Our Favourite (And Least Favourite) Marvel Movies

It's 2018, and there have been approximately six hundred Marvel movies. Some of those movies have been good, some less good. But which were the best, and which were the least-best?

Earlier this week, Jason Schreier and I had Rise of the Black Panther writer (and our former Kotaku buddy) Evan Narcisse on Kotaku Splitscreen to discuss the Marvel Cinematic Universe ahead of April's Infinity War mega-mashup. We had a good time. Listen to the whole thing here:

Near the end of our conversation, I asked Jason and Evan to name their favourite and least favourite movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Below, find an edited transcript of each of our picks, though you should listen to the episode if you want some extra cross-talk, debate, and alternate picks. Heads-up that there are spoilers throughout!

Evan Narcisse

Favourite: Black Panther. My own personal connections to the character and the work I'm doing [writing the comics] aside, the reason I love Black Panther is that it's about something in a way that these other movies are not. It's about the real world in a way that every movie that preceded it is not. It's about, you know, how do you live your blackness? How do you find yourself within the history of the Diaspora? And that's meaningful. I was shocked when I saw that movie and it had those politics up in the forefront. It was the last thing I was expecting. So, Black Panther, for sure. I've seen it three times and I've cried every time I've seen it. Second time I saw it I was like, ok, you're good, you got those tears out, you're straight. And then I was like, oh my god, why am I crying again?

Least Favourite: Thor: The Dark World. I just don't remember anything about that movie. I don't remember what the villain, Malekith the Dark Elf, wanted. I love the comics it was based on, it just didn't leave a mark on me whatsoever. What's interesting about the first Thor movie is, there were hints of the humour that [thanks to Ragnarok] we now know Hemsworth can do. But Thor 2, no.

Jason Schreier

Favourite: Captain America: Civil War. Black Panther is up there, Thor: Ragnarok is up there, and Guardians of the Galaxy is up there. But I'm gonna go a different direction and I'm gonna say Civil War. I thought the conflict between Captain America and Iron Man was the best conflict of the whole MCU so far. I love watching characters that we love go at it and not knowing which side to pick. And even if I lean towards one side or another, I'm like oh man, I hope they don't have to kill each other. And I actually thought it was really good at handling the mash of characters as we discussed before, just throwing everyone in there, introducing us to Black Panther, introducing us to Spider-Man, I thought they did really well. The villain was kind of whatever […] but just that conflict, I thought was really interesting.

Least Favourite: Avengers: Age of Ultron. A disaster of a movie. I remember watching it and being like, what the fuck. Not only is at least a third of the movie devoted to setups of other movies, there's also this terrible stuff with Hawkeye, who is the worst superhero in the entire Marvel universe… [Kirk and Evan interrupt to talk about how great Matt Fraction/David Aja's Hawkeye comics were] well, Jeremy Renner is not good. Just having parts devoted to his family, the girl from Freaks & Geeks was his wife and she had nothing to do, it was really poorly handled. That movie felt like it was thrown together, just this hodgepodge of stuff that was loosely connected. And Ultron was terrible! I thought Ultron was gonna be the coolest villain and instead he was like, "I'm gonna hijack the internet!" I thought it was really bad.

Kirk Hamilton

Favourite: Guardians of the Galaxy. Really, it's Black Panther, because I do think that's the best one, but I'm gonna pick a different one because we just talked about that movie forever. As much as I like The Avengers and think it was a remarkable achievement that paved the way for this whole thing, Guardians was such a surprise for me, and was so funny and still has so many performances that I think are amazing. Bradley Cooper's performance in that original movie is so funny, and so good. There's a level of emotion in that movie, too. There were times where the music was a cheat, but they would use it really well. They'd put on the music and you'd see Chris Pratt, you'd look into his moony eyes, and Star Lord is feeling his emotions and listening to some 70s slow jam, and it really worked for me. That's my favourite one.

Least Favourite: Iron Man 2. Perhaps an easy pick, but yeah, I think the weakest one. I rewatched it and I believe that that movie introduces Black Widow, if I'm remembering that correctly, Agent Coulson is in it… watching it again after a bunch of other MCU movies, I liked it better because it felt a little more of a piece with the universe, but it also feels like such an also-ran, such a sort of secondary, less important, less good version of the original. And yeah Jason, I agree [with what you said earlier], I really like the original Iron Man. So Iron Man 2, I remember being kind of bummed out and confused by it at the time, thinking, I don't really remember what's going on, and that's never a good sign.


For the rest of our conversation, listen to the full Splitscreen episode. After we recorded, I thought it'd be fun to ask the rest of the Kotaku staff for their favourites and least favourites. Those are below.

