Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies Ranked
Here's our ranking of the MCU movies!
20. Thor: The Dark World
The weakest MCU entry is Thor's second solo outing because it doesn't progress the story or character in many meaningful ways. While Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth are both great in the lead roles, the rest of the cast seem to be wandering through the convoluted script. They do use action and effects well, especially in the last battle, but it lacks the heart of the original. It seems that it was a rushed production and unfortunately it's felt. Also, the villain is perhaps the most forgettable of them all.
19. Iron Man 2
Even with Jon Favreau back at the helm, the sequel to the MCU starter Iron Man is one of the worst yet. The heart is lost a bit due to over-the-top villains and a messy story overall. Visual effects are better though, even if they're overused, and so are the action sequences, but even Robert Downey Jr. has a tough time with the sometimes silly script. It was another fast-tracked sequel to a popular movie that would've been better had more time and attention been put on the screenplay. It does help set up and expand the universe more but focuses on that too much and not enough on the lead character of Tony Stark who's supposed to be the most interesting part.
18. Doctor Strange
This movie does a fantastic job of introducing the audience to the mystical side of the MCU, but fails to deliver on certain fronts. The supporting characters are somewhat forgettable for the most part and some of the major reveals are telegraphed too heavily. However, the film is a visual feast with the effects department really outdoing themselves here by warping reality itself in so many unique ways. Benedict Cumberbatch is superb in the lead role and while Mads Mikkelsen isn't a bad actor, his villain isn't given enough to do to make him memorable. It undercuts too many moments with humor as it's tone seems to be at war with itself. This could've been Marvel's bold foray into the horror genre, especially with Scott Derrickson at the helm, but it plays it safe instead.
17. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The follow-up to the sci-fi adventure is a deeper and more meaningful movie than anyone would've guessed. This MCU movie goes further into the mythology of the comics and expands on each character's role by giving them all more development and new relationships. Michael Rooker is the stand-out as Yondu's backstory is discovered and his connection to each of the main characters is explored. The visual effects team literally created new worlds for this movie with some of the most unique environments ever seen on film. It's one of the best sequels they've made yet.
This is probably the most fun you'll have at a Marvel movie. It balances heart and humor very well and introduces characters you care about. However, there's still a lame villain and some of the supporting cast can be overused at times leaving you wanting more from the lead characters. The action sequences use his shrinking abilities very creatively and the visual effects are a big part of that. It's certainly funny, but the comedy can be overdone at times. This is still a good movie, though as it utilizes it's cast to dives deep into emotional familial relationships.
15. Captain America: The First Avenger
A throwback to classic WWII adventure movies, Joe Johnston delivers a knock-out of a movie here in one of the best origin stories so far. Chris Evans nails the role of Captain America bringing boyish innocence and charm to the role along with a real fighting spirit. The supporting cast is good here too even if they can be a bit underused, and the villain is one of the more memorable and terrifying. However, this is a bit of missed opportunity to say more about war and the effect it has on people. Regardless, this one stands apart from the MCU, in not only its setting, but also in it's morally upright lead character.
Kenneth Branagh's take on Shakespearean superhero Thor is a wonderful introduction to the god of thunder. Bringing audiences a character they can root for, Chris Hemsworth gives the titular hero an amazing arc. The action scenes and visual effects only help tell this fantastic story. Tom Hiddlston also introduces us to the villain Loki here who is still one of the most compelling characters in the entire MCU and it's best and most complex villain. While the supporting cast sometimes leaves a bit to be desired, there's still plenty of fun mixed in with the drama to satisfy all moviegoers.
13. Avengers: Age of Ultron
The sequel to the mega-hit The Avengers is a bit of a mess. There are underdeveloped character motivations and silly side stories, however, the good far outweighs the bad. James Spader is outstanding in the role of Ultron who's a compelling character in his own right and a joy to watch on screen. Hawkeye's storyline is the reason to watch though, giving us more insight into the most underused, overlooked, important, and grounded Avenger. Never has action been more compelling or effects looked better in the MCU movies and it all is used to help tell this grand story. Our original Avengers are developed further, interesting new characters are introduced, and each of their relationships progress in surprising ways.
