Vinnie Ranks the Marvel Cinematic Universe
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has reached its Sweet Sixteen.
With “Spider-Man: Homecoming” here, it’s time to update the always-exciting rankings of the movies in the MCU.
Onward, true believers!
16. THE INCREDIBLE HULK
Seeing Edward Norton as Bruce Banner is just plain weird. This movie takes too many cues from the ‘70s TV series and not enough from the smashingly good comic-book version of the Hulk. It’s strangely sad for a Marvel movie and wastes important comic characters like Leonard Samson and Samuel Sterns.
But at least we get to see the Hulk kick Tim Roth into a tree.
15. DOCTOR STRANGE
I’m not nearly as enamored with this movie as most folks are. The story is a bit too familiar — cough, cough, Iron Man, cough, cough — but the biggest thing is that in introducing magical craziness there isn’t nearly enough magical craziness. More LSD nightmares, please!
And why can’t Stephen Strange just be British? Benedict Cumberbatch saying “chakra” in his fake American accent makes me laugh so much, I want it to be my text tone.
14. THOR: THE DARK WORLD
This movie’s not as bad as everyone says it is. It gives us glimpses of other realms and a whole lot of magical futuristic militarism by the Asgardians. We spend far too much on Earth and with Natalie Portman, but Thor gets to ride the Tube, which was fun.
Why is it that Asgard has yet to perfect the technology of the lightbulb? They have flying boats that shoot lasers but everything’s lit by torch!
A fun introduction to the mighty Thor featuring a beautiful-looking Asgard and an epic battle on Jotunheim. Unfortunately, most of the movie takes place on Earth and with Natalie Portman. Perhaps the finest bit of Coulson-ing by Clark Gregg happens in this movie.
Thor demanding a horse will always be one of the funnier Marvel moments.
12. ANT MAN
The final battle between Ant-Man and Yellowjacket in the kid’s bedroom is worth the price of admission alone. Even though this movie suffers from “it could have been better” disease thanks to the midstream departure of Edgar Wright, it’s still very good.
Baskin-Robbins always finds out.
11. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
Don’t freak out because this is so low on the list, I love this movie. It’s the best version of Spidey ever, and Tom Holland just is Peter Parker. The biggest achievement is making one of Spider-Man’s lunatic animal-costumed villains seem justifiable in his actions. Oh, and that Staten Island Ferry scene is amazing. Could’ve used more Aunt May, though, which is something I never thought I'd say prior to 2016.
I don’t know who Zendaya is, but I thought she was hilarious.
10. IRON MAN 2
A way better movie than it gets credit for. Sam Rockwell is phenomenal as Justin Hammer, Scarlett Johansson is wonderful in her first turn as Natasha Romanoff and John Slattery’s ‘60s film reel was a real treat for this Disney nerd. And those are just the newcomers. Thought the Stark Expo was awesome, too, even if Tony Stark is just fighting against someone trying to kill him again.
Scratch the Cumberbatch note from above. Sam Rockwell saying “salmon carpaccio” needs to be my text tone. Like now.
9. IRON MAN
Iron Man is the ninth-best Marvel movie. (Ducks.) Don’t get me wrong, this is a terrific movie and a perfect superhero origin story. Iron Man fighting those terrorists in that blown-to-hell village is great. Jeff Bridges is a great villain if for nothing else but yelling “BOX OF SCRAP!”
Also, there’s a great Tom Morello cameo no one knows about. Tom Morello!
8. IRON MAN 3
That’s right, the best Iron Man movie is the third one. While initially confused by the twist, I sure do like it in retrospect, showing how easy it is for a villain to stir up a global panic. The Air Force One rescue scene is the best action sequence in an Iron Man movie, and it’s not even close. Plus, Tony Stark finally gets to save someone other than himself!
You walked right into this one, I’ve dated hotter chicks than you. Hilarious.
7. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
Of all the Marvel movies, this seems to be the one I can’t stop watching. I’m not sure why, either, because its flaws are clear, chiefly that Ultron — a robot who wants to create world peace by killing humanity — is made to be far too confusing. But the globe-trotting adventure features some terrific jokes, and I’ll never get enough of everything involving Thor’s hammer.
“The gates of hell are filled with the screams of his victims. Uh, but not the screams of the dead, of course. No no. Wounded screams, mainly. Whimpering, a great deal of complaining and tales of sprained deltoids and, and, uh, gout.”
6. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
An awesome setting, an awesome tone and — I don’t care what you say about Iron Man or Spider-Man — the greatest superhero origin of them all make for one hell of an entertaining movie. Throw in the fact that it’s always easy to cheer against Nazis and that Steve Rogers is just the most root-able character in movie history, and this is a home run.
I also never let a viewing go by without shouting in my best German accent: “Captain America! I am a great fan your films!” Because it’s true! I am!
5. THE AVENGERS
The superhero movie all superhero movies aspire to be. The Avengers is damn near perfect, particularly the final third of the movie once the team starts opening up a can on the Chitauri invaders. From start to finish, this movie is perfectly written. And if you don’t cheer every time Cap lays out his battle plan, what are you doing with your life?
You got the lightning, light the bastards up. Chills.
4. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
The only movie that’s ever made my cry is Toy Story 3. This movie, though, gave me the biggest emotional reaction. The end fight between Steve and Tony feels like a gut punch, these two characters you’ve grown over multiple movies to believe are smart enough to figure this out coming to blows. Not to mention this whole movie is a massively entertaining hero-fest featuring that terrific sequence in Lagos, the expertly crafted debuts of Spider-Man and Black Panther and that epic airport battle. Just wow.
Spider-Man and Ant Man are hilarious, sure. But my biggest laugh in the movie is when Falcon shoots Redwing and it bonks right off Iron Man’s head. Classic guy getting hit in the head.
3. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
I saw it just once, so excuse me if I’m light on details, but movies don’t get more fun than this. Many lamented its joke-a-second pace, but that worked just fine for me. As funny, colorful, action-packed, cool and musically awesome as the first with a great villain, to boot.
How much did I like this movie? “Brandy” and “Come a Little Bit Closer” are two of my highest-played songs of the year.
2. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Many people are right to complain about Hollywood’s lack of imagination, but in a universe built on decades-old properties, this movie managed to be completely new. The story of an ordinary guy getting thrown into a galactic-sized conflict, the whole group’s moral ambiguity, hilarious jokes, a killer soundtrack and great space-based action sequences all make this one of the best movies ever made — a movie that stars a talking raccoon and a talking tree, by the way.
We’re just like Kevin Bacon.
1. CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER
I realize I might sound a bit of a hypocrite when I blast other movies’ lack of fun and then pick the most serious Marvel movie as my favorite, but what are you gonna do this movie is just the greatest. The action sequences are downright spectacular whether hand-to-hand combat between two people or three gigantic helicarriers falling into the Potomac River. Cap looks legitimately super when kicking other dudes 50 feet, this is the best version of Black Widow, the Falcon is awesome, Nick Fury is awesome, and S.H.I.E.L.D. is the subject of a worldwide conspiracy more than a half century in the making that only the world’s greatest hero can stop? What a god damn fantastic movie.