Every Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best
Sure, Marvel kept fans happy at home for just about all of 2022 with its Disney+ jams, bookending the year with Moon Knight and She-Hulk. But we all know that feeling. That feeling, you say? The goosebumps you get in a cushy, dark-red movie theater seat when MARVEL shines on the screen and you hear the bum bum, bumbumbum bummmm. Honestly, few things beat it—and 2022 has it.
There's been, count 'em, 30 Marvel Cinematic universe films. Iron Man introduced us to this great world. The Avengers showed us a team-up we never thought was possible. Black Panther impacted our lives in a way the superhero genre never had before. Avengers: Endgame was so long that we nearly peed our pants. But it was worth it. And now, we're fully back in theaters, with another superhero event: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Read on to see where it lands in our ranking of every film Marvel has put on the big screen.
30) Thor: The Dark World (2013)
When even Chris Hemsworth’s biceps aren’t enough to make a movie watchable, you know you’ve messed up horribly.
29) The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Remember when Edward Norton was the Hulk and then very suddenly not? Yeah, I still don’t remember what happened there? Was that ever explained? Is Norton okay?
28) Iron Man 2 (2010)
At one point Mickey Rourke, who is some sort of trashy Russian hacker, attacks a car race. Not that far-fetched, I guess, but also not that enjoyable, either.
27) Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Years later, I still couldn’t tell you who Ultron is and what his age was. If there was any semblance of plot in this movie, memory of it has been pushed out of my brain in favor of about 30 billion superheroes hitting each other until I felt like I’d just gotten off a mildly dangerous carnival ride.
26) The Eternals (2021)
The Eternals is decidedly a non-Marvel Marvel movie. At times moody, triumphant, funny, and burdened with existential crises, you have to commend the great Chloé Zhao for managing to break through the happy-go-luckiness of the Marvel formula. Unfortunately, the end result is a bit unwieldy, with too many characters—and an astoundingly large amount of superhero space jargon—to let us truly fall in love with its story.
25) Thor (2011)
A superhero movie posing as a cheap Lord of the Rings knockoff, Thor ended with a team of LARPERs fighting an empty CGI suit of armor.
24) Ant-Man (2015)
In one scene, Ant-Man shrinks down to a microscopic level and then Neil deGrasse Tyson ruins the movie magic by explaining how that’s not actually possible in science.
23) Iron Man 3 (2013)
The best thing to say about Iron Man 3 is that it was a little bit better than Iron Man 2.
22) Doctor Strange (2016)
Don't worry if you were too stoned to follow Doctor Strange. The movie looks good enough to make up for its indecipherable plot.
21) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Sadly, what started as the best entry to the Marvel Universe was quickly ruined by trying too hard to make it bigger and better in the subsequent sequel. What a very Marvel thing to do.
20) Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
We knew the Marvel Singularity would come eventually—the moment when all the callbacks, cameos, teases, and interconnected superheroing of it all would simply sink an MCU entry. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is it. Despite a brilliant, Sam Raimified third act, the overwhelming majority of Multiverse of Madness dumbs down its main players (save for one great America Chavez) into action figure levels, bickering in an empty-feeling CGI landscape.
19) Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
I hope you like hearing the term "quantum." Ant-Man's second entry has so much nonsensical techno-babble that it makes Star Trek sound like Steinbeck. Compared to Avengers: Infinity War, which came out a month earlier, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a breezy, inconsequential entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe that's a refreshing comedic detour in the franchise.
18) Captain Marvel (2019)
Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel deserved a better movie. Although, this film managed to rewrite 50 years of comic book history to give the character the place she deserved, Captain Marvel is too focused on finding its place in the MCU films before and after it to really shine as a stand-alone movie.
17) Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
It's sad that the idea of Captain America punching a Nazi would probably be controversial if this movie were released today. At least this movie harkens back to a time when good and evil seemed clear.
16) Black Widow (2021)
Even though the pandemic zapped some of the hype away from Black Widow, the espionage thriller is a more than fitting sendoff to Scarlett Johannson's Natasha Romanoff. Plus, we want Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova in every single Marvel property going forward, please and thank you.
15) Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)
Taika Waititi gets it. He just does! Few MCU directors have understood the assignment quite like the Ragnarok and Love and Thunder director, who knows that superhero movies should be fun. Case in point: Love and Thunder managing to wring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and even Waititi (as our favorite rock humanoid, Korg) for every hilarious bit they're worth. The movie is the summer blockbuster of our dreams, blending the zingers with hammers and axes and lighting bolts and anything else worthy of a god's grasp. Somewhere along the way—when you least expect it, actually—Love and Thunder will smack you with an emotional blow you might not see coming. But you'll be happy it did.
14) Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the ultimate movie-theater movie. The action is especially sweat-inducing—which is saying a lot in the MCU. Simu Liu is an instant star. It doesn’t hurt to have the always-great Awkwafina in the mix, either. In Wenwu, Tony Leung brings to life a terrifying, yet somehow still big-hearted villain who stands amidst the greatest antagonists we’ve ever seen in a comic-book film.
13) Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
After impressively rebooting the character (again!) with Homecoming, Far From Home establishes Spider-Man as a worthy successor to Tony Stark and a capable new character to anchor this franchise after the conclusion of Iron Man and Captain America's storylines. With an impressive cast consisting of Tom Holland and Zendaya, Spider-Man's future in the MCU is bright. And he's only in high school!
12) Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)
Though a bit bloated, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was able to figure out how to pay homage to the late Chadwick Boseman and preserve his legacy in the franchise moving forward. Namor (Tenoch Huerta) is one of the MCU's coolest villains yet, and it doesn't get much more exciting in the Marvel universe than a Black Panther film. Wakanda Forever? We certainly hope so.
11) Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Where previous entries felt stuffed to the brim, overwhelming, and just plain messy, Marvel finally found a good balance of the number of superheroes-to-story ratio. Even with appearances from literally everyone—and an introduction to the new Spider-Man—Civil War still somehow feels like a Captain America movie.
10) Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
While the penultimate film in the Avengers title doesn't continue with the progress seen in other 2017 and 2018 Marvel titles, it does much better at balancing the dozens of moving parts than its predecessor. If only the greatest heroes in the universe were better at protecting these stupid stones. Maybe Thanos deserves to win...
9) The Avengers (2012)
The idea seemed doomed. How could Marvel put so many stars, so many heroes into one film? How could they pull off the balancing act of an interconnected universe consisting of a half dozen blockbuster films and fit them into one movie? Though a touch uneven and dizzying, Marvel pulled off one of the most impressive and ambitious feats in the big movie business.
8) Spider-Man: No Way Home
Even though, at times, leading up to its release, Spider-Man: No Way Home felt like it wouldn't match its own hype, director Jon Watts and Tom Holland, with all of the grace and heart of Peter Parker himself, managed to pull it off. No Way Home is a celebration of Spider-Man, even if the MCU of it all slightly muddles the character's coming-of-age story. We'll remember the feelings we had when we watched No Way Home for a long, long time.
7) Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
In a refreshing change of pace, Marvel turns a Spider-Man movie into a funny teen drama that gives the supporting characters a chance to feel alive. The biggest accomplishment here, though, is making the sixth Spider-Man movie (with the third actor to play Peter Parker) in 15 years somehow one of the character's greatest big-screen outings.
6) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Even though it falls into the familiar Marvel trap of a big, stupid ending, about two-thirds of Winter Soldier is a riskier and smarter entry into the MCU than most.
5) Avengers: Endgame
Though the stakes remain low in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—particularly low because of lazy plot devices—Endgame does its best to create emotional conclusions for some of the most iconic heroes of the last decade. It might be much of what fans expected from this movie, but it brilliantly wraps up 10 years of movies and takes the time to actually focus on its characters.
4) Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
After two very bad Thor movies, director Taika Waititi somehow managed to not only save the franchise, but provide a promising formula for the next generation of Marvel movies. Thor: Ragnarok is a hilarious, exciting, and unexpected outing that stands apart from every other film in the MCU.
3) Iron Man (2008)
It’s the movie that started it all. Iron Man changed not only the superhero genre, but the movie industry as a whole. Plus, this was the movie that brought Robert Downey Jr. back, and the only Iron Man movie in which Tony Stark is a lovable asshole rather than just an asshole.
2) Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Guardians has everything a Marvel movie should: an awesome soundtrack, a hilarious script, a unique visual style, its own attitude, an ensemble of fully-developed characters, a talking tree, and the rare ability to stand alone among the rest of the universe. Guardians is at once part of the MCU and literally its own galaxy, yet it still provides the backbone for how all these worlds are connected.
1) Black Panther (2018)
Black Panther is unlike any other Marvel movie, one that says something about our world in ways the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn't (despite their best intentions). Featuring a phenomenal collection of actors playing some of the most complex characters found in a superhero movie, Black Panther's pairing of Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan as bitter rivals results in a nuanced thematic conflict that puts most Marvel plot lines to shame. Most importantly: It's fun as hell, visually dazzling, and a refreshing addition to a film series that desperately needed a boost to keep it from becoming stale.
From: Esquire US