10-. Thor / Avengers: Age of Ultron (156 points)
In joint tenth place, it’s Thor and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Poor ol’ Ultron. It had so much hype and promise, but for some reason audiences just didn’t connect to it. Perhaps it was a case of sequel-itis, perhaps it was just another bad villain. Who knows? All we know is that it’s middle of the pack here in the Flickering Myth rankings.
But, like Iron Man 3, it’s $1 billion box office receipt shows that people were excited to see it and likely saw it multiple times. It will always be remembered for its bizarre press tour too, with Whedon seemingly dismissing the movie before it was released and Jeremy Renner upsetting the Internet by calling Black Widow a “slut”. When I was at the press screening for the movie, Whedon came out on stage and said, “I fucking hate this movie”. Of course, he was talking about the fact he’d spent so long working on it, but there was clearly something behind those comments as he left the MCU shortly thereafter.
Thor, on the other hand, certainly has its fans with some thinking its the best solo entry in Phase One. Although, that would be hard to claim when there are a couple of other solo movies above it in our list.
Quite recently the chaps over at Cinematic Universe talked very positively about the film, and its easy to see why. It’s a lot of fun with a very charming central performance from Chris Hemsworth, who was only just beginning to show what a great comedic talent he is. He told an amazing story on the press tour that on his first day on set, he showed up in costume and stood next to Anthony Hopkins as Odin who turned to him and said, “there’s no acting required here” because the costumes will do all the hard work. Hopkins is great.
Looking back at the Phase One movies with hindsight it would easy to overlook Thor, but that would be a mistake.
9. Jessica Jones (184 points)
In at the number nine spot is our second Netflix series, Jessica Jones. Although we had all come to expect a more darker edge to the MCU following Daredevil, there was something about Jessica Jones that was more ‘adult’. Perhaps it was the sex scenes or cursing, but it was a show not designed for the kiddies queuing up to see Captain America.
A fantastic central performance from Krysten Ritter coupled with an amazing showing from David Tennent made Jessica Jones ‘must-see’, even if the latter half of the show dragged. Many have complained that the Netflix shows are ‘too long’ and the thirteen episode format stifles the storytelling, and Jessica Jones is a good example of that. Perhaps the shorter seasons of The Punisher and The Defenders will fix these issues moving forward.
It was a fantastic show, though, and there is a lot of intriguing set-up for season two and The Defenders – especially with Luke Cage dating Clare Temple and the tease of Nuke.
8. Captain America: The First Avenger (200 points)
Surprisingly high on the MCU rankings is the first outing for Steve Rogers, Captain America: The First Avenger. Seriously, I didn’t think it would be this high. It’s a deserved place though, as Captain America: The First Avenger is a really fun ride and an interesting setting given the rest of the MCU’s pallet. The World War backdrop adds a whole new element to the film, and Joe Johnston’s 90s-aesthetic direction gave it an almost Rocketeer vibe.
Tommy Lee Jones is a great addition to the cast, but its Hayley Atwell that steals the show, pushing Agent Carter to one of the most beloved characters in the whole universe (even though no one watched her spin-off show). Chris Evans looks like he’s having a blast as Cap, and there’s a very nice set-up for not only its sequel, but future additions of the MCU with Bucky Barnes’s death (spoilers).
Many may think the film is too high in the list, but it was actually only two points off 7th place.
7. Ant-Man (202 points)
And that would go to the long gestating Ant-Man. It didn’t fare too well at the box office (earning the second lowest opening of any MCU movie), but Ant-Man found an audience that really appreciated its wacky brand of humour and lovable cast of rogues.
One has to wonder how it would have placed if it was directed by the well-loved Edgar Wright, but that’s another story [you can read all about it here, though]. Having been in development since 2005, Ant-Man was a pre-MCU product that was then struggling to find an identity once the franchise became a billion dollar one. Even its release was weird, as it came right at the end of Phase Two, which was strange seeing as Avengers: Age of Ultron felt like the end of the MCU’s second chapter. It made the film feel like a ginger-headed step-child.
But that didn’t stop Peyton Reed, Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas and the fantastic Michael Pena from working their asses off to make it the best they could. Hell it didn’t make a huge amount of cash, but it set up a sequel in Ant-Man and The Wasp, and Scott Lang had a featured role in Captain America: Civil War. The little guy did good.
6. Daredevil (230 points)
The final Netflix show in the 2016 rankings, and one that is probably unsurprising. When the first season of Daredevil hit our screens last year, it was a breath-taking spectacle. We had become so accustom to the bright and shiny Marvel Cinematic Universe that this dark, dank and dirty product was like a breath of fresh air. It also came at just the right time in terms of villains, giving us the first decent bad guy in an MCU product since Loki in The Avengers. The always tremendous Vincent D’Onofrio excels and shines as The Kingpin (or just Wilson Fisk) with one of the most terrifying performances seen in the MCU to date. He oozes terror with his cool and calm demeanour, that can explode at any time. And it says a lot about D’Onofrio’s performance when you mention him before the stellar showing from Brit Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock. Karen Ann Woll, similarly, is fantastic as Karen Page and the subtle teases of her dark past hint at a direction towards the beloved Born Again storyline.
The second season brought in The Punisher to mix things up, and a brutal performance by Jon Bernthal gave viewers a reason to get excited to see Frank Castle on screen once again. Élodie Yung was another nice addition, but it has been argued that the Elektra portion of Daredevil season two dragged the show down. A third season is on its way, as is a spin-off show for The Punisher, so the Netflix side of the MCU is only going to have a bigger presence in this list going forward.
Click next to see who made it into the top five, and what takes first place…