‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is already here! And as always when a new movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe arrives, the box office is revolutionized, the fans are exalted, the Internet is turned upside down. It is clear that, almost a decade and 17 films after its birth, this cosmos shared by superheroes and galactic rascals, robotic villains, supreme sorcerers and forces of nature is still in full form.
The vision of Kevin Feige, head of Marvel Studios (the first independent studio of this scale since Dreamworks was already created), was to create a universe shared in the image and likeness of the convoluted web of relations between heroes and villains that in the Marvel comics were put into practice since the sixties. The result, from the start, had only one drawback: nothing of Spider-Man (which, as we know, has been solved), and no mutants (owned by Fox).
But otherwise, a catalog of absolutely monstrous iconic characters, an immensity of them potentially attractive. The main problem, in fact, was to find the versions with more hook of each one of them to impact the great public with the greatest effectiveness. Because Marvel Studios, after times picking up the crumbs of the licenses that others produced, wanted to reach the masses. And in what way he has achieved it.
The success of the Avengers’ films, separately or in groups, is unprecedented. The fandom has changed and the entertainment industry has changed. Therefore, and taking advantage of the premiere of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, it is time to review all the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. All! And we order them from worst to best. Because if we do not put some salting on this, what do we have left? ‘The Inhuman’?
Note: Although it is ridiculous to insist at this point, we remind you that these opinions and this arrangement are the result of the personal impressions of the above signatory. You have yours, which may or may not coincide, totally or partially, with these. Long live the diversity!
17 – ‘Thor: The dark world’ (2013)
The worst movie of the MCU to date is a leaden adventure that does not possess the visual brilliance of the not too inspired ‘Thor’. From lazy script resources (the death of the only female character in conditions!) To a very unoriginal aesthetic, going through a villain that nobody remembers, all in ‘Thor: The dark world’ sounds like a movie-lab.
But just as there is no perfect film in the MCU, neither is there completely negligible, and this ‘The dark world’ finds some brilliance in the relationship between Thor and Loki (which already saved the first ‘Thor’) and in a certain sense of humor that, fortunately, will be enhanced in ‘Ragnarok’. For everything else, a forgettable entertainment, full of dead spots and overflowing with an imposter darkness that does not suit the MCU at all.
16 – ‘The Incredible Hulk’ (2008)
Possibly, the great value of ‘The Incredible Hulk’ is to demonstrate to what extent the interpretation of Mark Ruffalo as the definitive version of the Hulk is full of nuances and complexity without needing to become as energetically intense as Edward Norton. Not that it was too easy: as in Ang Lee’s version, this film is focused on Banner’s rejection of his powers, and that always yields uninteresting results in a superhero movie.
In the end, ‘The Incredible Hulk’ has been left as a film isolated from the rest of the MCU due to Norton’s non-continuity since – except for the late cameo of William Hurt and some mention of Stark Industries – none of his characters or situations reverberates in the rest of Marvel movies. On its own, it is not a bad adaptation of the character, but it has plenty of exhibitionist CGI and drama and it lacks lightness and tromps. Maybe, if we ever see the Hulk alone again, the key is to pose it to the ‘Ragnarok’ style?
15 – ‘Iron Man 2’ (2010)
Bored missteps of a Marvel still looking for a voice of their own, aware of the successes of the first ‘Iron Man’, but not going much beyond cloning without personality at the time of repeating them. No doubt it is a film that has too many things in mind: a not very interesting villain (played by a Mickey Rourke even more bored than the viewers) and the presentation of the Black Widow and agent Coulson of SHIELD as a door to the Avengers. Too much ambition for a movie with so little chicha.
A few very uninteresting dramas of Tony Stark adds that everything there is to see (with the exception of the great first fight with Rourke) we saw in the first ‘Iron Man’. He is saved from the debacle the hilarious Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, a kind of dark version of Stark himself and that leads to a performance without brake and dancing. What it lacks in industrial quantities to ‘Iron Man 2’.
