11. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 1
The MCU would be a lot lighter on humor (and dad rock soundtracks) if it weren’t for the motley crew of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 1. With a hapless hero, a foul-mouthed raccoon, and a talking tree person who can only say “I am Groot” the filmmakers bet that viewers would enjoy a bit more silliness in their superheroes. They were right. Guardians sets a more lighthearted tone future MCU movies capitalize on.
12. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 gives a little more insight into what makes the galactic defenders tick. It also introduces Mantis and turns Thanos’ daughter Nebula into a more sympathetic and complex character while exploring her relationship with her sister Gamora. Finally, two words: Baby Groot.
13. Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Along with fleshing out a lot of supporting characters like Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye, Ultron introduces us to Vision. It also sets up many of the events to come in the Infinity Saga (including Thor: Ragnarok) and sets the stage for Captain America: Civil War.
The film that turns America’s most lovable actor, Paul Rudd, into its tiniest hero. Ant-Man gave MCU fans an opportunity to root for the little guy. It also provides a backstory for Ant-Man before his appearance in Captain America: Civil War.
15. Captain America: Civil War
Heavily linked to the events of Age Of Ultron, this film sees the MCU’s heroes at odds with one another in a situation as testy as the title implies. Alliances are broken, casting the relationship between the Avengers and the world they seek to protect into doubt. Civil War also introduces Black Panther and Spider-Man and kicks off Marvel’s Phase Three.
16. Black Panther
With powerful performances by Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther and Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger, 2018’s Black Panther took the box office and the MCU by storm with its enthralling story and fascinating setting of the kingdom of Wakanda. Black Panther and Wakanda both play an important role in future films in the Infinity Saga.
17. Spider-Man: Homecoming
After getting knocked around a bit by his own allies in Civil War, Spider-Man finally got his own movie in 2017. In addition to Tom Holland’s breakout performance as Spidey, Spider-Man: Homecoming develops the surrogate father-son relationship between Tony Stark and Peter Parker and shows the effects of the events of The Avengers on the people of New York. Also, who can say no to Marisa Tomei as Aunt May and a dastardly Michael Keaton as Vulture?
18. Doctor Strange
Starring the talented Benedict Cumberland as Stephen Strange, Doctor Strange was a Marvel film that introduced a character with real depth along with a look into the complex world of magic, creating one of the most unique films in the MCU. It also features the Time Stone, one of the Infinity Stones central to the plot of the Infinity Saga.
19. Thor: Ragnarok
Taika Waititi’s irreverent take on the god of thunder was both funny and fresh. Ragnarok is easily one of the most entertaining films in the MCU and while Thor does lose an eye he also reunites with his old buddy Hulk. The events of Ragnarok lead directly into Infinity War.
20. Ant-Man and the Wasp
It’s a tough cinematic universe out there when you’re a millimeter tall so Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man can certainly use the help of Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp. We also learn a lot more about the Quantum Realm.
Note: While the movie takes place before the events of Infinity War, avoid the credit sequence which makes a time-jump into spoiler territory.