Assembling the Avengers: 21 Marvel movies ranked from worst to best!

Published: April 10, 2019
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From the least watchable to the masterpieces that have become our favourites.

With Avengers: Endgame almost upon us, Marvel is pretty much all the world is talking about this April. Will our favourite heroes come back from the dust? Is Ant-Man really going to expand inside Thanos? Will Tony Stark die? Will Captain America?

Nonetheless, in honour of the end of ‘phase three’ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) this month, we decided to rank all 21 films in the MCU thus far, rating them from the least watchable to the masterpieces that have become our favourites.

21. The Incredible Hulk

The movie Marvel wants you to forget ever happened. Not only did all attempts to make standalone Hulk movies fail completely, the world is also blessed with and too grateful for Mark Ruffalo to watch anyone else prance around as our favourite big guy (no offence to Edward Norton).

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20. Thor: The Dark World

The Thor series is probably the weakest link in the MCU when it comes to multiple outings for one Avenger, and that is single-handedly due to how bad The Dark World is. Not even Loki or Natalie Portman’s Jane could save this Asgardian disaster, resulting in a film that took itself too seriously, only to come out as unentertaining and forgettable, while also barely driving the plot forward (no one remembers it, and we all understand the MCU just fine).

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19. Iron Man 2

The only question one has after watching Iron Man’s sequel is: why?

Given the brilliance of the first film, the sequel only serves to remind us that the series could do so much better. It seemed as if overnight, Tony Stark became an annoying caricature of himself, and the only saving grace as you cringe through the movie is that one scene with Natasha Romanoff (you know the one).

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18. Dr Strange

Let’s be real, apart from the amazing graphics and Benedict Cumberbatch, there wasn’t much to remember in Dr Strange. If you’re a Sherlock fan like us, you were probably waiting for Martin Freeman to appear so we could have another reunion on our hands. The only reason this is below Ultron is because we don’t really remember much from the movie to rate how strictly average it was.

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17. Avengers: Age of Ultron

Imagine watching the ‘marvel’ that was The Avengers and anxiously awaiting a glorious sequel, only to get Age of Ultron instead. There were so many expectations we had from this movie, but it failed to deliver on most fronts. It’s downfall lay in how Joss Whedon tried to fit too many elements in one movie; humour, emotions, a strange backstory for Natasha, all the while trying to bring in the feel-good vibe prevalent in the entirety of its predecessor. Anyone wondering why this film is ranked 17 only needs to watch it again to remember.

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16. Thor

The first Thor was, by all means, a decent film. It was funny, had an appropriate amount of action and was the first film in the MCU to show us an actual alien (and that too a Norse god). It’s not Marvel’s fault that the films it produced after this one were on all accounts… better. Thor was only the fourth film in the MCU, and one of them includes The Incredible Hulk. 

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15. Spider-Man: Homecoming

It was hard to dislike Homecoming when we first saw it. Tom Holland brings a unique innocence to the Peter Parker of 2017, while Robert Downey Jr and Zendaya (along with that Donald Glover cameo) made it a highly entertaining watch. However, time has revealed Homecoming to be more of that movie you get through to make your way towards Ragnarok, which is why this is the best ranking it can get.

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14. Iron Man

This is where ranking films in the MCU starts to feel more like Sophie’s choice. How does one choose between so many great films? The first Iron Man is not only the film that started the universe the world is now obsessed with, it was also a great standalone film, and that last scene (Tony’s “I am Iron Man”) will forever be iconic.

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13. Guardians of the Galaxy

There are few films in the MCU that offer a completely new spin on a superhero film, and Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the first to do so. From bringing back the 70’s to the Firefly vibes, and of course Groot, this is a film that feels complete when it ends, even if one watches it without having seen any other film in the MCU.

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12. Ant-Man and the Wasp

Unlike its prequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp had a more developed storyline and many entertaining shrinking scenes. However, even though it was a much broader film, it was not as hilarious or innovative as the first one. We still feel Ant-Man and his daughter Cassie needed to have more cute moments in the movie, for their relationship is part of what made Scott Lang an instant favourite (while people still struggle to like Hawkeye, an original Avenger).

