My Top 10 Favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies

It’s finally happening!

This Friday, I will watch the 22nd film in the MCU, Avengers: Endgame. I’m so excited that I’m trying not to think about it, lest I lose sleep. I’m incredibly curious as to how it will play out–I’ve avoided all trailers and information about it, so I really have no idea what it’s about. Maybe it’ll be a low-budget rom com. I’m fine with that–I love rom coms.

In preparation for this event, I thought I’d run through my top 10 favorite MCU movies. I’ve been entertained by all 21 movies, but there are some that I’m much more likely to return to than others–those are the movies at the top of the list.

Okay, flash forward to future Jamey: Really, there are 3 tiers of movies for me. I’ve enjoyed all of them, but there are the 5 movies I absolutely adore, the 6 movies I really liked, and 11 that I thought were simply entertaining at the moment.

In the bottom tier are: The Winter Soldier, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Iron Man 3, Thor, Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, and Thor: The Dark World. Putting them on the “bottom” doesn’t really do them justices, because I genuinely enjoyed all of them, and each one has a number of amazing set pieces and memorable moments.

In the middle tier are: Ant-Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. I think these are fantastic, immersive, entertaining movies. I love the humor in Ant-Man, the worldbuilding and seamless action in Black Panther, that sheer badassery and twists in Captain Marvel, the hero-against-hero battles in Civil War, the sheer spectacle and the Hulk in Avengers, and the fact that we didn’t have to sit through another Spider-Man origin story for Homecoming.

As difficult as it is, I’ll rank the top tier:

5. Captain America: The First Avenger: The cinematography of this movie really drew me in, and I think it’s why the Russo brothers may be my favorite Marvel directors (though there are so many great directors among these movies). The use of two different actors made me really believe in Steve Roger’s transformation, and I loved seeing futuristic technology appear in a period piece. Also, a superhero movie where the main character dies (okay, “dies”) in the end? That takes guts.

4. Guardians of the Galaxy: I think this may have been my biggest surprise out of all the Marvel movies. I was absolutely delighted by Guardians. I felt transported into a new world, at least partially because I knew nothing about it, and because James Gunn did a fantastic job with the characters, humor, action, and music.

3. Thor: Ragnarok: This has everything I want in a popcorn flick: memorable moments, impactful battles, interesting relationships, laugh-out-loud humor, and Tessa Thompson. The entire movie has this confident swagger to it that could have been its undoing…except its so good that the swagger elevates it to a new level.

2. Iron Man: It was an incredibly close call between this and my #1 pick, with the only shortcoming of Iron Man being that the villain isn’t all that interesting. However, I think this is the best superhero origin story of all of the movies. Robert Downey Jr is perfectly cast, and he makes so many decisions along the way to become (and eventually himself as) Iron Man. The scenes of him tinkering with the Iron Man suit–experimenting, testing, failing, and trying again–really connected with me. The practical effects make the suit feel real, like you or I could climb into it and become Iron Man. I walked out of this movie with a massive smile on my face, and I’ve enjoyed every viewing of it since.

1. Avengers: Infinity War: Perhaps the one consistent shortcoming of MCU movies is that the villains aren’t particularly memorable or interesting. They’re fine, but Marvel movies often focus much more on the heroes than the villains. Then along comes Thanos. I haven’t been this enthralled watching a comic-book villain since Heath Ledger’s Joker. And it wasn’t just him–he had several henchmen that were a lot of fun to watch in action too. I love how the movie jumps around to different superheroes hanging out with each other, and there are a number of huge, memorable set pieces. I adore this film.

That’s my list, and we’ll see in a few days where Endgame ends up on it. What are your favorite MCU movies?


8 Responses to “My Top 10 Favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies”

  1. Mary Crabtree says:

    I’ve done the same and have not seen or even partially heard a trailer and I haven’t read anything about it online or accidentally seen things on Facebook.

    I am so happy it is less than a week away. It’s three hours long….EPIC. I am a little apprehensive of how it will end. Which characters will survive? Will my favorite (Thor) die? However, despite that, I’m very intrigued to see what is to come after this for the MCU.

    Last year, I ranked all the movies to my preference. I couldn’t find it the list but one of my top favorites is Thor: The Dark World. I don’t know why. I just loved it. Probably because it was the first to really introduce Loki as the antihero. I love(d) Loki.

    Now, it is hard to say if it’s my favorite. Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War are great movies. They are definitely in my top five as well. It’s just super hard to narrow it down to one over all! My mood dictates it. Haha

    Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it! I’m going Friday!

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Mary: I’m worried too, though in a good way–I like that the stakes are very high for Endgame. I hope you enjoy it!

  2. TMac says:

    Great list! I haven’t seen a few of these (either Ant Man movie + 1 or 2 more), but in general I like your rankings. 4 of your top 5 would be towards the top of my rankings as well. The one place where we diverge is Thor: Ragnorak. I was entertained, but I can’t get past Marvel’s decision to make Thor a joker/funny guy. In my recollection, he’s powerful and stately…not a guy who jokes around. With that in mind, my favorite Thor movie is the first one, and while I was absolutely entertained by others, I struggle to rank them high on my list.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Trev: I wonder if that’s part of Thor’s character arc–learning to take himself a little less seriously? He does seem to change quite a bit over the MCU timeline.