14 – ‘Thor’ (2011)
More false steps by Marvel, as part of Phase 1 of the MCU until the arrival of ‘Avengers’, especially ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and ‘Iron Man 2’. This time, with the terrible idea of making a film about a Nordic God (well, the whole thing of aliens) of almost unlimited power … and take away the powers and send it to a desert. To a terrestrial desert. So that he falls in love with a human. It makes you want to yawn just to read it.
Luckily, Kenneth Branagh does a good job visualizing the world of Asgard and its connections to Earth, and the final clash between the two worlds is interesting. And where the film really exceeds all expectations is in the cast: Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are simply perfect for their roles. Close and affable the first, Machiavellian and captivating the second, on his shoulders is the weight of ‘Thor’, and not all the slights of Natalie Portman can dispel the great chemistry that is forged between them, and that will go more in the aftermath.
13 – ‘Avengers: The Age of Ultron’ (2015)
The long awaited sequel to ‘The Avengers’ had a conflicting gestation, as some time later Joss Whedon would recognize. Marvel just wanted noise and fury and Whedon, some calmness and credible dramas, a combination that proved that he could make it work in the first installment. Here the clash between creative and financial did not materialize in the same way, and even the quiet parts are interesting (of all the characters in the group do we have to meet the Hawkeye family, which look like they come from a softener advertisement?) nor the climax is more than an overwhelming remake of the first film.
Still, of course there are moments of brilliant emotion (the best: the relationship between Hulk and the Black Widow) and first superhero movies in ‘The Age of Ultron’. The villain is great and extremely well written – even if the worn-out topic of a hero’s dark side is resorted to – and the combat between Iron Man and Hulk goes into the annals of the comic book zambombazos on the big screen. Also, as a preamble to what we will see in ‘Civil War’, he defines the characters well in two camps and makes the conflict that will come true. That is to say, ‘The Age of Ultron’ is a spectacular prologue, but from that perspective, it works perfectly.
12 – ‘Captain America: Civil War’ (2016)
The consequence of ‘The Age of Ultron’ was a lackluster third film by Capi that actually works almost like a movie of the Avengers with the focus on one of its members. Curiously, his great success is to focus on the dramatic conflict that confronts the Avengers, the Superheroic Record Act that supports Iron Man and rejects Captain America. And, at the same time, that’s their big problem, because as everyone who has read the original comics knows, it’s a shock that gives much more.
Competingly written and performed, ‘Civil War’ is a film that dissipates in memory with only one memorable scene to its credit: the fight at the airport between two heroic factions that include the premiere of Spider-Man and characters to whom We had barely seen it in action. Brimming with stunning images such as splash-pages and wonderful tributes to comics, is one of those sequences that save a movie. Pity that all the bellows go in that glorious moment.
11 – ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ (2011)
A delicious adventure camp, and strange at this point of Phase 1, already at the gates of ‘Avengers’. Can be entangled with a story of dramatic origin and multiple secondary, opts for a beloved movie that renounces the tropes of the superhero genre (traumas to overcome, secret identities, villains) and rather poses a muscular version of the classic wars set in the II World War.
‘The first Avenger’ plays a series of risky cards: it goes to top with the ingenuity and frankness of its protagonist – who will then be the driving force of all the Avengers’ films; goes to the top with a full-fledged Nazi villain, and perfectly adapted from the comics; it goes up against the mild criticism of the American warlike attitude, but at the same time understands and praises an uncle named Captain America. These are more complicated issues to deal with, in their own way, than the ‘Avengers’ technological mastodon, but thanks to the clean look of Joe Johnston (director of ‘Jumanji’ or ‘The Rocketeer’), the film works like a canon.
10 – ‘Doctor Strange’ (2011)
As part of the pleasant search for not-so-top-notch superheroes like Spider-Man or the members of the Avengers and that Marvel bids as an impasse between big or group films, ‘Doctor Strange’ proposes a lucky clash between the conventional superhero universe and the Mystic Arts of which Stephen Strange is an expert. Less unwieldy and refreshing than ‘Ant-Man’ but just as modest, ‘Doctor Strange’ is a little stiff due to its condition as a film of origin, but it is still a different proposal.
