The First Dozen Marvel (MCU) Films Ranked

With the release of Ant-Man, Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films has concluded. Before Phase Three begins with Captain America: Civil War, now would be a good time to rank the twelve MCU films released so far.

1. The Avengers (2012) – As the culmination of years of careful seeding by previous MCU films The Avengers was a bold, energetic triumph. Director Joss Whedon accomplished the impossible by bringing together completely different characters and molding them into a superhero team just like in the comic books.


As the most successful superhero film of all time, The Avengers excited numerous viewers and changed the landscape of superhero films. Before this film, the usual superhero films operated in their own realities without any indication of a rich universe as seen in comic books. But The Avengers embraced the richness of its comic book lore and it paid off. Now, shared cinematic universes are the rage. However, The Avengers is the best of the MCU films because it was so energetic, witty, and snappy, and had the novelty of our favorite heroes meeting for the first time. It all led to one of the most exciting finales presented on film that still reverberates with viewers.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Marvel Studios showed they were willing to take a chance with this quirky and exciting space adventure yarn. Who would’ve imagined that a sci-fi movie about a bumbling space pirate, violent green aliens, a foul-mouthed raccoon and a walking tree would strike a chord with audiences?


Technically, Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t a superhero film, but this demonstrates how this MCU entry is quite different from its standard superhero repertoire. What made it special wasn’t just the premise, beautiful visuals or production design, but a toe-tapping soundtrack that ingeniously used ’70s pop songs. It was a unique signature for this space opera tale about a group of space losers who banded together to save the galaxy. Chris Pratt became a star thanks to his silly, but good-hearted role as Star-Lord, the self-proclaimed legendary outlaw.

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – The best MCU solo superhero film and one of the greatest superhero films ever made. More importantly, this was arguably the most volatile entry in the MCU because by the time the film ended, the cinematic universe was forever changed by the film’s events.


Chris Evans as Captain America/Steve Rogers has demonstrated how he has grown in stature in these films. As a man out of time, Steve Rogers faced his greatest threats from a former friend (one of the deadliest and most frightening supervillains on film) and a shocking global conspiracy that rocked the MCU to its roots. Adding to the film’s specialness were a tightly written script, well-executed and riveting fight scenes and terrific performances from the cast.

4. Ant-Man (2015) – The final Phase Two film is known for its numerous behind-the-scenes hurdles where the original director quit after having developed the film for years. Yet, in spite of that and the titular character’s obscurity, Ant-Man was an unexpectedly great superhero film that’s full of panache.

antman in your face

As one of the more humorous MCU films, Ant-Man quickly won over viewers with its outlandish premise: a man who can shrink and communicate with ants. Wrapped around that was a swift-paced heist story that deftly integrated itself into the larger MCU in a natural way that eluded other films that attempted this. Adding to the film’s enjoyment were many winning performances, fantastic special effects and unlike other MCU films, Ant-Man was able to deliver an astonishing final act that helped pave the future for the MCU.

5. Thor (2011) – What sets Marvel Studios apart with their MCU films is its willingness to remain faithful to the comic book source material. At the same time, Marvel Studios has the ability to make organic changes and updates to its characters and situations. Thor is a perfect example. The film wisely eschewed its magic-based comic book roots that Thor and his ilk were actual gods and cleverly used science fiction tropes instead.


Thor followed the winning formula of MCU films by having an egotistical, flawed character learn some humility and become a hero. Thanks to director Kenneth Branagh, Thor also had a sense of grandeur that evoked a Shakespearean family drama. In this case, that involved otherworldly aliens mistaken for gods. It was also noted for its humorous fish-out-of-water scenario and Tom Hiddleston’s star-making performance as Loki, the MCU’s best villain.

6. Iron Man (2008) – The one that started the MCU phenomenon still holds up as a well-made origin story. Robert Downey, Jr. shined as he made a personal and professional comeback in the role of a lifetime. His trend-setting Tony Stark/Iron Man was a self-centered narcissist who learned to become something more.

iron man flying

The first part of Iron Man was engrossing, particularly during the moments when Tony Stark first faced his mortality and was forced to construct a crude armored suit. However, the film faltered a bit in the second half. The pace dragged as we waited for him to construct a proper Iron Man suit. Things weren’t helped by the final battle that looked like something out of the Transformers and was just as cartoony. But Iron Man’s successful formula set the tone for the rest of the MCU. Continue reading

Ant-Man Is Another TriumphANT Effort From Marvel

antman poster

Please pardon the pun in the article title, but Marvel Studios has done it again with their latest film Ant-Man. This film suffered through many behind-the-scenes obstacles and hurdles, the most dire was the sudden departure of Ant-Man’s original director, the fan-favorite Edgar Wright. Expectations were low for this film, seriously, a film about a guy who can shrink himself and talk to ants? It didn’t really work in the old Marvel comic books (created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby), so how could this concept translate to the screen?

