Yep. All 23 of them! There were more than a few factors to take into account when ranking these films, including production quality, general like-ability, the films’ villains, cultural impact, and more. These are the official power rankings from Top Shelf Takes. Be warned! Spoilers ahead!
Let’s get right into it.
23. The Incredible Hulk
This one placed last should not need much explaining, but I’ll bite. As the second ever MCU film in 2008, the idea for this entire cinematic universe hadn’t been hatched before the writing and filming began on Hulk. It is evident as there is little-to-no connection with the rest of the MCU. Its one redeeming quality is that it obviously introduced Hulk, which became a great character even if it wasn’t originally played by America’s father, Mark Ruffalo.
22. Thor: The Dark World
This movie sucked overall. The first time I saw it I actually fell asleep in the movie theather. The dark elves were a slow, Star Wars – esque race. The folklore, mythological explanation for them was a huge copout to add a new villain with little other background information… and why did NO ONE question the coincidence that the one person on Earth Thor knows ends up hosting the Aether? We do stan Natalie Portman, though.
21. Avengers: Age of Ultron
This movie was well-anticipated as the second Avengers film, and I was not a huge fan of the direction it went as far as the villain goes. Stark and Banner created it themselves. I mean, they are from Earth and the movie takes place in 2015… I know they had to have seen the Terminator or I,Robot. We end up losing Thor and Hulk for a while after this movie too, and this movie marks the end of Thor and Jane Foster. Nobody really knows why, but it does. That’s sad news bears. The good things this movie provide the MCU are that the big dawg JARVIS got a body creating Vision (whom can lift Mjolnir with ease???), the Mind Stone was introduced, and Scarlett Witch, our overpowered queen started playing for the home tea
20. Iron Man 2
I mean, yeah, this movie happened.
19. Spider-Man: Far From Home
With this being the first post-Endgame film, we obviously needed a good explanation of how the world has reacted to half the population disappearing for 5 years. This movie did pretty well to show that. Jake Gyllenhaal played an interesting character. What started as a good side-kick for Spider-Man ended up being a more greedy hero, and then we realize he is more like an Elon Musk meets Virtual Reality type villain. A villain causing havoc so he can save the day? Didn’t hate it, but there are definitely 18 better MCU films, so here we are. Unrelated to the film’s content, I am shipping a Zendaya / Tom Holland irl relationship.
18. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
An entire movie dedicated to Peter Quill’s daddy issues. Was it cool to see Quill’s celestial powers and did it set up GOTG 3? Yeah. Do we love a kid from Missouri guarding the galaxy? Yeah. Was this movie totally necessary in the MCU? Probably not.
17. Ant-Man and the Wasp
This movie could have also been called, “Scott Lang: Family Man.” His love for his daughter and Hope are what drive this film home for many viewers. I enjoyed the subplots of this film because of the moral strains we saw. Bill Foster, while just trying to help Ghost, fights with Hank Pym, just trying to bring his wife back from the quantum realm, all while the actual villain, Sonny Burch, fights with everyone to steal Hank’s lab and life’s work. Burch is just a human with truth serum, though. At the end of the day, he shouldn’t have been as big of a rival for Ant-Man and the Wasp. The movie takes place during the same exact same time as or just before Infinity War which we don’t realize until Thanos’ snap leaves Ant-Man in the quantum realm during this film’s mid-credits scene. Hope you didn’t leave early and miss that.
16. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Arguably one of the best Spider-Man movies made to date (sorry Toby Mcguire). Tom Holland was made to play Spider-Man. Were here for the nerdy and naive, yet brave Spider-Man. Seeing this new and improved Spider-Man after the monstrosity that was Andrew Garfield’s The Amazing Spiderman was awesome. Action-packed yet quirky in its own way. One of the only downsides to this movie is the choice of villain. The day they add Green Goblin into a Spiderman movie will be the day it breaks the top 15 in the MCU.
Not the best, but not the worst origin story in the MCU. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is a very like-able character, as we can tell by his Trilogy, but this movie did him no justice. It is the first interaction we see between Thor and his brother Loki, which is massive for the MCU, as Loki goes from like-able foe to all-out villain to supportive anti-villain throughout the MCU timeline. Altogether though, this movie lacked the comedy and action that Thor should have in every movie, which is why he put it at #15 in our list.