Very attractive in the visual, with a powerful visualization of the magic in the Marvel Universe, and squeezing perfectly, with humor and relying on a super team of actors, the possibilities of the portals, manipulations of time and other spells, ‘Doctor Strange’ launches a magnetic adventure and carefree. The best proof that it is possible to make movies of attractive characters without loading the inks in the fake and second-hand tragedy.
9 – ‘Ant-Man’ (2015)
We said that ‘Winter Soldier’ played to be a thriller of the seventies, but it is not the only film that in Phase 2 flirts with other genres. ‘Ant-Man’ is perhaps the most unexpected (because we all expected that ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ was a space-opera , right?), Since it works as a light and hilarious movie of perfect robberies. Unimportant and, in parallel to his hero, very aware of his lack of importance in the “great plan Marvel” : that is precisely his superpower.
Faced with the ominous drama of the Avengers or Captain America movies, ‘Ant-Man’ cleverly plays the bullshit card (he does not even allow himself to take the Grand Final Fight seriously, a trap he does not neither the Guardians nor ‘Ragnarok’ are spared). And although we all know that, had it been directed by Edgar Wright, the thing would have been simply glorious, its honesty, lack of pretensions and affection with which embraces the genre of the caper movies makes it an authentic oasis within the MCU.
8 – ‘Iron Man’ (2008)
In a certain sense, ‘Iron Man’ is a film more important than ‘The Avengers’. Not only because of the obvious (it came before, that nobody takes it off, and its success made everything that happened afterwards possible), but because, starting from nothing, he knew how to intuit the vital importance of building a relatively delicate character like Tony Stark, and find an actor who did him justice, Robert Downey Jr.
The truth is that the result of the union was irreproachable (even today, he is one of the most charismatic characters of the MCU, and one of the actors that most match the height of his creature), but on top of that, ‘Iron Man’ It opened a new era in the way of visualizing comics on screen. The choice of Iron Man as a starting character of the MCU is clever. With relatively limited resources, a realism and spectacular are achieved that make the close deliveries of Raimi’s ‘Spider-man’ visually outdated.
Above any other consideration, a masterful play. And yes, of course, a great superhero movie.
7 – ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ (2017)
Sensibly inferior to the first installment, but with its own cargo of surprises (starting with the superb character of Kurt Russell as the omnipotent father of Starlord), ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ lacks however the astounding shamelessness of its precedent, possibly because, inevitably, we already saw her coming. The winks (from Hasselhoff to the BSO) feel more forced, and characters like Groot or Rocket Raccoon do not get as much attention.
Even so, it is an emotive galactic adventure and that allows itself the luxury of frustrating the expectations of the spectator with deaths and unusual plot turns in a blockbuster like this one. James Gunn is one of the jewels of the Marvel crown, and his Guardians are an achievement, but we hope that the joke will find new ways in the face of a third adventure. In Gunn we trust.
6 – ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ (2014)
The air of a conspiracy thriller is not the only thing that links this great second film (alone or more) of Captain America to the seventies. Also its superb sequences of action (at least those that do not involve the tired helicarriers falling apart in slow motion), violent and where dust and asphalt make sparks jump with every blow, reminiscent of urban suspense and without concessions, full of cars doing spinning to the minimum, of the seventies.
We are an MCU movie, and one already aware of the size of the franchise and what is at stake with each new adventure, but at the same time it is an intelligent piece, that appears to play on a small scale and that knows how to carry ambiguity and moral doubts to his characters. There is nothing especially revolutionary in it (we have seen spies a thousand times rebelling against their bosses when they discover that they have been deceived), but the characters we have met in other films begin to add dark sides, and that gives credibility to a film that does not needs sinister fanfare, like ‘Thor: The Dark World’ to be genuinely disturbing.
5 – ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ (2017)
Already betting openly for comedy and parody thanks to the powerful chemistry between absolutely opposite characters like Thor, Hulk and Loki (and adding a hilarious Jeff Goldblum as villain from three to the fourth), ‘Ragnarok’ is an unexpected movie inside the MCU, but certainly not within the career of Taika Waititi (‘What we do in the shadows’). A moderately risky bet for Marvel, which continues experimenting with different tones.
