Iron Man 2 was still the worst one, right?
Now that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has been in theaters a few days, it’s time to answer that perpetual question: Which Marvel Studios movie is best?
Alex Abad-Santos and Todd VanDerWerff each assessed all 15 films in the studio’s roster, then tallied their results to arrive at this 100 percent definitive ranking. If you disagree, you obviously have a different definition of the word “definitive” than they do. But that’s okay. We can all share this planet together.
Here’s every Marvel movie, ranked from worst to best.
15) Iron Man 2 (2010)
Iron Man 2 suffers greatly from having to serve too many masters. It wants to be another fun-loving Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) tale, but it’s also working diligently to set up the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.
This was Marvel’s first attempt at a film that would serve as a prelude to even bigger things to come farther down the road, and it was clear the studio hadn’t quite figured out what it was doing in that regard. It’s the only outright bad movie Marvel Studios has made. Mickey Rourke is weirdly fun as Whiplash, though.
Best moment: Whiplash attacks Tony Stark on a racetrack. There aren’t a lot of great sequences in this film, but this one has a savagery to it that’s worth seeing.
14) The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The Incredible Hulk is openly boring. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) spends most of its run time trying to make sure his heart rate doesn’t surpass a certain threshold. In many scenes, Norton simply looks blankly at a number that’s increasing or decreasing. It’s like Speed, but the opposite.
It doesn’t make for compelling cinema, and while the movie does feature lots of tanks and smashing, it isn’t even a good action film. It says a lot that Marvel hasn’t made another Hulk-centric movie since this one.
Best moment: In the chase scene through Brazil, Banner’s cover is blown, and government special ops pursue him through a winding, maze-like town where the laws of gravity seemingly don’t apply.
13) Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Marvel’s “phase two” started off shakily, as the studio tried to follow up The Avengers with new solo films for Iron Man and Thor. Between the two, Thor: The Dark World suffers most for feeling like a completely generic, fill-in-the-blank take on a Marvel movie. It’s largely devoid of personality, and its biggest moment is quickly undone by the end of the film.
Still, it’s a chance to watch Tom Hiddleston play the trickster Loki, which is always worth seeing. For that alone, it escapes the absolute lowest reaches of this list.
Best moment: Loki and Thor head into another world on a desperate suicide mission. It’s the one time the film feels like its characters actually want something.
12) Thor (2011)
Thor marked a change of pace for Marvel, which had found success (at the time) by leaning into the story of Tony Stark and his irreverent worldview. Thor is more staid, with director Kenneth Branagh loading up on majestic monologues and poetic storytelling.
The movie is also a departure from Iron Man in that it’s more about the villain, Loki. It’s Marvel’s first movie where the villain boasts the charisma that characters like Magneto and the Joker have. Sure, Thor’s redemption story is fun, and it’s cool to see his friends help him out. But, really, this movie lives because of Loki’s sinister spirit.
Best moment: Thor smashes the Bifröst to bits to save a planet full of frost giants. He’s doing an incredibly noble thing, but he’s also destroying the only way for him to return to the love of his life.
11) Iron Man 3 (2013)
This one prompted the most dissension in our rankings, with Todd placing it relatively high and Alex placing it near the bottom.