[CAUTION: There are mild spoilers in this article]
Avengers: Infinity War is out in cinemas and if you've watched it or read our 16 Conclusions, you'll know that fans are well and truly shocked at what's gone on! Thanos' arrival was everything that was promised and then some, but if we know one thing about these films, it's that nothing's a flash in the pan. The foundations for everything that happens in Infinity War were laid in layers since the very start of the series.
So how important was each movie (in the context of the series), how much fun was it, and accordingly, where do we place Infinity War?
1. Iron Man
Fun: Stylish billionaire tech genius builds a robot suit to break out of a middle-east terrorist base? Builds an even better chrome-plated suit with an AI-interface to fly around and hide on top of fighter jets? Gets betrayed by someone very close to him who builds an even bigger robot? Gimme gimme gimme! It was oodles of fun and still has tonnes of rewatch value!
Importance: This was the one that started it off and set the tone for what was to come! Superhero movies had gone from ludicrous to dark, but Iron Man brought out the light by humanising superhumans (if there's such a thing!). There may not have been any Infinity Stones or aliens, but there was Robert Downey Jr, Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow and they're worth a full Infinity Gauntlet as far as Marvel movie fans are concerned!
Box Office Gross: $585 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
2. The Incredible Hulk
Fun: It was kinda fun, even though Edward Norton and Liv Tyler tried to not have any. And for the only time in the series so far there was a villain that looked abominable enough to defeat the Hulk! Soldiers clashing against the big green monster and Tim Roth's love for a challenge made it worth the watch. Gets an extra 0.5 points for the glorious opening with Rio's favelas
Importance: Perhaps the most forgotten movie in the series (though it wasn't that bad). The stars left the series and rightly should be kicking themselves. But we got a Hulk movie and the series would have been incomplete without it.
Box Office Gross: $263 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
3. Iron Man 2:
Picked up where the first Iron Man left off but couldn't keep up the momentum after a fantastic showdown at a grand prix at Monaco. The storyline about Stark Sr. synthesising a new element was lame compared to the arc reactor and Iron Man suit from the previous film. The villain, played by Mickey Rourke was its saving grace, however thick his accent, and Scarlett Johansson added a certain x-factor with her character later becoming a mainstay.
Importance: Understated, in the grand scheme of things, as it did cement the characters of Tony Stark, Black Widow and Col Rhodes and showed that the formula was on the right track. The unbalanced-ness of Tony Stark which is one of the pillars of the series was well portrayed.
Box Office Gross: $623 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Fun: After just three films, the Marvel series went into outer space, and wasn't the realm of Asgard just glorious! The start of the film was biblical and fantastic, and the characters of Odin and Thor were played to perfection -- one a wise and strong old king and the other, his tempestuous, heady and arrogant, yet well-intentioned, buffoon of a son. It remained good fun even when Thor came down to Earth and Natalie Portman and her researcher posse took him out for a gargantuan breakfast!
Importance: The family-squabble climax would set the theme for the remaining Thor films and a few others too, as Loki shone as the series' primary schemer. The visual brilliance of Asgard set expectations skyrocketing and brought concreteness to fans' expectations from the series. Suddenly, the scale of the series, i.e. 3 Iron Man films, 3 Thor films, Captain America and others became something to look forward to.
Box Office Gross: $449 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
5. Captain America: The First Avenger
Fun: The Captain America films have been among the more serious ones in the series, and just as well, because Steve Rodgers isn't a fun guy -- righteous, maybe, but not particularly skilled at the faux-pas like Thor or prima-donna-like such as Tony Stark. Still, the fact that it was a World War 2 film featuring a superhuman Nazi who had accessed one of the most powerful artifacts in the universe made it compelling.
All the Captain America films are a touch more important than the other character-based films. Everyone involved in this one was from a number of generations before the de facto timeline, and so, Captain America: The First Avenger planted a number of seeds. One of the characters even returns in Infinity War, almost 75 years after everyone thought he'd disappeared
Box Office Gross: $370 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
6. The Avengers
Fun: This was it! This was what fans wanted, whether they knew it or not. As Earth's mightiest superheroes assembled aboard a flying aircraft carrier to take on an intergalactic threat, Marvel gave us our first very substantial look at what was to come. What's always been a feature whenever these heroes meet, whether they be on the same side or not, is that they like a good ol' scrap. And seeing Thor take on the Hulk, or Captain America, Thor and Iron Man engage in a triple-threat made up for the absence of villain Loki's own hand-to-hand combat skills. The Chitauri fighters and flying monsters eventually served as a good outlet for the newly-formed Avengers to strike up a rhythm.
