DrDoom Ranks The MARVEL Cinematic Universe
It's no secret that I consider the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be the best thing to happen to CBMs in a long time. Plenty of fans agree, some don't. However, there is no denying the impact that the MCU has had on not just CBMs, but the face of entertainment media as well. Now, I used to stray away from rankings like this, mainly because I actually do like every film in the MCU, and I don't consider any of them to be bad movies. However, I felt like it would be a good time to take a look back and chart out the progress of Marvel Studios' film efforts. I've put a lot of thought into this, and it certainly wasn't easy, but here it is: DrDoom's definitive Marvel Cinematic Universe ranking list. Let's get started.
CBM contributor DrDoom loves the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but which films does he consider the best? After much deliberation, he is ready to reveal all, and offer analysis of each movie. Click on for more..
8. Iron Man 2
When I first started conceptualizing this list, Iron Man 2 was the only movie that I knew was going to be in a particular place, and that is in last. However, this does not mean that I think that Iron Man 2 is a bad film, just lackluster compared to its peers. Whether it was from learning how to handle the shared universe, or just a lack of focus on what they wanted to accomplish, Jon Favreau and company simply underdelivered when it came to the sequel to one of the most praised CBM origin films of all time. The acting was pretty good all around (with Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer easily stealing the show), but Mickey Rourke's Whiplash is easily the weakest villain in the MCU, and the unfocused plot based on an undercooked Atlas Shrugged allegory was very underwhelming. As well, the script just wasn't as strong as it should have been. Overall, an okay film, but definitely the weakest link in the MCU canon.
My heart is already breaking, because I really do like this movie. However, after pain staking thoughts I've finally decided that Thor had the weakest origin effort in the MCU. This doesn't have anything to do with the performances, for Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and even Natalie Portman pulled in solid efforts (why Portman gets hated on so much for this role is beyond me). Rather, this has to do with a general lack of vision in terms of the scale this film should have had. A Thor film should feel like a grand, epic fantasy that fully pulls you into another world. However, the film spends way too much of its time on Earth, and the underwhelming non-battle between Thor and the Destroyer cancelled out a lot of the momentum the movie had going for it. While the movie that is there is well done, it wasn't necessarily the fantasy epic that the franchise deserved as a starting point.
6. Captain America: The First Avenger
Once again, I feel like I'm being harsh to films I really do like. When I first watched this movie in the theater, I thought it was very well done, and I still do believe that. The performances all around are fantastic, with Chris Evans really embodying the character, as well as Atwell, Weaving and Stan all bringing their characters to life. On top of that, the aesthetic of the film is simply brilliant, perfectly capturing the 40's atmosphere while also instilling the sense of fantasy wonder that defines the Marvel brand. However, there are some hindrances that keep it from being amongst Marvel's best efforts. The pacing of the movie is somewhat of an issue, with a little too much time being devoted to Rogers pre-transformation, and not enough time showing him becoming Captain America. Also, the score for the movie is mostly forgettable, with the exceptions being the music accompanying the Howling Commandos montage and the incredible 'Star Spangled Man' sequence. Overall, a great movie that deserves another look from those who don't like the character.
5. The Incredible Hulk
I feel like this movie is the epitome of an 'underrated' film. Released to relatively little fanfare back in 2008, the movie was a moderate financial success and mostly dismissed by critics and the general audience who were still reeling from the atrocity that was Ang Lee's 2003 Hulk movie. The failure of that movie mostly painted this one, but it truly is a gem. Even though I think Mark Ruffalo did a great job as Bruce Banner in The Avengers, I still feel that Edward Norton captured the character better than anyone ever has. Norton's performance in this movie is simply flawless, and you truly do feel the sense of loss and depression that encapsulates the life of a man on the run from both his enemies and himself. Tyler, Hurt and Roth all turn in good performances as well, even if Betty Ross isn't given enough to do. The final battle with Abomination is simply a masterpiece of action, and cemented this movie as the Hulk film I had been waiting for. Anyone who feels that Marvel Studios can't do a 'serious' movie just needs to watch this to see that they can change the tone to suit the character. I also recommended checking out the Extended Edition if you get the chance.
