6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The first Captain America movie is one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most underrated movies, but the second is one of its most celebrated. For good reason, too, because Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a thrill-ride.
Set decades after its predecessor, it’s more of a definitive MCU movie in that it’s more closely tied to the events taking place in that world. Steve Rogers may be an Avenger now, but he’s a soldier out-of-time, lost in an advanced world of the present when his heart is still in the past. But the war hero has plenty of trouble in the present to focus on, specifically the corruption hiding in plain sight within SHIELD and the resurrection of Hydra.
The movie’s compelling plot makes it more of a spy thriller, and it works incredibly well. For a character that could have been adapted in a corny manner, Steve’s conflict couldn’t be more serious, and it grounds the MCU with some realism after its big alien invasion in The Avengers. It’s also a personal tale, as the movie’s central villain forces the Star-Spangled Man With A Plan to confront his past.
The Winter Soldier is easily one of the MCU’s greatest accomplishments and perhaps its finest standalone movie.