Importance: Successful introduction of Avengers - check. Introduction of Thanos' Infinity Stone plot - check. Fans being wowed by the Helicarrier - check. Bruce Banner seeking refuge in Kolkata - check. This is when things officially started going out of hand. A tremendously important film within the franchise
Gross: $1518 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
7. Iron Man 3
Fun: Perhaps the most needless continuity-breaker in the entire franchise. It was significantly less fun than the Iron Man films that came before and a big come down after the Avengers' triumph. Rebecca Hall's character was introduced and killed off unceremoniously. The Mandarin turned out to be more Jack Sparrow than anything else and the Extremis-powered main villain was eminently forgettable. The President of the US was also involved, which was done really badly. The scale of the final battle, between all the Iron Man suits and all the Extremis soldiers couldn't save the film.
Importance: Not very much apart from bringing a bright and thunderblooded Iron Man trilogy to a pointless end. Stark got a surgery done to remove the arc reactor embedded in his chest while Pepper underwent a procedure to remove Extremis. Tony Stark playing a father-figure was foreshadowed a little, though there was nothing here that made any difference to what was to come.
Gross $1214 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
8. Thor: The Dark World
Fun: Only in parts. The problem with The Dark World was that before Malekith moved to bring the darkness, Marvel had already made everything very gloomy. Asgard seemed as though it has a smog problem while England wasn't nearly as much fun as a location for a final battle as Texas would have been. And why couldn't the Dark Elves have been translated? There was nothing to like about the villain apart from his ship and the assault on Asgard. Jane Foster's associates and Mjolnir provide the levity, as does Thor when he hangs his hammer on a coat-hook. It could have been fun but wasn't and hence it loses a further point.
Importance: An Infinity Stone was introduced, so that immediately gives it a point. Some lore was explored and we got to see Asgard a little more. It succeeded in differentiating the 'realms' from Earth and Space, which means people were left confused. Natalie Portman left the franchise and so did Sif, leaving the character wasted.
Gross: $644 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Fun: The Winter Soldier splits opinion. Some say it was an evolved film as compared to the regular energy-blast filled action. There was espionage, betrayal, a nefarious Hydra plot, the fall of SHIELD and a lot more, plus the whole Black Widow-Captain America dynamic, which shone brighter than it should have before any hope of a romance between them was shattered in Age of Ultron. The final battle was fun because there were three Helicarriers involved and the Falcon was flying around.
Importance: The Winter Soldier splits opinion. His introduction is completely contrived (Bucky Barnes had seemingly died 70 years ago) but it would go on to have a tremendous impact in Civil War. SHIELD also goes kaput, having an effect on Age of Ultron.
Gross: $714 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
10. Guardians of the Galaxy
Fun: This one was rock-n-roll from start to finish! Where did they pull that out of? While the most recent Marvel installments had been dour and laboured, Guardians of the Galaxy brought space in all its colourful glory to the multiverse in a way that nobody had expected. What a group of characters! Star Lord, the mad Kree villain Ronan, Rocket and Groot, the Ravagers, the Nova Corps, the daughters of Thanos and stunning locations like Knowhere!
Importance: In space, the lore of the Infinity Stones came to the fore. There was a larger plot and universe, fans discovered, than what had been shown previously. And it was done in a very charismatic way, right from Peter Quill's Awesome Mix tape to Groot's tree magic. This was Marvel's version of a space opera and immediately, fans wanted more.
Gross: $773 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
11. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Fun: It was a full-blooded Avengers film, so expectations were always going to be sky-high. The idea of the Mind stone being a super-computer was a fantastic premise for the all-powerful AI villain storyline to play out and having Tony Stark and Bruce Banner fiddle around with visual representations of JARVIS and the Stone were thrilling! The Avengers tower felt comfortable, but perhaps that was a feature of the entire film, as despite the cataclysmic plot by Ultron, the Avengers always seemed on top of things, despite attempts to make it look otherwise. The Maximoff Twins were a solid introduction and added variety to matters while Vision picking up Mjolnir made fans erupt like few other times in the series. The Hulkbuster Iron Man suit was a high-point while the story of Black Widow's past was unnecessary and awful.
Importance: Less important than it could have been as clearly there were high expectations. The stones plot came to the fore for the first time and the Avengers expanded.