Well, kudos has to go to Marvel Studios for pulling off another exciting and fun superhero film that leaves you begging for more.

Ant-Man is a heist film that is funny and full of thrills as it tells the story of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a cat burglar who has been released from prison after serving a sentence. He’s a down-on-the-luck extremely likeable scott finds suitfellow who just wants to reconnect with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Forston), but can’t catch a break or a steady job.

His buddy Luis (Michael Peña), another ex-con, hooks him up with a caper to break into an old millionaire’s home and rob his safe. When Scott does this he discovers a strange suit in the safe that belongs to Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and soon finds out that Pym was testing him.

Pym discovered years ago how to shrink himself using the suit and wants to keep that technology out of the wrong hands. Unfortunately, his protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) forced Pym out of his own company and is on the verge of recreating the shrinking technology. What’s worse is that the unethical Cross is willing to sell the technology in the form of a beefed-up armored suit called Yellowjacket to the highest bidder for military use. Feeling desperate, Pym recruits Scott to don the shrinking suit, use its capabilities to infiltrate Pym’s former company and bring down Cross’ efforts.

ant man

This may seem familiar to anyone who has seen your average Marvel Cinematic Universe film (MCU) , but that’s just on the surface. Whereas the other MCU film this year, Avengers: Age of Ultron, felt bloated and choppy, Ant-Man is a fast-moving joyride that has a bubbly sense of fun. You instantly root for the good guys and find it so easy to laugh at many of the gags and jokes. Director Peyton Reed deserves so much credit for naturally bringing the humor to this film and that is due to his comedic film credentials. Kevin Feige, the Marvel Studios mastermind, is owed a pat in the back by fans everywhere for helping to not only keep the production going after Wright left, but for finding the right person to direct Ant-Man.

running antmanSomething as silly as a guy who shrinks and talks to ants actually makes sense in this film… it works! That is because this film wisely chose to use the character of Scott Lang and made the film a very loose adaptation of David Michelinie and John Byrne’s re-interpretation of the character from Marvel Premiere #47-48 (“To Steal an Ant-Man!”) where the concept’s full potential was realized. Ant-Man used his powers in a unique fighting style where he would instantly shrink and grow to normal size, which confused enemies. Well, this approach is used in this film and Wright deserves credit for bringing forth that concept, which thankfully Marvel utilized. These fight scenes were electrifying and breathless because they haven’t been seen on screen before. The closest film that can compare to this is Innerspace, an underrated gem from the ’80s.

Aside from the brilliant special effects and pyms and langthe tight and competent direction, Ant-Man is such a winning film thanks to all the actors who bring their A-game to the film. From Paul Rudd’s affable Scott to Evangeline Lily’s stunning presence as Hope Van Dyne to Michael Douglas who just shines as Pym. He nearly steals the film thanks to his gravitas and unexpected comedic timing. You just buy him as the angst-ridden Pym and as to why he doesn’t like Tony Stark.

Yes, there are references to the MCU and even some swipes against the Avengers. But these Easter eggs (listen for a quick Spider-Man reference!) embellish the film and don’t feel forced. Make sure to stay until the very end of the credits to get an idea of how Scott Lang fits within the entire MCU as the final scene sets up the next MCU offering. Like with the other MCU films Ant-Man is part of something larger, but at the same time it’s a smaller scale film, and that’s a compliment. It gives Ant-Man a more intimate, relatable aspect that is perhaps matched by the Netflix series Daredevil.

ant rider

The fact that Ant-Man is firmly entrenched in the MCU may seem as detriment to some, especially those that may be tiring of superhero films. But like last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man is a bubbly and pleasurable romp.

José Soto

Candidates For Future Avengers Films

avengers comicsWe’re eagerly anticipating the next Avengers films coming out in 2018 and 2019, the two-part epic Avengers: Infinity War. The team’s roster will most likely include these popular heroes: Captain America, Iron Man, and the other veterans, plus newbies like Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Spider-Man. But what about beyond the third Avengers film? Will we have the same lineup or will new blood take the place of the old guard? Given how bloated Avengers: Age of Ultron felt with nine heroes, it’s unlikely future Avengers films will have large casts. So who would be interesting candidates to fill the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as the veterans exit the stage? These are some suggestions:

Ares: The Greek god of war was a member of the Dark Avengers, so he comes with the anti-hero baggage. So, he can be a dark, more badass version of Thor as he uses traditional weapons like swords and axes with modern weapons like guns.


