Surpassing even the Star Wars franchise, the MCU is the most profitable film franchise of all time.
Averaging about $1 billion per film, the MCU has created heroic characters and tyrannical villains mixed with some of the best action and comedy of our time.
However, not every film was a winner. Movies like the first Thor film pale in comparison to later entries like “Captain America: Civil War” where we got to see more action and a larger assortment of characters.
Every MCU movie ranked from worst to best
A common theme you will see with this list is that as Captain America got better and better, Iron Man got worse and worse. Robert Downey Jr. is the film’s only saving grace, bringing the same charm and wit to Tony Stark‘s character.
Where the film falls flat is in every other aspect. The action is bland. The story is dumb. The villain is absolutely atrocious:
In the comics, the Mandarin is an all-powerful scientist who uses alien technology to become a supreme overlord. He is the true arch-nemesis of Iron Man. In the movie, he is an actor who fakes being head of a terrorist organization.
Where the film goes from bad to insulting is in its treatment of Ben Kingsley. Kingsley has wanted to play a comic book villain for years. He nearly played Vulture in “Spider-Man 3,” but the director had other plans. The Mandarin seemed like a dream role for the actor, but what resulted was the film of our nightmares.
Hopefully, we will see the Mandarin done right in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”
22. “The Incredible Hulk”
This one was so bad that even Marvel wants you to forget about it.
Hulk is an unstoppable force of destruction who annihilates everything in sight with his bare fists. Somehow, the filmmakers found a way to make that boring. We don’t get to see a lot of Hulk action, and when we do it’s a CG mishmash that looks worse than some video games.
Looking back on the film, Edward Norton didn’t do a terrible job, but his portrayal would not have fit as well in the Avengers like Mark Ruffalo’s.
In the Avengers films, Thor is one of the most entertaining characters to see on the screen. Unfortunately, it took him a few movies before the God of Thunder himself captured the same energy.
In his second feature-length film, Thor finds himself up against the dark elf Malekith. Malekith is played by the Ninth Doctor himself, Christopher Eccleston. Eccleston is a good actor, but Malekith is not an interesting villain. He wants to use the Reality Stone to take over the universe. That sounds interesting, but it just comes off as bland.
Yeesh, talking about the Infinity Stones gets super confusing. Luckily, we have a guide to help you learn more about them:
What truly hurts this film is the humor. The MCU is a bit controversial for how much humor there is, but good lord, is there too much in this movie, and Kat Dennings‘s character is at the forefront.
The film has “The Dark World,” in its title, and yet with the sheer amount of humor, you’d think its the most lighthearted film in the series. The jokes do not land. By the end, you’ll want Thor to bash your head in with Mjolnir.
20. “Captain Marvel”
The MCU has immortalized several actors and actresses as their characters. Robert Downey Jr. IS Iron Man. Chris Evans IS Captain America. Scarlett Johannsen IS Black Widow. Brie Larson, on the other hand, isn’t exactly a memorable Captain Marvel.
She is by no means bad, and the issues with her character are just as much the fault of the writing and directing. She’s just boring. The story’s focus is on her trying to figure out her past. The problem is that the movie is a prequel, so we already have a lot of her backstory figured out. The things that surprise her and other characters have no effect on audience members who have seen the rest of the MCU.
When the film is at its best, it still doesn’t come close to other films on this list. The movie builds her up to be this trump card against Thanos, but all it does is make her feel like a plot device rather than a person. When she does unlock her powers and go full badass, the film becomes what it should have been the entire time.
The film also tries to capture some nostalgia, but completely falls flat. Taking place in the ’90s as a prequel to the rest of the MCU, the advertising looked like this was going to take us down memory lane. Instead, we got to see a shot of a Blockbuster video and a nostalgic Stan Lee cameo. Other than that, the nostalgia trip fell short just like the rest of the film.
