A college of all the MCU movie posters (Emma Allen)
A college of all the MCU movie posters

Emma Allen

The Top 5 MCU Movies

March 9, 2021

Hey movie lovers! Welcome to (or back to) our column. Today, we will give our personal rankings of the top five films currently in the MCU as of March 2021. There are currently 23 films in the ever expansive MCU franchise, but some of them just stand out above the others. Remember, these are just our personal opinions. Feel free to leave comments if your opinion differs. Also, this is not completely spoiler free, so beware of spoilers! 

  1. Ant-Man (2015; 117 mins) 

Starting off our list is, surprisingly, Ant-Man. Our opinion of the movie differs from the general public’s opinion, as it has a very different tone from other MCU films. At first, the idea of a superhero called Ant-Man seems a little silly, but we like the way it was executed. Through his skills and story of an unlikely hero, Scott Lang has made a different impression of the idea of a superhero. 

Ant-Man may not seem as interesting as Spider-Man, but the idea of shrinking technology is fascinating. The eccentric personality and overall impression of Hank Pym, creator of the Pym Particle, and Hope Van Dyne’s professional demeanour, perfectly contrasts the lax attitude of Scott. Scott’s three questionable friends effortlessly integrate people of color into the story without feeling forced. They bring a fun and friendly tone to the film while moving the plot along at the same time. 

The villain, Darren Cross, is a little in your face, but is fun to root against. Also, we can’t forget Scott’s tiny helpers: a massive army of ants that add a fun aspect to the story. We never thought a movie would be able to make someone care about the tragic death of an ant, but this one does. The most heart wrenching part of the movie may have been the last moments of Ant-thony the Ant.

It’s surprising that a heist movie revolving around an army of ants, four ex-cons, a disgraced scientist, his detached daughter, a keychain, Thomas the Tank Engine, and an eight-year old girl could have stopped an unhinged madman with a score to settle. In general, the movie itself is executed in a way that makes it fun for all. The humor mixed into the climactic scenes adds to the character of Scott Lang and brings a lighthearted touch on the usually serious film in the superhero genre. 

 

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014; 122 mins) 

Next up on our list is Guardians of the Galaxy. Unlike any superhero movie seen in the MCU before, Guardians of the Galaxy takes the viewer away from Earth and into the cosmos. Often, many origin stories that seem a little too expositional, this movie jumps straight into action. The way the five characters with no connection to each other whatsoever come together to form a rag-tag group of space outlaws given the name “guardians of the galaxy” by the villain of the movie of all people. 

Speaking of which, war-hungry renegade, Ronan the Accuser, takes dictatorship to the next level, and we can’t forget that this movie really sets up the future threat of Thanos. In addition to Thanos, this movie also introduces something else of great importance to the MCU: the power stone. 

You would think that this movie would make audiences feel “alienated” and unable to connect with any of the characters as they are deep in space and surrounded by colorful companions. The one human, Peter Quill, gives the viewing all the Earth needed with his extremely human tendencies. 

This movie does a phenomenal job with character development and the way the teams bands together despite their original squabbles of the characters. Initially most of the characters want nothing to do with each other — some even hate each other — but by the end of the film, they are the closest of friends.  In addition, this movie features an epic jailbreak scene that really brings the team together for the first time.

Just like Ant-Man, this movie features a raccoon, a tree, an assassin, a thug, and a thief, which proves this movie shows anyone can be a hero. With humor unlike any other film in the MCU along with an unforgettable soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy makes it as the number four movie in our list. 

 

  1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014; 136 mins) 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes slot three in our rankings. Similar to the previous two entries, this movie took the form of an unconventional superhero movie as the situation forces Captain America to follow the actions usually taken in a thrilling spy movie, which the two of us thoroughly enjoyed. 

The shocking twists showcased in this film were masterfully executed in a captivating way that kept us intrigued. Although the head of the evil institution isn’t the most interesting villain, the “trust no one” premise fills the film with thoughts of doom. The most shocking revelation, however, could not be anything other than the reveal of the Winter Soldier as Bucky Barns, who had been brainwashed into becoming the “new fist of HYDRA” by Arnim Zola. Speaking of which, the way Zola was preserved, especially the line “You are standing in my brain” made the already creepy feel of the character that much more unnerving. 

