It’s possible in the last decade or so that you might have heard something about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the world-beating shared movie franchise that’s ended up dominating the pop culture conversation.
But which Marvel movie is your favourite? Which high-flying story of heroism is the one you’d return to again and again? Do you favour the Avengers team-ups, solo stories or the more groundbreaking adventures?
Well, over the coming weeks we plan to find out. Starting with four group stages, followed by head-to-head semi-finals and then the grand final, we’ll be asking you to vote for your favourite Marvel movie.
To make things fair we’ve tried to divide the groups by release and characters featured as much as possible – and in this first round we’ll be pitting Iron Man, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy against each other.
So which of these Stupendous Six should progress? Do Cap, Star-Lord, Tony, Thor or T’Challa get your vote? Make your choice above now – or if you’d like a reminder of the films, check out our quick guide below.
It’s hard to imagine today, but back in 2008 Iron Man was a superhero B-lister, only making it to the silver screen after Marvel already sold off their most popular characters to other studios. This film from Jon Favreau changed all that, and essentially set the template for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Starring Robert Downey Jr in what became his defining role, Iron Man follows weapons dealer Tony Stark (Downey Jr) as he escapes a terrorist cell by building a mechanised suit of armour, later refining the design to become a technological hero. Battling Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) and delivering a barrage of quips, the finished film is a tremendous romp, brilliantly kicking off a movie universe.
It now looks positively quaint next to the superhero smash of Avengers: Endgame, but Joss Whedon’s original team-up movie broke the mould by uniting four separate film franchises for a brilliant, world-beating adventure.
Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow battled Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, an army of alien nasties and their own hunger pangs (love a bit of Shawarma) in this never-bettered blockbuster, which proved just how big superhero stories could be. Until they got even bigger.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Jane (Natalie Portman) in Thor: The Dark World (Marvel, SD)
Chris Hemsworth’s Thor returned to Asgard for this darker sequel, which saw the arrival of another Infinity Stone – the Reality Stone, aka the Aether, if anyone’s keeping track – and a whole host of new problems for the Thunder God, not least how to explain to Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) why he never called…
With time-and-space-hopping action, some epic battle scenes and plenty of romantic intrigue, there’s a lot to love about this particular Marvel entry. Just don’t remind Londoners of Thor’s bizarre Tube route…
A human obsessed with his Walkman. A talking raccoon. A tree. Before 2014, who would have thought these would become some of the defining action heroes of a movie genre?
Like Iron Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy weren’t exactly mainstream heroes before they came to screen, but when they did they immediately entranced fans. Whether you prefer Star-Lord, Groot, Rocket, Gamora, Drax or even Nebula there’s something for everyone in this hilarious, imaginative heist-meets-Star-Wars movie. Even if that something is just the killer soundtrack.
Chris Evans as Captain America in Captain America: Civil War (Marvel, HF)
AKA Iron Man vs Cap, AKA Avengers 2.5, Civil War finally delivered on every child’s dream question – who would win in a fight between two superheroes?? – while also telling a sprawling, globetrotting story of intrigue and corruption, introducing new heroes (Black Panther AND Spider-Man) and showing off some unforgettable action.
Though to be honest, we could just show you the airport battle scene again and save ourselves all this chatting…
What more do we need to say about Black Panther? The first Marvel movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar was critically-acclaimed, financially successful and a cultural smash.
Inviting audiences to the fictional nation of Wakanda (in the continent of Africa), Ryan Coogler’s film allowed us to learn more about Chadwick Boseman’s titular hero as he battled outside forces and old ghosts from his own family’s past.
Also starring Michael B Jordan as Killmonger, one of Marvel’s most compelling villains, Black Panther was a genuinely striking, memorable superhero movie – and when there are so many hitting the box office these days, it’s not easy to stand out.
Fully caught up on each film? Ready to make up your mind about your favourite? Head back to our poll and vote now – and check back here next week for the next round…