Coming off two Iron Man films and one Hulk film, we were looking forward to a breath of fresh air as far as scenery goes. Cities are cool and all, but when we heard a Thor movie was coming, we were looking forward to seeing a movie take place in Asgard. To the film’s credit, Asgard looks cool and all, but we just don’t get to see a lot of it as the film mainly takes place in New Mexico.
New Mexico is fine and dandy for “Breaking Bad,” but for a superhero movie about the mythical God of Thunder, it leaves a lot to be desired. Where the film shines is with its star, Chris Hemsworth. Hemsworth brings life to Thor and absolutely commands the screen. He is funny, charismatic, and badass throughout the film. Also, watching him learn Earth customs is one of the best parts of the movie.
The fish out of water story works in this film, but the story about the God of Thunder learning to become the king of Asgard falls to the wayside. The movie isn’t bad, it just isn’t what we wanted to see.
After “Avengers: Infinity War,” audiences were left depressed. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” appears to have been Marvel’s attempt to lighten the mood. In a lot of ways, it does. In other ways, it completely disrupts the pacing.
Like its predecessor, the film is still a lot of fun. Paul Rudd is hilarious as Scott Lang. Some of his scenes in this movie are some of the funniest in the entire MCU:
Where the film falls short is the story. Ant-Man and Wasp are in a race against time against a new villain, Ghost, to rescue Wasp’s mother, Janet Van-Dyne. Ant-Man and the Wasp simply want to rescue her while Ghost wants to use her to cure her disease, which may, in return, kill Janet.
Although it is a breath of fresh air to have a movie without a basic villain who wants to take over the world, Ghost is no Thanos.
For a lot of people, “Iron Man 2” might fall lower on the list. To be fair, they’re not wrong.
Tony Stark’s charisma and sarcasm are replaced with him being obnoxious and standoffish:
Where the movie bounces back is with literally every other aspect. The action is a lot of fun. The supporting characters are a lot of fun, and even the villains are fun. Sure, Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash is a far cry from Loki or Thanos. However, Whiplash AND Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer make it fun. I mean come on, the scene at the congressional hearing where Tony rips apart Hammer is incredible:
Although the action can be lacking, when it is good, it’s a lot of fun. Watching Iron Man and War Machine mow down drones is an example of when a CG battle can actually look cool. “The Incredible Hulk” should have taken notes.
This movie has a lot of things going for it. The action is incredible. The new characters are a lot of fun to watch. Also, the events it sets in motion define the rest of the MCU up until the end of Phase 3.
Where the film falls apart is in its villain and main story. Ultron certainly looks intimidating, but he’s just annoying. Every line out of his mouth sounds like a fortune cookie or a cringe-worthy Tumblr post:
Loki from the previous Avengers movie was built up in “Thor.” Thanos was built up since the end of Phase One and in various small appearances until “Avengers: Infinity War.” Ultron is born, lives, and dies all in this film. In a series that prides itself on creating characters over multiple films, Ultron’s short life just pales in comparison.
In the “Age of Ultron” comics, Ultron is an unstoppable force that the Avengers are simply unable to defeat on the battlefield. The only way they are able to beat him is by going back in time and stopping his creator, Hank Pym, from making him in the first place. In the film, Ultron ultimately loses to the superpower of teamwork. Yawn.
Fast-forward to the cooler scenes in the movie like Iron Man fighting Hulk or when they all try lifting Mjolnir. Other than that, there’s no need to bother. However, it might be worth looking into whether or not you can lift Thor’s hammer. You know, in case Frost Giants ever invade the Earth.
Visually, this movie is on par with movies like “Inception.” The story is cool, and the action is insane:
The story’s weakness is its main character. Benedict Cumberbatch is a great actor and Scott Derrickson is a good director. However, they both just couldn’t quite make a likable protagonist.
Doctor Strange is a jerk throughout the movie. Although he falls on the side of good at the end of the film, he’s selfish and cocky for the first 80%. Characters like Spider-Man and Ant-Man make mistakes in their films, but their motivations are always pure. Strange acts like a god among ants, so it’s hard to relate to him or even root for him sometimes.
