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Since this weekend marks “the most ambitious crossover event in history” with Marvel's “Avengers: Infinity War” and its 60 characters, let's rank the 18 (yes, 18!) movies that got us here. Don't @ me, and look for my “Infinity War” review soon.
18. “Iron Man 2”
Here we begin a theme: These sub-franchises tend to stumble with the second installment.
17. “Thor: The Dark World”
The middle entry of “Thor” lacked the surprise of those on either side.
16. “Avengers: The Age of Ultron”
My biggest concern about “Infinity War” is how unfocused and over-busy the last Avengers movie was.
15. “The Incredible Hulk”
It's actually probably the best movie Hulk. It just suffered from the been-there-done-that factor typical of a reboot.
You gotta love Paul Rudd, and even if this is a lesser superhero, props for an inventive take on ideas we haven't seen since “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.”
13. “Spider-Man: Homecoming”
See also: #15.
12. “Guardians of the Galaxy”
Yeah, this will get me some hate mail. I wanted to like it as much as everyone. I saw it twice. I couldn't.
11. “Iron Man 3”
After a mid-trilogy misstep, this got Tony Stark's saga back on track before he shifted back into Avengers support.
Kenneth Branagh seemed like such a bizarre choice to direct that I didn't expect this to be so much damn fun.
9. “Captain America: The First Avenger”
Cap's got the best movie track record of the bunch here, and the origin story let us go full World War II.
8. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”
Yeah, I enjoyed the sequel you thought was disappointing more than the original you loved. Tastes are subjective.
7. “Doctor Strange”
Here's another one that was so much more fun and mind-blowing than it had any right to be. Tilda Swinton, amirite?
6. “Marvel's The Avengers”
King Nerd Joss Whedon clearly gave this his all, and it was pure spectacle while also balancing an ever-growing character roster.
5. “Captain America: Civil War”
Even better than the original “Avengers” at keeping a lot of plates spinning without ever toppling, it was masterfully efficient.
4. “Thor: Ragnarok”
One of the main reasons Marvel trumps DC in movies? A sense of humor. “Ragnarok” was practically an action-comedy.
3. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
And here's another genre-bender. At a time when I was feeling much superhero burnout, this was a taut spy thriller.
2. “Black Panther”
I mean, come on. It wasn't just one of the most solid MCU movies from every perspective. It was a cultural event.
1. “Iron Man”
Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. both seemed like unlikely choices, but it perfectly set the tone with action spectacle, comedy and heart. The MCU owes a lot to this template.
“Captain America: Civil War” photo courtesy of Disney/Marvel