I’m no film critic, but it take from an obsessed fan who has been to almost every midnight premier after the first Avengers…this is the one and only list you need to navigating the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
19) Thor: The Dark World
This movie is really just there for us to enjoy Loki.
18) Iron Man 2
Okay if you say this is your favorite Iron Man movie we aren’t friends anymore. We do get to see Colonel Rhodes put on an Iron Man suit for the first time (Hello, War Machine), and we meet the infamous Natasha Romanov, notary and personal assistant by day, ex-Russian assassin by night, but this movie is purely there to move the greater plot along.
Who would have thought Paul Rudd could become a superhero. Not me. However, he does in such a wonderful Paul Rudd way. It’s a really fun idea to watch come to life on screen. This one is honestly just a feel good, spunky movie.
Thor gives us our first look in to the outer space element of the MCU. The camera angles and movement are super odd. It gives us possibly the hunkiest Avenger, but the movie itself is okay.
15) Dr. Strange
I’m an absolute Sherlock fanatic, so I really enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch in this role. The visual effects of this movie are stunning. It bends your mind and makes you question your own reality. It’s definitely off the wall and a real departure from the stories we’re used to in the MCU, but makes you question the limits of your own imagination.
14) Ant-Man and The Wasp
You watch this movie to see another good Marvel movie, but then cry silently after getting your heart ripped out by the after-credit scene.
13) Captain America: The First Avenger
Our first, wonderful Avenger. The history nerd in me absolutely loves this movie. It’s a wonderful ode to World War II in true comic book fashion, with outlandish twists that introduce us to the Tesseract. It warms your heart, but also kills it when Steve loses his best friend and the girl by sacrificing himself. We also get Peggy Carter, who paves the way for other powerful women in the MCU.
12) Iron Man 3
Not at all terrible, but not fantastic either. The action is great as always. It has this villain that keeps you guessing and seems all too familiar…until the very end when its unveiled The Mandarin, isn’t actually The Mandarin. The full friendship between Happy and Tony is super heartwarming. The sidekick moments between Stark and the little kid he meets in Tennessee aren’t bad either, but it’s still a tad disappointing. It just doesn’t quite pack that Marvel punch considering Tony spends most of the movie NOT in the Iron Man suit. However, we do get the snarky Stark out of the suit, which is always a bonus. I get it, he’s trying to finish what he started, write his wrongs once and for all (a common theme we’ll have to see play out this April), but it just felt like something was missing.
11) Avengers: Age of Ultron
Before I start, can we all agree that this move is just like “Frankenstein”? Who is the real monster: Ultron or Tony and Bruce? Maybe I’m the only one that sees the comparison because I was reading Frankenstein for AP Lit when I saw this movie, but that’s not the point. Ultron. What a villain. He uses the Scarlet Witch (who I’ve really come around to) to cripple Earth’s mightiest heroes by exposing them as the flawed humans they are. Not to mention, James Spader’s voice is ABSOLUTELY perfect. It hangs in the air like a heavy, evil, hot, fog.
10) Captain America: Civil War
Surprise! You basically get another Avengers movie…but instead of fighting an evil alien race they’re fighting…each other? It’s a stretch, but okay. We see Cap go rouge and once again Tony Stark trying to make amends for the damage he’s caused. The fight scenes are epic, and the movie overall is an ode to what Marvel does best.
9) Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Same wit and misfit band of heroes with a slightly darker plot. It still punches just like the original, we get all of our pressing questions answered, and we get Awesome Mix Vol. 2. What more can you want from a sequel?
8) Avengers: Infinity War
Boy, is there a lot going on. If you haven’t been following along the past 10 years, this movie can seem like a flip flopping action story, filled with dramatic moment after even more dramatic moment. While some people would argue it fell short, I think it did exactly what it needed to do. We needed to see the Earth’s mightiest heroes come together and take what they think is their last stand. Their interactions are priceless and exactly what the audience has been craving since we watched Thanos in that after credit scene so many years ago. And that snap…I sat frozen in my seat for about 20 minutes…silent tears and all.
7) Spider-Man: Homecoming
AH! This movie perfectly captures the spirit and vibe of who your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man should be. If you were ever a student at a magnet/STEM/IB school, then you definitely understand that this movie captures that experience perfectly. We get this awesome mentor/mentee, father/son relationship between Stark and Peter Parker. It’s as pure of a superhero movie as you can get.
6) Captain America: Winter Soldier
Here we see America’s favorite Boy Scout question everything he knows to be true. Cap and Black Widow are side by side for the entire movie, and I have to say, I really enjoyed the dynamic. But, the best part is we get to see what happened to Bucky Barnes, Cap’s best friend and now unstoppable assassin. We also get Falcon, the lovable, intense sidekick.
5) Thor: Ragnarok
Thor is funny? THOR IS FUNNY! This movie made the God of Thunder your favorite Avenger. His inaccessible personality from the first installments of the MCU is gone and he becomes a slightly self absorbed, joke cracking mythic man with an even better haircut. Don’t look for anything special character development wise here. The movie’s main purpose is to get Thor, Loki and the other Asgardians away from Asgard, but dang is it fun along the way. We see Thor come to terms with his true power and we get our favorite sneaky Loki in entertaining, Guardians of the Galaxy style fashion. Hat’s off to Taika Waititi.
4) Black Panther
This movie is FANTASTIC. The colors and costumes are absolutely insane. It’s modern, but feels familiar like you’re staring in to the past. Not only are the thematic elements enough to keep your eyes glued to the screen and your body on the edge of your seat, but the way it explores topics like power, family, and a very complicated history of race are flawless. This movie does so much more than entertain, and I think that is absolutely evident in the way its been received by so many people.
3) Guardians of the Galaxy
These guys are the farthest cry from the Avengers, but I couldn’t love them more. Marvel took a band of misfit criminals and outcasts and did what they do best: cinematic magic. The funny and chubby lead man for the band Mouse Rat in NBC’s Parks & Rec. is all of a sudden a chiseled, joke-cracking outlaw? Alright fine, sign me up. Why not throw a talking raccoon, aka Bradley Cooper, in there too. This movie brought out a quirky side of the MCU we hadn’t seen and was a nice palate cleanser from the uber intense vibe of “Earth’s mightiest heroes.” Also, there’s an entire generation of kids and young adults who can sing along to Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling.” You can’t get that from any other movie.
If this movie didn’t give you chills and make you want to stand up and do something amazing, then you should stop reading this blog post right now. The music, the action, the way all of these characters interact for the first time. This movie embodies everything that makes the MCU amazing. It also has the unique ability to pull each and every audience member in no matter if this is the first time you’ve watched the movie, or you’ve been reading the comics all your life.
1) Iron Man
The movie that made it cool to like superheroes (for me). A comeback kid himself, Robert Downey Jr. perfectly embodies the snarky billionaire, genius, playboy and philanthropist (see what I did there?) of his character, Tony Stark. This movie tells an amazing story and keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. And who doesn’t love a movie about a guy trying to write his wrongs to an amazing AC/DC soundtrack? Without this movie, I truly don’t think the MCU would have taken off the way it did (I mean we all remember when they tried to start off with The Incredible Hulk, right?)