By Mike Vermette
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved superheroes. Some of my best memories are watching the Spider-Man cartoon from the 90’s with my uncle. So it goes without saying these characters are near and dear to my heart. With “Avengers: Infinity War” arriving in theaters next week, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is finally coming full circle which has led to me reflecting on their films since 2008 and what is ultimately my top 10 favorite films from the MCU. Before we begin, keep in mind this list is solely my opinion, so feel free to comment and tell me how wrong I am. Without further ado, here’s my list of the top ten movies in the MCU.
10. “Thor Ragnarok” (2017)
Thor and the Hulk go on a cosmic road trip through Taika Waititi’s colorful and glorious vision of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sounds terrible on paper, but in execution “Thor: Ragnarok” is actually great! Taika Waitti deserves credit for giving the Thor franchise the shot in the arm it needed. This is the funniest and most zany movie Marvel has made to date. And Jeff Goldblum gives the most Jeff Goldblum-y performance ever! What can be better than that?
9. “Ant-Man” (2015)
Ant-Man? The MCU managed to make Ant-Man good? I sometimes wonder what kind of black magic Marvel used to make some of their characters better on screen than they are on the page. Ant-Man’s got it all: action, humor and heart. Paul Rudd turns in a great performance as the lead character but it is Michael Pena who literally steals every scene he’s in. A lot of people I know haven’t seen this movie and that is a shame because it’s something special, especially when you consider that after Edgar Wright departed the director’s chair, this film almsot did not see the light of day.
8. “Black Panther” (2018)
Am I wrong in thinking that without Erik Killmonger, “Black Panther” would be a much more forgettable film? They say you can’t have a good protagonist without a great antagonist and Michael B. Jordan’s excellently complex character is the one who truly steals the show. This might just be the best made Marvel movie and the only one I could ever see getting nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. All of the credit for how good it is, rests firmly on the shoulders of Ryan Coogler. He’s three for three now and I’m excited to see what he does next in his already stellar career.
7. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017)
Is “Spider-Man: Homecoming” as good as the beloved Sam Rami sequel “Spider-Man 2?” That’s debatable. What isn’t debatable is that Tom Holland is the definitive Spider-Man. Also, Michael Keaton turns in a performance as one of the MCU’s best all around villains. While the action may not be as intense as some previous Spider-Man films, it more than makes up for that with its humor and heart and sets the stage for even grander, funnier and more surprising moments to come. The future looks bright for the famous web-slinger.
6. “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” (2015)
The movie that broke Joss Whedon. I know, I know I like “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” way more than most but it’s actually much better than you probably remember. Everything is turned up to eleven in this film. The action is bigger, the jokes come faster and there are more characters than you can shake a stick at. This movie sets up so much of what is to come in the MCU which makes rewatches a blast as you can spot all the references of things to come such as the introduction to Wakanda! Featuring James Spader in a memorable voice performance as the evil Ultron and a surprising sequence centered around Hawkeye, “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” took a lot of risks which for me, paid off.
5. “Iron Man” (2008)
The one that started it all. Without “Iron Man” we wouldn’t have the MCU we know and love today. That fact alone ensures its inclusion on this list, but the fact that it’s so good makes it a no brainier. Robert Downey Jr. absolutely steals every scene he’s in as he should but it’s the supporting cast that’s so remarkably surprising. Everyone in this film from Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, to Jon Favreau himself turns in memorable performances, thus ensuring that “Iron Man” is one of Marvel’s most well rounded films to date.
4. “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2” (2017)
Marvel truly had their best year yet in 2017 and that continues with James Gunn’s sequel to his first surprising hit film “Guardians Of The Galaxy.” Marvel did something extraordinary with “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.” They took a great first movie and created something even better. “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.” is funnier and more exciting than the first film. The character dynamics are more well defined to the point where the team this time truly feels like a family. Also, hats off to James Gunn for being able to put together an even better soundtrack for the sequel. “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.” is one of the rare sequels that outshines its predecessor.
3. Captain America: Civil War” (2016)
If this movie was called “Avengers 3: Civil War” no one would have a batted an eye. Almost every Avenger is here (Though, we do miss you Thor and Hulk!) and it’s glorious. “Captain America: Civil War” is one of the biggest and loudest MCU movies to date but it’s also one of the most emotional. The drama between Cap and Iron Man works because we care so deeply about these characters after so many movies. Not content with just the Avengers we already know, this movie seamlessly introduces both Spider-Man and Black Panther into the world of the Avengers before they got their own standalone films. As great as Black Panther is, it’s Spider-Man that steals every scene he’s in. His charm, one-liners and youthful optimism are perfect. It also can’t be overstated how incredible the airport battle sequence is. Fights are thrown, lasers are fired and tiny little Ant-Man suddenly becomes huge in both a surprising and fun moment for fans. I’ve waited my entire nerdy life to see a battle as epic as the airport fight and “Captain America: Civil War” did not disappoint.
2. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014)
Prior to this film’s release, the conversation was centered around whether the Russo brothers, then known for sitcom television, would be able to handle a giant summer blockbuster. Well boy oh boy did they show everyone. The action in the “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is kinetic, fast and hard-hitting. It’s almost as if the raid was set inside a comic book world. There are legitimate twists and turns that no one would ever have expected in this film. The best part? The time and care showcasing the personality’s of Steve Rogers, Natasha, Nick Fury and the wonderfully rewarding, fascinating and complex relationship between Steve and Bucky, otherwise known as the Winter Soldier. The MCU does not get much better than this except….
1. “The Avengers” (2012)
Was there ever really any doubt that this film wouldn’t be number one? The superhero team up, by which all others will forever be judged (Yes, I’m looking at you “Justice League“). “The Avengers” has it all. High stakes, thrilling action and more humor than most comedy’s. Many Marvel movies try to play with different genres, but “The Avengers” is the perfect representation of the superhero genre. I knew the moment I saw this incredible film that it was a game changer and the fact that we’re still talking about it and Hollywood is still trying to recapture its glory and success makes me think I was right.
So that is my list. What is yours? Reply in the comments and let us know. Be on the lookout for both our written and podcast review of 2012’s “The Avengers” for our Patreon subscribers over the next week and make sure you purchase your tickets for “Avengers: Infinity War” in theaters on April 27th 2018.
You can follow Mike and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars & Film on Twitter at @vampdt89