Ever since 2008's Iron Man, Marvel Studios has schooled all its rivals in how to make awesome superhero movies. The latest one, Captain America: Civil War, continues that education with what is possibly the best superhero movie ever made. It's that damn good.
To mark the film's release this week, I have decided to rank all thirteen official Marvel Cinematic Universe movies in ascending order of their awesomeness. Given how great most of these movies are, it's been an incredibly difficult task.
13. Iron Man 2 (2010)
The original Iron Man (now) famously began production without a finished script, but it's the film's sequel that marks the nadir of the MCU. A jumbled mess that fails to engage. And just okay action scenes.
12. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Not a complete and total turd, and the action is kinda cool. But surprises are an integral part of what makes MCU films work, and there are absolutely none in this film.
11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Since the release of this hugely successful film, writer/director Joss Whedon has repeatedly commented on how stifled he felt by the studio while making it. It comes across in the finished product, which struggles to balance the many balls (and cities) it has in the air.
10. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Not a bad movie, but not a very memorable one either, and not nearly as much fun as the first Thor. Second entries seem to be Marvel's weak point ...
9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
... Although many would argue that this film is one of Marvel's best, I really struggled to engage with it, despite Cap being my favourite MCU character. The amazing action scenes cannot be faulted, however, and brought a new agile flair to the main character's fighting style.
8. The Avengers (2012)
Joss Whedon admirably corralled all the elements for this epic undertaking which is impressive on many levels, but never really got me in the gut.
7. Iron Man 3 (2013)
A glorious return to form for the Iron Man series thanks to stellar work by director/co-writer Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys), whose personality is all over this thing.
6. Ant-Man (2015)
A timely reminder of the MCU's power to surprise. After the sombre Age of Ultron, Ant-Man had charm to burn, and showed that Marvel films don't need to go big to be awesome.
5. Thor (2011)
Director Kenneth Branagh combines a huge amount of world-building with a meaty character arc and some very welcome humour. Who knew a Thor film could be so great?
4. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
The MCU finally went cosmic with this ridiculously entertaining space opera that proved Marvel doesn't need widely-known characters to make an awesome movie.
3. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
The reverence shown for the spirit of Captain America in this film is all the more admirable considering how potentially anachronistic this character can be outside the comics. Joe Johnston recalls the joy of his underrated 1990 film The Rocketeer in his mounting of a dazzling World War II adventure. Not since the original Superman (1978) has the essence of a longstanding comic book character been so successfully translated to film.
2. Iron Man (2008)
Beginning how they meant to go on, Marvel's cinematic mission statement changed the game for superhero movies. The news of Jon Favreau's impending return to the MCU (as a producer on the next two Avengers films) is very welcome considering how great a job he did bringing this colourful wonder to life. He's unlikey to repeat the mistakes of Iron Man 2.
1. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
One of the most impressive things about this is how much they held back in the trailers. There's so much more to the film than what is being shown in the marketing, and getting to experience it all for the first time while actually watching the movie is an all-too rare treat. Plus they absolutely nailed Spidey. I was giddy.
• Agree? Disagree? Comment below!