However, at the end of the day, this film still looks absolutely spectacular. For goodness sake, just watch this part:
That was bananas.
Scenes like that make this movie still fun to watch on subsequent viewings. Just be prepared to do a lot of eye-rolling whenever Strange opens his mouth.
14. “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2”
The first Guardians of the Galaxy film is pretty much loved universally. While its sequel is decent, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2” just doesn’t capture the same lightning in a bottle as the original.
The original cast is back aside from Groot being several feet shorter. This time, the Guardians are out to stop Star-Lord’s estranged father Ego from destroying the galaxy.
The characters are still a lot of fun, and the story is decent. It just simply doesn’t have near the same level of action or humor that we wanted. Although, this scene is still awesome:
The strongest part of the movie is Yondu and his journey to redemption. The movie goes into much more detail about his father-son relationship with Star-Lord, and the reasoning behind his actions.
Is he cool? Hell yeah, he’s cool.
If you’re looking for more of the same Guardians action you loved in the original, this one won’t disappoint you.
13. “Spider-Man: Far From Home”
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” has a lot of great scenes, but they don’t quite equate to a phenomenal final product.
In the final film in Phase 3, we see a world trying to rebuild itself after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” People who were killed when Thanos snapped his fingers (they call it “the blip” in the movie) are now trying to find a way to fit back into society. Also, the world looks for the answer for who will become the next Iron Man after Tony Stark’s tragic death.
Peter Parker feels a huge weight on his shoulders as he feels the burden to take over where Stark left off has fallen on him. However, he isn’t done being a kid. He wants to hang out with his friends, go on a vacation, and tell his crush how he feels. When Mysterio (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) enters the fray and appears to be the next great superhero, Spidey sees a way out for him!
With two great end credits scenes, awesome action scenes, great comedy, and a few cool twists, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” has no shortage of great scenes. However, the movie doesn’t exactly do a good job of capping off Phase 3. Although it’s nice to have some lighthearted fun after having our hearts ripped out in Endgame, we would’ve preferred something that gave us a better idea of what to expect in Phase 4.
At the end of “Age of Ultron,” the MCU formula was getting tired. Every movie was feeling like more of the same, and the franchise was in desperate need of a breath of fresh air.
Never would we have guessed that the change we were looking for was in “Ant-Man.”
In many ways, “Ant-Man” is a lot like most other superhero movies. There is an origin story followed by training to become a hero, and it all culminates into an epic final battle. Where the movie differs is in its execution. The action is unlike anything else in the MCU thus far:
Ant-Man fights unlike anyone else in that he uses the environment to his advantage. Him switching between normal-size and ant-size mid-fight is awesome and adds a whole new dimension to the action.
“Ant-Man” also might be the funniest movie in the entire MCU, and we don’t say that lightly. We could listen to Luis tell a story all day:
First, let’s do introductions:
Now that that’s out of the way, this movie is an absolute jam. It is physically impossible to watch this movie without a smile crossing your face.
This is the movie that cemented Chris Evans in the role of Captain America. He finds a way to capture all of Cap’s motivations while still making him an interesting complex character. He goes from inspiring to heroic to tragic, all in the same film.
The movie also does a great job of capturing America in the 1940s. From the scenery to the wardrobes, to even how people act, it feels like virtual time travel.
The only part of the movie that needs a little work is the action. We don’t get a lot of shield throwing/bashing action. However, what we do get is phenomenal. Basically, we could do this all day.
The movie that started it all.
“Iron Man” doesn’t have the same luster it had when it was first released, but it is still a great film to watch today:
In this film, Robert Downey Jr. becomes Iron Man the same way Heath Ledger became Joker and Christopher Reeve became Superman. His charm, charisma, and wit perfectly reflect the Tony Stark we know from the comics.
From start to finish, both Downey Jr. and Iron Man rocket across the screen, giving us a non-stop ride with great action and comedy. The only hiccup in the film is the main villain, Obadiah Stane, the Iron Monger. Stane is played by the incredible Jeff Bridges, but his character does not fit in the story as well as he could. Let’s just say, The Dude does not abide with him.
