The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) just got a little bit bigger thanks to the release of Thor: Ragnarok. In celebration of the Norse god’s latest big screen adventure, I decided to rank every movie in the MCU that’s streaming. That means the Fantastic Four films, the X-Men franchise, most of the Spider-Man movies, and any other miscellaneous Marvel enterprises will be left off this list. This is a ranking of the big league, world-building masterpieces that Marvel has been creating for the last decade (and The Incredible Hulk).
I will be ranking from the worst to the best, in my humble opinion. Every Marvel movie is someone’s favorite, so remember, your mileage may vary.
16. The Incredible Hulk — HBO
Edward Norton does an admirable job as Bruce Banner, but ultimately the movie doesn’t live up to the quality found elsewhere in the MCU. That doesn’t mean the film’s not without its charms — the action sequences are fun — but it’s not particularly memorable, which is why it comes in dead last.
15. Captain America: The First Avenger — Amazon Video/Google Play/iTunes/Vudu (Rent $2.99)
If Captain America: The First Avenger wasn’t the slowest superhero movie to ever superhero, it would rank higher. This is the movie that introduces Bucky Barnes and Peggy Carter, it has scrawny Steve Rogers, and an ending that’s all kinds of soul-crushing. But it also takes a ridiculous amount of time to get going, and then lulls in the middle, making it hard to rewatch unless you are a ride or die Steve fan.
14. Iron Man 2 — Amazon Video/iTunes/Google Play/Vudu (Rent $2.99)
It pains me to say anything bad about Tony Stark, but this over-stuffed sequel had too many villains and not enough personality. However, it did introduce Black Widow to the MCU, and for that the world should be forever grateful.
13. Thor: The Dark World — Amazon Video/iTunes/Google Play/Vudu (Rent $2.99)
This is another Marvel movie that’s plagued by the sequel blues. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are wonderful together as usual, but the film is weighted down by a convoluted plot.
12. Avengers: Age of Ultron — TBS
Hey, remember when this Avengers movie paused for what felt like an eternity to visit Hawkeye’s farm? Yeah, I tried to block that out too. Joss Whedon’s second Avengers film gets off to a promising start, but it loses its way in a sea of bleak storylines and boring subplots.
11. Thor — Amazon Video/iTunes/Google Play/Vudu (Rent $2.99)
Thor on Earth is hilarious and heartwarming in equal measures, and Hiddleston’s introduction to the MCU is spectacular. If not for the Asgard plot not quite living up to the superstars around it, the first Thor film would be ranked higher.
10. Iron Man 3 — Amazon Video/iTunes/Google Play/Vudu (Rent $2.99)
Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 is a near-perfect character study of Tony Stark. The film asks the question who is the man without the suit? And it turns around and answers it by proving that Tony is a hero with or without Iron Man. However, that also means that as a superhero movie, Iron Man 3 isn’t very interested in the super part.
9. Ant-Man — Starz/TBS
Ant-Man sounds vaguely ridiculous, but Paul Rudd and director Peyton Reed lean into the absurdity while at the same time grounding the story with a tale of a father trying to be there for his kid. Overall, Ant-Man is a bit lightweight compared to the other MCU heroes, but thanks to moments like the Thomas the Tank Engine scene, a comic book movie has rarely been so much fun.
8. Doctor Strange — Netflix
Not everything about the Doctor Strange plot works, but the movie is so visually stunning that it hardly matters. Watching Doctor Strange is a true cinematic experience, and if future installments can make the plot match the energy of the cinematography there’ll be no stopping them.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 — Amazon Video/iTunes/Google Play/Vudu (Rent $4.99)
The Guardians escaped the sequel pitfalls of other MCU films by foregoing the idea of going bigger. Instead, the story is focused on what it means to be a family, and all of the amazing music, baby Groot goodness, and kick-butt Yondu scenes are just bonuses.
6. Spider-Man: Homecoming — Amazon Video/iTunes/Google Play/Vudu (Rent $4.99)
At long last, Peter Parker came home to Marvel, and in the process, the world finally got to watch a superb Spider-Man movie that wasn’t bogged down by an origin story. Part John Hughes comedy, part small scale superhero tale, Spider-Man: Homecoming put the amazing back into the Amazing Spider-Man.
5. Captain America: Civil War — Netflix
History makes Captain America: Civil War work. All of the movies that came before it laid the groundwork for a film that pitted hero against hero. As a standalone film, it would be confusing, but as the beginning of the third wave of the MCU it’s a taut adventure that might just break your heart.
4. Marvel’s The Avengers — Amazon Video/iTunes/Google Play/Vudu (Rent $2.99)
Seeing all of the Avengers together onscreen for the first time was unprecedented. It felt like Marvel had pulled off the ultimate coup, and it did it with style, humor, and a whole lot of help from Loki.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy — Amazon Video/iTunes/Google Play/Vudu (Rent $2.99)
No other film in the MCU is more inventive or entertaining than this one. Guardians of the Galaxy is at once a popcorn movie and a sci-fi epic. The team works instantly, and James Gunn clearly took a masterclass in world-building, because Guardians never makes a misstep, despite having to introduce a group of characters most moviegoers were unfamiliar with.
2. Iron Man — Amazon Prime/Hulu/Epix
It’s hard to top the original. Iron Man proved that superhero movies could appeal to adults and have fun at the same time. It also set up an entire universe of movies that followed. For those reasons, Iron Man will always be near the top of Marvel’s laundry list of accomplishments.
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier — FX Now
The second Captain America film does everything right. From channeling ’70s political thrillers like All The President’s Men to imbuing the story with a blast from Cap’s past, Winter Soldier is Marvel at its very best.
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