It’s been ten years since Iron Man was released in theaters to surprising fanfare. We now have 20 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a whopping five of those coming out in the last year alone. We have a bit of a breather until Captain Marvel reaches theaters in March 2019, so now’s as good a time as any to take stock of what we have and rank the MCU movies.

Twenty movies in, Marvel has done a pretty remarkable job of maintaining a consistent narrative and level of quality. They’ve somehow managed to approach this narrative from separate but complementary tones (Guardians of the Galaxy’s silliness versus Captain America: Winter Soldier’s political espionage, for example). It’s also an incredible feat that none of the movies downright suck. So how to rank them?

First, we each came up with our individual rankings. No scoring method, no outside sources, just gut reactions and liking one movie over the other. We each came up with the following:

Matt Maria
Captain America: Winter Soldier Captain America: Civil War
Iron Man Iron Man
Avengers: Infinity War The Avengers
Captain America: Civil War Avengers: Infinity War
The Avengers Black Panther
Thor: Ragnarok Captain America: Winter Soldier
Black Panther Captain America: The First Avenger
Spiderman: Homecoming Spiderman: Homecoming
Ant-Man and the Wasp Ant-Man and The Wasp
Ant-Man Thor: Ragnarok
Age of Ultron Thor
Guardians of the Galaxy Guardians of the Galaxy
Thor Age of Ultron
Captain America: The First Avenger Ant-Man
Iron Man 2 Iron Man 2
Doctor Strange Doctor Strange
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Thor 2: The Dark World Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3 Thor 2: The Dark World
The Incredible Hulk The Incredible Hulk

As you can see, we are largely in agreement with a few small differences. We each picked a different Captain America sequel as our number one, followed by Iron Man. We both put the first and third Avengers films in the top 5. Our bottom 6 are the same, just in different order.

But what if we tried something different? We decided to introduce a grading system. We’ll call it the Over Thinking It score (OTI). We considered what makes Marvel movies similar and concluded they could each be graded out of five points on:

  • writing (specifically character development and themes)
  • villain (their motivation and/or charisma. Are they just taking over the world or do they have something real to fight for?)
  • humor (is it funny or just fan service?)
  • action (do I like how they beat people up?)

Thus, a maximum score for the perfect Marvel movie would be 20 points. The idea was–thinking more systematically– that maybe our ordering would change. Of course, these scores were just as subjective as our individual scores, just more thought out. Here are the scores we came up with in order of theatrical release:

Iron Man:     Writing: ◊◊◊◊◊     Villain: ◊◊◊     Humor:◊◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊     Total: 15

The Incredible Hulk (we haven’t seen the complete movie since it’s release, so we gave it two’s across the board) Total: 8

Iron Man 2:    Writing: ◊◊◊     Villain: ◊◊     Humor:◊◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊◊     Total: 13

Thor:     Writing: ◊◊◊     Villain: ◊◊◊◊◊     Humor:◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊     Total: 13

Captain America: The First Avenger:     Writing: ◊◊◊◊     Villain: ◊◊     Humor:◊◊     Action:◊◊◊◊     Total: 12

The Avengers:    Writing: ◊◊◊◊◊     Villain: ◊◊◊◊     Humor:◊◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊◊◊    Total: 18

Iron Man 3:     Writing: ◊◊     Villain: ◊◊     Humor:◊     Action:◊◊◊    Total: 8

Thor: The Dark World:     Writing: ◊◊     Villain: ◊     Humor:◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊    Total: 9

Captain America: Winter Soldier:     Writing: ◊◊◊◊◊     Villain: ◊◊◊     Humor:◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊◊◊    Total: 16

Guardians of the Galaxy:    Writing: ◊◊◊     Villain: ◊     Humor:◊◊◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊◊    Total: 13

Avengers: Age of Ultron:     Writing: ◊◊◊◊     Villain: ◊◊◊     Humor:◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊◊◊    Total: 15

Ant-Man:     Writing: ◊◊     Villain: ◊◊     Humor:◊◊◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊◊    Total: 13

Captain America: Civil War:     Writing: ◊◊◊◊◊     Villain: ◊◊◊     Humor:◊◊◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊◊◊    Total: 18

Doctor Strange:     Writing: ◊◊◊     Villain: ◊     Humor:◊◊     Action:◊◊◊◊    Total: 10

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2:     Writing: ◊     Villain: ◊◊     Humor:◊◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊    Total: 10

Spiderman: Homecoming:     Writing: ◊◊◊◊     Villain: ◊◊◊◊◊     Humor:◊◊◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊    Total: 17

Thor: Ragnarok:     Writing: ◊◊     Villain: ◊◊◊     Humor:◊◊◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊◊◊    Total: 15

Black Panther:     Writing: ◊◊◊◊◊     Villain: ◊◊◊◊◊    Humor:◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊◊    Total: 17

Avengers: Infinity War:     Writing: ◊◊◊◊     Villain: ◊◊◊◊◊    Humor:◊◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊◊◊   Total: 18

Ant-Man and the Wasp:     Writing: ◊◊     Villain: ◊◊◊    Humor:◊◊◊◊◊     Action:◊◊◊◊   Total: 14

Then we put the movies in order of their OTI score (tiebreaker went to earlier release) and compared to our own lists. Here was the result:

Matt Maria OTI Score
Captain America: Winter Soldier Captain America: Civil War The Avengers (18)
Iron Man Iron Man Captain America: CW (18)
Avengers: Infinity War The Avengers Avengers: Infinity War (18)
Captain America: Civil War Avengers: Infinity War Spiderman: Homecoming (17)
The Avengers Black Panther Black Panther (17)
Thor: Ragnarok Captain America: Winter Soldier Captain America: WS (16)
Black Panther Captain America: The First Avenger Iron Man (15)
Spiderman: Homecoming Spiderman: Homecoming Age of Ultron (15)
Ant-Man and the Wasp Ant-Man and The Wasp Thor: Ragnarok (15)
Ant-Man Thor: Ragnarok Thor (14)
Age of Ultron Thor Ant-Man and the Wasp (14)
Guardians of the Galaxy Guardians of the Galaxy Iron Man 2 (13)
Thor Age of Ultron Guardians of the Galaxy (13)
Captain America: The First Avenger Ant-Man Ant-Man (13)
Iron Man 2 Iron Man 2 Captain America: The First Avenger (12)
Doctor Strange Doctor Strange Doctor Strange (10)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (10)
Thor 2: The Dark World Iron Man 3 Thor 2: The Dark World (9)
Iron Man 3 Thor 2: The Dark World The Incredible Hulk (8)
The Incredible Hulk The Incredible Hulk Iron Man 3 (8)

Some surprises, right?! Iron Man gets knocked way down, but maybe it ought to be there. The first movie shouldn’t remain the best for long. But look how Iron Man 2 jumped up! Avengers and Captain America movies still figure heavily into the top five. We were right on the money with Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, and the rest of the bottom 5 were the same, just a different order. Overall, Maria’s list seems to align with the OTI score slightly more than Matt’s.

What does this all mean? Did we science yet? Which list is best? What did we get completely wrong? Tell us.