Iron Man was the role Downey Jr. was born to play. He’s been Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chaplin, and a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude. However, as he says, he is Iron Man.
We’ve seen Peter Parker’s origin twice before on the big screen.
We don’t need to see him get bit by a spider again. We don’t need to see him fumble with learning his powers. Also, we don’t need to see Uncle Ben die again.
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” isn’t the origin story we have seen over and over again, and instead replaces it with a coming-of-age tale. Also, he can do a flip!
Spidey is played by Tom Holland, and for the first time on the big screen, he finally looks like a high school kid. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air to see an adolescent play Parker, and not a guy clearly in his late 20s, early 30s.
Along with a great performance from Michael Keaton as Vulture, we get a great movie with phenomenal action. The two play off each other very well as Holland grows more and more into a superhero.
Hopefully, Jake Gyllenhaal will give us just as good a performance in “Spider-Man: Far From Home:”
While also being a great action star, Holland gets lots of sympathy from the audience. At the end of the day, he’s still a kid who is in over his head. When he struggles, you root for him. When he triumphs, you cheer for him.
The story all culminates in a twist-ending that shakes audience members to their core. If you haven’t seen it yet, swing on in for a thrilling experience.
When “The Avengers” first hit theaters, audience members were calling it the greatest superhero movie ever made.
Let’s dial it back a notch.
“The Avengers” is a phenomenal film on epic proportions, but it is far from perfect. The movie is basically one-liners and action scenes from start to finish.
Although the formula has since been duplicated to mixed results, this was the first time we saw a group of superheroes across multiple films come together.
Although we got better Avengers adventures later on, this is still a noteworthy movie that still holds up.
The first Thor movie didn’t have enough Asgardian lore to keep our interests and the second missed the mark with almost every joke.
“Thor: Ragnarok,” on the other, hand nailed both those areas on the head, with incredible lore and a mythical story to keep our interests.
The film even played classic Led Zeppelin songs over some of the actions scenes to further add to the awesomeness.
Thor goes through character development in this movie different from the previous films. In this movie, Thor fails and has to seek redemption. He has to surpass overwhelming odds that don’t always require swinging a hammer super hard.
Even better, Kat Dennings is nowhere to be found. Instead, we get one of the greatest comedic duos in comic book history:
“What a bunch of a-holes.”
The Guardians of the Galaxy comics are some of the lesser-known ones from Marvel. Prior to the movies, you’d seldom see a Groot or Starlord cosplay at a convention. However, after the movies, they are now some of the most recognizable characters in the entire Marvel Universe.
What makes the movies so great is the team chemistry. Star-Lord, Groot, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, and Drax all have their own distinct personalities that play off each other so well.
The action is fun, and the jokes are funny, but it’s how the characters interact with this creative environment that makes the film so great.
We can watch Groot mess around while Rocket yells at him, or Drax struggle with cultural norms all day. This ragtag gang never gets old.
Securing a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards, “Black Panther” deserved all the praise it got.
What makes this film so incredible is Michael B. Jordan’s character Erik Killmonger. Killmonger has this tragic backstory that feeds into his overwhelming hatred for both his cousin T’Challa and Wakanda.
The true star of the movie is Wakanda itself. Wakanda is absolutely stunning. Seeing the African culture mixed into the set design and costume design is truly breathtaking. There isn’t another movie that looks like this, let alone another MCU movie.
Honestly, there’s so much cool stuff that went into making this movie that we made a list talking about it:
There’s a reason why this film won three Oscars.
When it comes to the MCU, aside from James Gunn, the director(s) that probably stand out are the Russo brothers.
The four MCU films directed by the Russo brothers are not only great, but they’re also the top four films on this list.
