Flickering Myth ranks the Marvel Cinematic Universe…
Kicking off back in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe now contains a whopping fourteen movies, two TV shows and three Netflix series with more coming our way next year. We’ve seen the formation of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., the rise of Ultron and the introduction of everyone’s favourite wall-crawler.
With the release of Doctor Strange, the Marvel Cinematic Universe now stands at nineteen entries so we decided to rank each and every one of them. The last time we did this, Guardians of the Galaxy took the top spot facing stiff competition from The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Solider – can it retain the number one position?
A few rules: TV series count as one entry. So both seasons of Daredevil count as one, as do all three seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Movies, on the other hand, are their own entries.
So let’s get this underway. This is the 2016 edition of Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
19. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (57 points)
At rock bottom of most people’s lists, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a really exciting prospect when it first premiered a few years ago. Following the groundbreaking team-up of The Avengers, comic book fans were ready to lap up a Joss Whedon-esque TV show based in the same universe to continue the ground-level adventures. Sadly what we got was a very mediocre show with bland characters and uninteresting storylines. Those who stuck with it will tell you the show improved during season two, and the inclusion of Ghost Rider may have piqued the interest of some going into the third season – but unfortunately it’s right at the bottom of our list.
18. Agent Carter (71 points)
Agent Carter is a really funny one. It was a show that came with a lot of hype and a huge surge of interest, but no one tuned in to watch it. As such, ABC decided to cancel the show after its second season. So what did fans do? Complain about their favourite show getting booted off the air. But if those fans were so passionate when the show was on and actually watched it, maybe we’d still be getting more adventures from Peggy Carter and Edwin Jarvis?
Worse still, for all the bemoaning of its cancellation, it was very low down everyone’s lists which is why it’s around 20 points ahead of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and five points off the entry above it. So, clearly no one really cared about the show.
17. Iron Man 2 (76 points)
When we did the rankings back in 2014, Iron Man 2 was right at the bottom of the movie pack and its repeated that ‘success’ once again. It’s a real shame, really. Iron Man 2 was a victim of the previous studio methods of comic book movies: announcing a sequel because the first one was successful without taking into account how it would fit into the wider picture of the MCU. As such, it’s a place-holder movie while we sat around waiting for Thor and Captain America to show up so we could get to The Avengers. It features an amazing cast including Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell, but both are completely wasted. Rourke has even spoken very negatively about the movie since its release.
It’s a forgotten movie in the pantheon of the MCU, and it’s probably best that way.
16. Thor: The Dark World (103 points)
Surprisingly low on the list is the second outing for The God of Thunder with Thor: The Dark World. Perhaps it was a combination of coming after The Avengers and Iron Man 3, but something out this entry into the MCU just didn’t resonate with fans. Former Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston is once again a wasted talent as the poorly-developed Malekith, and Game of Thrones helmer Alan Taylor showed that he was out of his depth when given a big-budget picture. In fact it was revealed that Joss Whedon took over duties towards the end of the production.
It’s interesting to see that this is the second sequel on our list already and we’re only four entries in. I wonder if this is a trend that will continue (spoilers: it won’t).
15. The Incredible Hulk (104 points)
It’s the black sheep of the MCU because its existence sort of creates holes in the timeline, but the Edward Norton starring The Incredible Hulk still has some fans. Well, fans who liked it more than Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World at the very least. It’s an interesting movie to look back at with hindsight, as it sews the seeds for an Avengers movie that would never see the light of day: one where Hulk is the villain and Iron Man recruits Captain America and Thor to take him down. The post-credit sequence which sees Tony Stark and Thunderbolt Ross is fascinating, but worthless once the MCU fully kicked into gear following Iron Man 2. We wouldn’t see Thunderbolt Ross again until Captain America: Civil War, and even then this interaction is never played upon.
It’s also interesting to think how the MCU would have played out had Norton stayed on and not demanded so much.
14. Luke Cage (110 points)
The first Netflix show to hit our list, and its the most recent. Luke Cage debuted only a couple of months ago and perhaps that explains why its this low down on the list. Although the other way to look at it is that this is a great show, but everything else above it was just slightly better. It wasn’t as gripping as Daredevil or Jessica Jones because it didn’t have that killer villain, but there was a lot to like about Luke Cage. Mike Colter is really great in the title role, and he’s supported brilliantly by Simone Missick as Misty Knight and Theo Rossi as Shades. There are other great supporting roles, and the whole season does a great job of establishing this other side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe away from the glitz and glamour of Tony Stark and Hank Pym.
Perhaps a stronger villain – or at least one who was on par with Kingpin and Purple Man – and Luke Cage could have been a higher entry. Maybe a second season will change the minds of voters when the time comes.
13. Doctor Strange (130 points)
Like Luke Cage, it could be argued that the quite recent release of Doctor Strange is the reason it is the lowest post-Avengers introduction movie. On the other hand, perhaps its middle of the table appearance is indicative of its rather middling quality. Doctor Strange, directed by the fabulous Scott Derrickson, promised a lot from its visuals but delivered a rather flat story and another in a long line of dreary villains. That’s not to say the movie didn’t have its fans, but once again it feels like Doctor Strange was pushed down because the caliber of films above it was so much higher.
We’re going to be seeing more of the Sorcerer Supreme in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War as well as his inevitable sequel, so time will tell (no pun intended) if Doctor Strange can have more of an impact in future votes.
12. Iron Man 3 (153 points)
There aren’t many other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that split opinion quite like Iron Man 3. There are those who love Shane Black’s noir-ish take on Tony Stark outside of the suit of armour, and then there those who hate the ‘Mandarin twist’ feeling that it added too much comedy. On a personal note, I remember seeing one of the first press screenings of the movie and being aghast when the twist happened, wondering just how the comic book audience would react to such a drastic change in character. On repeat watchings I think its sort-of genius, but I can see why some reacted badly to it.
Numbers can’t be argued with, however, as Iron Man 3 was the second movie in the MCU to cross the $1 billion mark. And it only missed out on beating the next entries by three points. With that said, its final act is a bit rubbish.
Click next to see the what ranked next…