Undoubtedly, the most recalcitrant fans will find the demise, almost sitcom, annoying, but between the superb soundtrack of Mark Mothersbaugh (another relief), the winks pop to Kirby and other masters of the cosmic Marvel and the already devastating relationship between Thor and Loki, few faults can be put to ‘Thor: Ragnarok’. Maybe when it gets epic (and except for the glorious and unfortunately brief clash between Thor and Hulk) it’s not very exciting. But for that there will be time in other more bombastic films.
4 – ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ (2017)
Betting everything to make a credible adolescent ‘Spider-Man’, and intelligently putting aside aspects of the character we all considered inevitable (the story of origin, the trauma of Uncle Ben’s death), Marvel and Sony completely revitalize the iconic superhero after a series of films too bulky and ombliguistas. ‘Homecoming’ not only confirms Spider-Man as part of the MCU, but also opens a new style: that of the teen and urban adventure.
With well-resolved action sequences (although there is room for improvement, especially if we start to forget about those created by Sam Raimi) and a rethinking of the rolling and uniform that upset some fans by the introduction of the element of technology – but it works and opens new possibilities for the future-, ‘Homecoming’ finds its strength in humor and detail. For example, with the superb vulture of Michael Keaton, close and threatening.
3 – ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (2014)
A film that also nailed a pica in Flanders in the sense that not only continued with the brief and ephemeral possibility that Marvel filmed films of “author” between mastodon and mastodon (this time at the hands of James Gunn) after ‘Iron Man 3’, but that – related to it – raised the doses of extravagance and madness that a Marvel movie can afford. Films like ‘Ragnarok’ would be inconceivable without the blockbuster of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, their roster of impossible characters and their self-conscious and open sense of humor.
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, however, and despite its rarity, was relatively necessary: a film that opened the field of vision of Marvel towards the cosmic, element that was present in details (the villains of ‘The Avengers’, the nature of Thor), but not in space-opera mode as here, with their extraterrestrial civilizations, their spaceships and being the earthlings the exception and not the norm. All this came together in a film with a very special sense of humor, a good use of nostalgia, very sharp actors and as a single hit, some ups and downs of absolutely forgivable rhythm.
2 – ‘Iron Man 3’ (2013)
‘Iron Man 3’ is not a perfect movie because it has to make too many concessions to the fans themselves who then reneged on it (which is certainly a lesson for all) and, in fact, pales next to the real monuments of its responsible, Shane Black, like ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’, ‘Two good guys’ or the script of ‘The Last Boy Scout’. But it is the first film (and as things go, possibly remain one of the few) author within Marvel, and as such must be celebrated.
‘Iron Man 3’ is an authentic semi-parade party, where the hero passes half a movie in a buddy movie with a Christmas – themed child (it’s much better than it sounds, actually) and where the villain is subjected to an absolutely spectacular deconstruction by part of Black. With an inimitable Robert Downey Jr. and the best credit titles of all the MCU, ‘Iron Man 3’ is an authentic party as full of massages for fans (the army of armors!) As of remarks to the topics that the own Marvel Studios has established in record time.
1 – ‘The Avengers’ (2012)
Similar to what happens with ‘Iron Man’, ‘The Avengers’ is not a perfect movie, but its mammoth success and its aesthetic and plot influence has been so overwhelming that it makes sense to give the throne of the Mother of the Lamb of the current It was the superheroic blockbuster. The rest of the Marvel films (especially the group ones, but also the individual ones) are mere reformulations of their visual and narrative ideas, and although some reach a remarkable degree of sophistication, the foundational importance of ‘The Avengers’ is indisputable.
For each conversation not quite well taken, filling time (how long it takes to start the damn) or character that could have been more interesting (at least, Hawkeye and Black Widow have had more memorable movies), we have a still fresh chemistry between characters like Hulk, Thor, the Capi and Iron Man, and several bands. That is not to mention the one who remains the best villain Marvel so far, Loki, or the historic sequence of the attack in New York, which naturally absorbs all the influence of the original cartoons.