5. Black Panther (2018)
There are few movie releases that feel like moments in time, that lift beyond the screen and into something more profound, but Black Panther was certainly one of those, this timely, remarkable and truly phenomenal superhero film feeling like a long time coming, the work of Ryan Coogler and his team making every minute worth the wait.
A movie for black people, made by black people and with an almighty budget assigned by one of the world’s most powerful studios was an unmissable event, and made for one of the MCU’s most unique and special singular films to date. From the page to the screen and right through to its sound, Black Panther was hugely impressive and one of the very best Marvel movies as yet released.
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4. The Avengers (2012)
It was the stuff of dreams for everyone who’d ever been a child, and even more so for those who had long been fans, but here it was on the big screen, $200million budget and all – looking as great as had ever been possible. What universe were we living in?
It’s hard to remember how, back in 2012, Marvel Studios was still a fairly new concept and that the idea of bringing superheroes together like this had been nothing but a dream for many, cartoons and relatively low budget animated films being all that there was to satisfy the swathes of fans. DC had never tried it at this stage, so Marvel were revolutionary in that respect, and given that this was their first try, it was truly an outstanding and incomparable success. Even without a blueprint, they designed a masterpiece.
Every character got their moment of comedy, their moment of action, a strong arc and enough screen time to earn their worth, while every other aspect of the film came together to offer satisfaction and the ultimate in fan service – a film worth every rewatch you’ve already given it.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Hilarious, soulful, heart-wrenching and incomparably creative, Guardians of the Galaxy is the jewel in the crown (or is that the fist) of Marvel’s standalone debuts, a remarkable and at the time surprising runaway success that earned every penny of its $773million worldwide box office gross by being one of the most unique and exciting films Marvel had ever made.
This band of misfit c-level Marvel characters were hardly the first names anyone expected the studio to put money behind, but James Gunn’s script was ultimately too good for Marvel to turn down and the result was the most surprising hit of the studio’s tenure.
Each of this film’s characters are now household names, the less than reputable cast now Hollywood A-Listers, the Guardians being integral to the central Avengers movies, and it’s all because of the way Gunn and company got us to laugh, sing and even cry about “a bunch of jackasses standing in a circle”.
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2. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
The snap heard around the world. The Avengers couldn’t lose, could they?
With all the rumours and hyperbole attached to the MCU running into Infinity War, it seemed impossible for the studio to be able to deliver on the expectations of its legions of fans, but somehow it did.
Every Avenger (all 999 of them) got their moment to shine, the Russo Brothers bringing together so many franchises, characters, planets and timelines to offer something as remarkable as there has ever been on the big screen, and then making them lose so you just have to watch that final movie the year after. Remarkable.
Infinity War is arguably the more complete overall film of our top 2, but it misses out on the top spot because it takes your breath away more than it pumps you up, its slightly younger sibling being the ultimate in long-term story pay-offs and fan service, and ultimately the movie you’re more likely to rewatch.
1. Avengers: Endgame (2019)
It was… inevitable.
The peak of the Marvel mountain, the highest height to which anyone can ever envision the superhero genre ever reaching, the highest grossing movie of all time at the worldwide box office. Avengers: Endgame wasn’t divisive like Star Wars or underwhelming like many thought of The Dark Knight Rises, it was simply a joy; a truly triumphant moment for studio, creators and fans alike that wrapped up so much of what it promised, that offered real stakes and drama, that lifted you up as quickly as it threw you down, and that ultimately won the hearts and minds of a worldwide populous of filmgoers.
Endgame was the event movie of its generation, the “I was there” film of the century thus far, the biggest draw with the best pay-off of any film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and incomparable in terms of catharsis and joy; a number one worthy of so many Ranked lists, but certainly this one – the greatest Marvel Studios film of all time.
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But what do you think? Which film would you have placed at the top of your list? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on more articles like this one.
Updated 4th December 2022 to include Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Originally published 13th July 2020.