Black Knight: Inspired by Arthurian legend, Dane Whitman wields a magic sword and shield and rides a winged horse. The catch is that the sword that can cut through anything has a blood curse. This all may be too magical for the science-based Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), but if there’s room for Doctor Strange then the MCU can make allowances for the Black Knight.

black knight

Giant-Man and the Wasp: He’s actually Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, who decided to use his shrinking power in reverse. And of course, comic book fans know that the Wasp was his wife and at one point, supposed to have been in The Avengers, as seen by some storyboards. The characters will obviously be different people in the MCU given the character situation with Ant-Man.

giant man wasp storyboard

Hercules: Think of a more fun version of Thor and you got Hercules! Imagine his romps as he battles and brags his way across the silver screen. Plus, his fanciful boasts and love of revelry and fighting would provide light-hearted relief as if an Avengers film could use it. Another angle is to use him and Ares or Thor as foils against one another.


Quasar: Marvel’s answer to Green Lantern would add a cosmic angle to the Avengers’ roster. Armed with Quantum Bands fused to his wrists, these objects allow Wendell Vaughn to tap and use energy to fight evildoers. Not only that but his cosmic-based background could conceivably link the Avengers to the larger galaxy without resorting to Thanos.


She-Hulk: Come on, we all want to see how Marvel Studios pulls this off! BTW, CG isn’t needed to bring the beautiful cousin of the Hulk to life on screen. She would make for some inspired eye candy and an excellent counterpoint to the brutish Hulk.

she hulk

Spectrum: At one time called Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau has energy-based powers and was one of the most versatile and powerful members of the superhero team. She even led the team at one point and the spectacle of her turning into different kinds of energy would look fantastic on film.



Spider-Woman: Hey Marvel and Sony made nice and are now sharing Spider-Man. That should embolden Marvel Studios enough to go ahead and give us Spider-Woman. Besides with her Hydra/S.H.I.E.L.D. backstory it should be cinch to throw her into the Avengers.

spider woman3

Tigra: Originally Greer Grant was the superhero called The Cat but was later transformed through mystical means into Tigra with tiger-like powers. It’s easy to conceive of a sexy but tough leading lady playing this role. As with other candidates some tweaking is needed to change the mystical angle.


Wonder Man: One of the earliest and most powerful members of the Avengers deserves his shot at the big screen. Simon Williams’ tragic story of a pawn used to betray the Avengers and his eventual redemption is a great story that can be used in a future Avengers film.

wonder man3

Coming Soon: Summer Films 2015

iron man, cap thor

The summer movie season is about to kick off this coming weekend with the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. The sequel to the hugely successful film The Avengers is just the start of a deluge of eagerly (and not so anticipated) genre films due to be released this summer.

Will this be a summer to remember like in 1982 or 1984 or more recent summers like 2008 or 2012? That will be decided in the near future, but for now here’s is my personal ranking of films that I look forward to.

Avengers: Age of UltronFrom looking at early reviews, it appears that this sequel suffers from Iron Man 2itis, where too much time is being spent on setting up future films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Putting that aside, this film looks terrific and a Marvel fan’s dream film. Let’s hope it does a better job of setting up future films than Iron Man 2 or The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and that we come away with happy memories of the Marvel Comics heroes stomping on rogue androids.

Jurassic World I’m a dinosaur junkie, I admit it. Put rampaging dinos and hapless human prey on a film and I’m there. Jurassic World may not top the original classic Jurassic Park but the trailers look fantastic. And despite what some gripers may say, I dig the idea of Chris Pratt using tamed velociraptors to take on the big, bad dinosaur baddie. Seriously, I just love that scene of him riding his motorcycle with his dinosaur companions running alongside like prehistoric attack dogs.

raptor dogs

Tomorrowland What I like about this film so far are two things. One it’s not a sequel or reboot but something original. Two, being that I have no idea what’s it about, I was blown away by the visuals of a girl discovering a futuristic city. The added bonus is that Brad Bird is directing this film, which is good enough for me.

Ant-Man I don’t care about Edgar Wright leaving the project and all the production headaches. Honestly, I think Wright’s films are way overrated and him walking away from Ant-Man weeks before filming was to start was no big loss. The first trailer was, let’s face it, underwhelming. But I was sold with the recent trailer that showcased that goofy and exciting throw down between Ant-Man and Yellowjacket, featuring the threat of Thomas the Tank Engine!