14. Iron Man 3
One of the more slept-on movies in the MCU. One of the major comic book villains, the Mandarin, makes an appearance in Iron Man 3. The twist in this movie was an interesting move for production, but it paid off in the end. Tony Stark getting to show off all of his suits and Pepper getting the spotlight before her spotlight in Endgame made this movie a cool sequel in the Iron Man series. Also, the easter egg during Tony’s funeral in 2019 is a neat throwback to this movie, making it that much more important.
13. Doctor Strange
The special effects in this movie were absolutely unreal. Doctor Strange being the protector of an infinity stone was huge for the storyline of the MCU. Intellectually, Doctor Strange gives Banner and Stark a run for their money. Wielding the Time stone is an incredibly slept-on deal considering how unique and powerful these stones are, but also that Red Skull was cast off Earth just for touching the Space stone. This was a strong Origin story for an integral character in the final Avengers films.
12. Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel is the Superman of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There is no reason she should ever lose a fight considering, like Black Panther’s suit, she absorbs energy and can dish it right back. The post-credits Infinity War scene that shows Fury’s call to Captain Marvel was such a powerful clip that hinted at the relationship she has with Fury, which is evidently strong in the Captain Marvel movie. This origin story did very well at showing Carol Danvers’ background, why she is the way she is psychologically, and it also tells us how physically powerful she truly is. It’s nuts. Lastly, RIP in peace Nick Fury’s left eye.
11. Black Panther
This was a great movie. Just missing a top-10 spot on this list, Black Panther was an extremely well-produced film that did justice to raise awareness for real-life systematic issues and increase POC representation within the MCU. This movie introduced Wakanda and a ton of characters that play key roles in later films. I believe Kilmonger was a top 3 villain in the MCU. Both of my top 2 are yet to come.
If you’re still following and need a break, take it now. We’re about to get into our top 10 ranked MCU films.
10. The Avengers
The beginning of an era. The Avengers was the bringing together of so many different superheroes for the first time. It does a lot for the character development of each and every one of the heroes, and it does the same for Loki, our villain. Though it is not the first movie based on fighting for the Tesseract, it does follow suit as this is the only Infinity Stone we knew of at this point in the timeline. This movie sets up a ton of other films, origin stories, sequels, spin-off series’, etc. and it is the first film that we get a glimpse of Thanos, in the post-credits scene when we learn that Loki was actually sent by Thanos to retrieve the Tesseract in the first place. The Avengers was an obvious top-ten spot, because of these impacts it had on the entire MCU.
9. Captain America: Civil War
Welcome, Spider-Man. We’ve been waiting for you. This movie was great for more than a few reasons, which lands it in our #9 spot. Spider-Man and Black Panther are both introduced to the MCU in this movie. That alone puts this film in the top-ten, but let’s dive deeper. Disagreements over the the Sokovia Accords, Zemo’s puppeteering, T’Challa’s death being blamed on Cap’s friend Bucky, and Tony Stark and Cap’s ever-growing sexual tension all divided the team into distinct sides. This movie changed so many dynamics, which was especially clear later on in the beginning of Infinity War.
This is the probably the hottest take on this list to most readers. I am here to say Ant-Man DOES deserve this spot for a few reasons. #1.) This movie was comedy gold. #2.) The sheer normality of Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang was a new take for the MCU as we got an Origin story for someone that was not a billionaire, superhuman, or demigod. #3.) Endgame spoiler alert: Let’s not forget Pym Particles ended up saving the universe. Ant-Man’s Origin story was not just a great biopic of Scott Lang, but it also taught MCU fans of how Pym Particles could be used to go subatomic.
7. Captain America: The First Avenger
This movie shows us a kid with a lot of heart that just wants to do what’s right no matter what is at stake. Ranked here as the second best origin story in the MCU, Steve Rogers becoming Captain America was iconic for a few reasons. The historical significance is why I hold this movie in such high esteem. We first saw a young, scrawny Steve Rogers doing whatever he could to serve his country in World War II against the Nazis. He got his ass kicked up and down the street, because he would never back down, and he could do that all day. Combining a man with this level of heart with a best friend he gets the opportunity to save from a prison behind enemy lines and a love interest made The First Avenger an easy #7 pick on this list.
