Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge fan of Marvel, and obviously, that includes the Marvel Cinematic Universe films and TV shows! In the following series, I’ve ranked all forty-some entries in order of my enjoyment (not necessarily in quality) from worst to best.
#5. Thor: RAGNAROK
Though a little over the top for my tastes, Thor: Ragnorak does the best and brightest magic in the MCU, leaning deep into absurdity and drama for a rollicking, feel-good trip across the universe. Home to one of the best reimaginings in the MCU (Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie) and the best use of the Hulk on film, Ragnorak defied expectations to go high on my list. (I didn’t even see it in theaters!)
#4. ant-man & the wasp
I love Ant-Man. I love the Wasp. Despite the many creative liberties taken with their characters, Ant-Man & the Wasp was a pitch perfect adaptation of the source material, creating a fun and colorful science fiction world that felt like it’d stepped right out of a comic book. Far from formulaic, and hilarious to boot, Ant-Man & the Wasp is possibly my favorite film, though it falls a bit short in this specific list and cannot hope to match my #1.
#3. Captain Marvel
Though I didn’t enjoy it or have as much of a connection to it as I did with #4, Captain Marvel pushes through by being an instance of Marvel at its best. Utilizing the tried and true “origin story” formula while somehow making it unique, Captain Marvel utilizes the talented Brie Larson to great effect, giving us one of the MCU’s most powerful and relatable heroes, a complex conflict, and a timely statement on the pressures faced by women in today’s society (both in the film and in the public reaction to it).
#2. Avengers: Infinity War / Avengers: Endgame
I actually forgot to add Infinity War to this list until the last second. If I hadn’t, Infinity War would’ve been farther up- though the attempts to do WandaVision, the sweeping scope, and the gutsy ending were appreciated, the horrific treatment of Vision and the decision to tell the story from Thanos’ perspective (not to mention the Russo’s seeming ignorance of the character arcs of Thor and Peter Parker) prevent that movie from fully clicking with me.
Endgame, meanwhile, has its fair share of issues, (including the OOC final act of Steve Rogers and its questionable treatment of the female characters) but is a much more cohesive movie, leaning into a few heroes and giving us a powerful story from their perspective, utilizing real stakes, sparing humor, and epic battles to forge what is for good reason seen as the pinnacle of the MCU. And yet, it can’t compare to…
#1. Agents of SHIELD (Season 4)
The best live-action comic book adaptation ever in my opinion, AoS Season 4 took two disparate comic book creations they obtained the rights to- Ghost Rider and Life Model Decoys- and created a breathtaking, mindblowing, heartbreaking, perfect season of television.
Though the Ghost Rider section dragged a bit at the start, the season handled him with a grace and violence that made me certain the season would be much less interesting upon the jump to the second “pod” (the season was divided into three: Ghost Rider, LMD, and Agents of HYDRA).
However, instead, LMD upped the stakes, delivering the unbeatable hour of television that is “Self Control” which kept me on my seat in a way television never had. AIDA was the best villain the show, and maybe the entire cinematic universe has ever had, and the twists and turns that define these 20-some episodes were effective and powerful.
To me, Agents of SHIELD Season 4 was everything the MCU could’ve been- eclectic, reflective, character-motivated.