Marvel Cinematic Universe

 

Average Star Rating (ASR): 3.69 ★'s

Phase 1 ASR: 3.25 ★'s    | Phase 2 ASR: 3.5 ★'s    | Phase 3 ASR: 4.1 ★'s

Iron-man1-movie-screencaps.com-9015.jpg

Iron Man

The first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is also one of the best. Robert Downey Jr. carries the movie with his trademark charisma, and the fight between Iron Man and Iron Monger (Jeff Bridges) is one of the best showdowns in superhero history. ★★★★

Best Part: Nick Fury Teases The Avengers

Worst Part: Terrence Howard?

the-hulk.jpg

The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk is likely the most forgettable film in the MCU. It's not outright terrible, but it's not very good either. The movie is probably most notable for being Edward Norton's only appearance in the MCU before being replaced by Mark Ruffalo. ★★★

Best Part: Hulk Breaking Stuff

Worst Part: Not Ruffalo

early-concept-art-for-iron-man-2-shows-early-designs-for-black-widow-and-war-machine-social.jpg

Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 is easily one of the most mediocre entries in the MCU. The villains are lame, the plot is muddy and the tone is all over the place. On the other hand, we get to meet Black Widow and the new-and-improved War Machine, now with 100% more Don Cheadle! ★★★

Best Part: Black Widow

Worst Part: Sorta Everything

evolution-of-thor-1.jpg

Thor

Welcome to Asgard, a glossy CGI realm where a lot of dramatic shenanigans happen. Thor gets banished, yadda yadda, he falls in love, yadda yadda, he can't pick up the hammer, yadda yadda, he sacrifices himself, yadda yadda, he picks up the hammer, roll credits. Undoubtedly one of Marvel's biggest duds. ★★½

Best Part: Chris Hemsworth's Face

Worst Part: Discount White Walkers

captain-america-movie.jpg

Captain America: First Avenger

This origin story is one of most bland movies in the entire MCU. It's not as forgettable as Hulk and not as boring as Thor, but it takes two characters we know and love (Cap and Bucky) and forces them into a trite origin story that basically just serves as an extended prologue for Winter Soldier. ★★★

Best Part: Buff Bucky

Worst Part: Skinny Steve

The Avengers

Four years of pure set-up finally pays off. In The Avengers, Loki makes a triumphantly evil return and the only people who can stop him are... some randos in Halloween costumes? This movie shows us the not-yet-polished Avenger team, struggling to work together and harness their power to save the world for the very first time. It's what we were all waiting for and it is awesome. ★★★★

Best Part: Finally Seeing the Avengers

Worst Part: Realizing you will never not see the Avengers

maxresdefault.jpg

Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 is best known for it's divisiveness, and all credit is due to one of the most memorable scenes in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe: the reveal of Ben Kingsley's Mandarin. While the rest of the movie isn't great or terrible, the Mandarin is what keeps fans and critics talking about this film five years later. ★★★½

Best Part: The Mandarin

Worst Part: The Mandarin

thor-the-dark-world-christopher-eccleston-2.jpg

Thor: The Dark World

What to say about this movie...

It exists, sure...

It isn't very good...

In fact, it is very bad....

If you haven't seen this...

Do yourself a favor...

And just skip to Thor: Ragnarok...

★½

Best Part: Chris Hemsworth's Face

Worst Part: Malekith, Ruler of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim

mcdcaam_ec133.jpg

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Now that Captain America's completely dry, mostly pointless backstory has been explained, sit back and relax for two hours of Captain America and Black Widow kicking ass and uncovering major conspiracies. This is universally known as the turning point for the MCU, and boy is it good. ★★★★

Best Part: Every Fight Scene

Worst Part: More Death Fakeouts

Guardians of the Galaxy

Now that Marvel has decided not to be average, witness the first legitimately great movie in the MCU: Guardians of the Galaxy. Laugh your way through a well-written/acted/directed sci-fi-action-comedy that taught everyone at Marvel that it's okay to be weird... because superheroes are funny, and kinda dumb. ★★★★★

Best Part: The Soundtrack

Worst Part: Oh no, this is going to have a lackluster sequel, isn't it...

Avengers_Age_of_Ultron_82.png

Avengers: Age of Ultron

This movie is not as bad as you might remember. Sure, it's not as incredible as the first Avengers but it has its moments. New characters Scarlet Witch, the Vision and Ulysses Klaue are all great, and let's not forget Ultron, one of the MCU's best villains. Plus, it sets up the main source of conflict for the heroes in Civil War. ★★★½

Best Part: Paul Bettany as the Vision

Worst Part: Bye Hulk, See You Later

ant-man-review-768x539-c-default.jpg

Ant-Man

Ant-Man is more of a heist-comedy than a superhero movie, but that doesn't make it bad. What works really well in this movie is Paul Rudd, who plays (yet another) wise-cracking white dude, thrust into the world of superheroes. The downside is that we'll never get to see the Edgar Wright-directed version of the film, which probably would have been a lot more interesting. ★★★½

Best Part: Miniature Fight Scenes

Worst Part: Its Irrelevancy

Captain America: Civil War

Other than Infinity War, this is probably the most-hyped movie in the MCU so far. We've seen the Avengers fight CGI aliens, now watch them fight each other! Unfortunately, whatever you wanted this movie to be is probably better than what it actually is. Still, there are a plenty of awesome Marvel moments to go around, like the introduction of fan-favorites Spider-Man and Black Panther. ★★★½

Best Part: Airport Brawl

Worst Part: Doesn't Live Up to the Hype

CqHHqADUIAEDLX1.0.jpg

Doctor Strange

This is easily the most underrated film in the MCU. Benedict Cumberbatch brings a charisma to the role that is only rivaled by Downey Jr. himself, and the visual effects are stunning. It's funny, ambitious, action-packed, and it introduces us to a great hero who is likely to become one of the MCU's new staples. ★★★★½

Best Part: The Visual Effects

Worst Part: Uses Whitewashing to Avoid Negative Asian Stereotypes...?

