Ranking the Marvel Movies

Hello, True Believers!

I’ve been collecting Marvel comics for more years than I care to admit.  Needless to say, I see ALL of the Marvel movies (well…pretty much any comic movie) opening weekend in the theater.  Here’s what I believe is the correct ranking for the films based solely on the pages of Marvel comic books.


#39 Captain America (1990)


By far the worst of all Marvel movies.  A perfect example on how a comic film can succeed or fail.  This is even ranked below the F4 (1994) as it actually tries to take a serious approach to the subject matter (while F4 was made knowing it would be bad, or at least unreleased).

#38 The Fantastic Four (1994)

Fantastic Four 1994

Prior to all of the current onslaught of Marvel movies, the early 90’s graced us to a few gems.  For those in the know, Constantin Film purchased the rights to the Fantastic 4 in the mid-80’s.  In the early 90’s they needed to make a film based upon the property or risk losing the rights.  In 1992 Roger Corman was hired to direct the first F4 offering.  This “ashcan” version (a film made solely to retain copyrights) was never intended to be released (unbeknownst to the cast and crew).  For nearly a decade, it was a badge of honor to have seen this or owned a bootleg copy sold at many of the Cons.  Now with the advent of YouTube, this travesty can be viewed by anyone.

#37 Electra (2005)


No surprise here.  As a collector of plenty Elektra comics, I knew WAY ahead of time that a screen adaptation of this character would fail miserably.   It would be difficult to translate this character to a hard “R” rating let alone PG-13…  There was enough interest from the Affleck Daredevil offering to have this one made.  Granted, the first 10 minutes are decent enough, then it gets pretty bad.

On a side note, if anyone is looking for a great Elektra comic read, the story through Civil War is one of the best for this character (while the most current series is also really good).

#36 Blade: Trinity (2004)


Comes across as a weak TV pilot.  Ryan Reynolds is responsible for both the best and wost parts of this travesty.  Although, I’ve been hearing rumors that Wesley is pushing for a reboot of the Blade franchise.  Without DelToro, it’s a long shot, but Blade needs to be out there defending us from moody teenage vampires.

#35 Spider-Man 3 (2007)


This is offensive as a Spider-Man fan, as a film connoisseur, and mostly as a supporter of Sam Raimi.
Shame on you Sam.  In his defense, at this point he’d been making just Spider-Man movies for 6-7 years, and was probably just burnt out.  Just to prove to his audience he hadn’t completely lost it, he gave us “Drag Me to Hell” immediately after (which could fit loosely in the Evil Dead mythos).

#34 X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

origins wolverine

Again with the Ryan Reynolds. How can one man be Deadpool, Green Lantern, and Blade’s assistant?  HATED this in the theater, but after a dozen viewings on HBO, it kinda gets a charm.

#33 Daredevil (2003)


An even worse casting choice than Dolph in the first Punisher movie (and now he’s Batman, don’t these actors know about continuity??).  The silver lining here is the Director’s Cut (much better than the theatrical).  Just as the Human Torch is now Captain America, Foggy somehow became personal assistant to Tony Stark.

#32 Howard the Duck (1986)

howard the duck

Not nearly as bad as critics would lead you to believe.  In fact, over the years, this one’s grown on me quite a bit.  It’s a silly concept that made a silly comic that was turned into a silly movie.  My main problem was the fact they should have gone for a hard “R” rating than a family summer film.  Also, thanks to James Gunn, I NEVER thought Howard would ever grace the silver screen again (referring to the after the credits clip in Guardians of the Galaxy).

#31 The Punisher (1989)


Bad casting choice, and a complete lack of the Punisher uniform, but Dolph does a job worthy of the high-end of mediocrity.  However, that elevator scene was excellent!

#30 X-Men: Last Stand (2006)


Brett Ratner is our misfortune, and Superman gets Bryan Singer.  Despite the quality of this film, we still get X-Men: First Class and a Wolverine movie.  What happened to the Superman sequel?: 3 year delay and another origin story.  Bryan, ya shoulda stuck with Marvel.  Again, after a couple of hungover Sunday afternoon viewings, there is a charm.  Should just be thankful that so many X-men movies have been made…this just happens to be the bottom.

#29 Fantastic Four (2005)


They got a little right, they got a lot wrong.  My biggest problem, how the Hell can you turn the Human Torch into Captain America.  Someone should call shenanigans on that…  Luckily we’ve got a another reboot coming down the pipe this year!

#28 The Punisher (2004)

punisher 2004

Poor Tom Jane.  He actually gets the chance to play Garth Ennis’ Punisher, and the ball gets dropped.  It’s not all bad, but they really kind of missed the whole point on the Frank Castle character by humanizing him (and dragging out the origin far longer than it needed to be).  To redeem this, Tom did this fan film (Dirty Laundry) which is probably better that the actual film:

#27 Man-Thing (2005)

Man Thing

Yes it’s a little heavy on the environmental message, but decent nonetheless.  Also, it must be noted that Man-Thing actually predates DC’s Swamp Thing.

#26 Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)


Yes, this one has taken quite a beating amongst both fanboys and the press.  There are three ways to view this one:
1. As a Hollywood action vehicle.
2. As a Nic Cage vehicle.
3. As a true to Marvel characterization

It fails at #1 & #2, but actually does service to the Marvel character of Johnny Blaze and the Ghost Rider.  This film is actually how many of the Ghost Rider story arcs read (to be honest the film is probably better than most of the comics).  The way they got the chains into this one is great!  Plus I admire an actor that is a fan of the character and doesn’t jump ship to another character…looking at you Ryan Reynolds.

