Marvel Cinematic Movies – Ranked

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thorimax3Can you believe we’ve had 17 (!) films since we were introduced to Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark in an Afghan cave? Marvel has truly shown the rest of the movie studios how to successfully do a movie universe, deftly weaving storylines from one character to another, teaming them up when possible and leaving them alone when necessary. As they got their foundation and feet under them, suddenly the head honchos over at Disney let the films start to be a little more unique with a little more flavor. If one film showed that, it was definitely Thor: Ragnarok.

I just saw it yesterday and I’m still reliving parts of it over and over again in my head. I laughed more than I expected (and I expected to laugh A LOT), yet this movie had some of the most dire consequences of any of the MCU films to date. I think the latter is partly done on purpose: so that the events that happen in the next Avengers team-up, Infinity War, don’t come out of left field. I think there’s a good chance we see some serious characters go down in that movie.

ANYWAY…I saw some other people making their MCU ranking thus far, so I decided to do the same. Now of course, art and movies are subjective, so my list will be different than yours and that’s OK. I based my list on a couple of factors: 1. Would I rewatch it again in a heartbeat? 2. How good of a movie is it? and 3. How does it really fit in and impact the rest of the MCU films?

So without anymore yammering from me…

  1. Captain America: Civil War
  2. The Avengers
  3. Captain America: Winter Soldier
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy
  5. Thor: Ragnarok
  6. Captain America: The First Avenger
  7. Ant Man
  8. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  9. Iron Man
  10. Doctor Strange
  11. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  12. Thor
  13. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  14. Iron Man 3
  15. The Incredible Hulk
  16. Thor: The Dark World
  17. Iron Man 2

Yep. I’m a big Captain America fan. I can hear people talking now, and that’s fine with me. Frankly, up until I actually typed it here, I had the first Cap movie at #5 instead of #6, but that’s really how much fun I had with the new Thor movie. If there is any kind of theme with the first group of movies (except for TFA), it is team-ups! Every single movie in the top five features heroes teaming up with one another, sometimes against other heroes, but oftentimes against one villain or another. Frankly when it comes to the Thor film, I’m still processing it, so come back in a week or so and I might have it a little higher or possibly a little lower. I tried to take the immediacy factor out of things, but I still love it to bits at the moment, so it makes my Top 5.

A few other notable bits:

  • I straight-up LOVE Ant Man. If there was more than just Falcon’s wonderful cameo in the movie, I might have even had it higher on my list. Paul Rudd is just hilarious and that Thomas the Train fight sequence at the end is better than most of the “fighting aliens or robots in the sky” parts that many of the films do.
  • Even if a movie is towards the bottom of the list doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. In fact, I would re-watch any of these movies and really liked them when they first released in theaters. But Iron Man 2 has some huge flaws and frankly I don’t remember much of the second Thor movie. In fact, the way they were able to take Thor and make him one of the BEST Marvel heroes in Ragnarok speaks to Taika Watiti’s ability to work with characters.
  • Many said that Doctor Strange was a better origin movie than Iron Man, and in some ways I do agree, but Iron Man was the first. If we didn’t have that first movie and the impact it made, we might not have the rest of this list.

But, what do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Should Guardians 2 be higher? Should Ultron be higher than the Bottom 5? Is Stan Lee the real First Avenger? Where will I put Black Panther on this list? Do I love Captain America too much? (quite possibly). Let me know!

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My Top 10 (Actually 12) Favorite Short Stories of 2015

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2015 is almost up, and you know what that means…

That’s right — excessive weight gain around the holidays!

Also Top 10 Lists!!

Last year I loved making my Top 10 books of the year (which ended up being around 17 or something), but this year I’m going to break down my lists into smaller categories. One of those will be the Top 10 (Actually 12) Short Stories I read in 2015.

Obviously not comprehensive, and not all were written in the past year, but all made a big impression on me. I’m terrible at telling you exactly which was THE BEST, so I’m just going to give them to you in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. Fair warning — many of them are in the Future Chronicles anthologies since I’ve read each of them this year making them a significant reading source for me each time one was released.

A few caveats: A few stories may not have made the cut because I only took one per anthology, and I definitely left all of the parts of Hugh Howey’s Beacon 23 series off since they’ll make an appearance as a full novel on my best books of the year list.


Zero Hour by Eamon Ambrose

zeroRight off the bat, we get a revelation. Eamon has been well-known in the indie community for a few years as being a top reviewer and a big supporter of indie writers. That much talent wasn’t going to stay hidden behind his blog, though, and we were treated to the first of three (so far!), short stories by Eamon in August. The story could be written off, except that Eamon penned the story in the dreaded second-person perspective. You know — the same POV that you read all those Choose Your Own Adventure books in back in middle school. Eamon pulls it off with a flourish and is a fantastic new voice.

The Traveler by Stefan Bolz

tt chronI love how Stefan Bolz writes. Always interesting. Always compelling. Always positive. Even in The Traveler, which originally appeared in The Time Travel Chronicles, where bad things happen, there is an overall optimistic outlook. Bolz has the unique ability to take a dystopia and make it a place you want to be. In The Traveler, Bolz gives us a nuts and bolts (pun definitely intended) look at time travel as our protagonist builds a machine from scratch. The story is poignant and touching, and is one of a handful of phenomenal stories from that anthology.

Free Fall by Peter Cawdron

freefallPeter Cawdron is perhaps the best writer who you should be reading if you aren’t. He’s written stories about aliens, genetic engineering, time travel, and has most recently been focusing his time and talents on zombies and the monsters humanity creates. Free Fall is set in Cawdron’s zombie universe and is a fascinating take on the genre, putting an astronaut in space at the time of the z-pocalypse. What does he do? How does he react when a distress call comes to him from a little girl on earth? The tale is thrilling and captivating.

