In this afternoon’s open thread, I got a bee in my bonnet. People are worried whether or not Ant-Man is a flop given that it took in just over a third of the opening weekend sales that Avengers: Age of Ultron made. It’s a valid concern- money is the only thing they respect.

Then which Marvel movies are the best Marvel movies? The highest grossing, of course.



10. Guardians of the Galaxy

Hey, it’s on the list! I am surprised as you are! As I mentioned recently, this one is a fan favorite for sure. It is hailed as the outsider film in the MCU, the one no one saw coming, despite Thor 2 coming out the year before generating a gigantic fan demand for a Marvel space movie without any Avengers in it. Eh, not so, according to its equally beloved director James Gunn, who also seems to be an advocate of the money-ranking system.

“Thanks to all of you who saw (and are seeing) ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ this weekend, from the bottom of my heart. The Guardians are a group of oddballs, outcasts, and geeks. The movie is for anyone who ever felt cast aside, left out, or different. It’s for all of us who don’t belong. This movie belongs to you. And, today, I think we’re doing okay.”


9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Another fan favorite in the top ten. Maybe because it was based in part on the Ed Brubaker run on Captain America (ask me sometime about my theory that contemporary Americans hate Captain America). Maybe because it was focused on practical effects and stunts, as good movies typically are, rather than purely making it come together in post-production. Maybe because you needed to see it to be able to see the next one.


8. Iron Man

This I understand. This was Marvel Studios’ first film. It has that debut energy, the need to impress, and it does. Also, kids love Iron Man. I guess you can never turn into a Mutant or get bitten by a radioactive spider but you can get a super suit? I always thought of Iron Man as kind of a dick. If Winter Soldier is good in part because of similarities to Ed Brubaker’s comics, then it should be mentioned that Kurt Busiek’s touch is all over the Iron Man series.


7. X-Men: The Last Stand

Uh, ok. This is one of those projects where the original director dumps the project and someone else picks up the pieces. Sound familiar? But it was the most expensive movie ever made! That makes it great, right? By this list’s logic, the answer is yes.


6. Spider-Man

Sam Raimi. Willem Dafoe. A James Cameron story rewritten to be punchy and funny. A recipe for success, and it was. Can you believe that there wasn’t a Spider-Man movie before 2002? Can you believe that Tobe fucking Hooper was slated to make a Spider-Man movie and Stan Lee shot it down? I feel like there are two main Marvel comics for outsiders- X-Men for weird kids who did not want to fit in (superpowers turn you from a normal into something hated by humanity) and Spider-Man for kids who desperately wanted to fit in (superpowers turn you from a nerd into a cool kid). Spider-Man kids just come from higher income homes, I suppose.


5. Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 was the last Marvel movie I watched, and I fell asleep about halfway through. There’s Mickey Rourke in this one, right? He was in Barfly.


4. Spider-Man 3

The movie was one thing, and then the producers made Sam fit both Gwen Stacy and Venom in. The Sony bullshit caused Sam Raimi to jump ship. And the series is about to undergo its second reboot. So it’s a great flick, right? By the standards of this list, it is one of the best!

“Unlike the predecessors, Spider-Man 3 reviews from critics were mixed to positive, who felt it lacked a focused or substantial plot due to the excessive presence of characters from the comic books; however, it stands as the most financially successful film in the series worldwide, Marvel’s fourth most financially successful film, and Sony Pictures Entertainment’s second highest-grossing film, despite being the most expensive film of all time at release.”


Most expensivist movie ever made, too? No wonder it’s number one four!


3. Iron Man 3

You get the point. Plot taken largely from an actual creative person’s comics (Warren Ellis this time). This is essentially a sequel to Marvel’s Avengers, thankfully riding its coattails instead of critical the flop that was Iron Man 2 (don’t tell this list that). Was it good, or was it just the snowball rolling? I really can’t say one way or another. Are Avengers 1.5, Avengers 2 and Avengers really the best Marvel movies? Yes!


2. Avengers: Age of Ultron

What will people remember about Age of Ultron in the future? They will remember that Black Widow was replaced with Captain America for the helicopter toy because boys play with action figures, girls play with dolls, and a toy that is a girl is a doll so you cannot sell it to boys. You know, Disney values.


1. The Avengers

Now, this was definitely the best once the show switched from black and white to color. There is just something perfect going on that year. The charisma and spark between Steed and Mrs. Peel is fucking magic. The balance of spy stuff to self-aware humor is spot on. Plus, everyone loves a post credits sequence, and none has been more popular than the gang getting together at the end of the movie for a pair of chilled flutes of champagne.


Some other interesting facts:

Marvel Studios only holds half the titles in the top ten.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a better film than Ant-Man.

Daredevil is a better movie than Blade II.


And this has been your Marvel financial report. I look forward to each of your thoughts on this, and who knows, if they’re good enough maybe some of you junior executives may find partnership opportunities open to you in the next quarter.