4. Iron Man
I imagine this is where I'm going to lose some readers. The start of the MCU also happens to be one of the finest films in the whole franchise, but I don't think it's the absolute best. The movie certainly does deliver the best origin story we've seen in the MCU so far. When this movie was on its way, I had almost completely given up on CBMs. My favourite hero, Spider-Man, but been trashed on the big screen with Spider-Man 3. Ghost Rider debuted with Nicholas Cage, X-Men 3 had crashed and burned, and the Fantastic Four sequel managed to ruin Doctor Doom even further. There seemed to be no hope in sight for Marvel at the movies. Then, when I saw Iron Man, I realized that there was hope. I had never seen a CBM up to that point that so truly understood the central character. Robert Downey Jr. WAS Tony Stark, and the acting and writing all around were top notch. Still a personal favourite for many of us, and an excellent film to kick off one of the biggest franchises in modern entertainment.
3. The Avengers
I imagine I'm going to lose even more readers here, but please, stay with me. This was finally the movie that realized the true dream of the MCU: to have a film where all the fan favourite characters would appear on the big screen next to each other. Team films had been done before in the superhero genre, with X-Men and Fantastic Four, but those characters debuted as a team in the comics, unlike the members of the Avengers (the fact that those movies were bad didn't help their case either). As well, the build-up to this movie was monumental, and did it deliver. Joss Whedon, who has ascended to godlike status on the internet, was able to weave characters and plots from five previous movies into a cohesive whole, while still telling a self-contained and intriguing story. All of the big heroes delivered stellar performances (with the sole exception being Scarlett Johansson, who has never sold the Black Widow character, in my opinion). The action and writing were also incredibly solid, with the film always knowing the best way to maintain the sense of fun that these characters are meant to achieve. Truly, an exemplar for the genre.
2. Iron Man 3
Most likely the most controversial film of the MCU, I still believe to be one of its finest achievements. Even if you don't like the way the Mandarin was portrayed (I even wrote a fanscript for the film that played the Mandarin straight), this film has one of the tightest scripts in recent CBM history, as well as some of its finest performances. Robert Downey Jr. continues to be a stellar lead, with Gwyneth Paltrow overdelivering as Pepper Potts, Guy Pearce playing a fantastic villain and Ben Kingsley being just amazing. On top of that, it features some incredible action and cinematography work (the Malibu attack should be considered a masterpiece onto itself), a phenomenal musical score, and it managed to be one of the funniest and also one of the darkest Marvel films yet. While it displeased some fans, I'm glad Marvel was willing to take the risk on this one.
1. Thor: The Dark World
Yes, I believe that Marvel's latest outing is also their finest. During the production of this movie, I began to fear that perhaps Marvel was going to break their streak. There were (now debunked) rumours of internal development struggles and script issues, and even I was terrified that the relatively low running time would hamper the film. However, upon seeing the movie, all of my fears were put to rest. Thor, one of my personal favourite Marvel heroes, finally received the epic he deserved. Unlike the first film, this movie took its time to turn Asgard into a living, breathing world, and truly captured the majesty of being transported to a different realm while still feeling like it was part of a larger universe. All of the actors turned in their finest performances within the franchise, with Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston in particular getting even more in depth characterization. While Malekith felt underdeveloped for sure (I'm hoping for more Malekith scenes on the Blu-Ray release), he was still an intimidating villain, and Kurse was simply phenomenal. If I have one true complaint, it's that I would have liked to have spent more time with Sif and the Warriors Three, but if my only real issue with a movie is that I wanted more of it, then I don't really consider it a strike against it. Overall, this is my favourite MCU film, and I simply cannot wait for more. Excelsior!
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