A Ranking Of All The Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies

Dr. Stephen Strange said: “We’re in the endgame now.” And we most certainly are! After a year of waiting to see how our favorite superhero group would recoup after half the population bit the dust, we are a few weeks away from receiving all the answers us Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fans crave. Regardless of which heroes live and which ones die (Oh, you know it’s going to happen!), “Endgame” will ring in a new era for the MCU, which means this is an opportune time to reflect on MCU movies past. Keep scrolling to see my ranking of all the MCU movies (from worst to best). WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.

21. "The Incredible Hulk" (2008)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that “The Incredible Hulk” is the WORST movie the MCU has to offer. This second attempt at a Hulk movie (The first being Ang Lee’s attempt in 2003) was a let down after the major success of “Iron Man” and lacks much of the heart other Marvel films have. Edward Norton is the green monster in this film but is mediocre at best as Banner. Thanks to the recasting of Mark Ruffalo as Banner and the MCU recognizing this failure, “The Incredible Hulk” has not played a significant role in building the Marvel universe.

20. "Thor: The Dark World" (2013)

We can thank the Thor films for hiding Chris Hemsworth’s knack for comedy from us. “Dark World” is just that: dark. While lacking the joy most Marvel movies have, “Dark World” has some other problems too. The plot goes something like this: evil elves want to take Asgard so they can rule the world and meanwhile, Jane Foster a.k.a Natalie Portman has been possessed by some energy force. Oh, and Loki dies for a hot minute. Let’s just say you know it’s bad when you can tell the lead actor isn’t having any fun.

19. "Iron Man 2" (2010)

Marvel was on top but fell short of greatness with this sequel. “Iron Man 2” simply acts as a set-up for the future “Avengers” film by blatantly introducing Nick Fury and Black Widow. “Iron Man 2” is also overpacked with villains and subplots that would work much better in separate films. It seems as if this film was made for the sake of developing the MCU and not Tony Stark.

18. "Doctor Strange" (2016)

“Go see Doctor Strange,” they said. “It’s revolutionary,” they said. “One of the best.” To them, I ask: Did we see the same film? “Doctor Strange” has a strong leading man in Benedict Cumberbatch, and I enjoy the character, but it was hard for me to dive into this world of magic that was not the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In all honesty, the magic energy and realms all went over my head, and I found it quite boring. This MCU film has some great characters, but it will be interesting to see how they develop in the post “Endgame” world.

17. "Thor" (2011)

Poor Thor. The early phases of the MCU were not kind to you. This phase one entry is a cute- fish-out-of-water plus arrogant-boy-turns-into-king movie whose script wants to lean on its Norse mythology roots. Thanks to Shakespeare expert and director Kenneth Branagh, the movie meets its “thee” and “thou” and dramatic monologues requirement, but looking back, this film is nothing memorable.

16. "Ant-Man" (2015)

No disrespect to the perfect, never-aging Paul Rudd, but “Ant-Man” is one of those meh movies. Once again, this film has outstanding characters and casting. Rudd gives a terrific performance as Scott Lang, and Michael Douglas acts as a marvelous mentor to him. The film’s plot does deserve applause, though, for not putting the entire earth in danger...again!

15. "Avengers: Age of Ultron" (2015)

In this follow-up to “The Avengers,” Earth’s mightiest heroes must battle Tony Stark’s good-robot-gone-bad Ultron before he decides to end the human race. Do you see why “Ant-Man” is a bit more original? “Age of Ultron” was a let down after a strong campaign that pictured Ultron as big villain game changer thanks to a very creepy rendition of  “No Strings” from Pinocchio. Unfortunately, this movie falls into the MCU trap that most other sequels do: too many characters and the need to keep building the Marvel movie overarching story arc.

14. "Ant-Man and the Wasp" (2018)

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” is, like its predecessor, fun, but this one is HIGH-quality fun. In this sequel, the Ant-Man gang has found their footing which leads to everything happening at a funnier, faster pace. Some may deem this movie non-essential to the overall MCU, but I have a feeling we may be seeing some of the featured technology again!

13. "Captain Marvel" (2019)

Much like “Doctor Strange,” I adore the lead hero, but cannot get behind the universe. Carol Danvers is a great character that deserved a lot more than the plot she was given. It’s been hinted that “Endgame” and post “Endgame” will heavily feature Captain Marvel, so I hope she is given much more to work with.

12. "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" (2017)

The great thing about the “GOTG” series is that it knows what works and continues to use these elements, but also improve on them. “GOTG Vol. 2” does just that and is every bit witty and delightful as the original, sprinkled with an exceptional soundtrack. While all of this is great, the film relies heavily on emotions, which is fine, but causes the film to not match the original. Of course, Baby Groot is the highlight of the whole film!

