The Best Marvel (MCU) Movie To Worst, Ranked
Whether or not one is a particularly ardent fan of comic book movies in general or Marvel’s in particular, one 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, which you can read through below.
Of course, we don’t expect everyone to agree with us, so do tell us: which MCU movie is your favorite?
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Black Panther (2018)
While movies based on black superheroes aren’t exactly new, none have as resounding or long-lasting an impact on global cinema as Black Panther. Beneath its significance as a symbol of progress for Hollywood, 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 the future MCU titles.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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. As it turns out, it was the right decision, given the nature of the pint-sized hero and the universe that he was going to inhabit. Casting Paul Rudd didn’t hurt either.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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, despite the Living Laser taking on the role of the main antagonist. 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.
14. Thor (2011)
The god of thunder’s MCU debut might have been much closer to the top of this list had it not been for the second half of his first solo escapade. The film offers an excellent introduction to the character followed by an equally laudable portion showing the hero’s short stint on Earth as a powerless mortal. The movie wasn’t able to build on its momentum, however, with poorly choreographed fights and cheesy one-liners towards the end leaving much to be desired.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.