6. Iron Man
Being the first origin story in the MCU, this movie came with a lot of expectations. All of which were smashed. The creation of Tony Stark and the character development throughout this first movie are both what stand out for me. Also, the action portrayed with the Iron Man suit was well ahead of its time in 2008. This is the best origin story in the MCU, and you probably won’t change my mind.
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Spy/espionage movie meets superhero movie. Possibly one of the best mixes of these two genres to date (we’ll have to wait to see how Black Widow is to confirm). The return of Bucky is a phenomenal twist, and creates the whole plot for Civil War. The action in this movie is nothing special, but there are some memorable fight scenes throughout. The plot more than makes up for the lack of memorable action, and if you love psychological thrillers then this is a movie for you.
4. Avengers: Endgame
I think what makes this movie great is that nobody saw the plot coming. There were plenty of fan theories surrounding this movie, and nobody saw what happened in it coming. I mean, who guessed a rat in a storage unit would end up saving the universe? The pure emotion and nostalgia of Endgame makes it an easy choice for the top 5 for me. I can remember watching Iron Man movies throughout my whole childhood and falling in love with Tony Stark as a character. I’m not gonna lie, tears were shed when he died. Another great part of this movie is the final battle between Thanos and his army and the Avengers. I could go on for pages talking about how great this movie is, and if you’ve seen it you know why we hold this movie in such high regard. Also, Fat Thor was an all-time character (eat shit, Noobmaster69).
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
This movie is well-deserving of our #3 spot. The band of misfits led by Missourian, Peter Quill, includes Rocket the raccoon played by none other than Bradley Cooper, the love interest Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Vin Diesel’s Groot, and Drax the Destroyer played by Dave Bautista. All of these characters are lovable in their own way. Above all, this is one of the first Marvel movies to introduce comedy, which makes it that much better. The soundtrack for this movie is top-tier, and the story is super important to the MCU. This movie is universally loved by every Marvel fan, which is why it is ranked so highly by us.
2. Avengers: Infinity War
This movie is packed with action from start to finish. What makes this movie ranked so highly in the MCU how it ties everything that was building up the previous decade. We finally got to see the Infinity Gauntlet in action, the creation of Stormbreaker, and of course we finally got to see what Thanos’ plan was when he got all the Infinity Stones. The loss of many of the heroes we came to love really hit home, especially the emotional goodbye between Peter Parker and Tony Stark and the death of Gamora at the hands of Thanos. Infinity War had it all, and then ended with the home team losing, which is uncommon and had all MCU fans dying to see Endgame. If it is not obvious enough, Thanos is the number 1 power ranked Villain in the MCU. As far as movie Power Rankings are concerned, the #2 spot is Infinity War’s home.
Without further ado, the NUMBER ONE Power Ranked Marvel Cinematic Universe Film is ….
1. Thor: Ragnarok
Absolute banger. This movie is so good. 10/10 soundtrack. 10/10 visuals. 10/10 storyline. 10/10 villains. 10/10 comedy. As this is my #1 ranked MCU movie, I will dive a deep as we need to. We start off seeing Thor in a battle with Surter, a large fire monster threatening the prophecy of the end of Asgard. Obviously he would be the villain of the movie, right? Sike. Let’s go back to Earth to watch Odin warn Thor and Loki of Hela and then kick rocks. Hela’s entire backstory coming completely out of nowhere only further strengthened the entire family dynamic of the Odinsons. As the Goddess of Death, she was a bit OP, but that’s what makes her such a great villain. She destroys the strongest hammer in the universe with her bare hand, which was crazy at the time, considering Thor and the audience had been under the impression that his power came from Mjolnir. Like any great MCU villain, it will surely take an entire team of warriors to defeat Hela. She took out Asgard’s entire army in about a one-minute-long scene, but none of them were demigods. Thor and Loki both spend half the movie as slaves on another planet, leaving Hela to have her way with Asgard. I loved the story of Sakaar, and here’s why: Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster and Taika Waititi’s Korg are great comic relief from beginning to end. We get the Hulk back, and we get Valkyrie for the first time. Her fighting for vengeance against Hela was a great subplot for her character without straying away from the main story. The new look for Thor was great. It was revolutionary.
Thanks for bearing with me!
These are my official Power Rankings of the MCU. Knowing these are VERY controversial, if you disagree with any, I’d love to hear your picks.