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Ranking All Of Marvel's Phase 2 Movies From Worst To Best

Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a solid B+ catalog of films, which is tremendous given how difficult it is to world build in such a short amount of time. In 2013, Phase 2 kicked off, and Kevin Feige had to replicate and improve upon the success of its predecessor. It's safe to say that very much happened. The second phase of the MCU is dramatically better than the first, with more A+ films and fewer duds. Granted, Phase 2 has some stinkers to its name, but its top-tier films are still some of the best in the MCU to date.

MCU's second phase gave us four more sequels but it also introduced a new hero and a new superhero team who are some of the most beloved in the universe. It also stands on its own instead of solely existing just to set up Phase 3, which, to date, has the best batch of films. Characters introduced in Phase 1 were elevated in Phase 2 in the best way, deepening the audience's connection to them and their desire to see more.

We've ranked the six films of Phase 2 of the MCU, and thankfully, there is a lot more good than bad. The group is also broken down quite well into two bombs, two decent mid-range flicks, and two incredible cinematic experiences.

6. Thor: The Dark World

Let's go ahead and get this sucker out of the way since it comes as a surprise to no one. Long before "Eternals" claimed the title of worst-rated MCU film at Rotten Tomatoes, that honor went to "Thor: The Dark World." It was an impressive eight-year reign, but the Chris Hemsworth film has since been dethroned by the MCU's first-ever rotten flick. This doesn't absolve the second "Thor" film from any wrongdoing because it has one of the worst villains ever introduced in the MCU and an absolutely boring overall story. Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) has zero character development — in fact, we have no idea why he desired to bring the universe into total darkness, nor do we care.

"Thor: The Dark World" just feels very cheap, from the lazy writing to the horrible costume choices. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is one of the only characters who is able to bring life into this dull mess, but he isn't around enough to save it. We've seen Hemsworth thrive as the God of Thunder in "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Avengers: Infinity War," suggesting his better performances come from better directors. "Thor: The Dark World" helmer Alan Taylor just didn't have the stuff, leaving fans with a very skippable film in an Infinity Saga rewatch.

Its redeeming quality? Frigga's (Rene Russo) funeral is one of the most beautiful scenes we've seen in the MCU, matched with a perfect score by Brian Tyler.

5. Iron Man 3

It's a true bummer that two out of three "Iron Man" films are just insufferable. The original still, to this day, is one of the best MCU origin films, and it's a travesty Robert Downey Jr.'s trilogy was mostly a fail overall. "Iron Man 3" has the same problem many Marvel Studios movies have: its villain. The Mandarin fake-out is one of the lamest twists in MCU history, but that major misstep was thankfully rectified in "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings." The movie's actual big bad, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), has the most cliché origin story ever. Once upon a time, Tony Stark was mean to me, so now I'm going to kill him. The villain issue and the horrible CGI of the extremis characters aren't even the real problems with this film, though.

While "Iron Man 3" makes more sense as a title, this movie also could have worked with the title "Tony Stark." This was a story about Tony: Who is he without the suit? Is he good enough? Is he strong and brave enough? We see a good bit of this throughout the first two acts, as he spends most of his screen time out of the suit. He proves he can take down powerful foes like extremis Barbie using just his wits, but it's all for naught in the film's final showdown, where we find out that no, Tony can't do it without his suit — he couldn't even save Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). There was tremendous growth with Tony, and it just fell flat (no offense, Pepper) at the end when it should have been the defining moment.

4. Avengers: Age of Ultron

"Avengers: Age of Ultron" is one of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that movie lovers seem to have warmed up to a bit over the last few years. Originally, as detailed by Den of Geek, the movie received a very rocky reception from fans, especially compared to the massive success and applause the original "Avengers" film received. "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is still a film that has MCU fans divided. Many will argue that it's a decent enough flick, while others will say it's a travesty. Is it the worst of the four "Avengers" movies? For sure, no one is arguing there. The real main argument is: Is it good? We feel "Avengers: Age of Ultron is a good time, but its flaws might just outweigh its highlights.