Maggie This film came out of nowhere and caught my eye. Arnold Schwarzenneger as a father trying to protect his teenage daughter who is becoming a zombie. It sounds like a ludicrous Arnold actioner from the early ’90s, but I liked the serious tone of the trailer that features Arnold as more of an everyman type. At this point, I’d rather see this than the latest Terminator film.

Mad Max: Fury Road George Miller who directed all the Mad Max films returns after too long with the latest entry of our favorite post-apocalyptic warrior driver. The loony visuals from the trailers embellished with bombastic music is a great throwback to the classic ’80s action flicks.

Self/Less I just love a good, solid science fiction film with a baiting premise and expert execution. Ben Kingsley is this dying guy who transfers his consciousness into a healthy body (Ryan Reynolds). As expected, all isn’t as it seems when evil corporations and past life pathos come into the fray.

Poltergeist The trailers were surprisingly creepy and made me interested in this remake of the Tobe Hooper horror classic. There’s a lot of skepticism with recent remakes of classic genre films like Robocop or Total Recall. And for good reason because they seemed unnecessary and didn’t bring anything new to the table. So…I hope Poltergeist will have a different fate.


San Andreas and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation These last two films aren’t strictly genre fare, but they look exciting! And if you think about it, they are borderline sci-fi with those life-like masks that are a Mission: Impossible standard and San Andreas’ premise of the “Big One” finally happening in California.

Other genre films scheduled for this summer include Terminator: Genisys, Inside Out, Sinister 2, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Fantastic Four, and Pixels. IMHO these films do not interest me and will probably blow, but I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong

T. Rod Jones

Fifteen Films To Look For In 2015



This year’s slate of genre films looks incredibly thrilling for fans. We have the return of Star Wars, the Avengers and many high-profile sci-fi wannabe epics, plus a slew of fantasy, horror and animated films. Of the many scheduled releases, these are the ones to look for in 2015.

15. Jupiter Ascending

This eye-catching space adventure jupiterfilm starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum can be either a magnificent comeback vehicle for the Wachowskis or another in a long string of flops for the directors after their early success with The Matrix. (Release Date: February 6)

14. Inside Out

Pixar is offering two animated films for 2015 and the first one out is about the emotions of a young girl being played out in her mind by distinct characters. Think of that old Fox show Herman’s Head for the younger crowd. (Release Date: June 19)


Usually January is a dumping ground for inferior movies, and found footage films are now considered passé. But Project Almanac has an interesting premise: A bunch of young adults record their discovery of time travel and its negative repercussions. It could go either way. (Release Date: January 30)

12. Monsters: Dark Continent

Even though Gareth Edwards, the monsters dark continentdirector of the first Monsters film, isn’t returning, he is still involved in this sequel that expands the premise of Monsters. Now the alien behemoths have spread throughout the world and this film chronicles a soldier looking for a comrade in monster-infested territory. (Release Date: February 27)

11. Terminator: Genisys

Fans of the Terminator films have been burned by the last two entries in the series. The production team behind this latest entry hope to start afresh with this semi-reboot/sequel that returns Arnold Schwarzenegger as an older version of the killer cyborg. The trailer was a bit offputting, yet somehow intriguing with the idea that the original timeline of the first film has been radically altered and combines elements of Terminator 2: Judgment Day with the original film. (Release Date: July 1)

10. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part Two

The final film of The Hunger Games saga promises to deliver the ultimate confrontation between the young victor of the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), and the District 13 rebel forces against the tyrant President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and his armies of Panem. (Release Date: November 20)

scott lang9. Ant-Man

This film is probably a case of any publicity is good publicity. Ant-Man has always been an obscure superhero. The only interest in this film was due to director Edgar Wright’s involvement. Awaresness ratcheted up a thousand fold when Wright quit the film and Marvel Studios went through a very public search for a director, any director to take over. It’s easy to right off Ant-Man because of its behind-the -scenes headaches, but this is Marvel Studios, who were able to sell the just-as obscure Guardians of the Galaxy. (Release Date: July 17)

8. The Good Dinosaur

Out of the two Pixar releases for this dinogoodyear, this film seems the more interesting of the two. It’s about dinosaurs for Pete’s sake! And according to publicity material The Good Dinosaur takes place in world where the mighty giant reptiles never died off, making the film a rare alternate history film. Even though it’s had a troubled production, Pixar should be able to pull off another winner. (Release Date: November 25)

