5. Iron Man (258 points)
The final solo Phase One movie in our list, Iron Man holds a special place in the heart of comic book fans, perhaps because we had become tired of the output being given to us by studios at the time. Spider-Man 3 was a complete mess, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was utter dross, and we’d just had Hulk, Daredevil, Ghost Rider and many other pointless offerings. Only Warner Bros. seemed to have it right with Batman, but anything Marvel related just wasn’t worth the time put in. Then along came Iron Man.
Not only did it breathe new life into a down-and-out Robert Downey Jr., it also gave us hope of a brave new world. Everyone will remember the time they first saw Samuel L. Jackson walk on screen and mention The Avengers, and the excitement that followed it. But even looking past the nostalgic love for it, Iron Man is a damn fine movie. Some may argue that Obadiah Stane was a weak villain (no change there for the MCU), but no one can argue the joy of Tony Stark testing out all of his new equipment. Director Jon Favreau brought an incredible flair to Iron Man, which is why it’s the highest ranked movie for him on our list.
4. Captain America: Civil War (277 points)
What is there to be said about Captain America: Civil War that hasn’t already been said this year? Many mocked it for being Avengers 2.5, others worried there would be too many characters and not enough Cap, but it managed to balance just about everything right – and give us a great villain. This is a Captain America movie. Cap is the lead character, and his relationship with Bucky is the driving force. It builds on everything set up by the MCU before it and gets it so wonderfully right. Even if the film wasn’t littered with great performances, brilliant writing and tremendous excitement, that battle royale in the airport is a comic book come to life. If you didn’t watch it with a huge smile on your face, then comic book movies just aren’t for you. It was pure, unadulterated fun.
And that’s not even going into how great Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo was. In a world where we thought we were only going to get good villains in the Netflix shows and Loki, Zemo comes along and shows us there is still a possibility of great bad guys out there. He’s brilliant because he never gets involved. Everything in the movie is set-up by him, and he’s the puppet master pulling all the strings. There’s a truly wonderful moment when Cap, Iron Man and Winter Solider begin fighting, and he just walks away. For him, his mission is complete. What a fantastic moment in the MCU.
Oh, and we got the best Spider-Man ever.
3. The Avengers (297 points)
The battle for the number one position was tight, with only five points separating third from first, and The Avengers had a big surge in the middle of voting which pushed it all the way into first place. It didn’t hold on to it for long though, even though it topped four writer’s lists. The Avengers was a true cinematic experience, the first time we’d seen major comic book characters from other movies come together for one fantastic film. When it was first teased in 2008’s Iron Man it didn’t seem possible, but we saw it in 2012 in all of its glory. Director Joss Whedon balanced the huge cast of characters and created a very enjoyable blockbuster. The final act against the Chitari in New York is still jaw-dropping to this day and holds up remarkably well, even when bigger things have taken place in the MCU.
It was also the movie that proved the formula worked. Making solo movies for all of the characters then bringing them together spurred a change in the studio system – especially when The Avengers made over $1 billion worldwide. Suddenly everyone wanted their own Cinematic Universe. DC announced plans to adapt Man of Steel to be the first part of a build to Justice League, Universal developed a shared Monsters Universe, Sony started to work on a Cinematic Universe for Spider-Man (that went no where). Whatever you think of The Avengers, you cannot argue its place in cinema history.
With that said, it wasn’t good enough – by Flickering Myth’s standards – to take first place.
2. Captain America: The Winter Solider (300 points)
And neither was Captain America: The Winter Solider, despite holding onto the top spot for the longest time. When we started the voting, Captain America: The Winter Solider was running away with it to the point where I wondered if anything would come close. It topped seven of our writer’s lists (including my own) and if it wasn’t first it was usually second or third. In fact if it hadn’t been for several late votes, this would have won.
Many hearkened Captain America: The Winter Solider to a 70s espionage thriller, with incredible twists and turns along the way. It’s not just a Captain America movie, it’s a Steve Rogers movie and his battles with living in the present day and working inside S.H.I.E.L.D. It also built on the relationship with Bucky Barnes, who reemerges as his new nemesis The Winter Solider, and teases a love affair with Black Widow – which was then forgotten about in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
It was also the movie that showed Marvel and Disney were right taking a risk on The Russo Brothers. Coming from a TV background, many wondered whether they’d collapse under the pressure just as Alan Taylor did, but Anthony and Joe Russo shone, securing themselves another directing gig with Captain America: Civil War but also the next two Avengers movies following the departure of Joss Whedon.
But while it was leading the pack for so long, it lost out on the crown by just two points. Two points.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy (302 points)
Winning our rankings for its second straight vote, Guardians of the Galaxy is the best movie in the MCU according to Flickering Myth.
It’s a movie that came out of left-field. When Marvel announced it as part of Phase Two it raised more questions than excitement. Guardians of the Galaxy was, at best, a Z-list comic book property having only appeared fleetingly in the 1970s and mid-90s (you know, that dark period for Marvel when they nearly went bankrupt). But when James Gunn unveiled the first trailer for his space opera, people stood up and took notice. The perfect blend of comedy, heart and a fantastic hand-picked soundtrack made Guardians of the Galaxy stand out from not just the MCU but the blockbuster crowd. It’s a movie that could have only come from James Gunn, a man who cut his teeth at low-budget schlock house Troma. Chris Pratt is great, Zoe Saldana is great, David Bautista is great, Bradley Cooper is great, Vin Diesel is great – everyone is great! Well, apart from Ronan.
While Guardians of the Galaxy topped six our of writer’s lists (one less than Captain America: The Winter Solider), it was always high up. It was destined to come third or second, but a huge surge in late votes pushed it into first place – and a worthy winner of Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe 2016 Edition.
So, here’s the full rankings:
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
3. The Avengers
4. Captain America: Civil War
5. Iron Man
8. Captain America: The First Avenger
9. Jessica Jones
10. Avengers: Age of Ultron
12. Iron Man 3
13. Doctor Strange
14. Luke Cage
15. The Incredible Hulk
16. Thor: The Dark World
17. Iron Man 2
18. Agent Carter
19. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
And here’s what our writers voted for as their favourite film:
Luke Owen – Captain America: The Winter Solider
Matthew Skeen – Captain America: The Winter Solider
AJ Black – The Avengers
Anghus Houvouras – Daredevil
Ozzy Armstrong – Captain America: The Winter Solider
Mark Bartlett – Captain America: The Winter Solider
Sean Wilson – Iron Man
James Garcia – Guardians of the Galaxy
Helen Murdoch – Captain America: The Winter Solider
Samuel Brace – Daredevil
Eric-Bay Anderson – The Avengers
Liam Hoofe – Guardians of the Galaxy
Justin Cook – Captain America: The Winter Solider
Kirsty Capes – The Avengers
Gary Collinson – The Avengers
Jake Peffer – Captain America: Civil War
Rob Kojder – Guardians of the Galaxy
Eddy Gardiner – Guardians of the Galaxy
Kieran Fisher – Guardians of the Galaxy
Mark Clark – Captain America: The Winter Solider
Villordsutch – Guardians of the Galaxy
When we come to the 2017 rankings, we’ll be able to add Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, as well as TV shows The Punisher, Iron Fist and The Defenders. It’s going to be a very interesting – and busy – vote.