Despite being seemingly dead for a majority of the film, Nick Fury had multiple memorable scenes in this movie that are forever ingrained in our minds. One of which includes an epic car chase scene that showcases a fierce intensity that has no rival. Another of which is the thrilling line “you need to keep both eyes open.” Nick Fury managed to share some of the spotlight with Cap and his crew. The opening scene and highway scenes, for example, bring a different type of epicness to the MCU. 

The unlikely friendship that formed between Russian assassin Black Widow and Captain America made the movie so much more enjoyable, especially for us girls. We found it very refreshing that a female superhero could be partnered with the male lead and not have a romantic relationship with him. Black Widow’s independence and cleverness was just energizing to watch overall. When the conditions seemed bleak, Captain America turned to a new friend Sam Wilson. Sam’s character brought more than originally anticipated, as he brings a sarcastic, lighthearted tone to the otherwise intense movie. Falcon is arguably one of the best flyers in the MCU as he does not rely on Stark technology. Together this trio blossomed into a friendship that we watched unfold in following films. 

With impeccable action scenes, this movie thrills audience members to the core. It’s fun to see Captain America forced to uncover dark secrets that have been planted ages ago and under the cover of S.H.I.E.L.D. have grown into a more powerful weapon capable of killing trilions. Movie-goers, as well as ourselves, love untangling a complex network of lies and unearthing a truth that shocks us to the core along with Captain America. Surrounded by mystery and intrigue combined with the loveable cast of characters, The Winter Soldier’s spy-adventure must place it at number three on our list. 

 

  1. Avengers: Endgame (2019; 181 mins) 

As one of the final installments of Phase Three of the MCU, Avengers:Endgame made it worth the wait with the perfect end to an era. Avengers: Endgame showcased many heroes from previous movies in the MCU and brought a much-anticipated end to the Infinity Saga after 10 long years. Despite being just over three hours long, there is not a single dull moment in this riveting movie. This movie has some massive bombshells, which include the death of Thanos in the first half hour of the film and the words, “five years later” that follow.

With the Avengers team disheartened, depressed, and going through different stages of mourning  after the events in Infinity War, we cannot help but to feel their pain with them. The bleak atmosphere of these scenes really helps the audience sympathize with the characters and wonder what could happen to amend this feeling. 

Of the 1 out of 14,000,605 outcomes, the one that results in success for the Avengers features one of our favorites, Scott Lang, in the middle of it all. His presence, along with Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye), fill the void left by Infinity War. This movie also introduced a new(ish) character: Smart Hulk. Though a fun concept, we thought Smart Hulk wasn’t very well explained and thought out. Smart Hulk did have a purpose, however, as he did bring back those lost in the previous film. There were other major character changes including Thor’s depressed characterization, which included a major weight gain. 

The “time heist” sequence brought the audience through all eleven years of previous MCU movies in a new and exciting way, bringing the audience joy, nostalgia, thrills, and anticipation for the next moment. Shockingly and surprisingly, the Avengers manage to pull off time travel with a few fun compromises and twists. However, as stated by Tony Stark,“when you mess with time, it tends to mess back.” 

In a blissful moment, just as the world seems to finally be calm, Thanos comes through the time portal and destroys the Avengers Compound. Though the build up to this was obvious, we did not expect such a blatant offense against the Avengers. The water flooding the lower levels, the building collapsing onto them, and the fear of what caused this catastrophe all made for a super tense buildup, but nothing can compare to the three vs one fight going on beyond the wreckage. 

Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America go to confront Thanos in a breathtaking fight. Throughout this battle, we could both feel and hear our hearts, rapidly beating in our chests as we gripped the edge of our seats in the darkened movie theatre. 

One moment in particular that had audiences screeching with joy, is when Captain America managed to wield Mjönir. In addition, when Thor and Iron Man are momentarily incapacitated, there is a nail-biting moment where Steve appears willing to fight Thanos and his entire army alone. There is an astounding wide shot in the film where Steve is standing on a hill opposite the entire army with streaks of light shining through the cloudy horizon that is tear-inducingly beautiful.

