Marvel’s latest offering within its Cinematic Universe is Thor: The Dark World, marking the eighth entry into this rather ambitious attempt to apply rules normally reserved for comic books to movies. Film franchises have become commonplace by now, to the point where they’re frequently lambasted as the downfall of our cinema, innovation, civilization, etc. What Marvel is doing, though, is taking this wretched system of cynical sequels and tired remakes and doing something that, as far as I can tell, is completely new: establishing a multi-film-spanning universe with individual stories that intersect and influence each other over an indefinite period of time.
They’ve further extended this cinematic universe into television and shorts, most notably the ABC series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, which I have yet to get into (I’m hesitant due to the mixed reviews). There may be a learning curve for these ventures as there was for the movies initially, and a new partnership with Netflix certainly sounds promising. Their universe continues to expand, and if the quality can keep up pace with the quantity of output that Marvel is promising, it will be a fascinating and exciting era for innovative storytelling.
I’m not a comic book guy, but for as long as I’ve been aware of some of the conventional practices (so since like, a year ago), I’ve been deeply intrigued by the way storylines unfold across different series, and that projects as massive as big-budget movies are beginning to execute this with increasing agility is a tremendous development. I have little emotional attachment to Marvel as a brand, but what they’re doing is becoming pretty remarkable.
With that, here is a ranking of the 8 movies in Marvel’s current shared cinematic universe, based on the tastes and evaluative capabilities of a comic novice.
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