As we prepare for the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film since Spider-Man: Far from Home, with the release of Black Widow (Finally!) on July 9th, 2021, we decided it was time to do a rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So why not do a ranking of each phase? Yes we are planning to watch all 23 films before the release of Black Widow.
Once we are finished with the rewatch, we plan on doing a full ranking of the films and teaming up with the Minnesota Comic Exchange for a video.
6) The Incredible Hulk (2008) Directed by Louis Leterrier
Hmm! This is one of those films that could have been great and ends up being just average. Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/Hulk , Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, William Hurt as General “Thunderbolt” Ross, and Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky/Abomination round out a brilliant cast. William Hurt and Tim Roth are the highlights in this film, especially with Hurt being a perfectly casted “Thunderbolt” Ross. Comparing all phase one films, Edward Norton feels more like an actor playing a role instead of getting lost in the role, which could be where a disconnect happens with us and this film.
It’s a forgettable film and while rewatching it, it easy to understand why Norton was recasted. Its on the short side of MCU films with a runtime of 112 minutes with most films going over 2 hours. Highlights of the film besides Roth and Hurt is the climax between Hulk and Abomination. It was an awesome shot seeing them collide in front of the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Stan Lee’s cameo as a man that gets radiation poisoning is pretty funny along with the Lou Ferrigno cameo.
Biggest wasted opportunity of the film would have to be the introduction of three characters and never expending on their arcs. We were introduced to a forgettable Doc Samson (Ty Burnell), Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) was teased to become the Leader, and we never hear about Betty ever again in the MCU. Despite it being forgettable, even the lesser MCU films are enjoyable.
5) Iron Man 2 (2010) Directed by Jon Favreau
It is funny how much taste can change, when this movie came out, I loved it! Now 11 years later and I find it to be one of the weaker films of phase one. That being said, it is still very enjoyable with some hilarious moments. We do get introduced to Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, Don Cheadle takes over the role of Rhodey and we get one of the most underrated performances in the MCU by Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer.
But what puts Iron Man 2 so low on this list, is due to Mickey Rourke as Whiplash. The villain can truly make or break a film and this a perfect example of that. Besides the introduction battle between Iron Man and Whiplash during a Formula 1 race, which is awesome and a lot of fun, there is no redeemable factor to his performance and the way he is defeated at the end is very lackluster.
Highlight of the film is the court hearing scene, which may be one of the funnier moments in phase one. The interactions between Robert Downey Jr, Sam Rockwell and Garry Shandling is hilarious and shows the brilliance of Tony and the meaning of the Iron Man suit. Despite Scarlett Johansson being a highlight in this film, the hyper-sexualization of her character is very blatant when you know where her character ends up in future films. Also Stan Lee’s cameo as Larry King will never get old.
4) Thor (2011) Directed by Kenneth Branagh
This was way better and funnier than I remembered! When I first saw this film, I thought it was awesome but I preferred both Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk over it. Chris Hemsworth was Thor and Tom Hiddleston was Loki from the start, both actors really captured what it meant to play the characters. The design of Asgard was stunning and the character development were two things that make this film so damn enjoyable.
Thor does have flaws especially when it comes to the battle with the destroyer and the film could had spent more time on Asgard. Also giving Idris Elba more time as Heimdall would made this film a tad better. But during this rewatch, I found myself doing less nitpicking and having a blast watching it. Originally I did not like Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, but now I really liked her performance, which could mainly be in anticipation for her coming back in Thor: Love and Thunder.
The overall impact that this film had on the MCU was really under appreciated in my opinion. The Introduction of Loki, Clint Barton/Hawkeye and Darcy all had great benefits to the future of the MCU. Also Kat Dennings as Darcy was always scene stealer. A hilarious cameo by Stan Lee as the old man trying to pull mjolnir with his pick up truck. If you haven’t rewatched Thor in awhile, I believe you would enjoy it more than you did than the last time.
3) The Avengers (2012) Directed by Joss Wheldon
What? I know what you are thinking, How is this not #1? Well it is still a lot of fun, but two other films are better in my opinion. There is not much to nitpick in this film and all the films lead to this, but I would rewatch Iron Man or Captain America: The First Avenger before The Avengers.That being said Mark Ruffalo is truly the best version of Bruce Banner/Hulk that we have ever seen on the big screen.
There is one problem in this film that bugs me and that is how they use Clint in this film. Feel like putting Clint as a mind controlled character, ruined a character that could be great. But, that is my only complaint for this film.
Loki feels more like a villain in this film compared to Thor and proving that he can be a menace to the entire avengers team. This film also gives each character a moment to shine, even giving Maria Hall (Cobie Smulders) a moment to shine. Film feels like an amusement park ride, but in the best kind of way. It’s non-stop action and humor. “Puny god” will never get old!
2) Iron Man (2008) Directed by Jon Favreau
This is where all began, the moment this film came out Marvel fans freaked out and guess what, it is still a great film. The way that Robert Downey Jr comes in and dominates the role is still astonishing. This film deserves so much credit for creating the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet it can be enjoyed on its own.
I don’t think we knew at the time of release how much of an impact that Robert Downey Jr. as Iron man would have on pop culture and turn the character into one of the most popular characters in film history.
Jeff Bridges is great as Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger which honestly may be the best villain in all three Iron Man films. The Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) end credit scene is unforgettable looking back at phase one. The film is extremely quotable and has some of the most badass shots in phase one. Also the Stan Lee cameo as Hugh Hefner is still hilarious. If it wasn’t for the next film on the list, this may have been the best super hero origin film.
1) Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) Directed by Joe Johnston
In a matter of 10 years, this film went from being my least liked film to most liked film in Phase one. At first I was bored and did not like the fact that the film takes place during in World War II. But the older you get the more your taste changes. Rewatching this and I had more enjoyment of this over Iron Man and The Avengers. Chris Evans was born to play Captain America and he proves it in his first film as the character.
The character development is what I love about this film, from the skinny kid who refuses to give up to becoming the representation of what it means to be a hero is a great story. Also the chemistry Steve Rogers has with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is unbelievable and something I love seeing all the time. This has one of the best supporting casts in any Marvel film with Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Neal McDonough, and Domininic Cooper. But Sebastian Stan is really likable in this film and to see his evolution in films that follow, I forgot how much I liked him in this film. Also Hugo Weaving is underrated as the Red Skull.
If you are thinking I may have bumped my head to not have Iron Man and The Avengers as my top two give Captain America: The First Avenger another chance, despite the ending it is such as feel good film in phase one.