The MCU is one of my favourite film franchises ever, and I can think of at least a dozen movie-going experiences that will stick with me forever. Since I’m such a fan, however, I’m bound to have a spicy opinion or two. What better way to anger everyone than to list my favourite and least favourite thing about each film?
I’ve made the executive decision to only cover the Infinity Saga (Phases 1-3) in this list. Phase 4 has just finished, and I’ve seen a few of the films and TV shows, but it would be weird to include only those and omit some of the other keys ones.
Before we begin, you can check out some of my related blog posts below:
BEST: It Set The Tone Perfectly
Starting off chronologically, the very first Iron Man had an impossible task back in 2008 – launching the biggest movie franchise of all time. Little did they know back then, but Favreau and Downey Jr. both knocked it out of the park.
Everything from the light-hearted yet firm tone to the intense action was pitch-perfect, and they couldn’t have found a better leading man. Even if the rest of the MCU had never been made, Iron Man would have gone down as one of the best comic book / superhero films ever.
WORST: The Final Battle
Jeff Bridges’s villain is actually pretty good in the grand scheme of things, but his final confrontation with Tony hasn’t aged well.
It’s the kind of “hero faces off against a villain with exactly the same set of powers!” climax that the MCU has done to death since, and it’s such a shame that they couldn’t conceive of a more original finale to an otherwise excellent movie.
The Incredible Hulk
BEST: The Action
I’m not a big fan of The Incredible Hulk, but in fairness the action is still pretty good.
A lot of the Hulk-ing is handled really well, and the final battle against Abomination is one of Phase One’s stand-out moments. Nothing sensational, but not too shabby either.
WORST: Edward Norton Was Mis-Cast
Part of the reason why this film is considered the black sheep of the MCU is because Edward Norton was immediately replaced in the leading role.
He unfortunately just didn’t have the same charisma or comedy chops of someone like Mark Ruffalo, and it makes re-watching this film borderline pointless in the grand scheme of things.
Iron Man 2
BEST: The Villains
Call me crazy, but I actually quite like Micky Rourke and Sam Rockwell in this film.
I know most Iron Man 2 viewers thoughts the villains were a huge step down, but both antagonists are super memorable with decent villainous motivations.
WORST: It’s A Bad Sequel
Other than the villains being good, Iron Man 2 falls flat on nearly every front.
The action isn’t as intense (apart from the Monaco scene), the plot feels way less interesting, and they shoe-horn in so much Avengers bait that it weakens the film as a whole.
BEST: The Shakespearian Drama
Kenneth Branagh is one of the last people I’d expect to direct an MCU film, but he couldn’t have come up with a better Asgard.
All of the Shakespearian drama between the Norse gods is handled expertly, and those sections of the film are much stronger than the others. While we’re on the subject …
WORST: The Fish-Out-Of-Water Normalcy
Once Thor is banished to earth, the film loses me.
Hemsworth and the rest of the cast do a decent job with the comedy, but it just wasn’t the direction I wanted the story to go. Those kinds of “fish-out-of-water” jokes may be hilarious to some, but not so much to me.
Captain America: The First Avenger
BEST: The Origin Story
Even more so than Tony Stark’s origin, the tale of how Steve Rodgers turned into Captain America is one of the most engaging across the whole MCU.
The 1940’s style is executed flawlessly, and the character interactions between Steve, Bucky, Peggy and the rest of the troops add weight to an already intense plot. All things considered, this might just be my favourite MCU origin story of all.
WORST: It Skips A Huge Section
I enjoyed seeing Steve turn into Captain America, but I would have loved to see more of the Captain in his prime.
Just when the film is about to get to the good bit, it skips over a huge section of the war. I don’t know if this was for budgetary reasons, or maybe they just really wanted to highlight some of the other aspects of his story, but I was disappointed to miss out on such a huge chunk of Steve’s glory years.
BEST: It Was A Blockbuster Event
My first memory of the MCU was seeing The Avengers in cinemas as a wee lad, and I was blown away by everything happening on screen.
The characters were funny, the action was incredible, and the final New York battle blew my mind. All things considered, they couldn’t have done it much better.
WORST: Hawkeye / Black Widow Were Relative Newbies
Very minor gripe for this one, but I would’ve liked to have seen a Hawkeye or Black Widow solo movie before they jumped straight to The Avengers.
The other four leads were already established, so it felt like Hawkeye and Black Widow were playing catch-up / second-fiddle the entire time. Also, they couldn’t really compete with the other powerful Avengers once the true fighting began.
Iron Man 3
BEST: Tony’s PTSD
It wasn’t the direction I was expecting them to take, but I’m glad the writers chose to highlight Tony’s PTSD.
He had been through a lot up until this point, so it made sense that his past would catch up to him. I’m always going to praise a superhero film that makes the protagonist even more human.
WORST: The Ending
I didn’t have a problem with The Mandarin like some other fans – my issue was with the ending.
The villain doesn’t do much, the final battle seemed a bit tacky, and the closing shots of Tony denouncing his Iron Man ways – only to then jump straight back into it in Age of Ultron – is completely worthless in hindsight.
