2018 marks the tenth anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and to celebrate the release of Avengers: Infinity War lets countdown the preceding 18 movies, from worst to best.
- Iron Man 2
With lists like these there is always a last place, and Iron Man 2 fits this position like a malfunctioning iron glove. Despite a great performance from Robert Downey Jr, Iron Man 2 fails to push forward Tony Stark’s story in any meaningful way while also wasting a brilliant cast that includes flat villains played by Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell.
- The Incredible Hulk
Edward Norton is a great actor but he is a rubbish superhero. A two-hour plea to have Mark Ruffalo a movie earlier, The Incredible Hulk did improve on Ang Lee’s awful first attempt at the character but not much.
- Thor: The Dark World
Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor has had no luck when it comes to Hollywood blockbusters. Before he put the final nail in his feature film career with the worst Terminator movie, he undone much of the great work that Kenneth Branagh achieved in this Thor sequel. A crap villain and not enough, or too much depending on your point of view, of Loki makes The Dark World a movie Marvel is anxious to forget.
- Doctor Strange
Despite how visually stunning Doctor Strange the story at its centre is remarkably ordinary. Benedict Cumberbatch is well-cast as Doctor Strange, though he comes across as a younger version of TV curmudgeon Gregory House, the rest of the cast feel functional. Still, this is an interesting corner of the MCU that is rife for bigger exploration.
- Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3 was a roaring success for Marvel, kicking off Phase Two with style and panache thanks to director Shane Black. Yet after the critical plaudits died down, as well as the MCU releasing much better movies in the future, Iron Man 3 has suffered through comparison as the years passed by. Again, Robert Downey Jr is excellent, giving Tony added layers thanks to his experiences in The Avengers, but Iron Man 3 doesn’t feel as cohesive as better movies within the franchise.
- Captain America: The First Avenger
Like Iron Man 3, The First Avenger isn’t a bad movie, but the fact that it’s the weakest in Cap’s superlative trilogy of movies puts it way down the pecking order. Compared to the spy thrills of The Winter Soldier and the heroes v heroes battle of Civil War, The First Avenger doesn’t feel essential. Peggy’s still great though.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
Following the quality and the success of The Avengers was always going to be a herculean task for director Joss Whedon, especially with the increased studio pressure that plagued much of the production. The fact that Age of Ultron is still a solid, if unspectacular movie is an achievement in itself. With a bigger cast, and the need to give everyone a story, especially Hawkeye, Age of Ultron feels a little overstuffed, with fans taking issue with the progression of many characters, and the need to set up the next phase of the franchise. The opening battle is still great though.
- Ant Man
After the bluster of Age of Ultron, Ant Man was a welcome change of pace for the MCU, as it introduced one of the lesser known heroes in a movie that is light and endlessly inventive, as well as coming out of the shadow left by Edgar Wright’s exit from production.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Cementing its heroes place as pop culture royalty, Vol 2 of the MCU’s weirdest series of films ignored many of the sequel problems that plagued the likes of Iron Man 2 and The Dark World by putting its characters before spectacle. Relationships that were set up in the first movie were explored with sensitivity as Vol 2 cemented its group of misfits as the dysfunctional family they were always meant to be.