11. "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011)

One of the phase one films that hold its own, “Captain America” is the movie that proved that this cinematic universe had the potential to become what it is known as today. Taking place in World War II-era America, “Captain America” traces the origins of the Star-Spangled Man and the beginnings of the Avengers initiative along with introducing characters and plots that would be important for later films. The retro feel of the movie matches the tone and era of the film perfectly, and Chris Evans is somehow able to provide depth to such a “square” character.

10. "Iron Man 3" (2013)

A controversial pick and place for the end of Tony Stark’s trilogy, “Iron Man 3” is a personal favorite of mine. It has a lot of things going for it. The action sequences, wit, and the dive into Stark’s psyche are all high points of the film. I am even one of those people who enjoyed the plot twist! Sure the film has some confusion, and the ending does not match up with Stark’s development outside his franchise, but it maneuvers these problems better than some of the other films on this list. “Iron Man 3” was a daring move that paid off in the end.

9. "Avengers: Infinity War" (2018)

This was a hard movie to place due to it being half a film, but what was presented is a strong superhero flick that has really tested the patience of its fanbase. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo combine all of the MCU’s franchises into one eloquent story that doesn’t come off as choppy, but as a sleek, succinct working machine.

8. "Iron Man" (2008)

The OG! The one that started it all. “Iron Man” revitalized Robert Downey Jr.’s career and sparked the fuse that would eventually become the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Given that at its release, we had no idea what was in store for Marvel, “Iron Man” acts as a fresh take on the superhero origin song and dance.

7. "Thor: Ragnarok" (2017)

Thor finally got what he deserved: a film that is worthy of Hemsworth’s talents and stands firm among the other Marvel films. The brilliant mind of Taika Waititi brings a colorful, action-packed film and brings out the best of Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, and Cate Blanchett. He also makes great use of “The Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin.  

6. "Captain America: Civil War" (2016)

What’s great about good ‘ol Cap’s franchise is that it includes some thought-provoking political ideas. “Civil War” pits Team Iron Man and Team Captain America as they battle over whether the team should be controlled by the government. The film leaves it up to the audience to decide who is right and who is wrong, but it is no easy decision. The standout scene, though, from this film is definitely the battle at the airport, which shows our heroes battling out their differences and frustrations. Black Panther and the third Spiderman also make impressionable introductions into the MCU with this threequel.

5. "Spiderman: Homecoming" (2017)

Speaking of the third Spiderman, it seems like the collaboration between Sony and Marvel has finally produced what could be the best Spiderman. While there’s something to love with each reincarnation of the classic spider-bitten teen, Tom Holland has succeeded at finding the balance between awkward teen Peter Parker and confident hero Spiderman. The movie itself also is a great coming of age story that could not be explored with other MCU characters.

4. "Black Panther" (2018)

Outside of its incredible representation, what makes “Black Panther” phenomenal is that it stands on its own. There is no need to have an in-depth knowledge of the MCU to see how solid this film is. The appeal, character-wise though, are the female-leads and Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger, who may be the best villain to come from the universe. The film also includes a well-executed message regarding social justice that speaks to all of its audience members.

3. "Guardians of the Galaxy" (2014)

When this team of misfits was originally announced, Marvel fans collectively scratched their heads. Why in the world would Marvel adapt this offbeat comic series? With the release of “GOTG,” though, fans finally understood why. The Guardians are a ragtag group of individuals that have no business saving the world, but end up saving it anyway with a little help from Peter Quill’s Awesome Mix. “GOTG” is undoubtedly the most original, creative film in the MCU and proves that underdogs really do come out on top.

2. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (2014)

Cap has some of the most critically-acclaimed movies in the Marvel franchise and “Winter Soldier” stands as one of the best ever! “Winter Soldier” expands on the character of Steve Rogers and his place in the 21st century. The fight/battle scenes are some of the most climactic and best in the MCU, and the film alone changes the trajectory of the whole franchise. “Winter Soldier” also sees Captain America coming out a changed hero; one that is struggling to find what is right and which people are the right ones to trust.

1. "The Avengers" (2012)

Will anything ever match up to one of the most daring collaborations of all time? Nope! Film buffs said that this film and the idea of an expanded cinematic universe would never work, but Marvel proved them wrong with this team of Earth’s mightiest heroes. Marvel fanboy Joss Whedon did great work in making a film that allows each member to shine and finding a tone for the film that matches all of them. Try and find a more iconic shot than the one where the camera circles the Avengers as they each brace themselves for the incoming alien invasion. The answer is you won’t!