In the first Captain America movie, Cap was the star-spangled man with the plan who fought for all things America. In the two Cap films directed by the Russo brothers, we see Cap thinking for himself more, and questioning the government that made him. This results in intense and suspenseful action sequences:
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was their first movie. The film feels more like a spy film than a superhero flick. Cap and Black Widow work to uncover the secrets of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s dark past while also on the run from Winter Soldier.
The movie’s main twist before the climax was obvious to fan’s of the comics, but played out well in the film nonetheless.
The action really takes off in the fight sequences between Cap and Winter Soldier:
James Young serves as the fight choreographer for the movie. After this picture, Marvel brought him back to work on the fight choreography in both Guardians of the Galaxy movies and every Avengers film thereafter.
If you are looking for an espionage flick with some of the best hand-to-iron-hand fight scenes, look no further.
Where “Age of Ultron” fell flat, “Captain America: Civil War” felt more like the Avengers sequel we deserved.
The movie had a difficult task ahead of it. Not only did it have to adapt one of the most popular Marvel comic series, but it had to introduce two big superheroes: Spider-Man and Black Panther.
The movie does a great job of showing every character’s motivations as to whose side they take. It also doesn’t dwell on them. The movie also does a good job of changing a major issue from the comic series. It replaces the Superhuman Registration Act with the Sokovia Accords.
In the comics, the act requires all superhumans to register themselves and reveal their secret identity. Cap and a team of other superheroes disagree with the act and refuse to sign, just like in the movie. Here’s where the comics don’t really make sense: There aren’t a lot of superheroes with secret identities in the MCU.
The only person the act really affects is Spider-Man, and he willingly sides with Iron Man.
With Peter Parker abiding by the act, there’s really no need to fight. Yet, the comic series paints Iron Man and his team as the bad guy.
In the movie, the Sokovia Accords require all superhumans to only engage a situation when approved by a United Nations committee. Iron Man carries a lot of guilt from “Age of Ultron,” so he leads the charge for the accords. Cap, on the other hand, questions them as he is still regaining his trust in the government after finding Hydra sleeper agents in S.H.I.E.L.D.
This all culminates into a battle with Cap’s side and Iron Man’s side at the airport. The fight scene speaks for itself:
At the end of the film, the Avengers are more divided than ever, thanks to Baron Zemo. Zemo is essentially what Lex Luthor should have been in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Even though the heroes know he is manipulating them, they simply do not care; their urge to fight each other is now stronger than their will to forgive.
This is a near-perfect comic book movie, and yet it is only our number 3.
2. “Avengers: Endgame”
This movie missed the top spot by a hair.
“Avengers: Endgame” gave us satisfying conclusions to characters nearly a decade in the making. It wrapped up the Thanos saga with a ribbon, giving us a final battle scene we will be rewatching over and over again.
The only flaw in the film is in how little we can really rewatch the entire movie. The first time you see it, it’s incredible and you are glued to the screen from start to finish. On subsequent viewings, you really feel the three-hour runtime a lot more. Once it comes out on Blu-ray and streaming services, we expect that we’ll mainly just watch the last hour.
Throw one or two more action scenes throughout the film, and this takes the top spot, no questions asked. However, it’s still a tremendous film and a dramatic conclusion for some of our favorite characters.
Few films leave audience members as somber as “Avengers: Infinity War” did. After your first viewing, you are left with a cold sweat and an overwhelming fear for our heroes takes over. However, in an almost masochistic fashion, we can watch this one over and over again.
The film is non-stop action and character development. We see characters meet each other for the first time in memorable scenes that eventually become intense battles.
The star of the film is Thanos. The Russo brothers took the Thanos from the comics and without a doubt made him 10 times better.
In the comics, Thanos is motivated by his love for Mistress Death, the literal interpretation of death in the Marvel universe. Thanos wants to wipe out half of all life in the universe with the Infinity Stones in order to court her.
In the movie, Thanos wants to do the same thing, but because he thinks the universe will run out of resources at its current rate of expansion.
The film has some of the best action in all of the MCU. It has some of the best humor in all of the MCU. However, it has THE best story in the entire MCU.
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