  3. Isaiah says:

    I love reading your blog but usually don’t comment. Hate that I’m commenting to correct something but because i love all these films: Chris Evans plays Captain America the entire time. It’s not two different actors. Also first avengers is Joe Johnston of the Rocketeer game. Russo’s directed Winter Soldier, Civil War, and Infinity War.

  4. Adrian Brown says:

    Well, I am told that I am overly critical of movies, but I maintain that I simply want them to make sense. I’m not saying that I need a scientific explanation for why Thor is so insanely strong and can channel lightning in a cloudless sky. But I AM saying that when Peter Quill gets ejected into space, it’s not like surviving a dip in an arctic lake, he has about 15 seconds of consciousness available, possibly 30 if he expels all oxygen from his lungs. Let’s not get into a debate about his lineage, he still needs oxygen to breathe, and the cold of space (-270 Celsius) was clearly doing the expected damage.
    Also, if Black Widow had a super-espionage mask that let her walk through a high-security installation as someone else, why all the absurd cloak and dagger when she was trying to move Captain America around in the Winter Soldier? And if Tony Stark had the ‘House Party Protocol’ in place the whole time, why did he not engage it immediately after challenging an international terrorist to ‘come get him’?
    So while ‘fun factor’ is certainly a component of my top 10, ‘degree of BS’ is also a criteria.

    My top 10, in absolutely no order:

    Iron Man- Started it all, with an amazing performance, an excellent twist and plenty of humor.

    Thor- This was a fun, highly focused film that only failed by presenting an anonymous ‘unstoppable machine’ as the final obstacle. Even the terminator had a face.
    Thor: Ragnarock- Easily the funniest film of the entire MCU, I enjoyed how it leaned heavily on in-jokes, requiring that you had seen most of the previous films to appreciate many moments. Plus…Jeff Goldblum

    Ant Man- I mostly appreciated the humor and acting in this one, as Ant Man is the one MCU character that ratchets an 11 out of 10 on the BS meter. He hits for a ton when he’s tiny because he has the same mass, but Pym can walk around with a tank on his keychain? The concept outright is bad, but they couldn’t even be consistent in the same movie?

    Civil War- Lots of great content and the BEST fight scene in a Marvel film I have witnessed (Haven’t seen Endgame). However, it drags quite a bit at the end, and the reveal with the Starks and Winter Soldier was poorly handled and presented. Also, Cap’s real problem with registration (in the comics) was that it eliminated anonymity, thus placing the loved ones of heroes at risk against their consent. Also, if someone was meta-human, they HAD to register, even if they had no interest in being a crimefighter, thus making all metahumans vulnerable to predatory organizations or individuals.

    Spider-Man: Homecoming- Pure, unadulterated fun. I love how the entire film is basically a series of vignettes with beginnings, middles and ends. It allows you to drop directly into any moment and have satisfaction, and keeps my kid highly entertained. Plus, they don’t bury us in another origin story, and make a bad guy that is actually sympathetic. Two problems though: 1) Tony should have let Peter know that he had acted on the intel Pete had provided, and Stark is smart enough to KNOW that without that info, Pete would act on his own. 2) Drawing a pistol on Spider-Man was absurd. Vulture made it clear that they both knew the other’s secret identity, so all Pete had to do was use his insane reflexes and super-strength to snatch that weapon, knock the guy out and call Tony Stark.

    Black Panther- Awesome. Also had a sympathetic villain. SO sympathetic that you almost had to wonder if T’Challa really SHOULD be king.

    Dr Strange- Lot’s of great effects, I love Chiwetel Ejiofor, and the bad guy does sinister like no one else. However, this one spent way more time on the origin than it should have, leaving the ‘training’ portion shortchanged, and ultimately leaving me feeling like Strange didn’t really earn his win, it was just handed to him by a lazy writer. That said, it still felt very ‘Dr. Strange’ and he is the only MCU character that they haven’t explained away his abilities as science.

    Captain America- Second only to Iron Man as an origin story. It gets a little wonky at the end, but a solid outing.

    Avengers- Incredibly slow start, but the incessant snark, particularly from Ruffalo’s introverted version of Banner really sells the package. Hawkeye was less than useless (really, he can see the whole city from one 30-story rooftop in Manhattan?) and widow was only slightly better, but that was to be expected.

    Hall of shame goes to:

    Iron Man 3- I seriously don’t even know where to start. Just…ugh.

    Winter Soldier- Countless plot holes and stupidity. But maybe the most glaring were the giant flying death machines, whose only weakness was…their central server. Which was inside a huge fish bowl. With like zero guards. On the BOTTOM of a flying ship. So essentially, the ONLY thing enemy forces can aim at. Also that debacle with Widow not sharing her amazing foolproof disguise I mentioned.

    Age of Ultron- Just no. This one was made all the worse by my own anticipation of the performance of the incredible James Spader. And that awesome, creepy trailer that had a disturbing version of Pinocchio’s ‘I have no strings’.

    Ant-Man and the Wasp- There wasn’t much in the sequel that was awful that wasn’t also in the first film, they just scraped off all the excellent dialogue and interactions, leaving us with only the exposed ball of crap.

    My $0.02.

  5. […] or not I enjoyed the movie, the answer is absolutely yet. I don’t yet know where it fits into my overall list of favorite MCU films, but I thought it was a monumental achievement to wrap up a 22-movies series in such a satisfying […]

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