For those who are not familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the term refers to the series of movies that started with 2008’s break out hit Iron Man up to the recent superhero extravaganza Captain America: Civil War. Also known as the Disney side of Marvel, the franchise exploded into a series of movies that started to connect when Nick Fury showed up to speak with Tony Stark about the Avenger initiative at the end of Iron Man. From there on out the box office was dominated by Marvel superheroes including Thor, Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy.
With Civil War appearing to be a huge turning point in the MCU, it seemed like a good time to find out what were the best films in the franchise. All we do is compare and rank the MCU films against each other the second we walk out of the theater so it seemed natural to create ‘The 4: Marvel Cinematic Universe’. Now remember this is ONLY THE MCU! The X-Men and Deadpool are at 20th Century Fox so they do not qualify for this list. Neither does any previous Spider-Man films since that was primarily Sony before the recent partnership with Disney. Fantastic Four is out as well, but mostly because those are awful films! Now that we have the rules, let’s start the list with number 4.
4. The Avengers (2012)
Growing up and reading Marvel Comics as a kid, I just knew there was no way a movie like The Avengers would ever get made with all the heroes being spread out amongst so many studios. Then Sam Jackson showed up at the end of Iron Man and says the word Avengers on film. We all know what happened from there. Disney got the gang together and fan boys had their dreams come true. The Avengers was a big bombastic crossover that had fans cheering and tickets sales soaring to a domestic box office over $600 million dollars. The impossible was made into a reality. The Avengers assembled on-screen together and it was amazing. Each character got their due including the Hulk, who became the scene stealer fans knew he could be. The Avengers raised the bar leading to bigger and better ideas down the road for the franchise.
3. Iron Man (2008)
Looking back on the first Iron Man film in 2008, the movie is an intimate character study compared to the MCU films of today. Iron Man was heavy on the origin story as we got to see playboy billionaire Tony Stark become Iron Man and set the film universe in motion. The original film didn’t just appeal to the comic book nerds, but to the average viewer who had no clue who Iron Man was. The crossover appeal has to be contributed to Robert Downey Jr.’s comeback performance as the head of Stark Industries who reinvents himself as a savior of the Earth. Iron Man may be small in scale in comparison to the rest of the franchise, but it’s still one of Marvel’s best films and set the MCU in motion with the Nick Fury secret scene at the end.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
The Marvel machine at Disney took their biggest risk ever with a Sci-Fi story that involved a raccoon and a tree. Initially many found the project a head scratcher with all the great characters in the Marvel Universe at Disney’s disposal. The second guessing stopped once Guardians of the Galaxy hit theaters in August of 2014. Star-Lord and his crew of space outlaws grossed $333 million in the US and turned Chris Pratt into a megastar. The old school soundtrack became the number one album on the charts and the phrase “We are Groot” made grown men pretend they had something in their eyes. The film showed viewers you can have an action packed Marvel movie full of heart and laughs. The Genre Buster made these unlikely heroes made Guardians of the Galaxy one of our favorite films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2012)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a completely different from it’s a predecessor and a throwback style of film reminiscent of a 1970s spy thriller. The man out of time aspect makes Captain America: The Winter Soldier a fresh and fun experience witnessing the conflict Cap goes through as he realizes that sometimes our government can be our own worst enemy. The Winter Soldier is much deeper than previous solo films from Marvel and it’s interesting to witness Cap slowly realize things aren’t so black and white in the times we live in. The Russos gave fanboys great Easter Eggs in the form of Arnim Zola and incredible action scenes with Steve Rodgers battling the Winter Soldier and agents of Hydra. The film also has one of the best and emotionally charged scenes in all of the MCU with Cap convincing Bucky he knows him. Captain America being dragged from the Potomac will give you chills as the piano music plays as Steve’s oldest friend walks away from his wounded adversary. The Winter Soldier is not just a fantastic MCU movie, but an amazing film in general.
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