The Citizen Dame 5: Best Marvel Movies

With the release of black panther this weekend the newly christened citizen dame 5 honors our favorite marvel movies (kind of).


There are several things I admit I don’t follow: 90% of what’s popular on television, Star Wars, and comic-book movies. So when we decided to do a top five on Marvel movies I knew I was gonna have to cheat. Thus you’ll see Marvel comic book characters, but not movies associated with the MCU. You don’t like it? Then read the other four Dames who love the MCU way more than myself. They got some good stuff on their.

Jessica Jones (2015)

Whenever people tell me to watch stuff on Netflix I’ll nod my head and say, “I’ll get to it.” Ask me in ten years if I ever ended up watching Stranger Things. But Jessica Jones was different. She was a female action hero grappling with PTSD brought on by harassment and abuse. Heady stuff and incredibly relevant to our times. Yes, the series has had some bumps – I’ll never get over the otherwise intelligent Trish jumping into bed with a man who tried to kill her – but it’s amazing. Krysten Ritter (I really need to respell my name that way) is crass and bold, yet loves her friends to death. We get a great performance out of Rachael Taylor. David Tennant is so goddamn evil yet I’m weirdly attracted to him. And any show willing to give Rebecca DeMornay a role as a former momager is up my alley. Season 2 needs to get here, now!

Deadpool (2016)

Deadpool himself brought it up: he’s officially a part of the Mouse House. Stabs at self-awareness have happened in the comic book genre, but they’ve never received the skewering they received in Deadpool. Perpetually lucky Ryan Reynolds finally finds a character perfect for his frat boy shtick that’s oddly endearing. I love the jabs at comic book movies, and Hugh Jackman in particular; the villain is utterly terrifying; the heroine isn’t perfect but yay for a woman allowed to enjoy sex. I really hope they cut out the asshat garbage person who’s in the sequel so I can enjoy it without feeling scummy.

Logan (2017)

Again, I’m cheating since Logan didn’t come out under the MCU banner, and in fact was released by a different studio. But the X-Men are Marvel characters so I’m counting it. This might be sacrilege but I say Logan is the best comic book movie of all time. (Dark Knight is number 2!) This final entry in the saga gives Jackman’s Logan a beautiful send-off with plenty of nods to classic Westerns. Director James Mangold turns Logan into a tragic 1950s cowboy and I support it. Dafne Keen is such a revelation as Laura. And the subplot that involves the family the group spends the night with is haunting.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

The Dames are all in agreement – Thor: Ragnarok is spectacular! Where we’ve become inundated to serious, grim-dark looks at comics, Taika Waititi makes the Thor universe, and by extension the comic book film, fun, whimsical, legendary. The color palette and cinematography on this alone is worthy of praise. The humor is consistently hilarious, Hemsworth gets to show off his impeccable comedic timing and my future wife Tessa Thompson…….I love her.

The Punisher (2017)

Finding five was hard, I tell you! It was either this or the Thomas Jane version of the film. It’s gritty and violent but there are actually several moments of heart and humor I enjoyed. Who am I kidding? I needed five and this has Jon Bernthal shirtless.



I love, love the MCU. For me, there are about nine that are great. Then there’s a pretty sharp drop off to the rest, which aren’t even bad. They’re fine. Except two of them, which really are bad. I won’t even say which, in the spirit of keeping things positive. But here are my five favorites in no particular order because choosing five was hard enough.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

I’m a big fan of Cap, and I think he’s the only one of our main heroes who got a trilogy in which all of the films were good. But I picked Civil War, which is sort of an Avengers 2.5. That inner conflict of having to choose a path forward. What’s REALLY best for everyone? Is it to lock the Avengers into some sort of contract or is it better to allow them to police themselves? And to end up in a fight against his own friends while ultimately trying to save the one he’s known the longest? There is some top notch acting in Civil War. From Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., our newest heroes Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland. I love the way everything comes together and I can’t wait to see how this bridges into Infinity War.

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man/Tony Stark is a great character and no one could play him better than Robert Downey, Jr. The first movie launched this entire iteration of the MCU and was amazing. The second was…meh. But what made Iron Man 3 so great was that the seemingly invincible Tony Stark dealt with something entirely new: Post-traumatic stress. It was oddly refreshing to see someone who has literally everything he could ever want in life suddenly faced panic attacks and nightmares. It brought a very human side to this man who is, in so many ways, larger than life.

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

I wasn’t sure how they would ever be able to fit all of those personalities into one movie. But they did and they rocked it. Great heroes, perfect villain. What’s not to love? Plus it features Joss Whedon’s glorious command of perfect dialogue. I miss when I could still get excited for a new Joss Whedon project. Sigh.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

I knew nothing about the Guardians of the Galaxy when this movie hit back in 2014. I went because it was Marvel and because Chris Pratt (no, I will not apologize). What I never expected was this perfect blend of off-the-wall humor and action. It’s totally different from the rest of the MCU and I loved it.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

I normally wait a bit before adding a movie to a best list. Recency bias and all that. But this one just jumped right up into my favorites. Taika Waititi is a gift from the gods and his brand of humor was exactly what the Thor films (and the MCU as a whole) desperately needed. The best thing about this is that Waititi understands what makes Thor work and he went for it. Gone is the Evil Loki. (He’s the God of Mischief, after all.)  Waititi gets it and lets him be exactly that. Plus, he gave us a bad ass villain in Cate Blanchett’s Hela, and the absolutely divine anti-heroine in Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie. What is not to love? I desperately need more Waititi in my life.



Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

While I’ve never been deeply in love with the MCU, I’ve always enjoyed the films once I got around to watching them. But Thor: Ragnarok is one of the few that I’ve happily seen multiple times in theaters. It strikes a perfect balance of humor with action, underlied by social commentary, elevating the franchise in general, and Thor in particular. Taika Watiti finally lets the actors loose – Chris Hemsworth gets to be funny, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki finally gets to be a God of Mischief, rather than being pigeon-holed into the villain role, and Tessa Thompson’s badass turn is a welcome addition to the series. Jeff Goldblum and Cate Blanchett, meanwhile, are a perfect tag team of villainy. Add to that some great secondary characters and a parable about colonial imperialism, and Thor: Ragnarok becomes probably the best Marvel movie to date.

Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man is the movie that – somewhat improbably – started it all. It also works very well as a stand-alone, introducing us to the arc of Tony Stark from amoral playboy to…well, a playboy who, often imperfectly, tries to do the right thing. It’s easy to forget how different Iron Man was when it came on the scene – few people outside of the comic book community knew much about the character, now updated from his Cold War origins to a post-9/11 war monger who eventually becomes a hero. Admittedly, I’ve always liked Stark as a lead all through the MCU, and I like that his imperfections and mistakes don’t condemn him. Oh, and remember when Jeff Bridges played a great villain? Yeah. That was fun.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

I’m coming to realize that the MCU films I like best are the ones that function as stand-alones. The first Captain America film introduced us not only to a true-blue American hero who beats up fascists, but also to Peggy Carter, a badass who wasn’t shoved into a skin-tight outfit or meant solely to fuel the hero’s narrative. Yeah, the villain is kinda meh, but the whole movie is just a wondrous bit of fun.

Jessica Jones (2015)

OK, so I’m cheating with a TV show, but it’s not my fault they’re not putting Jessica Jones in films. While I’ve failed to keep up with the extensive development of Marvel’s TV shows, I admit to loving the hell out of Jessica Jones. It’s a much more grounded show than a lot of Marvel, and actually deals with themes of abuse, gaslighting, and assault without getting too into the sadism of it all. Badass woman fighting against evil misogynist white dude? This is kind of right up my alley.

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

The Avengers films in the MCU have had increasingly diminishing returns, but the first film, despite a few missteps, is still charming. It manages to provide a strong central narrative without sacrificing character development and actually gives ample screentime to all of the leads. Here’s hoping that Infinity War takes its cues from this one and not Age of Ultron.



I’ve been around the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the very beginning. As a little comic book nerd, I wasn’t even sure who Iron Man was; I just knew he looked really, really cool. However, the series peaked at the right time just as I was hitting my peak as a writer and comic book fan, so I immersed myself in everything Marvel.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

I’m a classic and period piece fan, so when the superhero genre went back to the 1940s, I was so there and I wasn’t disappointed. Everything from the casting to the romantic plot, even the look of the film feels flawless. Also, Captain America: The First Avenger cinematically introduced my favorite character in the Marvel Universe. Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter absolutely steals the movie, creating a fun, interesting and inspirational character. Agent Carter should have had more than two seasons dangit. I cry every time I watch this movie. He could have had that dance!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Continuing on the Captain America love fest, Winter Soldier includes all of the wonderfulness of the first film wrapped in a political thriller package. Winter Soldier also happens to be my favorite installment of the Captain America comic books (Ed Brubaker forever!). So, this movie saw the first time I truly felt like a comic book nerd. I kinda got what was going on. However, what truly sold me was the amazing performance by (one of my many celebrity husbands) Sebastian Stan.

The Avengers (2012)

Three words: Joss fricking Whedon. Potential garbage person classification aside, the iconic television creator still stands as one of my writing idols. So, I was understandably over the moon when one of the (many!) Kings of the Nerds was brought on to helm the much anticipated superhero film. The Avengers feels like a cinematic event, absolutely soaring under the pressure of packing so much into one movie. You get excellent performances from (almost) everyone. Furthermore, all the actors absolutely thrive under the tricky Whedon dialogue.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Dating back to the early installments in the Marvel Universe I never got into Thor. I wanted to. Oh, how I wanted to. However, something just never worked. However, that all changed when Taika Waititi jumped into the franchise for the third installment. What resulted was such a funny, colorful installment of wonderfulness. It was the exact shot in the arm that the tired film series needed.

Ant-Man (2015)

I had no idea what to expect with this movie. I knew the gist of the character, but little else. So, walking into the screening I was largely clueless. However, the film is a surprisingly fun entry into the MCU thanks to the extremely likable cast. Paul Rudd proves himself to be an absolute joy, as does the always awesome Michael Peña. While I still regret we never got to see that Edgar Wright Marvel movie, what we got with Ant-Man is definitely a fun second choice.

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