15. The Punisher
Even though our current political climate kind of prohibits a superhero from defining themselves on the basis of being an angry gun-toting white dude rolling up in underprivileged neighbourhoods and getting his bloody revenge one bullet at a time, Marvel and Netflix both were smart to capitalise on Jon Bernthal’s instantly-iconic turn as Frank Castle in Daredevil and they did a damn good job of making the series palatable for a contemporary audience. Directing his grievances at big-government corruption rather than low-level hoods, and grounding his psyche in the mistrust and alienation felt by veterans returning home from conflicts started and puppeteered by those governments, was a really smart direction to take the character in. And that big sequence where he booby-traps his lair and annihilates everyone absolutely ******* owned.
14. Iron Man
As the starting point of this whole thing, Iron Man is pretty much universally beloved. I’d be lying if I said Robert Downey Jr. wasn’t genius casting and it’s impossible to overstate how much his limitless smug charisma has buoyed the MCU even when this movie’s own sequel threated to sink it. That having been said, I still don’t think this is the best Iron Man movie and I certainly don’t see it as a Top-10 MCU entry either. It’s good, it’s fun, it has two of the most solid opening acts in the history of superhero origin stories, but it totally runs out of steam towards the end and if it wasn’t for that awesome “I’m Iron Man” closer you’d remember it a lot less fondly.
13. Daredevil Season 1
If it wasn’t quite as good as people made out when the show debuted this new, adult, gritty slice of street-level superheroics, it was damn close. Matt Murdock might be a relatively bland and generic manifestation of Irish-Catholic self-penance, and there were way too many unimportant legal sub-plots bogging things down, but the overall tone was a breath of foul air in the cute and colourful MCU. Plus Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin is still one of the finest villains in the entire continuity.
12. Daredevil Season 2
Just barely better than its predecessor, season two of Daredevil excelled by lending a lot of focus to the Punisher and upping the importance of Karen and Foggy, but it also had to really strain against the uncompromising dead weight of the Hand and Elodie Yung’s terrible take on Elektra. Most people would rank the first season higher because its low points aren’t quite so subterranean, and it hangs together slightly better overall in terms of pacing and structure, but what this season did well it did really ******* well. How well? This well:
11. Avengers: Infinity War
Contrary to our five-star review that wasn’t written by me but that I nonetheless respect, I mostly believe that Infinity War was a peerless barrage of sight and sensation with an incredibly ballsy ending that probably won’t hold up quite so well with repeat viewings or subsequent revelations. It’s really good, it has a bunch of truly fantastic action sequences, jokes and character interactions, but to me it felt somewhat hobbled by its responsibilities to the franchise and overwhelmed by the sheer size of its cast. Lots of stuff to love, and a truly unique cinematic experience in terms of how much stuff it actually manages to incorporate, but as a standalone slice of entertainment (which, yes, I totally understand it’s not supposed to be taken as) I can’t justify putting it any higher in the list.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.