Gross: $1405 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fun: It was probably funnier than it was fun, especially the feisty Paul Rudd and his accomplices. Some of the effects were stunning and successfully managed to make insects appear cool! There were a couple of sweet family stories in the midst of everything and Hank Pym's tank keychain was a blast! All in all, a worthwhile, if forgettable, entry for Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Importance: Its true place in the grand scheme of things will only come to the fore in later films as Ant-Man is missing from Avengers: Infinity War. A sequel is upcoming and the variable-sized superhero also played a memorable role in Civil War.
Gross: $519 million (*9.18/8.43)
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
13. Captain America: Civil War
Fun: This was a great film! It was a superhero blockbuster as big as its predecessors and yet, it had a subdued, Earthy feel to it. This was about characters, not powers, as gravity and responsibility caught up with the Avengers after their meteoric rise. The main villain had nothing special about him apart from an agenda and for once, the sight of the Winter Soldier didn't make you want to tear your arm off and clobber him with it. The introduction of Spider-Man was laboured and not even Tony Stark could save it.
Clearly, Civil War is taking some time to get over, particularly for it's showpiece characters. Captain America dominates the film, as he should, and the Avengers hit critical mass and have a massive falling-out. Rhodey has an accident that needs some amout of Stark-tech to overcome and everyone fights everyone else. The reveal at the end, about Tony Stark's parents' murder is powerful and the film leaves fans breathless for more and expectant about Wakanda.
Gross: $1153 million (*9.18/8.65)
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
14. Doctor Strange
Fun: Despite being an origin story, this film went straight into top gear, introducing a new concept of 'reality' and another plane of battle. Everyone in this was a new character but it didn't take long for audiences to become familiar. Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange had terrific chemistry with Rachel McAdams and everything on Kamar-taj was a delight. The villains weren't too shabby either, and the visual effects were as good as we've seen. Mirror dimension, anyone?
There was an Infinity Stone in it and magic too. Doctor Strange looks like an impressive superhero and surely, he has the best cape of them all. The concepts of battle that were introduced added variety to the series.
Gross: $677 million (*9.18/8.65)
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
15. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Fun: Maybe it wasn't as much fun as the first GotG, or maybe it was -- it's hard to say. But this was a win yet again! It was colourful, expansive and larger-than-life, especially the main villain being a planet! The Sovereign and Ravagers dovetailed nicely but the best thing about it was the dynamic shared by the characters. Rocket is deliberately being horrible to people, Groot's a baby, Star Lord and Gamorra have an unspoken thing and so much more! Fantastic fight scenes too, right from the opening confrontation with the space squid to the final battle between celestials on Ego.
Great in terms of character development, and also because it contained the series' first real death. Yondu ingratiated himself with the fans and became a full-fleged member of the Guardians before he died, while many of the answers about Peter Quill's heritage were answered. Did he lose his celestial power when Ego died? We're yet to find out.
Gross: $863 million (*9.18/8.97)
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
16. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Fun: It was young, it was fresh, it was like an extended episode of Agents of SHIELD. Spider-Man only worked at a friendly neighbourhood level. Sure, it was easygoing, but it was also pointless, merely for the formal introduction of a franchise character.
Gross: $880 million (*9.18/8.97)
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
17. Thor: Ragnarok
Fun: Thor and Hulk in a space-hopping buddy action film? Yes, please, said Marvel fans. Unfortunately, like all other Thor films, they didn't get a handle on the power of the main character. What was going on with the flashes of Odin? Why was Sakaar so green and purple. Why did the Valkyrie character just happen to have a history with Hela? Perhaps the best thing about Thor: Ragnarok was that Thor got a hair-cut and that it ended right where Infinity War began.
Importance: It was very important, there's no denying that. Hulk had been missing for over two years and Odin too. Asgard was obliterated. Mjolnir was crushed. Loki finally became a bore. And it laid the platform for Infinity War.
Gross: $853 million (*9.18/8.97)
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
18. Black Panther
Fun: Tonnes of fun! Wakanda is a technological marvel and it was introduced at just the perfect time. We got to know a lot about the Black Panther, and while the plot was rather 'local', it was done in a very stylish manner.
Great in terms of exploring the mythology of the Earth's most secretive fictional country and its inhabitants.
Gross: $1326 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
19. Avengers: Infinity War
Read our 16 conclusions here
Fun score: 9
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
The following is the ranking we get when we apply the following formula:
(Fun score * Importance score * Box office gross adjusted for inflation * Rotten Tomatoes score)/10,000
So Avengers: Infinity War needs to make $1587 million in the worldwide box office to be the top-ranked Marvel film (by the criteria mentioned above)
What do you think?
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