguire can’t pass as a teenager, he definitely captured Spidey’s smart-talking persona.
16. X-Men: First Class (2011)
The soft reboot to the X-Men series I was dreading, but ultimately came around to. First Class is a surprisingly solid movie, with a strong ensemble cast and a decent storyline set in the 1960s. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender balance the scale in a way I never would have predicted. Also happy that Kevin Bacon didn’t suck as the mutant villain. Could have done without January Jones, though.
15. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
A lot of you are going to hate me for putting Thor 2 so high, but…I’m not sorry. I liked the exploration of the worlds between Midgard and Asgard. I like the Dark Elves (including Kurse, one of Thor’s best nemesises from the comics). I liked the story with the Aether. I even liked that for a few brief seconds, SPOILER, I thought Loki had cut Thor’s hand off. It was a good second chapter to the Thor cantos.
14. Ant-Man (2015)
Unpredictably good! Unforeseeably funny and well-cast! I had zero interest in Ant-Man, especially after hearing how many times it was stuck in development hell, had different directors, or couldn’t find writers. Lucky for us, Marvel took a chancy shot, and boom!–we’re all better for it.
13. Dr. Strange (2016)
I had mixed feelings when I saw the first previews for Strange, but I’m sure glad my doubts were kicked in the butt. Another surprisingly funny movie from Marvel, with a stellar lead, strong supporting cast, and killer visuals! While the plot may be nothing new, it is a superhero origin story. It played out similarly to Iron Man (2008). Definitely need to see it again in theaters!
12. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
The follow-up to the groundbreaking ensemble film was based around an infamous comicbook villain: Ultron. I have very few quibbles with this, save for one: James Spader. While I think the role of Ultron was written very well, I thought Spader had too many moments to be himself, thereby ruining the persona of the villain, or distracting from the scene. Aside from that, Avengers 2 reunited a great cast and filled the world with more action than ever before! If you got a minute, look up the trailer!–it really hyped me up.
11. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Sure, this movie is filled with bad CGI claws, weird mutant powers, and Sabertooth jumping/leaping wherever he damn well pleases–but I love it. Ultimately, it’s a guilty pleasure movie. Wolverine is such an amazing Marvel character, it was a shame to see his origin story go ever so slightly down the toilet, but this movie had a great Sabertooth (played by Liev Schreiber), good musical score, and an amazing opening credits sequence.
10. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Cap has been a favorite of mine for a long time, and he was overdue a feature film even longer. While I was skeptical over the casting of Chris Evans (the original Human Torch in 2005’s Fantastic Four) in the lead, I have since warmed up to him. In fact, I can no longer see anyone else helming the iconic shield. The movie boasts a great cast and an old-fashioned WWII-thriller story that’s hard not fall in love with. What I love most about it is the Steve Rogers character from his humble beginnings, to his ultimate (SPOILER) crash landing in the ice.
9. Iron Man 3 (2013)
Another entry you may hate me for for placing so high. While the trailers for Iron Man 3 were very misleading (specifically for the Mandarin), I felt the movie was very fulfilling across the board. Tony Stark on the surface could be presented as a very flat, two-dimensional character, and yet, the Iron Man and Avengers movies have allowed him some incredible character growth. Iron Man 3 does it best above them all! Also, if you felt totally swindled by the twist(s), you should remember the movie was directed and co-written by Shane Black. All in all, a strong movie that didn’t lose the audience or fall into superhero plot holes. Check out the movie trailer!
8. Captain America: Civil War
Think of it as Avengers 2.5. If Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron didn’t seem full enough for you, than you need to watch this! It was a potent mix of an original story and the Marvel Civil War comic. It captured the tension between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers in some brilliant ways, while pitting the Avengers against each other in some epic fight scenes!–while also reuniting us Ant-Man, and introducing us to the new wise-cracking Spiderman. It’s a movie crammed full of goodies. One of the few things I would change is the overused shaky-cam.
7. Iron Man (2008)
The first chapter in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Iron Man wielded a mixed bag of nuts that were uncertain to deliver–but thankfully did! Casting the lead with a guy who is Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. brought a new kind of superhero to life, but not without showcasing the man behind the mask first. Aided with a sound supporting cast, a sturdy script, new special effects, Iron Man proved you could balance comicbook humor with real-life drama, all within two hours. And when you thought it was all but over, he hit you with it: “I am Iron Man.” Marvel has been carefully following in the footsteps of this well-done feature ever since.
6. X-Men (2000)
The X-Men has been my favorite comic for a long, long time. The movie is a great adaption of the deep, sometimes dark, story of mutants trying to live and learn together. I like to think that Bryan Singer broke huge ground when making this movie. X-Men separated itself completely from previous superhero movies (Blade, Darkman, Howard the Duck, etc.) and soared to a completely new level, setting a standard that would not be broken for a long time.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Ahh…another game-changer. Guardians successfully takes us off Earth and transports us into a completely new universe of fun and adventure for the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). Guardians is barrel of laughs nearly all the way through, taking itself seriously at just the right times, but stepping away to make fun of itself all the rest. Compact with a soundtrack that will get you hooked on a feeling, the film blends fun and action in a near perfect way. The sequel (coming May 2017) can’t get here soon enough!
4. Thor (2011)
Kenneth Branagh successfully weaved a Shakespearian-like story with archaic language and beautiful visuals in some of the most brilliant ways possible. Thor has been another one of my favorite superheroes for a long, long time, and I can honestly say I was not disappointed with this movie whatsoever. Thor holds onto a strong screenplay, matched with a superb director, near-perfect cast, powerful music, and gorgeous storytelling visuals. It is a competent movie on its own, and one of my personal favorites.
3. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Bryan Singer’s return to the X-Men universe was no easy feat, I’m sure. But thank goodness he came back with this stunning achievement! Days of Future Past is a character-driven blockbuster movie with a lot more heart than you can imagine. Adapted from one of the greatest portions of comicbook history, this film escalated everything times two, while also finding some way to unite the original cast with the new in the most brilliant way possible. I doubt I would change a single thing about this movie. Please look up the theatrical trailer.
2. Avengers (2012)
The original assembly. Between 2008 and 2012, we were treated to a handful of movies that were prepping us for this powerhouse. Marvel proved they could make single superhero movies successfully–but could they put them all together? Under the careful, and sometimes carefree writer/director Joss Whedon, the answer was a most definite yes. Avengers is one of Marvel’s greatest accomplishments. Not just being able to lasso all the top-dollar actors into one major motion picture, but to be able to successfully meet fan expectations–and even pass them. I’m still blown away by how good of a movie this is.
My personal favorite: X2: United. It’s hard for me to explain why I love this movie so much, both in the Marvel Universe, and on its own. I think Bryan Singer was on top of his game (much like Days of Future Past), the characters were molded, there was a great balance between comic-book adaptation and movie cinema retelling, and the stakes were at an all-time high. It’s a rare thing to find such a superb middle chapter in a planned trilogy, and X2 is one of ’em.
What Marvel movies do you think are the best and worst? Do you agree/disagree with my list? Comment or like below and let us know!