Gita Jackson

Favourite: Black Panther. My favourites of the Marvel movies are the ones that strain against the structure of a super hero movie, and Black Panther violently escapes popcorn flick into something slightly more meaningful, with some complex emotions. Plus: Michael B. Jordan.

Least Favourite: Doctor Strange. It's the same exact plot as Iron Man with less charismatic actors, Benedict Cumberbatch has a terrible American accent and he says "Not today, Beyonce." That about sums is up.

Eric Van Allen

Favourite: Spider-Man: Homecoming. This was hard, almost a three-way tie for me, but Homecoming stuck out to me as a great coming-of-age flick. Peter Parker is great to me when he's dealing with his own need to do good ramming against his capabilities and experience, and Michael Keaton's Vulture is a truly underrated MCU villain.

Least Favourite: Iron Man 3. Besides the whole Mandarin thing being incredibly stupid, most of this movie gets immediately retconned a single MCU entry later. And the villain was just a dude who was strong and really hot (literally). The jilted rival is kind of tired, and frankly, Iron Man 2 did it better.

Maddy Myers

Favourite: Black Panther. For now, it's Black Panther, but I should note that I haven't rewatched most of the other Marvel movies since they came out. (I'm sure that also affected my pick for "worst" movie. Like, I barely remember the early Iron Mans. Irons Man?) T'Challa was a fantastic scene-stealer in Civil War, and his solo film was everything I hoped it could be. I'd also like to thank Black Panther for making me feel any excitement whatsoever for Infinity War.

Least favourite: Avengers: Age of Ultron. It feels like the worst-case scenario of the messy intersecting crossovers that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's disorganized and confusing, most of the heroes don't seem "in character" for big chunks of it, and the chemistry that the actors have had in other Marvel movies seems deadened and tired here. I theorise the movie arose from a perfect storm of executives' meddling, uninspired writing and directing, and the actors trying and failing to emote from within their respective green-screen prisons.

Brian Ashcraft

Favourite: Iron Man. It has so much of what I love in movies in general, not just superhero ones. Without this film, would there even be a Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Least Favourite: The Incredible Hulk. I guess I'll go with The Incredible Hulk, which was certainly less thoughtful and less interesting than Ang Lee's 2003 film and, thus, didn't provide as much insight into the character. Maybe that's what makes it seem worse?

Heather Alexandra

Favourite: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The Winter Soldier is the MCU at its best. A self contained story with personal and global stakes that cares about the characters' struggles.Everything with Bucky and Cap is great, giving us a villain who is both a major threat to the heroes and someone we feel for. From Cap's last moments with Peggy Carter to Widow's decision to expose her questionable past to everyone, there's a lot of really great smaller character beats too. Also: Robert Redford.

Least Favourite: Captain America: Civil War. Civil War was never a good idea, even in the comics. It might be exciting to watch heroes brawl with each other but the set up to make it happen is contrived and relies on smart characters like Tony and Cap to act like complete idiots. Not everything here is bad. Getting both Spider-Man and Black Panther into the MCU is a huge deal and while the set up for fighting is stupid, each character contributes to battle in cool ways. But overall, this movie is an absolute whimper compared to the bang it wanted to be.

Mike Fahey

Favourite: Spider-Man: Homecoming. Thor: Ragnarok comes really close, but Spider-Man: Homecoming inches it out. It's very pure early Spider-Man, portraying Peter Parker not as a super hero, but as an awkward, over-eager high school kid with powers trying to do his best. But really it's all about Ned. Lego-loving, guy in the chair Ned.

Least Favourite: Thor: The Dark World. The Dark World tried to improve on the uneven first Thor film by taking a deeper dive into the mythology behind the character on a cosmic stage and giving us more Jane Foster, because man we sure loved Jane Foster in the first film (we did not). "What's that, you want more of the boring bits? Done!" No.

Luke Plunkett

Favourite: Iron Man. The freshest, funniest and sharpest Marvel movie. It's amazing going back and watching it now, and how free it is without all the MCU bloat that drags down so many others.

Least Favourite: Ant-Man. A tired movie that came at the end of a disappointing run of MCU sequels. I can't even remember specific moments from this film, it was just two hours of the worst of the MCU formula (lore + bad CG + wisecracks) whizzing by me.


I enjoyed the diversity of opinions among our staff, and it suggests that our readers will have their own favourites and least-favourites. So, I turn it over to you: Which MCU movie is your favourite, and which is your least favourite?


Comments

    Some of these are taking the piss.
    Civil war least favourite? LOL

      I assumed this was satire as well. Those reasons behind Black Panther being the best movie are delusional at best.

        You think somebody thirsting after Michael B Jordan is delusional?
        I really need to do my list of Marvel ranking but BP is near the top. can see why people would put civil war down low although I would say Ultron was worse. Maybe. I really need to do my list

          Ultron is really poor and I'm always surprised when people don't rank it last. I thought BP was great (despite some terrible CGI) but it's easily topped by Thor 3, Guardians and Civil War for me.

