25. Thor: The Dark World
The most telling thing about Thor: The Dark World is that I’ve seen it twice and still remember almost nothing about it. We even did a podcast episode on it, and I just had to look at the Wikipedia synopsis to remind myself of what went down. It seems that some of that stuff should have been way more memorable than it ended up being. Also: Malekith. Bet you couldn’t remember that guy’s name, could you?
If the MCU has one movie that’s technically good and holds together well enough, and is enjoyable in the moment but is also really forgettable and actually kind of close to being flat-out bad, this is that movie.
24. Iron Man 2
Despite a stellar supporting cast and the distinct advantage of being one of the first MCU movies to really feel as if it was incorporating the entire preceding mythology, Iron Man 2 was still kind of bullshit and doesn’t really get the flak it deserves for only being a moderately better sequel to its original than Thor: The Dark World was. I guess Robert Downey Jr.’s charisma still counts for something, but even that limitless font can only do so much for a movie that jogs in place quite this much.
Also, Mickey Rourke’s plastic surgery still constitutes the least-impressive visual effect in the entire MCU.
23. Luke Cage
It’s an unpopular opinion, but I wholeheartedly feel like Luke Cage being a beacon of neo-Blaxploitation African-American cultural reclamation led a lot of critics to ignore the fact that everything in its second half was complete bullshit. Sure, at the time, we needed a bulletproof black dude at the forefront of popular culture, but that shouldn’t distract from the fact that everything not involving Mahershala Ali’s Cottonmouth was horribly-paced, dramatically inert and cripplingly repetitive. This would actually be lower on the list if its uplifting socio-political viewpoints weren’t so integral to the season’s first half, but Wu-Tang forever.
22. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Even though it’s one of those big team-up movies and its finale turns out to be maybe the most significant event in the franchise in terms of defining who the Avengers are and what they mean to each other and the world itself, Age of Ultron just doesn’t feel as though it has that kind of impact. Yes, it’s partly a consequence of being awkwardly-placed in the overall continuity; the heroes are all coming together, but in the middle of their individual stories, so there’s no thematic or dramatic nexus where all that prior build-up actually means anything. It has some bits I really like, but it’s the first of these things that really felt overburdened by its franchise-building obligations, and it spent a little bit too much time and emotional energy on Black Widow eagerly seeking out that Hulk smash.
21. Jessica Jones Season 2
The first season might be one of the best and most important parts of the MCU, but the second initially underwhelmed me and then continued to perplex and irritate me with one terrible decision after another. The revelation about Jessica’s parentage made for an intriguing wrinkle but left behind more plot holes than I care to count, and the systematic, incoherent decision-making of everyone involved just aggravated me on the way to a conclusion that seemed to bend over backwards – and betray a lot of established characterisation – just to make a miserable and unconvincing thematic point. As much as I get that Jessica overcoming Killgrave’s male dominance is pretty much explicitly what the character and show are about, it pains me to say that I really don’t think she’s better off without him.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.