Technically speaking, the Marvel Cinematic Universe begins with 2008’s game-changing Iron Man, but plenty of movies before then had their origins in Marvel’s colorful pages. In ranking the 10 best Marvel movies, we couldn’t help but roam further afield—not all the way back to 1986’s gawdawful Howard the Duck (that would be lunacy) but to the whole of Marvel’s output. Fans of action movies, sci-fi thrillers and blockbuster summer movies already know these films intimately, but let’s weigh in with the rankings to date (with a zillion more Marvel installments on the horizon).
Best Marvel movies
This instalment delivers a heavy and welcome dose of political paranoia (courtesy of Robert Redford playing against lefty type as an ominous high-ranking official). Chris Evans’s superhero remains an enjoyable square peg in the round hole of the sleek Marvel universe.
At long last, the Marvel Comics universe comes together in the common purpose of defeating evil alien snake monsters. In humanspeak, that means you’ve got a bunch of superheroes in a single movie. The cape-wearing savior here is director Joss Whedon, who remembers to keep things fun, flip and broadly entertaining.
Some may find the film’s comic self-satisfaction a little grating—these lesser-known heroes date back to 1969—and there are moments when the sheer brain-melting relentlessness becomes wearying. But overall, this is giddy, ridiculous fun: a wonderfully generous gift of a film.