Thor: The Dark World
BEST: The Thor / Loki Dynamic
… I mean, if I had to pick something I’d choose the Thor / Loki bromance.
It’s nothing particularly special, but at least Hemsworth and Hiddleston sell it well enough.
WORST: It’s Soooooo Boring
Thor: The Dark World is the worst MCU movie, mainly because of how dull it is on the whole.
The characters, villain and plot all suck, and the drab colour palette and cinematography means it isn’t even a fun film to look at. A complete mis-step on the whole.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
BEST: The Fight Choreography
The MCU followed up one of its worst, most boring films with one of the most exciting!
The political thriller approach seemed like an odd choice, but the Russo brothers made it work. Their fight choreography and direction are second to none, so I’m not surprised they were brought back for some of the franchise’s biggest entries.
WORST: The Resolution
The ending wasn’t as bad as some of the other films in this list, but I thought it could have packed a bit more oomph.
I thought the final battle on the skyship was a little underwhelming, and the villain’s death was very quick and anticlimactic. It worked in the context of the film, but it paled in comparison to some of the other more action-packed MCU movies.
Guardians of the Galaxy
BEST: The Vibe
Guardians of the Galaxy brought something new to the table – a fun, swashbuckling vibe that we hadn’t really seen before.
The entire cast of characters are an absolute delight, and James Gunn’s direction makes the universe feel so vibrant and lived-in. People weren’t expecting much at first, but they ended up getting one of the best MCU entries.
WORST: The Villain
As is typical from MCU films from this era, the villain is super forgettable and bland.
He’s just a typical, power-hungry henchman, and he doesn’t have any discernible character traits or motivations that go deeper than surface level. To make matters worse, I thought the dance-off to beat him was really stupid.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
BEST: The Villain
People forget how great the villain in this film is – Ultron is such an intimidating force of nature, acted to spine-chilling perfection.
I also love how Ultron was birthed from Tony’s mistake – it added another dimension to both of their characters, and the writers made sure to toy with their emotions as a result.
WORST: It Pales In Comparison To The First
Whilst I do like “Age of Ultron” as a fun, mindless action film, it’s hard to think of anything within it that improves upon the original.
The characters don’t feel nearly as interesting, the action is nowhere near as entertaining, and nothing of substance was really added to make it stand out. The weakest Avengers film, and it’s not even close.
BEST: It’s So Different
I’m not saying that it’s Guardians-levels of unique, but Ant-Man was different enough from what came before for it to be an enjoyable experience.
Scott Lang is unlike any protagonist / superhero we’d had up until that point, and the heist movie spin made the plot more interesting than it could have been.
WORST: The Villain
Marvel still hadn’t learned from their mistakes about making intriguing villains.
It’s just not very fun seeing a generic baddie with exactly the same powerset face off against the hero. Luckily, this was pretty much the last MCU film to have an outright bad villain (or, at the very least, one with nothing unique about them).
Captain America: Civil War
BEST: The Conflict Is Justified
It would’ve been very easy to have a surface-level conflict to split the party so that the action could begin, but I appreciated how the writers gave a genuine reason for the Avengers to take sides.
The question of “Should the Avengers take orders from a higher power?” is one that I’m still not completely sure of, which is a sign of good writing.
WORST: The Villain
I’m of two minds when it comes to Civil War’s villain. On the one hand it was interesting to have a third-party dude pulling the strings, but on the other he felt wholly unnecessary.
I wouldn’t say he’s bad per se, but I don’t think a film about the Avengers fighting each other needed another player behind the scenes to complicate matters further.
BEST: The Visual Effects
Even now, after 23 films in the saga, Doctor Strange still feels like the pinnacle of superhero CGI.
All of the magic spells and dimensional travel are fully realised, and they never failed to make my jaw drop. Amazingly, it still holds up better than the recent sequel!
WORST: It’s A Standard Origin Story
We’d had a dozen films before this one, and half of those were superhero origin stories. It was slightly disappointing, then, when Doctor Strange re-hashed the Marvel formula to create something entirely unoriginal.
Also, and this will come as no surprise, the villain was a little boring. If it wasn’t Mads Mikkelsen, I probably wouldn’t have been invested at all.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2
BEST: It’s Loads Of Fun
It’s more of the same, really. What’s not to love?
The new character additions gel really well, and you can tell the actors are having a blast filming this. I really hope Volume 3 can keep up this party-vibe that’s worked so well up until now.
WORST: Some Of The Charm Wore Off
Since it was just more Guardians of the Galaxy rather than anything crazily new, I couldn’t help but feel that some of the charm had worn off.
Not as many of the jokes land, and the central plot didn’t feel nearly as impactful. It’s a minor gripe, sure, but it just felt like something was missing.
BEST: The Villain
The MCU had garnered a bit of infamy for always pumping out the same, predictable villains, so it was amazing when we finally got a worthwhile antagonist to the hero.
Michael Keaton’s Vulture works perfectly against Spider-Man, and his motivations feel far more realised than anyone who had come before. Hopefully he can make a grand return one day (Sinister Six, anyone?).