The spectacular reveal of the rest of the MCU ensemble that followed this shot might have brought tears to our eyes. With Stark leading the aerial warriors and Rogers leading the ground warriors, the entire array of heroes charge Thanos’s army following Cap’s declaration of, “Avengers assemble!”  Although it might be quite lengthy and full of dozens of  characters, this fight scene kept our eyes glued to the screens the entire time and managed to highlight each individual.

One big thing that irks us about this film is the lack of a funeral for Black Widow, who has been in the MCU for almost as long as Tony. Although Tony’s sacrifice was a powerful moment in the film, Natasha did the exact same thing and deserved to be remembered and respected for it. 

Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Josh Brolin all brought satisfactory ends to their much-beloved roles of Iron Man, Captain America, and Thanos respectively. This gave a grand finale and farewell to the characters millions of fans, including the two of us, had grown to know and love. The story, the visual aesthetics, the music, and the anticipation all added up to Avengers: Endgame becoming one of the best Marvel movies of all time. 

 

  1. Iron Man (2008; 126 mins) 

The success of Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a bang. Robert Downey Jr. brought the character of Tony Stark alive. There aren’t many negatives to be said about this movie. The plot, the dialogue, the casting, the performances, and the visual effects, do a spectacular job of investing viewers into what will soon be a 23-movie long franchise. 

This movie portrays the beginning of the Iron Man evolution. It shows the way Stark tackles new problems and learns from his mistakes. Tony Stark’s tech transformation can be seen throughout the other MCU films. Seeing Stark’s incredible mind at work as he designs the first Iron Man suit is fascinating to watch. Every moment, from the test drives to the failures, is filled with fun and joy. 

Although Tony Stark clearly takes the main stage as the superior character of the film,  the side characters don’t fail to disappoint. These characters perfectly contrast the loud and cheeky personality of Tony Stark. First, we have Happy Hogan, the tired chauffeur whose overall demeanor and exasperation brings a smile to everyone’s face. Next, there’s Pepper Potts, Tony’s personal assistant who refuses to take no for an answer, and will not take the orders of any man.

Of course, the genius of Tony Stark gifted him the ability to create an AI system that brings its own life to the table. J.A.R.V.I.S. takes the narrator’s job of delivering expositional facts. The voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. is soothing and a calm presence throughout the movie. Almost all of the people in Tony’s life are constantly trying to keep Tony in check and just keep him alive in general, including his little robot. Of course being designed by Tony Stark has its perks. Dum-E has a silly personality that makes him seem like a child to Stark. He does his best to help his creator, even if he is not entirely sure of his wants.

The special effects in this movie are phenomenal, especially for being from 2008. Not just any movie could handle epic sky battles between two men in full robotic armor and make it look realistic, but Iron Man manages to pull it off. Another awesome moment is when Iron Man shots a shoulder missile at a tank which explodes behind him as he walks off in style; it is an iconic moment that showcases the skill of the special effects team. 

The villain in this movie is unexpectedly good for it being the first film of the franchise. He has motive, is personable, has a connection to Tony, and is willing to go to great lengths to get what he wants. When we first watched this film, we did not anticipate Obidiah Stane being the mastermind behind the kidnapping at the beginning of the film. 

This movie is at the top of the list because it started the entire universe with a film unlike any other. It is a movie of introductions and it sets up precedents for future MCU movies. S.H.I.E.L.D, Nick Fury, Agent Coulson, and motives for future villains are all introduced in this film. Iron Man brought any superhero fan’s dreams to life when it kicked off a new era to the idea of a comic book film. Every aspect of the film ranging from the villain to the action scenes are enticing and create a nearly perfect superhero film. 

 

The MCU has been growing and expanding for the past eleven years, and it continues to pull in new fans. Every new movie brings something new and exciting to the floor. What did you think of our rankings? We know some of our opinions are a little unconventional, but they happen to be our favorites. There can be a good argument for why so many other films could make it into the top five, and we would love to hear them! If your opinions differ, please leave a comment below. 

 

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