12. Spider-Man: Homecoming
The character of Spider-Man is the most famous of them all and bringing him home to play with the rest of the Avengers is tons of fun. Having Iron Man act as his mentor is a stroke of genius which teaches both of them important lessons. Playing the role to perfection is Tom Holland who was introduced in Captain America: Civil War and takes the starring role to new heights in this solo outing. The villain is one of the most menacing and surprising since Michael Keaton plays The Vulture as an everyman with purpose. Action is fun, effects are spectacular, and the music is spot on. It all plays out like a John Hughes-esque superhero movie making it stand apart from the other MCU films.
11. The Incredible Hulk
Definitely the most underrated of all the MCU movies thus far, The Incredible Hulk is expertly directed by action-junkie Louis Letterrier. However, the action isn't the highlight here, it's the characters, all of whom are well-played by this excellent cast. Ed Norton delivers a great performance as Dr. Bruce Banner who's on the run from the feds and trying to keep the green guy at bay while longing to be with his love Betty Ross, who's played by the incomparable Liv Tyler. Hulk kicks butt here like you've never seen him before. I wish the studio had let the filmmakers spend more time on the characters, their relationships, and the psychology of the Banner/Hulk dynamic (check out the deleted scenes) to help flesh out the story more which would've put this movie even closer to the top of the list. It's an early MCU entry with little connection to the other films which is why it's rarely even mentioned, but people should really give this one another shot as it's an expertly-crafted, fast-paced action thriller.
10. Ant-Man and the Wasp
The latest Marvel sequel is a blast from start to finish as we're given an emotionally grounded film with real personal stakes that aren't necessarily world-ending. It's a smaller-scale film in the MCU, butone that's bigger and better than the first from it's dramatic story, incredible action sequences, and dazzling visual effects. There's plenty of fun to be had here too as the comedy is spot-on with plenty of character-based and situational humor that works and has the filmmakers finding creative ways to use the shrinking and growing tech to astonishing and hilarious results. Evangeline Lilly does a fantastic job as The Wasp, who's a much more intense character and is paired flawlessly with Paul Rudd's funnyman Ant-Man. It's got great acting performances from Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfieffer, and Laurence Fishburne, and the intriguing Hannah John-Kamen as our sympathetic antagonist Ghost. This is a delightful movie and proudly represents Marvel's most family-centered and family-friendly franchise bringing us one of their best sequels thus far.
9. Iron Man 3
One of the more daring outings of the MCU came when director and writer Shane Black took over the Iron Man franchise for it's third and final solo installment which was a character study on Tony Stark. Focusing the story on the lead character dealing with PTSD after the events of Avengers was a bold move, and making one of the character's most iconic supervillains in the comics into something very different was an even bigger risk, but it all paid off in the end. RDJ does some of his best acting here as does the entire supporting cast, especially Gwyneth Paltrow as the intelligent and caring Pepper Potts. The action sequences in this one are exhilarating and the visual effects are astounding making for an awesome time at the movies, but the highlight is the impressive progression of Tony Stark's character arc.
8. Thor: Ragnarok
This is the most fun Marvel movie yet with quirky director Taika Waititi's signature odd humor on full display. Here we see Chris Hemsworth having a blast as the titular character and Mark Ruffalo enjoying every moment as Banner and the Hulk giving him some welcome character development. In fact, all of the characters have excellent arcs throughout the film including Tom Hiddleston's deceptive Loki and new characters like Tessa Thompson's stoic Valkyrie and Karl Urban's conflicted Skurge. Also, Cate Blanchett delivers an outstanding performance as the sinister and powerful Hela. It's an action film filled with spectacle and comedy, and it's visuals are unlike anything we've seen before bringing color and vibrancy to the cosmic side of this cinematic universe. This one breathed new life into Marvel's weakest series.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy
The biggest gamble of them all, James Gunn's modern space opera is an MCU masterpiece. It's a humorous story, but one that's grounded in real emotion and stakes. Chris Pratt rocketed to super-stardom after he played Star-Lord and for good reason as he brought the silly adventurer to life. The rest of the cast like Dave Bautista's comically serious brute Drax and Zoe Saldana's assassin with pathos Gamora are superb, however, it's the fact that two CGI characters like Bradley Cooper's Rocket and Vin Diesel's Groot became so beloved and were both fully-realized, three-dimensional characters that makes this such a surprising movie. While this one still features a throwaway villain, it doesn't matter as much because the focus is on this team of misfits. It also has one of the best movie soundtracks of all time.