WORST: The High School Drama
Despite the overflowing praise that Homecoming regularly receives, I never rank it among the MCU greats. Personally, I can’t connect with the high school drama.
I grew up in the UK for starters, so the Americanisms are lost on me, but the general teenage angst just isn’t something I want to see on screen. This might be the most subjective gripe of the lot!
BEST: The Comedy
In terms of “funniest MCU film”, there isn’t really much competition as far as I’m concerned – Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok is the only Marvel film to be consistently hilarious.
The jokes almost always land, and the actors give fantastic comedic performances. It’s a shame Love & Thunder will tarnish Thor’s and Waititi’s legacy a bit, but their first collaboration was golden.
WORST: The Lack Of Seriousness
This isn’t really a problem with the actual film itself, as it’s meant to be a tongue-in-cheek comedy on the whole, but I would’ve liked to feel the drama a bit more.
None of the dramatic beats get enough time to breathe before a barrage of jokes come your way, so a lot of the seriousness gets thrown out the window. It’s not as egregious as in Love & Thunder, but I wanted to feel some of the stakes.
BEST: The Villain
The MCU really started to understand what made a good villain by the end of the Infinity Saga, and Killmonger is one of the most relatable ones.
You know you’ve made a good antagonist when people consider siding with him over the heroes, and Michael B Jordan was fantastic casting.
WORST: The Action
I’ve always thought that Black Panther was a little overrated in the grand scheme of things, and a lot of that has to do with the action.
The initial set-pieces are okay, but the final battle is one of my least favourite in the MCU. The CGI slug-fest of Black Panther vs. Killmonger is a true low-point, and needed a couple of extra months of rendering to get right.
Avengers: Infinity War
BEST: They Pulled Off The Impossible
Until Endgame, Infinity War was the most anticipated film of my lifetime. Not only did they provide the cross-over event of the century, but they made the best film in the entire MCU.
The character interactions are golden, the plotline is solid, and Thanos felt like the best villain of them all. Just like with Killmonger, I actually sympathised with Thanos on things that I never thought I would!
WORST: Thanos’s Henchmen Were Useless
It was quite tricky picking a gripe from my favourite MCU film, but I have to admit that Thanos’s Henchmen were a huge let-down.
How cool would it have been to have a series of intimidating mini-bosses before the Avengers faced the mad titan himself? In the end, all four of them fell too easily, and it felt like an enormous waste of potential.
Ant-Man and the Wasp
BEST: The Silly Tone
Just like with the first Ant-Man movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp brings something slightly different to the table.
The silliness was a welcome change of pace after so many serious movies in a row, and you can tell the main actors are having the time of their lives.
WORST: It Doesn’t Really Matter
Especially when coming straight after Infinity War, people’s hopes were really high for Ant-Man and the Wasp. As it turned out, it was borderline pointless in the grand scheme of things.
The post-credit scene was kinda important to Endgame, but the main plot and general story beats felt completely disconnected to the rest of the MCU. Good film, but it came out at the wrong time.
BEST: Young Nick Fury
If I have to pick a positive from this forgettable film, it would probably be Nick Fury’s return.
He looked exactly as I pictured him in the 90’s, and Sam Jackson’s presence is always a win.
WORST: The Other Characters
A lot of Captain Marvel is more “Meh” than outright bad, but I’d say the roster of characters is one of the weakest we’ve had.
Carol Danvers, her friends, the villains and everyone you meet all seem so one-note, and it doesn’t make for fun viewing. Jude Law’s character was almost an exception, but then his final battle ruined it.
BEST: The Insane Finale
Tensions were running high before Endgame released, and I don’t think I’ll ever be that nervous going into a movie theatre again. Some things worked, some things didn’t, but the overall action was phenomenal.
The final battle in particular is one of the most batshit insane finales in any entertainment medium I’ve ever seen, and it truly felt like the culmination of twenty superhero films. If nothing else, that final battle will stick with me forever.
WORST: Thanos Takes A Back Seat
Thanos was objectively one of the best things about Infinity War, so it was disappointing seeing him relegated to a more moustache-twirling villain role.
I get that Endgame was supposed to be the Avengers time to shine, but a lot of the nuances that made Thanos’s character great were thrown out the window. At least he got a badass send-off at the hands of Iron Man.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
BEST: The Villain
I thought Endgame was the final Phase 3 film, but apparently Far From Home holds that accolade!
On the whole, Far From Home is just more Spider-Man goodness. The action is slick, the character dynamics are fun, and I found Mysterio to be a pretty great villain on the whole. Solid stuff.
WORST: The Plot
Despite the general story beats and action scenes being pretty fun, a lot of Far From Home’s plot points are really sloppy.
It was kinda disappointing having yet another MCU villain that was spurned by Tony Stark, and there’s a humungous plothole of Tony leaving the glasses behind to Peter – when he did, Peter was still snapped out of existence! With a little more time, I reckon the writers could have ironed out a few of the creases.
Aaaand that’s my list! Hopefully you weren’t too offended, and if you enjoyed it you can check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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