For 13 years, Marvel has been putting out multiple films a year that all intersect and connect in subtle yet exciting ways. Marvel properties like “Doctor Strange,” “Iron Man” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” were relatively known to just comic book fans, but now thanks to Marvel’s winning blockbuster formula, they are household names. Not every flick is amazing though, so here is the ranking of all 23 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) so far.
23. “Thor: The Dark World”
“Thor: The Dark World” is one of the most forgettable Marvel entries. Tom Hiddleston as Loki always shines and makes this movie bearable, but the plot, villain and action are extremely bland.
22. “The Incredible Hulk”
Edward Norton’s only performance as The Hulk, before being replaced by the superior Mark Ruffalo, is really good, but the movie itself is just fine.
21. “Captain Marvel”
While I think this movie is great for finally having a long-overdue female-led MCU movie, the actual female lead is very uninteresting. It is not terrible, but just OK.
20. “Iron Man 2”
Most of the plot lines are really good, such as Tony Stark’s relationship with his dad, Justin Hammer and the introduction of Black Widow. Unfortunately, there are just too many things in the pot for it to work as a coherent film.
Chris Hemsworth knocks it out of the park as Thor and so does Tom Hiddleston as Loki. This is an enjoyable MCU entry, but nothing crazy that warrants multiple rewatches.
18. “Ant-Man and the Wasp”
The sequel to 2015’s “Ant-Man” uses much of the shrinking and enlarging effects to its advantage, like in one chase scene there is a giant Pez dispenser. The world-building it attempts to do with the Quantum Realm is underdeveloped, though. There is not much replay value here, but if it’s on television it doesn’t hurt to keep it on.
Paul Rudd as Ant-Man is funny, endearing and charming, which is everything you want out of a Marvel protagonist. The plot is a simple affair, but has strong supporting characters. “Ant-Man” is harmless, good fun with exciting action despite its mediocre villain.
16. “Black Panther”
The late, great Chadwick Boseman and his fellow cast members absolutely kill it. Ludwig Göransson’s score is one of the best in the MCU and Killmonger is in the upper echelon of superhero villains. The humor lacks and the action is very disorienting, though. Overall, “Black Panther” is a good film, but not great.
15. “Avengers: Age of Ultron”
Similar to “Iron Man 2,” there are way too many plot points going on that the entire movie suffers. All of the cast and their chemistry is still wonderful, while the action as well as the humor can be hit or miss. The movie can be appreciated for setting up characters like Scarlet Witch and Vision as well as still delivering exciting Marvel moments, but it barely holds a candle to “Avengers.”
14. “Iron Man 3”
The third installment of the “Iron Man” franchise feels like the dark horse of the series. The villain twist is funny, but the villain who replaced the fake “Mandarin” is much less interesting of a character. Sometimes the tone goes too silly and the action focuses too much on destruction, which can be mind-numbing. Issues aside, this is an underrated film that is worth checking out.
13. “Doctor Strange”
While it lacks originality with Doctor Strange’s character arc being similar to Iron Man’s, it makes up for it with visually dazzling action scenes. The final confrontation between Doctor Strange and Dormammu is fantastic. Is it a top-tier Marvel film? No, but it is really, really good.
12. “Captain America: The First Avenger”
Introducing the “Captain America” franchise with a scrawny Chris Evans is just iconic. The ending is super emotional, and a definite tearjerker. Besides a mediocre second act and some underdeveloped supporting characters, “Captain America: The First Avenger” is one of the best origin movies.
11. “Spider-Man: Far From Home”
This movie continues the high school tone amid a European backdrop. The action is well done with an amazing, trippy sequence featuring Mysterio. Not everyone loves this version of Spider-Man, but for the MCU it fits perfectly.
10. “Iron Man”
The one that started it all. “Iron Man” took a bold first step of beginning a cinematic universe of movies. Fortunately, it all paid off because of Jon Favreau’s smart writing and Robert Downey Jr.’s game-changing performance as Tony Stark. Its first act in the cave is one of the best first acts ever for not just Marvel, but any movie.
9. “Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2”
James Gunn’s sequel may have some forced humor, but everything else about is absolutely stunning. Visually, this film is one of the best in the MCU. The writing also carries nuanced emotional beats that set it apart. The First “Guardians” may be a better movie, but Vol. 2 definitely holds its own.
8. “Spider-Man: Homecoming”
After the two previous “Spider-Man” franchises ended terribly, Marvel Studios decided to take a new route using a high school tone. The characters are more awkward, the stakes are low and Tom Holland actually feels like a teen. Michael Keaton as Vulture was surprisingly clever during a time when Marvel was on a losing streak with its villains. Prepare for a different type of Spider-Man, but one that is different for the better.
7. “Captain America: Civil War”
A movie that pits Captain America against Iron Man, features almost all of the Avengers and continues Captain America’s journey should be muddled, right? Thankfully, it feels much more organic than it has any right to be. Multiple action scenes, including the airport fight, are just mesmerizing to witness. If that did not feel like enough, Black Panther and Spider-Man are introduced here, which boosts the movie to fantastic quality.
6. “Guardians of the Galaxy”
“Guardians of the Galaxy” has the best music, playing mainly ’70s and ’80s songs. The characters are all weird, but that works to their benefit. Unlikely actors like wrestler Dave Bautista and Chris Pratt became superstars from this movie. Emotionally, comedically and stylistically it all completely works.
5. “Avengers: Infinity War”
If “Captain America: Civil War” felt like a lot of characters, this flick tops it with almost every major person in the MCU showing up. The Russo Brothers balance it extremely well with nothing feeling confusing. This movie is the definition of an event-type film that has a plot but relies more on gigantic moments to carry it. Thanos is the big bad guy that the previous movies were building up to, and he does not disappoint. The ending is also one of the best cliff-hangers in film history.
4. “Thor: Ragnarok”
The previous Thor movies were not bad, but nothing to write home about until Thor got a major facelift by director Taika Waititi. Thor became funnier and Waititi provided a unique, quirky tone that felt fresh. The use of “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin was the Thor anthem that you never knew you wanted. “Thor: Ragnarok” never gets old and revived interest in the character of Thor in sweet fashion.
3. “Avengers: Endgame”
“Avengers: Endgame” is the concluding chapter of the first three phases of the MCU. Classic characters like Iron Man and Captain America receive proper, satisfying send-offs. This three-hour epic finale did not disappoint and should be applauded for living up to fan expectations.
A big crossover comic book event film had never been done before, or at least done well until Joss Whedon’s “Avengers.” The film made over $1 billion at the box office because of how smart, entertaining and exciting every element of the movie is. Seeing all of the different interactions between these heroes still never fails to be enjoyable. Alan Silvestri’s theme for “Avengers” is the most iconic piece of music in the superhero movie genre. “Avengers” is undeniably a classic.
1. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
Sequels can sometimes fail to do something new and end up not living up to the first one. This is not the case for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which goes an entirely new direction that makes it the best MCU movie. The character of Captain America gets updated for the 21st century with a spy thriller plot that pushes the MCU in a new direction. This film showed that MCU movies could delve into other genres while maintaining the blockbuster formula that made these movies a hit. The action is visceral, the villain is layered and Chris Evans feels fully comfortable in his role as the Star-Spangled Man. It’s a sequel that builds upon the first and earns its place as the most impressive MCU flick.