          I have a big preference for cosmic, crazy Marvel so I'm hoping they do something good with Dr Strange in the future. I am extremely pumped for Captain Marvel on that front as well.

        Dude, I'm pretty sure that I have said this before but personal feelings or opinions of people when they disagree with you cannot be "delusional" or any sort of objectively qualifying adjectives. You may disagree, you may dislike it, you may attempt to contest it with rational discourse--if you are feeling a bit like a tool, but you don't get to imply that people are "wrong" or crazy because of those personal opinions.

          And how do you live your blackness?

            I don't have the foggiest, I'm not black. However, I'm not going to assume it is stupid or delusional because it doesn't make sense to me.

    No one will admit it but everything after avengers has been pretty weak in the mcu. As soon as they sold their creative soul to Disney it was pretty much downhill. Sure they make billions but they’ve reduced the comic book genre to a joke.

      They won't admit it because it's totally untrue. Since Avengers we've had all my favourite Marvel films. 2nd two Captain Americas? The first GotG? Thor Ragnarok? All great. I also really like AntMan because it's funny as hell. In fact sicne Avengers I've only really disliked three movies (2nd Thor, Ultron and Dr Strange). Their hit rate has been fantastic.

      Before Avengers we had 1 good movie (Iron Man 1) and 1 ok movies (1st Cap and Thors) and 2 bad movies (Increddible Hulk and Iron Man 2).

        Anyway favourite is Winter Soldier, least favourite is Thor 2.

      No creative soul? Ragnarok was fantastic!

    I seem to like a lot of MCU films that most don't (it's probably because I set a pretty low bar for all of them, keep me entertained for two hours and your job is done). I think I prefer Age of Ultron more than Avergers 1, due to James Spader intentionally playing Ultron like a sullen teenager and a finale that spread out the action by keeping the heavy hitters (basically any flying hero) doing less exciting stuff, leaving the more memorable action to what I described as "the b team" from the first Avengers (seriously, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Captain America could have just gone home for the last half an hour of that film).

    The ones that fall the flattest to me are the Hulk and first Captain America. The Hulk just had really plodding pacing and was far too dour and I went in with high expectations for Captain America, as I remembered liking The Rocketeer, but I never connected with it. Funnily enough, Captain America 2 and 3 are among my favourites in the series.

    I must be one of those rare people who like them all. On varying levels. Some much better than others but none of them have I walked out disappointed. Life is too short to get wrapped in so much of this online hatefests. (Over things like BvS or other DC stuff. Even if I wasn’t overly fond of the whole thing, I still enjoyed watching it. Still loved many parts of it)

    I can’t think of a single Marvel film I wasn’t fond of, Hhmm maybe the Edward Norton Hulk. Mainly because I thought he was missed cast, they should of had Eric Bana back. though that was before the Universe kicked off properly and they found their strides.

    I sometimes think people lose perspective of what these films are trying to do and hold them to impossible standards, they aren’t seeking to reach. In some ways they should take more risks (like Edgar’s Ant Man, sigh) but at the same time, would this universe be as long running and successful if they didn’t?! Hopefully Blank Panther has now show them that may not be the case

      I'm with you... or I'd be, but man, Thor 2 is abysmal. I can find redeeming aspects (and genuinely say that I was, at the very least, entertained) in every single other MCU movie except that one.

    Favourite: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Best opening credit sequence next to Thor: Ragnarok, more Yondu, Kurt Russell, and Drax telling Mantis how ugly she is. Great stuff.

    Least Favourite: The Incredible Hulk. You could erase this movie from existence and it would have zero effect on the current state of the MCU. Like Thor 2, it's nothing really memorable.

    I like all of them (to varying degrees) and even though yes it's possible that some people dislike them for objective reasons, one can't help but think that there's a bit of "The Beatles are over-rated" about the comments.

    The films aren't perfect but they are bloody good compared to what they could have been (hello, DC).

    I don't understand the hate for Thor 2. I thought Thor 2 was great and much better than the first movie which I thought really dragged in places.

    I love the first Avengers, all 3 Captain Americas, Thor Ragnarok and both Guardians of the Galaxy movies.

    Outside that list, the rest range from "pretty good" to "meh". There are none that I consider to be outright bad movies, but some that have been unmemorable.

    Hawkeye, who is the worst superhero in the entire Marvel universe

    Disagree. While Hawkeye is pretty meh, Aquaman is the worst superhero in the MCU.

    Yes. I know he's DC, but he's so lame his crapness (if this wasn't a word, it is now!) crosses into the MCU.