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11. Iron Man 3

The only reason Iron Man 3 is a better film than the first Iron Man is because it takes more risks. Starting right after the gruelling events of The Avengers, the film’s greatest strength is that it does not shy away from showing the impact left behind by war, and how trauma can make it hard for a person to function, even for a ‘genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist’.

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9. Captain America: The First Avenger

This is where Sophie’s choice became real: how to pick between the two captains? Between the first Avenger and the strongest Avenger? The first Captain America movie sets the stakes for the MCU and gives us the Avenger that holds the team together, while also establishing relationships and characters that would go on to inspire their own titles (from Bucky to Peggy). This is the movie that defines what the Avengers would stand for, and for that alone it deserves to be in the top 10.

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9. Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel may have just joined us, but she makes it clear she is here to stay. What stands out is that even though it has a female lead, the movie does not become about the gender of our superhero, fairly normalising the idea of a superheroine. Every movie with a female protagonist does not have to have a backstory of abuse (looking at you, Whedon). Plus, watching her easily destroy everything in her path without breaking a sweat gave us actual goosebumps, and led to the world collectively deciding that “Thanos gonna die!”

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8. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

It was hard to imagine a sequel that could do a better job than the first one, but Volume II proved us all wrong. The sequel was somehow more authentic and true to its roots, while also being funnier, more emotional, and giving us an even cuter Groot.

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7. Ant-Man

We have to hand it to the MCU when it comes to casting; Paul Rudd as Ant-Man makes as much sense as bread and jam. Even though many disregard this movie as being unimportant in the MCU as a whole, Ant-Man turns an absurd idea into a hilariously entertaining film.

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6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

This second outing will go down in history for not only being a great film, but also for being the one where the MCU took a dark turn. Until Winter Soldier, we were all watching the same version of superhero films on repeat, but with it we were suddenly witnessing heroes gone rogue as some interesting questions about morality and friendship were thrown in the mix. And, of course, the elevator scene.

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5. Captain America: Civil War

Civil War may have been an experiment to see how many heroes Marvel could put in one movie, but it worked. To top it off, our favourite heroes were fighting each other, and while we may have been on different teams, Marvel managed to somehow make us not hate anyone from the other side.

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4. Thor: Ragnarok

Putting two of the most powerful Avengers in one movie obviously proved fruitful, making Ragnarok perhaps the quirkiest standalone movie in the MCU (and single-handedly saving the Thor series). From Thor’s joy and Loki’s PTSD moment after seeing Hulk (throwback to The Avengers) to the iconic lightening scene with AC/DC playing in the background, the movie gave us literal chills.

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3. Avengers: Infinity War

While this movie left us feeling empty inside as we saw our favourites turned into dust, Infinity War was an epic tale. Given the sheer size of the film, people had their doubts about how the Russo Brothers would fit all the heroes in one movie. But boy, did they pull it off! It was emotional, dark and heartbreaking, but also managed to make us laugh at key moments and has somehow stayed with us for the past year as we all await Endgame.

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2. Black Panther

Arguably one of the best superhero movies ever made, Black Panther takes the genre itself and spins it around. Most superhero movies exist to deify the white, male hero as he goes around saving damsels. Black Panther’s beauty lies in how it humanises all characters, while the “hero” is as often the one being saved by the women around him as he is the saviour. At the end of the film, you are left mourning Killmonger’s demise, and every single element in the film that leads to this emotional moment is what makes it bigger than just another Marvel or superhero movie.

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1. The Avengers

It all comes down to where it all began, when they assembled. The Avengers may not be the first Marvel movie but it was the first to group all our favourite superheroes into one. The humour, action, cinematography and chemistry between our superheroes made this film the most iconic superhero movie out there. No scene feels drawn out or unnecessary, and with classic dialogues such as, “Does mother know you weareth her drapes” to “puny god”, The Avengers will always (and should always) make it to the top in the MCU list.

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No matter what, it will be hard to let go of our favourite superheroes once Phase Three ends!

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Blogs Desk

Blogs Desk

The Express Tribune Blogs desk.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.