It's crazy to think that as of right now, there are a grand total of 10 Marvel Cinematic Universe films, starting with Iron Man in 2008 and going up until now, on the eve of the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Over the next five years, 11 more films will join them, featuring heroes like Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange. Even Spider-Man, the longtime poster boy for Marvel, will finally be joining the line-up.
That's a lot of Marvel. By 2020 there will be more than 20 interconnected films starring all manner of heroes and villains ripped straight from the pages of Marvel comics.
It's a little intimidating.
So before things get real crazy, we figured we would go ahead and take a look back at Marvel Cinematic Universe and rank them from worst to best as it stands now. Enjoy, and rest assured that this list will very, very quickly become outdated.
10. Thor: The Dark World
The problem with Thor: The Dark World is that it is completely forgettable. Aside from a few scene-stealing moments from Tom Hiddleston's Loki, there is simply nothing going on here. Mean Dark Elves want to destroy Earth. Natalie Portman finds an evil red rock. Thor must stop the Dark Elves and save Natalie Portman. If this had been Loki: The Dark World it would have been worth seeing, but Chris Hemsworth simply wasn't enough to elevate this completely unremarkable film.
9. Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3 is by far the most compelling reason for why Iron Man 4 should never be made. This whole paragraph could be dedicated to the film's complete butchering of the Mandarin, but instead we will focus how on the film revolves around exploding people and the fact the entire second act revolves around Tony Stark getting lost in rural Tennessee. Moving on.
8. The Incredible Hulk
Look, The Incredible Hulk is by no means one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe films, but it is at least fun. Edward Norton does a great job portraying a tortured Bruce Banner (even if he was replaced in Avengers by Mark Ruffalo), but at the end of the day the Hulk is the star of the show, and The Incredible Hulk doesn't disappoint in that department. It has plenty of hard hitting action as Hulk punches and kicks his enemies around like ragdolls. You can't ask for much more than that.
7. Iron Man 2
The biggest problem with Iron Man as a franchise is that it simply can't produce any memorable villains. Case in point: Iron Man 2. Russian scientist Ivan Vanko (or Whiplash, if you prefer) is cool for the few moments he is on screen, but fails to present any real threat to Tony. Instead, the film's climax revolves around Iron Man and War Machine joining forces to battle a bunch of AI-controlled robots before dispatching Whiplash in a brief confrontation. Not the most exciting conclusion, but the film serves as an important one on this list for helping set up the foundation for the Marvel Cinematic universe to come, including Thor, S.H.I.E.L.D. and introducing Tony's dad, Howard Stark.
6. Captain America: The First Avenger
You can't have a Marvel Cinematic Universe without Captain America, and that's just what this film set out to do. It's definitely the odd-ball of the Marvel film's as a result. The bulk of the film takes place in the 1940's during World War II, as Steve and his band of Howling Commandos wreck havoc behind enemy lines, battling it out against Hugo Weaving's Red Skull and Hydra. We also get to see Captain America: The Musical, a brilliant work of American war propaganda which honestly by itself is worth watching the film for. It's a strange mixture of World War II period piece combined with pure science fiction, but it is the fact that the film is so different which helps it stand apart from the rest of the pack.
Chris Hemsworth was born to play Thor. He brings such charm and gravitas to the character that it's hard to remember that he is not, in fact, the god of thunder. He is the main reason Thor's solo outing works so well. As a standalone film, Thor works better than most of the others on this list. It has a great cast of side characters in the form of Thor's companions and his father Odin, it manages to be equally dramatic and hilarious, and it isn't so caught up in the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that it requires knowledge of what came before.
4. Iron Man
The film that started it all. Who would have guessed that Iron Man, a Marvel hero mostly unknown to mainstream audiences, would be the character that would serve as the building block for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe? Of course there is a reason for its success: Iron Man is simply a good movie. Robert Downey Jr. kills it as Tony Stark, and the modern retelling of Iron Man's origin story hits all the right notes. And unlike most superhero films, where the hero's identity is long kept a secret from the world, Tony's declaration to the world that he was Iron Man let audiences know this wasn't the kind of superhero they grew up with. It was the start of a new age.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy appeared on a number of "predicted bomb" lists in 2014, but the Marvel faithful knew the film was bound to be something special. How could a film starring Vin Diesel as a Tree Ent in space and Bradley Cooper as a talking raccoon with a gun be a massive success? Okay, we understand the skepticism, but once word of mouth starting spreading Guardians of the Galaxy was impossible to stop. Funny yet sincere, personal yet breathtaking in scope, it is a classic space opera the likes of which we haven't seen since the first Star Wars. Which is why we will be getting a second one.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
It is in Captain America's second film that Marvel truly proved they knew what they were doing. The Marvel Cinematic Universe was a vast canvas on which films of all kinds, all genres, could come together united by a common thread. Captain America: The Winter Soldier brought that vision to life. The film plays out not like a superhero film, but an espionage thriller, filled with shocking betrayals and intense shootouts. But it's all wrapped in a familiar Marvel package. Hydra is there, as is S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury. Even Bucky Barnes returns. It's classic comic book goodness presented in a truly fresh and exciting way. If this film's quality is any indication, fans are in for a treat when directors Anthony and Joe Russo return for not only Captain America: Civil War but for the two-part Avengers: Infinity War as well.
1. The Avengers
Simply put: nothing beats seeing Hawkeye, Black Widow, Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America all on the same screen at once. It was a dream come true for many a comic fan when it released in 2012, all brought to life with Joss Whedon's signature focus on witty writing and character relationships. The Avengers at the time was the culmination of all of Marvel's film efforts. Years of planning had gone into its creation, and as a result we knew these characters from their respective films.
We know the universe. We knew the stakes. And finally, we watched as the heroes of our childhood came together against impossible odds to save the Earth. Each piece clicked into place perfectly to create the quintessential superhero movie, one that will have a hard time ever being dethroned. Plus, it had quite possibly the best post-credits stinger in the history of film.
What is your favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe film? Disagree with our list? Where would you rank Iron Man 3? Let us know in the comments below.