      Namor the Submariner on the other hand is a straight up baller.

        Namor could fly, fought the Hulk and didn't wear an orange skivvy (or ride a frikkin' sea horse).

        It has been suggested that I have a prejudice against Aquaman, shaped by the god-awful 1970's cartoons, but I can't see it myself.

    I know that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but Gita Jackson is an idiot.
    Gita hates Doctor Strange because he says "not today, Beyonce", even though he never says that in the movie. You can't hate a movie based on a quote that doesn't exist.
    It's like me saying "I hate Schindler's List because Oskar says 'Jews are greedy assholes'"

      Okay, the line is "try me, Beyonce", her sentiment still stands: Iron Man, Ant Man and Doctor Strange are all easily compared to each other, two of those were directed by people who have previously direct comedy and one wasn't, and it shows when it attempts humour (which is a shame considering Dan Harmon gave notes on that film, but they decided not to use them).

      To call someone an idiot because they didn't correctly remember a line from a film that they didn't like is over the top. It's not like she's pulling a Rex Reed and making up whole plot points out of nowhere.

        Man the Anti-Gitas are in full force today. You literally got downvoted to hell merely for encouraging a bit of tolerance and perspective.

          The silver lining is that Kotaku would be boring if we all were in hive-mind agreement over everything. That being said, I do prefer conversation to downvotes.

    Civil War and Ant-Man as least fave? Lol, good one. Bad CGI? Did you not even see Young Pym at the beginning? FOH.

    Last edited 19/03/18 4:31 pm

    Favourite is a tie between Guardians, Ragnarok and Doctor Strange. Honestly couldn’t choose.

    Least favourite, definitely Age of Ultron. So many good characters it’s actually impressive they managed to culminate them all into so much blegh.

    Iron man is still my favourite, but mostly because a lot of the movies after it lacked soul.

    Ragnarok is easily my favourite. GotG second. Black Panther is very good too... but the overabundance of Kotaku staff who adamently think it's the pinacle of Marvel tells me all I need to know about this site.

      Give it a year. Its currently their New Favourite Toy Ever!!! which will change over time. Not saying its a bad movie, but the same sentiments were said after many other MCU movies, which have now slowly slid down peoples Top 5's.

      The same hype about the movie was laid on both Civil War and GotG when they first came out, yet now they are getting hit with the Worst Movie tag. BP will go the same way, with some other decent movie bumping to the top of the list just because its new.

    I like all of them. They’re well made by some of the world’s most interesting directors.

    Faves: Ragnarok, Winter Soldier, Avengers, Civil War, GOTG and Homecoming.

    Age of Ultron is a long stretch of boring bookended by some Whedon-y fun. Thor 1 was a bit bland. GOTG2 didn’t vibe with me as much as I’d have liked.

    The rest are uniformly above average. Well, compared to some of the other trash I watch ;)

    Age of Ultron is the worst imo. Ragnarok, GotG & The Winter Soldier are my favourites.

    Best: GOTG, Ragnarok, Captain America, Winter Soldier, Iron Man, and Doctor Strange

    Worst: Ultron, Ant Man, Hulk, The Avengers

    We need to talk about: Black Panther. Ok it’s decent and I enjoyed it but it’s nowhere near the best.

    Last edited 19/03/18 10:13 pm

    Pretty unpopular opinion but Black Panther is down in my "meh" list for Marvel films. Long and slow, not enough Black Panther.

    Best: Ragnarok, Both GotG, Iron Man, Civil War

    Worst: Ultron, Dark World

    When I read all the positive comments about BP I wonder did I watch the same movie.

    The version I saw had a caricature of an angry black man as the villain who had probably the worst badguy plan in the history of badguy plans. It became Lion King halfway through. It didn't have enough of the titular hero being the titular hero. It was slow. It laboured under the weight of its special effects. It was meant to be about the empowerment of black people, but the empowered black people are only powerful because of a MacGuffin.

    It is an important movie, yes, but it is not a good movie.

      I agree with you. It doesn't make my top 5, or perhaps even 10, but I fully understand why it is so important, so downright pivotal for a group of people, so I support their enjoyment and enthusiasm over it.

    I didn't dislike AoU as much as lots of people, even though I'm fully aware of its many flaws. I thought Ultron was an amusing and interesting villain and the movie had several entertaining moments. Also, if I remember correctly, it had been MCU's funniest movie until that point, before Ant-Man and GotG opened those floodgates. Thor's merry laughter becoming a frown as Steve manages to nudge Mjolnir is still one of my favourite moments of all the movies.

    That said, it's nowhere near close to my top movie. That would be GotG2, closely followed by Homecoming. Least favourite (and only actively disliked) is Thor 2. Portman's Jane's Foster is easily the worst character in the whole MCU.

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