It's difficult to remember a time before the reign of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Beginning with Iron Man, which soared into theaters on a pair of Stark-funded rocket boots in 2008, the comic book movie empire's rise has been steady in its expansion and methodical in its approach. While there have been creative and critical setbacks along the way, the gargantuan financial success of the now 17 interconnected films, which have grossed over $12 billion worldwide, is staggering. These movies have reshaped Hollywood. Praise -- or curse -- Thanos.
With Avengers: Infinity War, the epic third entry in the crossover-obsessed team-up series, arriving this weekend and Black Panther still playing theaters -- plus, an Ant-Man sequel dropping later this summer -- it's an ideal time to pause and take stock of what it means to be living through almost a decade of Marvel Studios. How do you compare the madcap glee of Guardians of the Galaxy to the earnest soul-searching of the Captain America or the wiseass charm of Iron Man? This is how: By ranking each movie in the correct order -- like we did, heroically, below.
(A note: This list only contains the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and therefore doesn't include FOX-produced movies based on Marvel properties like X-Men, Fantastic Four, or Deadpool. There are also no movies from the DC Universe like Wonder Woman or Man of Steel. That's a different thing.)