Tasty Dragon Meat by KJ Colt

dragonIn The Dragon Chronicles, one title took the title of the “Most Talked About,” and that was Tasty Dragon Meat. KJ Colt managed to tell a story that was funny, scary, and thrilling all at the same time. Who would imagine that ingesting dragon meat would do anything besides fill a starving man’s stomach? The idea that the addictive flesh of the dragon had hidden qualities was fun and inventive and earned Colt a spot on this list.

A Long Horizon by Harlow Fallon

11796327_10153423837640170_1900403244562143189_nThe Immortality Chronicles was the first Future Chronicles title to send proceeds to charity. One might think the stories would be subpar, but throughout it, the authors strove for excellence. Harlow Fallon’s A Long Horizon capped the collection with a bang. The story spans hundreds of years from a ship bound for the New World from Europe to a ship in deep space bound for unknown destinations. One thing is consistent – an alien who has formed a symbiotic (even parasitic) relationship with its host, a woman who was just on the cusp of adulthood on her voyage to America. It is touching, interesting, and visceral.

Piece of Cake by Patrice Fitzgerald

aiPatrice Fitzgerald takes artificial intelligence and adds something we all can relate to – cake. Originally published in The A.I. Chronicles, Fitzgerald’s story takes the cake (sorry!) as the story of A.I. run amok with political correctness. There are certainly shades and hints that allude to our society today and the steps we take to making everyone the “same” and ignoring unique body shapes. I applaud Patrice’s work on the story and how it rings true, but also how it hits the funny bone as well.

Writer’s Block by Hank Garner

writers blockEarlier when I mentioned Eamon Ambrose, I talked about how much of a boon to indie publishing he’d been. Hank Garner is quickly becoming a major voice for publishing with his Author Stories Podcast. Recording one a week, Hank is giving a voice (literally) to dozens of writers who deserve to be heard. Garner is a heck of a writer as well, publishing a number of works this year, including Writer’s Block, a story that most any writer can relate to. Of course, it isn’t as simple as just a case of writer’s block, as our protagonist Stu finds out and we get a magical story out of it.

Under the Grassy Knoll by Richard Gleaves

tinfoilDavid Gatewood is one of the best editors out there, and he took a chance this year by publishing Tales of Tinfoil, a short story anthology centered on conspiracy theories. The anthology is a bold choice and I think it pays off. Gleaves’ story leads the collection with a JFK rabbit-hole tale. Where Gleaves shines is the attention to detail and the plausibility. By the end, I was almost convinced that was the actual circumstances of the president’s assassination. Gleaves’ main work on his Sleepy Hollow series is lengthy (the three books total over a half-million words), but the short story here is a fine work, indeed.

Unconditional by Chris Pourteau

Unconditional_sml2Apparently this year Chris Pourteau just wanted to rip people’s hearts out. He originally published Unconditional on its own at the beginning of the year, and then folded it into an anthology entitled Tails of the Apocalypse featuring stories of animals in the end times. I’m sure with both appearances, readers left the story a few tears fewer. Basic premise: What about the family dog during a zombie apocalypse? Here’s the twist — the story is told from the POV of the dog who is loyal to the last. Well done, Mr. Pourteau, thanks for making me think of it all over again. I hate you.

Where Dragons Lie by Thomas Robins

41MGayjgjJLThis may be more of a novella, but I’m putting it here anyway. Right about the time The Dragon Chronicles was out and garnering five-star reviews, Thomas Robins released the first of two stories in a fantasy world inhabited by dragons and those afraid of them. The title dragon isn’t all he seems to be, however, and you’ll find yourself questioning a lot as you read through the story. Robins has since followed it up with a quasi-sequel and I hope he continues the story in 2016.

Concerns of the Second Sex by Pavarti Tyler

althistoryI don’t know if I can say it much better than what I said about this story when it was first released with the alt.history 101 title in July. So here we go: “Important? Yes. Important. Take Pavarti Tyler’s story for example. Entitled Concerns of the Second Sex, her tale looks at a world where the 19th Amendment never came to be. In fact, with the absence of the women’s vote, the world has reverted to a place barely recognizable. Well, recognizable if you’ve read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but that’s about it. Tyler pays homage to Atwood with this story and takes it a step further with the treatment of other races, including race mixing. If we never respected the rights of half of the species, why would the race movement of the 50’s and 60’s be successful, either? The story is tragic, yet Tyler does give it a hopeful note. I found it poignant and an important story to read and understand where we’ve come from and where we are going.”

Carindi by Jennifer Foehner Wells

darkAn emotional gut punch rounds out this list as Jennifer Wells gets all the feels as the heart of the Dark Beyond The Stars collection. The authors and curator didn’t try to focus on it, but each of the authors for the anthology is a woman, showing that science fiction isn’t just for men. One of my favorites was Carindi, set in the universe of Wells’ debut novel, Fluency. The story focuses on dependency, love, and sacrifice. When everything you have is in the hands of someone else, what is does love mean? In the end, our actions are the loudest words of all, as we find in this moving short story.


…and there we go. What a great list. By no means is this comprehensive. I read a lot this year, but my my own admission, my reading list was mostly limited to independent publishing, namely The Future Chronicles anthologies. I rated A LOT of stories as five stars this year, so this list could change a lot depending on my mood. There were certainly stories that were great, but I had to set the line somewhere. Don’t worry — still going to have a Best Books of the Year list coming up in the next couple weeks. Stay tuned for that.

But what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.