"Avengers: Age of Ultron" is seriously overstuffed with a few too many action sequences. The film could have stood to be about 15 to 20 minutes shorter, and there are a bunch of weird scenes and stories that could have been scrapped. Thor's bizarre grotto hallucination, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Natasha Romanoff's (Scarlett Johnasson) romantic relationship, and the Hulkbuster fight all could have gone, and it would have been the same film. Ultron was also done a tremendous disservice and, in the long run, could have been a multi-film villain — but thankfully, we at least got to hear James Spader voice the murder bot.

However, adding Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) to the MCU roster is a massive plus for "Avengers: Age of Ultron," but we only wish we got more of Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson)

3. Ant-Man

"Ant-Man" is still somehow the most underrated film of the MCU, despite everyone knowing it's the most underrated film. That should cancel itself out, but regardless, "Ant-Man" is one of the most fun films to date from Marvel Studios. It was the last film to be released in Phase 2, making it the 12th overall MCU flick. At this point in 2015, we had become so attached to our core Avengers, we had no idea what to expect with newcomers.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) won over audiences with his charm and humor, as did the great supporting cast that includes Michael Peña, Michael Douglas, and David Dastmalchian. "Ant-Man" didn't take itself seriously at all, and fully embraced the very silly powers of the titular hero. Somehow a movie about a guy who could control ants was heartwarming, action-packed, and well-rounded. "Ant-Man" was a major underdog and had little hype around it, which is the best thing for an MCU film these days. The only thing the film could do was surprise moviegoers, and it did.

Scott's relationship with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) is delightful, Luis' (Peña) uncanny way of telling a story is stellar, and Scott and Hope's (Evangeline Lilly) relationship pacing is perfect.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy

Speaking of underdogs, "Guardians of the Galaxy" might just be the biggest surprise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. Outside of comic book fans, few people knew who this superhero team was, and the fact that they were swooping in out of nowhere and getting their own film felt incredibly random. With the OG Avengers still taking up much of the MCU spotlight at the time, there wasn't the same kind of buzz leading up to this fresh entry. So, when we finally got to the theater, it was one wild ride.

"Guardians of the Galaxy" still ranks as one of the best MCU films to date, thanks to its incredible story, well-thought-out character development, and perfect pacing. Somehow James Gunn managed to give us enough of five brand new characters in two hours and two minutes without leaving the audience feeling lost or overstuffed. "Guardians of the Galaxy" has the perfect amount of comedy thanks to Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket's (Bradley Cooper) dynamic, Drax's (Dave Bautista) incredible dialogue, and Chris Pratt's charm as Peter Quill. The film also brought spectacular and accurate family drama in the form of Nebula (Karen Gillian) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana).

All in all, "Guardians of the Galaxy" is a near-perfect film — Lee Pace's Ronin is a mediocre villain — and it's one of the most rewatchable films ever made.

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Only four months separate the release dates of "Guardians of the Galaxy" and our number one Phase 2 pick: "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." What a dream it would be to travel back to 2014 and relive these movies back-to-back. Chris Evans' third go as Steve Rogers in this action-packed espionage thriller is absolute perfection. This is a 100% movie from start to finish, and many would argue it's the greatest film ever in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Joe and Anthony Russo came out of nowhere with a directorial grand slam and impressed not just Marvel Studios but moviegoers, as well. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" has everything a superhero movie lover needs: a hero you want to root for, a major twist, and the perfect amount of action. The second Cap solo flick proves you don't need aliens and magic to have a successful superhero film, and everything being ground level felt like a breath of fresh air.

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" has no cheesy humor, the most realistic fight sequences, the best version ever of Natasha Romanoff, and it introduces a new hero (Falcon) in the best way. We also would be remiss to not mention the elevator scene, which is certainly one of the best scenes in the entity of the MCU. Evans, Johnasson, and Samuel L. Jackson give peak performances, and it has had a lasting impression on the cinematic universe as a whole.