#25 Ghost Rider (2007)

ghost rider

I actually own the original run of Ghostrider (1 thru 30somthing) from the early 70’s.  I like what Nick tried to do here despite agreeing with many people on the flaws.

#24 X-Men (2000)

x-men 2000

The first X film.  I still remember geeky college conversations (circa mid-90’s) about if an X-Men film would actually ever be made.  At the time, Glen Danzig was the favorite to play Wolverine…remember that?  Still can’t believe how many X films have been made.  Believe me, they are only scraping the surface of mutant content.

#23 Hulk (2003)


Ang Lee’s Hulk takes some serious abuse from the fanboy community.  I just don’t think it’s that bad.  In fact I love the last hour (and will admit the first hour is a little slow).

#22 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

Fantastic Four Surfer

As close as we are ever going to get to a Silver Surfer film.
Can you imagine SS in his own film?  flying around the galaxy, giant space battles….I can.

#21 Punisher: War Zone (2008)

punisher 2008

I definitely know that I am in the minority on this one, so I ranked it as low as I possibly could.  Truth is, I really love this movie and have watched it more times than I care to admit.  The funny thing is, I didn’t really care for it in the theater, but on a whim, I rented it on blu-ray.  In full 1080 high-def and with the “Ambi-Light” feature enabled this movie just pops (Ang Lee’s HULK is almost as good from the same home movie tech standpoint).  The colors (particularly near the end) are damn near Argento levels and they absolutely captured Punisher’s New York!

#20 Blade (1998)


Prolly ranks as high as it does just for that opening scene…

#19 Blade II (2002)


Did you know Guillermo del Toro directed this?

#18 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

amazing spider 2

By far the bottom of the modern-day Marvel releases (i.e. post Iron Man, despite being Sony and not really Marvel).  They certainly got a lot of it right, but Jaime Fox is completely miscast and Electro poses no real threat.  As for the Rhino, I kinda expected….more.

#17 The Incredible Hulk (2008)


While I enjoyed this one a little more than the Ang Lee offering, I still think they should keep trying as the potential for a REALLY great Hulk film still exists.

#16 Thor (2011)

Thor_poster 2008

Yup, never thought I would see a Marvel Thor film (or even a good one!)  God bless Kat Dennings!

#15 Thor: The Dark World (2013)


Yup, never thought I would see a Marvel Thor sequel (or even better than the first one).

#14 Iron Man 2 (2010)


Plays it a little safer than the first one, but still worthy of the top 15 with the help of Mr. Rourke.

#13 Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)


I jokingly made a comment about the “Winter Soldier” appearing in a sequel after seeing the first Cap movie.  Had no idea that Matt Fraction’s run was really going to be used!  It certainly had far more impact in the comic, as I don’t think most Marvel filmgoers are familiar with the importance of Bucky remaining dead, or what this meant to the Marvel 616.  There goes the Bucky clause…(although DC did the same thing by bringing back Jason Todd).

On another personal note, I really enjoyed how this also filled out the “Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D” storyline.

#12 Captain America: The First Avenger (2012)

captain america 1st avenger

Amazing set up for both the Avengers movie and the TV spinoffs of Agents of Shield and Agent Carter.

#11 The Wolverine (2013)


Enjoyed WAY more than I expected!  Love when that happens.  Man, they also pushed out that PG-13 rating in the best possible way (for this type of character).

#10 Spider-Man (2002)

spider man 1

A little too heavy on the origin story, but Sam Raimi did us proud.

#9 The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

amazing spiderman

Blasphemy, I know.  But I prefer this to Raimi’s webhead.

#8 Iron Man 3 (2013)

iron man 3

All x3 films completely solid.  Take that DC…

#7 X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)


Again, I am simply amazed we are getting X-Men movies; let alone some of the best story lines from the comics.

#6 Iron Man (2008)


This movie serves as the template Marvel has used in making most of their recent offerings.  While it can be a little formulaic, it seems to be working.  Man, I just really wish they could’ve kept Terrence Howard.

#5 X-Men: First Class

xmen 1st class

This one absolutely caught me off guard with how good it was.  How they included casts (at different ages) from this and the previous X movies in Days of Future Past was most excellent!

#4 Guardians of the Galaxy


2014, the year in which Troma goes mainstream!  I’ve been a James Gunn fan since Tromeo & Juliet and never thought I’d see that style reach the general populace.  While it breaks (rightly so) from the “Iron Man” template of Marvel movies, it most certainly still has plenty of heart.  Can’t wait to see how this culminates in the 3rd Avengers movie!

#3 Spider-Man 2 (2004)

spidey 2

It is not that rare for the comic-book movie sequels to improve upon the original (Superman, Batman, X-Men, Blade, Fantastic 4, Punisher, etc.).  The same cannot be said regarding the 3rd entry in a franchise…

#2 X2 (X2: X-Men United)


For nearly a decade, this stood as what I considered the best Comic Book movie that had ever been made.  I’m do not mean that it is the “best-made” of all comic films, I mean that it is the closest to capturing EXACTLY what superhero comics are all about.

#1The Avengers (2012)

avengers 2012

Currently stands as the “best” Comic Book Movie!  Don’t know why it took this long to get a superhero team film (excluding the X-Men of course).  I also gave it an extra 1/2 star bump for Tony Stark wearing a Black Sabbath shirt throughout the film!  Those of you familiar with the “Ultimate” Marvel Universe should recognize some of the witty quips taken directly from the comics (I don’t know why this doesn’t happen more often).  Curious to see if Ultron can dethrone this one!

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