The 2019 EDITION!

Three years ago, I ranked all 13 Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. – when there were only 13 to rank.

Last year, I went back to the well, since another six had been added to the slate.

Now, with Avengers: Endgame here — not to mention the additions of Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel — the first iteration of the MCU is complete, a perfect time to reflect on the best of the best movie franchise ever.

My opinions have changed over time, in part as a reflection of how the entire franchise has shifted. Yet there are still constants, as well. The rankings reflect all of that.

So check out the 2019 edition of THE TOP 13 MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE MOVIES — and yes, there are SPOILERS.

Oh, and most definitely click here for 13 QUICK THOUGHTS ON AVENGERS: ENDGAME.

13. Ant-Man. On the strength of Paul Rudd’s considerable charm.

12. Guardians of the Galaxy. I liked Guardians when it came out but wasn’t part of the cult that called it the second coming of Star Wars. (It’s not.) Some of the jokes are forced and it’s a little too pleased with itself but the movie holds up well on the whole.

11. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The first one is probably better but I still like this one more. Kurt Russell’s great as Ego and it gets huge points for making Brandy — one of the absolute greatest of ’70s one-hit wonders — into a central plot point. I was genuinely moved by the ending and its message that the family you build can be more meaningful than the family you inherited.

10. Spider-Man: Homecoming. An all-around fun movie that deftly inserts Spidey into the MCU. At the same time, it unfortunately eschews a lot of the classic Spider-Man trappings. Michael Keaton is terrific — one of the better villains in the MCU. Looking forward to Far From Home this summer.

9. Black Panther. The first MCU flick to become a bona fide cultural phenomenon – and the first to be nominated for Best Picture. Black Panther has earned all its plaudits: It’s a terrific movie, whether you’re looking at it from a cultural or pop cultural standpoint. Michael B. Jordan absolutely burns up the screen as Killmonger.

8. Iron Man. The more the years go on, the more I see the seams. But there’s no doubting Robert Downey Jr.’s megawatt charisma — or the role this movie played in building this franchise. It also takes on new impact given the ending of Endgame. On the whole, I think the Iron Man movies are among the weakest of the entire series but this one still packs a punch.

7. Captain America: The First Avenger. I’ve said this before: Cinematically speaking, Superman’s heir doesn’t wear a cape. He carries a shield. It’s weird to think now that fans were so alarmed when Chris “Human Torch” Evans was cast as Captain America but that brilliant move was on a par with Christopher Reeve’s choice as the Man of Steel. The writers and directors craft Cap’s moral compass but Evans embodies it with his quiet, compassionate performances.

6. Captain America: Civil War. One of the most serious entries in the series, Civil War deals head on with the question that a lot of these kinds of movies (and comics) like to ask: What if superheroes actually existed? What would their impact on the world be? Civil War addresses these questions with nuance and sophistication, alternating the viewpoint between Cap’s stoic independence and Tony’s anguish.

5. The Avengers. When I walked out of The Avengers the first time I saw it, I actually said, “I haven’t been that excited at the movies since Star Wars.” And it was true. It was an ecstatic experience and of all the MCU’s movies, it’s probably the one I’ve seen the most. Thing is, the more I see it, the more I find things that that rub me the wrong way — largely the often cutesy dialogue. I can see it being passed by Civil War at some point, but it’s still a terrific movie.

4. Thor: Ragnarok. Purists may scoff, but it’s the funniest of all the MCU movies and a turning point for both Thor and the Hulk – who, it’s made clear here, both work best as comic foils and fish out of water. Ragnarok is bright, cheerful, hilarious and eminently watchable.

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This is a great movie. Just flat-out great. A lot of the Marvel flicks have secondary themes: The First Avenger is a period piece/war film; Ant-Man is a caper; Doctor Strange is a mystical adventure; and so on. The Winter Soldier is a ’70s-style paranoid espionage thriller — and Robert Redford’s casting puts the exclamation point on that. Brilliantly paced by the Russo Brothers, with sharp performances by Evans and Scarlett Johansson. This movie crackles.

2. Avengers: Infinity War. It’s kind of hard to separate this from Endgame, but given the two, I have to put this second since it’s an incomplete story – even if that’s by design. Nevertheless, the Russo Brothers seamlessly shift between characters, filling every scene with import and many of them with emotional weight. The center holds: The movie is serious when it needs to be and hilarious when the moment calls for it — and the movie never slips its axis. Brilliantly conceived and executed, Infinity War set a new standard for the MCU — and deserves mention with the greatest blockbusters of all time.

1. Avengers: Endgame. On the strength of the final act alone. Given the stakes and the length, the film is surprisingly light a lot of the time, with plenty of laughs amid the cosmic consequences. In some respects, Infinity War is tighter, and you’d better not think too hard about all the time travel, but Endgame’s finale is as good a finish as you could possibly want from a franchise that features 22 interconnected movies. A soaring epic befitting a brilliantly executed franchise.



— The MARVEL MOVIES: What to Watch — and What to Skip. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Great list Dan. I tend to agree with a good chunk of it. Nice to see the Cap movies, which I think are the strongest franchise within the franchise, all show up here.


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  2. This is my list:

    1.) Captain America – The Winter Soldier
    2.) Guardians of the Galaxy
    3.) Avengers: Infinity War
    4.) Avengers: End Game
    5.) Captain America: The First Avenger
    6.) The Avengers
    7.) Iron Man

    And the rest – most enjoyable, but none of them special. BTW, I think “Captain America: Civil War” is an awful movie, an absolute disaster. Say what you want about “Batman vs. Superman,” at least the tone of the movie matched its dark theme. Not so with Civil War, where we get jokes and wisecracks among the crippled super heroes and the ones sent to concentration camps.

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  3. Great list, but would put Winter Soldier #1 just on the tight and lean feel of the film. It never missed a beat and had some of the best fight scenes ever. Plus any movie that makes Cap kick butt is always great. Endgame really tied up everything so greatly. Damn, every time Iron Man and/or Cap were on screen the movie was amazing! And Thor was right…”I knew it!”

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