The Best Marvel (MCU) Movie To Worst, Ranked
Whether or not you’re a particularly ardent fan of comic book movies in general or Marvel’s in particular, you can’t help but acknowledge the unstoppable force that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become today. What started nearly a decade ago has begun to influence cinema as a whole, with other studios scrambling to hop onto the shared universe bandwagon. With a host of movies in the MCU repertoire now, fans are often seen debating which of the lot takes the cake. Being fans of the studio and its many franchises ourselves, we decided to create a ranking of our own.
Of course, we don’t expect everyone to agree with us, so do tell us: which MCU movie is your favorite?
1. Avengers: Endgame (2019)
The first overarching story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe came to an action-packed close in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. While the movie’s time travel element may prove to be a source of confusion for many, it affords an homage to all the major arcs of the MCU and a satisfying conclusion to its first three phases. The unprecedented scale of the superhero crossover coupled with the studio’s trademark wit and action sequences makes the film one of the most entertaining in the genre’s history. Endgame is chock-full of memorable moments, with Captain America bringing joy to the hearts of comic book fans by lifting Thor’s hammer and Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man cuing the waterworks by making the ultimate sacrifice.
2. Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014)
One of the most critically acclaimed Marvel movies out there, the second installment in the MCU’s Captain America trilogy relied on excellent writing to earn its keep. Captain America: Winter Soldier took a more serious, mature tone compared to most other MCU titles, instead winning hearts with a thrilling story of betrayal, friendship, and duty.
3. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
While humor has proven to be one of the best tools in Marvel’s arsenal for big-screen adaptations, many were sceptical of a comedic take on the Ragnarok storyline, as while the formula fits right in with a wacky band such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, it doesn’t seem like it’d jive all that well with the Norse God of Thunder. Director Taika Waititi was able to make the unusual combination work swimmingly, however, aided by one of the best casts and character ensembles in any MCU movie. The charismatic Jeff Goldblum and the graceful Cate Blanchett stole the show with their excellent takes on the Grandmaster and Hela, respectively. A healthy dose of stellar action sequences ensured that the film’s comedic tone didn’t take too much away from the nature of its subject matter.
4. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
The third and biggest Avengers film is more than just an amalgamation of every preceding storyline in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The record-breaking movie is a story like no other in its genre, where the villain takes the spotlight rather than the ensemble of heroes trying to thwart his schemes. Josh Brolin’s Thanos is, for all intents and purposes, the core character of Infinity War, and though the Mad Titan’s radical plans for the universe jive well with his title, he oddly makes for one of the most believable Marvel villain adaptations, and certainly the most memorable, partly owing to his hand in the single most shocking twist in the history of the MCU.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
The silver screen debut of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy was well received by viewers and critics alike, in particular for its lighter tone and witty banter. Although it was the first time the team of superhero misfits appeared in their own live-action film, moviegoers instantly fell in love with the ensemble. Selling a relatively less popular team of unconventional superheroes – one that includes a talking raccoon and a mono-phrasal tree, no less – to mainstream audiences shouldn’t have been easy, but they make it look so, nailing everything from the storyline, to the script, and character development.
6. The Avengers (2012)
The first Avengers movie was nothing short of a historic moment for comic book movies. It was the culmination of everything planned for the first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it did not disappoint. Although more seldom means better, Marvel made it work, possibly because each character had received ample development in their own solo franchises. The movie is filled with memorable moments, with Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk flailing Tom Hiddleston’s Loki around like a ragdoll taking the cake.
7. Black Panther (2018)
While movies based on black superheroes aren’t exactly new, none have had as resounding or long-lasting an impact on global cinema as 2018’s Black Panther. Beneath its significance as a cultural phenomenon, the movie hides a compelling origin story, both for the titular hero and his polar opposite. The movie broke free from the Marvel Cinematic Universe trope of notoriously forgettable villains, finding an excellent adversary for Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa in Eric Killmonger, played brilliantly by Michael B. Jordan. Strong performances by Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright had their characters coming off as having more than mere support roles, with fans already calling for Wright’s Shuri to take up a bigger role in future MCU titles.
8. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Filled to the brim with jaw-dropping action sequences – some of the best the MCU has to offer – and more characters than the second Avengers movie, Captain America: Civil War rounded up the first Avenger’s solo stint in style. Apart from delivering an amazing no-holds-barred match between the first Avenger and Iron Man, the movie marked the first MCU appearance of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther.
9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
While critics might have begun to grow weary of the MCU’s trademark wit, there is no arguing that the studio’s success is owed in part to a now tried and tested combination of light comedy and self-deprecation. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 took that formula and cranked it up to eleven. The wacky space ensemble’s second silver screen adventure doubles down on everything that its predecessor did right, the comedy in particular, and rounds it all up with a touching ending that should have even the most stone-hearted viewers tear up.
10. Iron Man (2008)
Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man has undoubtedly been the backbone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and not just owing to the actor’s flawless portrayal of the hero. The character’s first solo movie didn’t just kick off the MCU, it essentially signaled the start of a new trend in filmmaking – one that other studios would soon adopt. The “genius billionaire playboy philanthropist” flew in with the weight of an entire fictional world resting on his metal shoulders, and in addition to saving the day, left viewers asking for more, just as the studio heads had intended.
11. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Spider-Man was a household name long before Marvel was able to add the web-slinger to their live-action roster, so it’s no surprise opinions of the hero’s first solo MCU movie were so varied. While critics generally seemed to have loved the film’s light-hearted, coming-of-age take on the wall-crawler, fan reactions varied from pegging it as the worst Spider-Man movie ever to placing it right at the top of the entire MCU. Considering Spider-Man: Homecoming was the second reboot of the franchise in the past two decades, it did an amazing job providing a fresh feel for the titular hero that gels perfectly with the rest of the cinematic universe.
12. Ant-Man (2016)
Marvel took a unique direction with the live-action adaptation of Ant-Man, making it more of a comedy than a conventional light-hearted superhero film. It turns out that was the right decision as well, given the nature of the pint-sized hero and the universe that he was going to inhabit. Casting Paul Rudd as the hero didn’t hurt either.
13. Doctor Strange (2016)
With Doctor Strange Marvel once again relied on its tried and tested combination of wit and spectacle, though the movie sets itself a cut above the others with what are undoubtedly some the best visual effects in any MCU title. Despite being steeped in controversy over having Tilda Swinton cast for the role of the Ancient One – a male Tibetan monk in the comics – the movie was able to exceed expectations on the box office, with the film’s ties to the MCU and Sherlock Holmes actor Benedict Cumberbatch playing the Sorcerer Supreme acting as catalysts.
14. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Avengers: Age of Ultron has been accused of biting off more than it could chew, having to introduce the Maximoff twins and Paul Bettany’s Vision, all while the Avengers faced off against one of the biggest villains from the Marvel universe. Of course, that takes nothing away from the memorable action sequences the movie offers, including the fan-favorite throwdown between a bewitched Hulk and Hulkbuster Iron Man.
15. Thor (2011)
The god of thunder’s first solo escapade might have been much closer to the top of this list had it not been for its final act. The film offers an excellent introduction to the character followed by an equally laudable fish-out-of-water sequence showing the hero’s short stint on Earth as a powerless mortal. The movie wasn’t able to maintain that momentum, however, with relatively short, uneventful fight sequences and cheesy one-liners in the final act leaving much to be desired.
16. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Spider-Man’s second solo title in the MCU marks the end of Phase 3, serving as a roundup following the events of the Infinity Saga. It does it in style as well, with some of the best action sequences and visual effects Marvel Studios has had to offer over the years. The film doesn’t offer much beyond that, however, with much of the focus directed at our hero’s place in the world after Tony Stark’s passing. The movie’s big baddie feels like a rehash of Homecoming’s Vulture as far as motives go, though fans seemed more than happy with Jake Gyllenhaal’s take on Mysterio and the Master of Mysticism’s fishbowl head.
17. Captain Marvel (2019)
While 2019’s Captain Marvel did an adequate job introducing moviegoers to the MCU’s next big-hitter, its story seemed to lack the richness that we’ve come to expect from the studio. That’s not to say the movie doesn’t have its memorable moments – a young, more jovial Nick Fury and his adorable but deadly feline friend Goose are two of the movies biggest selling points along, of course, with the final action sequence that showcases the true power of the titular superhero.
18. Iron Man 3 (2013)
While the final movie in the Iron Man trilogy wasn’t the worst of the bunch, it certainly paled in comparison to the original, with the Living Laser taking on the role of the main antagonist in an unexpected turn that saw the Mandarin turn out to be nothing more than a farce. The movie still had decent action sequences, a host of Iron Man suits, and a heart-warming few minutes where Downey’s Tony Stark takes the aid of a youngster to fix his immobilized suit.
19. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2019)
Ant-Man’s second solo escapade wasn’t able to replicate the original’s success, most likely owing to the lack of a definite villain and a weaker story-line. A great cast and a healthy dose of trademark Marvel wit may not have been enough to eclipse the film’s shortcomings, but our heroes’ trip through the Quantum Realm makes it a key piece in the Infinity Saga.
20. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
While it might not be as spectacular as other MCU titles, The First Avenger does well in its capacity as an origin story. It’s a solid movie with an aptly retro feel and great all-round performances. The special effects used to thin down Chris Evans for the portion of the film showing a svelte, pre-experiment Steve Rogers too were nothing short of a marvel.
21. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The first and only solo Hulk movie of the MCU was a definite improvement over 2003’s Hulk, and slated to be the only solo appearance of the hero in the MCU for the foreseeable future, it holds a special place in the hearts of fans. The film props itself up on a decent, grounded plot and a strong cast featuring none other than Edward Norton as Bruce Banner.
22. Iron Man 2 (2010)
Often pegged as everyone’s least favorite Iron Man movie, Iron Man 2 had little going for it in the way of memorability, though it did mark the first appearance of Don Cheadle’s War Machine. Another reason to rewatch the film would be for its final moments, where Stark and Rhodes team up for an explosive final beatdown.
23. Black Widow (2021)
Black Widow’s solo movie felt a tad late to the party. The movie came after the character’s MCU arc had been concluded in a fight for the entire universe. In comparison, the events of the movie felt inconsequential, though these did provide some much needed insight into Natasha Romanoff’s history and impetus while also setting the stage for a couple new characters, most notably David Harbour’s Red Guardian and Florence Pugh’s Yelena Bolova, who may be next in line to take the mantle of Black Widow.
24. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
The second installment in Marvel’s Thor trilogy struggled to grab audiences, primarily owing to a bland plot, and weak character development for the primary antagonist. It’s second half was still an improvement over that of its predecessor, though the action sequences failed to make up for its other weaknesses.