6. The Avengers
Never before had a movie studio taken all of their major franchise characters and brought them together for one super-hero-team-up-extravaganza, but Marvel did and it worked. Bringing together all of these heroes was a blast to watch because they couldn't stand each other at first, but grew to respect one another and fight for a common cause. It's an incredible script and all of these actors bring the best performances to their respective roles. Seeing them all interact was the best part of this film, and the greatest scenes in the movie are just characters talking to one another. Tom Hiddleston gives a deliciously twisted performance as a scorned Loki out for revenge delivering some of the most menacing speeches ever. Mark Ruffalo brings his own nerdiness and anger to Bruce Banner and The Hulk giving audiences the monstrous hero they wanted. This one's such a fun movie with a lot of meaning and includes what may be the best action sequence ever put to film: The Battle of New York.
5. Captain America: Civil War
A third entry in any franchise is usually when things start to go downhill, but that's not the case for Cap. This installment follows through on the previous film's cliffhanger with an intriguing story that feels both epic and intimate at once. The movie also has repercussions throughout the entire MCU making it one of the most important films from a narrative perspective. From an intense fight scene, to an exhilarating foot/car chase, and a jaw-dropping battle at an airport, never has a Marvel movie dared to feature heroes fighting each other due to fundamental opposing views. Even with all the huge action sequences and all the major characters, this one still manages to keep it's focus on Steve Rogers' journey and the difficult decisions he has to make regarding his closest friends. The finale is heartbreaking, yet triumphant, and is sure to leave you wondering what happens next.
4. Avengers: Infinity War
A daring and bold culmination of the past ten years of the MCU, Avengers: Infinity War brings together characters from all over this vast universe to battle the most terrifying and relentless villain they've ever faced. As Thanos, Josh Brolin delivers audiences one of the greatest villains ever who has the brains and the brawn to face off against any and every Avenger single-handed. It's an amazing accomplishment as each of these numerous characters get moments to shine without it ever feeling overstuffed or unnecessary. There are some huge surprises here and it's a very emotional journey we take with these characters we've come to know over the last decade. The action sequences are enormous, the humor is excellent, and the stakes are higher than ever before. It's truly an epic adventure across the cosmos with our favorite heroes and the best antagonist yet.
3. Black Panther
This is one of the most revolutionary films in the MCU. It's a geo-political action thriller with James Bond-ian leanings about the leader (a brilliant, regal Chadwick Boseman) of an isolated nation who is confronted with the horrors of his family's past and must forge a new legacy for himself and his people. It's a deeply emotional movie with an incredible cast including Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger, perhaps the best MCU villain ever thanks to his seductive swagger and intensely sympathetic backstory. Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright all bring their characters to life is magnificent ways as intelligent and tough women. The production design is magnificent, the costumes are beautiful, and the cinematography is astounding. It's writer/director Ryan Coogler's movie through and through, and this represents Marvel at it's best because they let the director fulfill his radical vision on screen.
2. Iron Man
The one that started it all, Jon Favreau's Iron Man is to this day one of the best superhero movies, and maybe one of the best movies of the past decade period. Robert Downey Jr. was born to play the role of Tony Stark since he not only looks just like the character from the comics, but also has personal history that connects with the character's rebellious and self-destructive ways. Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges both bring their A-game to the roles of his loyal love interest Pepper Potts and business-partner-turned-worst-enemy Obadiah Stane. It's got tons of great action, effects, music, and dialogue, but key to it all is the fact that the filmmakers balanced the movie's action and humor with heart making it the ultimate crowd-pleasing blockbuster.
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The MCU's best movie is the second Captain America film which has the titular hero in a modern day setting, working inside the intelligence community as he deals with the morality and the costly ramifications of the covert surveillance state. It's a political thriller like 1975's Three Days of the Condor disguised as a superhero movie which the Russo Brothers handle expertly. The movie has a lot to say about our current government system, but does so in a creative way that doesn't take you out of the movie. It's got the best hand-to-hand combat scenes and chase sequences ever filmed, a few shocking reveals, and a tightly woven, intricate story that isn't too difficult to follow. It's well-edited too and the cinematography is excellent in every scene as the camera stays active keeping us on the edge of our seats. The script, music, acting, stunts, and visual effects all work together flawlessly here. It's Chris Evans best performance in the role of a conflicted and convicted Captain America, and features Scarlett Johansson's amoral spy Black Widow and Samuel L. Jackson's manipulative mastermind Nick Fury at their best yet too. This is not just a great MCU movie or a great comic book movie, but a great movie period.