7. The Martian

Based on the book by Andy Weir. Ridley Scott directs this outer space survival tale starring Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded on Mars. Think of Survivorman in space or rather that underrated cult classic Robinson Crusoe on Mars, but with today’s scientific knowledge and special effects. Hopefully Ridley Scott might have better luck with The Martian than he did with Prometheus. (Release Date: November 25)

6. Chappie

Neill Blomkamp’s third film stars Hugh Jackman and is about a sentient chappierobot finding his way in the world. From the bits shown in the trailer, Chappie might become the latest endearing robot to capture our human hearts in the mode of WALL-E or R2-D2. In any case, this film offers Blomkamp a chance at redemption after Elysium failed to match the success of District 9. (Release Date: March 6)

5. Mad Max: Fury Road

Everyone’s favorite futuristic Road Warrior is back! In the newest Mad Max film, the titular hero is now portrayed by Tom Hardy and is being directed by series creator George Miller. If what has been shown on the trailers is true, we’re going to be treated by the same high-octane road thrills that defined the original films and make the Fast and the Furious films seem pedestrian. (Release Date: May 15)

4. Jurassic World

Dinosaurs never get old on the silver screen! With that said, we’ve been itching for a return to Jurassic Park even though the last film, which came out in 2001, was a bit disappointing. Chris Pratt stars as a park warden in a perfected dinosaur theme park that has a front-seat viewing of dinosaur genetic experiments gone awry. (Release Date: June 12)


3. Tomorrowland

The newest film by Brad Bird is still a mystery at this point and the teaser released served only to bring up more questions and entice us even more. Bird has proven to be a phenomenal director and the imagery shown in the trailer were beyond entrancing. Fingers crossed that Tomorrowland will be as extraordinary and scintillating as the teaser, well, teased. (Release Date: May 22)

2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Yes, this latest Star Wars film is on the top of many anticipated lists for 2015. This is just based on director J.J. Abrams’ credentials and an exciting teaser trailer. But remember how we were all excited when the trailer for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out. Then there is the undeniable fact that Abrams has his critics, especially with his overuse of lens flares. And depending on one’s point of view this is the first Star Wars film not under the guidance of George Lucas. Putting all those reservations aside, it’s freaking great that we’re actually getting a brand new Star Wars films that takes its inspiration from the Original Trilogy. (Release Date: December 18)

m falcon star wars 7

1. Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The Avengers was as influential on superhero films as The Dark Knight and Superman. A large measure of thanks had to go to director Joss Whedon, who crafted a well-balanced character/action piece that was exciting, witty and plain fun. Avengers: Age of Ultron looks like it will take the route of other well-regarded sequels in adopting a darker tone. This came across with the trailer’s use of a chilling rendition of “I Got No Strings”, which accompanied despairing scenes of our distressed heroes as they faced off against the robotic Ultron, voiced unnervingly by James Spader. Also it’s been hinted that the film’s events will lead to 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, which pits superheroes against one another. The takeaway impression is that Avengers: Age of Ultron will not play it safe. (Release Date: May 1)


In addition to this list there are many more genre films currently scheduled for 2015. Some of the more interesting ones include Predestination (January 9–next week!), a time-travel piece starring Ethan Hawke; Seventh Son (February 6) features Jeff Bridges in a medieval knight story with fantastic monsters and witches; The Divergent Series: Insurgent (March 20), the sequel to last year’s Divergent is also an adaptation of Veronica Roth’s second Divergent novel and stars super popular Shailene Woodley; Home (March 27), Dreamworks Animation presents this sci-fi buddy comedy about aliens invaders; Ex Machina (April 10) marks the directorial debut of 28 Days Later writer Alex Garland in a tale about artificial intelligence; Pan (July 24) is a prequel to Peter Pan featuring Hugh Jackman; Pixels (July 24), Chris Columbus directs this sci-fi comedy about 1980s-era video game characters used by aliens to invade Earth; Poltergeist (July 24), a remake of the Tobe Hooper horror classic; Self/Less (July 31) stars Ryan Reynolds as a dying man whose consciousness is transferred into another body; Sinister 2 (August 21), the sequel to the surprisingly scary Sinister; The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials (Sept. 18), based on another popular young reader sci-fi book series, it’s the sequel to last year’s The Maze Runner; Victor Frankenstein (October 2), James McAvoy stars as the infamous scientist while Daniel Radcliffe plays Igor; The Jungle Book (October 9) is a live-action version of the Disney classic adaptation directed by Jon Favreau; Crimson Peak (October 16), a Gothic romance directed by Guillermo Del Toro; and Midnight Special (November 25) is a sci-fi chase film about a father and son who go on run after the son develops special powers.

José Soto