Marvel Studios has been churning out hit movies for the past 10 years. Can you believe it’s been that long since Robert Downey Jr stood at that press conference and declared “I am Iron-Man”? It’s been a long road of comic book adventures brought to life, and it all culminates to their next huge event movie, Infinite War. Also referred to as Avengers 3, it drops April 27th and marks the beginning of the end, so to speak. At least for the current phases of Marvel films. Interviews with the likes of Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, have made it very clear that after Avengers 3 and 4, there will be a very clear distinction between the first 10 years of Marvel movies and the next ones. Characters will leave, be they die or retire, and new characters will rise. So what better time to look back at what got us here, and list the best? It’s hard to pick 10 from the past 18 films, but here goes…
10. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The first Guardians movie was a massive surprise hit, that satisfied existing comic fans and brought in tons of new fans. So naturally, the pressure was on when it came time for the sequel. And of course, Marvel delivered. It currently sits with a 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is very respectful for a sequel in a genre like this. And it wasn’t all frill with no fill, as it had plenty of heart to match all the spectacle. Not to mention one of best villains we’ve seen so far, in Kurt Russel. And for a while, Marvel had a bit of a villain problem.
This was another sort of “shot in the dark” film for Marvel. Meaning it was a character that was relatively unknown to general audiences and had a kind of silly sounding name. But once again Marvel pulled it off, and made a great simple origin story with lots of heart and humor to match all the shrinking action adventure. Having a great cast like Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly and Paul Rudd certainly helped too.
8. Thor: Ragnarok
The Thor movies had been considered by most as sort of “standard” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first movie was good, but not amazing. The 2nd one was just okay but mostly forgettable. So a change in direction was needed, to keep Thor relevant and worthwhile. And that’s what we got, a big change. Ragnarok changed the game and brought much more color and humor to the franchise, similar to the Guardians movies, and it was a very welcome change. Who wouldn’t like a cosmic buddy adventure romp with Jeff Goldblum playing a villain?
7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
It was a big deal when Marvel made a deal with Sony to share the cinematic rights to one of the most popular comic book characters ever; Spider-Man. Sony had attempted to reboot the hero with 2 recent movies, both of which met with a mediocre response. So the pressure was on for Marvel to make another reboot worthwhile. Luckily they did it, by bringing the character back to his high school roots and giving him a more grounded/local adventure. And having the very likable young Tom Holland play the star was a good move too. Oh, and Michael Keaton playing a tragically relatable villain didn’t hurt either.
6. Civil War
This was a major event film for Marvel, which pitted 2 of their most liked heroes against one another. Iron Man and Captain America built their own respective teams, based on their beliefs regarding government interference with their superhero duties. Hence the movie has a huge cast of famous characters, all showing up to support their side of the fight. Not to mention it introduced Black Panther, who would later become a fan favorite. This film was fun but wasn’t afraid to get a bit dark with the drama too. And that airport battle? One of the coolest sequences in a comic book movie, period.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
Here it is, Volume 1 of the wacky space hero team. A comic that almost no one knew anything about, starring characters like a 1 word talking tree and a bipedal smart ass raccoon. And yet somehow, it was a smash hit. Regarded as the first real Marvel comedy, it also had it’s own heart and plenty of likable characters. Audiences and critics enjoyed the big change of pace from previous Marvel movies, and thus the risk paid off in a big way.
4. The Avengers
This was the first big superhero team-up movie, basically ever. Marvel took their time introducing characters like Iron-Man, Captain America, Thor and Hulk in their own respective films. And they worked in some supporting heroes too, like Black Widow and Hawkeye. Then brought them all together to battle fan-favorite villain Loki, in what was the most epic spectacle of it’s time. The movie managed to balance the large cast in a healthy way, giving everyone something to do and telling an exciting save the world story along the way. It made a billion dollars and currently sits at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. No easy two feats. And it was only the beginning!
3. Black Panther
A character introduced as a supporting hero in Civil War, finally given his own starring film. And boy was it time! Already regarded as one of the best superhero movies of all time, and its already in the top 10 highest grossing American films ever. It told the origin story of T’Challa, the heir to the throne for the fictional African nation of Wakanda. It also introduced the villain Killmonger, played by the talented Michael B Jordan, who quickly became a fan favorite himself. Not to mention it exceeded all expectations, and then some, by being a massively successful movie about a black superhero character and starring an almost all black cast. Thus paving the way for more diversity and inclusion for big-budget event films going forward.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The first Captain American movie was a run of the mill origin story, set in WW2. It wasn’t bad at all; but again, it wasn’t amazing. But once again, Marvel made a sequel that surpassed the original. Set in present day now, and telling the story of Captain being betrayed by his own people, and forced to go rogue against a fellow super soldier from his past, Winter Soldier was categorized as a superhero espionage flick. A trend of using other film genres to tell superhero stories that would prove very successful for Marvel. It also gave Nick Fury his own action sequence, that is one of the best in a Marvel film to date. And having Robert Redford as the villain was a classy move, too.
1. Iron Man
The movie that started it all, with an amazing origin story. Not only did this movie start the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we now know it, but it also helped revitalize Robert Downey Jr’s career. He was so perfectly cast that in real life he often blurs the line between himself and the fictional Tony Stark. Iron-Man wasn’t even a household name for general audiences before, but after this, he became as well known and popular as Batman himself. And it’s aged well too; go back and watch it sometime and you’ll see how great it holds up to today’s superhero flicks. And that first post-credits scene, of Nick Fury telling Tony he’s part of a bigger universe… we had no idea what we were in for!
What do you think of our list? Agree, disagree? Anything out of order, or missed entirely? Let us know! And if you want to start a discussion, share and start talking! See what your friends and family think.