GuardiansVol2590a845794783.0.jpg

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

Here is the lackluster sequel to the beloved original we've all been waiting for! Like many Marvel movies, this isn't so much bad as it is underwhelming. The humor, soundtrack and colorful characters are all still there, but it just doesn't quite hit the beats as well as the first film. ★★★½

Best Part: Yondu Udonta

Worst Part: James Gunn Confirms that (the original) Groot is Dead

spider_man_homecoming_cages_3840.1498710282.jpg

Spider-Man: Homecoming

I'm not going to lie to you: Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man we've ever had. In Homecoming, we get to see Peter as he adapts to his new life as a (friendly neighborhood) superhero. While he may be young and naïve, he is also powerful and resourceful, proving to Tony Stark (and fans of the MCU) that he is worthy enough to wield the web. ★★★★

Best Part: Tom Holland and Michael Keaton

Worst Part: Not Enough Donald Glover

Thor: Ragnarok

Marvel finally figured out what to do with Thor. There is so so much to love about this movie. It is action-packed, smartly written, and it finally (FINALLY) capitalizes on Chris Hemsworth's comedic abilities. Thor and his new crew are the newest (and most fun) superhero team, and if we don't get Taika Waititi directing another Marvel movie soon, we should all riot. ★★★★★

Best Part: The Erasure of Asgard

Worst Part: The Calm Before the Storm

Black Panther

With this breakout success, Black Panther joins Doc Strange and Spidey as one of the future leaders of the MCU. Chadwick Boseman is incredible in his standalone debut, but a lot of the film's heart and gravitas comes from its strong female characters (Shuri, Okoye, Nakia, and Ramonda). Throw in some of the best villains, effects, music, and fight choreography in the entire MCU and you have yourself a groundbreaking and unforgettable entry. ★★★★½

Best Part: Badass Women

Worst Part: Let's Just Not ;)

Avengers: Infinity War

I am NOT going to spoil this movie here. What I will say is that this is not Captain America's movie. It is not Iron Man or Thor's movie either. This is Thanos' movie, and he won't let you forget it. He will allow you to laugh and cheer, but in the end, he will leave you with heartbreak, sadness and despair. If you truly care about these characters, beware. ★★★★★

Best Part: The Decade Wait is Over

Worst Part: You're Not Ready

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Though funnier and more competent than its predecessor, Ant-Man and the Wasp suffers from its underdeveloped plot lines, only a few of which are truly worthwhile. With no clear direction, each "villain" feels more like a menacing obstacle, distracting from the fun-sized merriment that Rudd, Lily and Peña bring to their respective roles. ★★★½

Best Part: Michael Peña and X-Con

Worst Part: Evangeline Lily's big d**k

https___cdn.cnn.com_cnnnext_dam_assets_181204144245-02-captain-marvel.jpg

Captain Marvel

Perhaps if Captain Marvel had been released in Phase One (alongside origin stories such as The First Avenger and Thor) it may have been better received. Its action and effects are on par with MCU’s most recent entries, but its script feels sanitized and weighed down. The good news is that an “average” MCU movie is still usually pretty good. Even in its hokiest moments, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson bring their A-game. If you just want to see a fun, colorful space movie with an ultra-nostalgic soundtrack, Captain Marvel certainly fits the bill. But if you’re looking for a little more depth out of your superheroes, this one probably won’t cut it. ★★★½

Best Part: This is the most screen time Nick Fury has ever had in a Marvel movie

Worst Part: It’s just another decent (but ultimately unexciting) origin story

Avengers: Endgame

It may not be the final film in the MCU (or even in Phase 3), but Avengers: Endgame is still a finale. Through the culmination of the Avengers’ fight against Thanos, Kevin Feige and the Russo Brothers cement the MCU as one of the most satisfying film franchises ever made. Endgame itself is certainly one of the weirdest, most complex, and emotionally draining stories ever put to screen… but that’s what makes it great. It is a worthy final chapter for both the heroes and the actors who play them (as fans, we sometimes forget that the MCU has probably meant more to them than it ever will to us). As the cinematic (and cultural) event of the year Avengers: Endgame is a send-off like we’ve never seen before. Whether you’re seeing it for the first time or for the fifth, bring 3000 tissues… you’re gonna need ‘em. ★★★★★

Best Part: It’s basically just three hours of insanely entertaining fan service disguised as an actual movie while still being an actual movie.

Worst Part: I’m still bummed we never got to see that Black Widow-Bruce Banner romance they’ve been teasing since Ultron.

 
 
David Merkle