All The MCU Movies RANKED

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The franchise that has defined the last decade, set box office records as far as the eye can see, and changed the landscape of blockbuster filmmaking with its ambitious and enormous shared universe, everybody has seen something of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now, eleven years on from the beginning of the epic franchise, we’ve seen 22 movies from Marvel, and it’s about time that we decided which was best. So, here’s my ranking of all of the MCU movies up to now.


22. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Almost universally considered Marvel’s weakest entry of the last decade, Thor: The Dark World is a drab, underwhelming and tedious edition of the MCU, and one that was nearly detrimental to Thor’s standing in the shared universe.

Following on from a weak first film, The Dark World takes everything dull about Thor’s story and somehow makes it duller, with a pointless and predictable action plot that’s made all the more boring due to dark and drab cinematography that sucks all the potential fun out of the movie.

The film was so bad that Natalie Portman, who played Thor’s love interest Jane Foster, pulled out of the MCU, and Thor didn’t get another standalone film until 2017, while his fellow Avengers completed their own trilogies in much less time.

Read a full review here.


21. Thor (2011)

While not quite as bad as its terrible follow-up, the original Thor is far from an ideal way to tell a major character’s origin story, and remains one of the most generic and underwhelming films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Despite a charismatic lead performance from Chris Hemsworth, as well as from Tom Hiddleston as villain Loki, Thor’s painfully predictable and dry nature makes it a real chore to watch, lacking the fun and flair of the best MCU origin stories.

What’s more, its poor quality is clearly indicative of just how much Marvel has developed over the course of the last eleven years, and while the movies of the current day are built entirely upon what was established in the earlier films, the difference in style and simple fun factor is astonishing to see.

Read a full review here.


20. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Much like Thor, Captain America’s arc in the MCU didn’t get off to the greatest of starts. While his origin story offers up something a little different to the typical superhero fare, with its 1940s setting proving particularly striking, The First Avenger is far from Cap’s best film, and really doesn’t hit the mark when it comes to triumphant comic book cinema.

It’s certainly not as poor or drab as either of the first two Thor movies, and The First Avenger actually entertains with some good action and clever world-building that, particularly in hindsight, works really well in the context of the wider cinematic universe, marking this film as arguably the start of Marvel’s shared universe, rather than just a string of random superhero movies.

On the other hand, the film still struggles with a rather underwhelming screenplay that lacks the flair and energy of Marvel’s best, and despite an undeniably likeable performance from Chris Evans in the lead role, The First Avenger just doesn’t have that spark to make it a thoroughly entertaining blockbuster, paling in comparison to later entries in the Captain America trilogy.

Read a full review here.


19. Ant-Man And The Wasp (2018)

The follow-up to the MCU’s smallest hero, Ant-Man And The Wasp was a real disappointment, particularly given the period it arrived.

While the previous entries were all in Marvel’s Phase One, at a time where the studio still hadn’t quite finessed their unique, world-beating style, Ant-Man And The Wasp was released in the immediate aftermath of Infinity War, in the middle of Phase Three, and paled in comparison to the consistently high quality of recent releases.

Again, it’s not a terrible film, and features the fun-loving entertainment of the first Ant-Man, but in comparison to the growing stakes and intricacies of Marvel films in the last years of the Infinity Saga, Ant-Man And The Wasp comes across as incredibly basic, and lacking the originality and passion of the best of the series.

Read a full review here.


18. Iron Man 3 (2013)

The final instalment in the standalone trilogy of the MCU’s first hero really didn’t stand up to the quality of previous films, and although it features yet another charismatic lead turn from Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man 3 definitely the most generic and energy-deficient Iron Man movie of them all.

Of course, being released fairly early on in Marvel’s Phase Two, the film doesn’t quite have the depth and connectedness to the wider cinematic universe, but what really makes it fall apart is its rather comical and often laughable villains, who pose so little threat to Iron Man as he fights evil for the third time that there’s not all that much drama or excitement about.

It’s not terrible, and there is some good action and humour, but it’s still one of Marvel’s more generic and underwhelming films, failing to capture the reckless energy that made the original Iron Man so memorable.

Read a full review here.


17. Ant-Man (2015)

Ant-Man marked an interesting turn in the breadth of the MCU, moving away from the core Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Hulk), and giving full standalone movies to more obscure heroes that would eventually bring new life to cinema’s biggest comic book franchise.

With Paul Rudd in the lead role as Scott Lang, Ant-Man was one of the first full-on comedies in the MCU, and set the foundations for the franchise’s turn towards more comedic films in recent years. It’s an enjoyable movie that definitely breathed a degree of fresh air into the MCU, even if it doesn’t offer all that much when it comes to real comic book action and excitement.

The movie’s small-scale action does make it stand out a little from some of Marvel’s more generic entries, but the fact remains that it lacks the big blockbuster excitement of the franchise at its most entertaining, and as such will never really stand up as one of the most memorable movies of the MCU.

Read a full review here.


16. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Incredible Hulk is the one movie in this decade-spanning franchise that still seems like it never really fits in. Of course, the recasting of Bruce Banner from Edward Norton to Mark Ruffalo plays a role in that, but there’s something about this movie that feels vastly different to the rest of the MCU, sometimes for better, but more often than not for worse.

On the one hand, it’s a surprisingly entertaining and impressively fast-paced thriller, with an interesting look into the character of Bruce Banner – far from the most layered comic book character out there – as well as a strong lead turn from Edward Norton, all of which makes it a genuinely enjoyable watch throughout.

On the other hand, it suffers heavily from a story that doesn’t really have the excitement or blockbuster magic to really grab you, worsened by frustratingly dark cinematography and lacklustre special effects. As a result, while it has its positives, The Incredible Hulk really feels like a movie from the era before Marvel came to dominate the box office, and really lacks the big-budget fun factor that’s made the MCU such a success ever since.

Read a full review here.


15. Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)

The follow-up to one of the biggest blockbusters of all time, there was a lot of expectation going into Avengers: Age Of Ultron, most of which wasn’t entirely satisfied upon the eventual release.

On the one hand, the film expands the Infinity Saga with a number of new heroes and themes, all the while impressing with entertaining action that’s often even better than the first Avengers movie.

On the other hand, it’s a rather bland and underwhelming film, particularly given its role bringing all the characters of the MCU together. Lacking the stakes and drama that better ensemble films have achieved, Age Of Ultron is a little bit inconsequential in the wider scope of the MCU, and even though it provides some good entertainment at times, it fails to bring the importance of the changing nature of the franchise to light.

Read a full review here.


14. Iron Man 2 (2010)

Often derided as one of the weakest entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve always had quite a soft spot for Iron Man 2, and in comparison to some of the films that came afterwards, it’s actually not all that bad.

While it doesn’t come close to the brilliance of the first movie, Iron Man 2 cleverly introduces new characters to make for an equally entertaining and arguably higher-stakes story, with the arrival of Black Widow and War Machine in particular proving integral to the wider MCU, as well as providing entertaining contrasts to Tony Stark’s wise-cracking antics throughout.

Its villain is a little on the silly side, and doesn’t quite provide a real battle for Iron Man, meaning that the movie comes across as a little generic and even underwhleming, but its action and entertainment value is still enough to provide two hours of solid fun.

Read a full review here.


13. Black Panther (2018)

One of the most dominant box office hits of the entire MCU, the world went crazy for Black Panther in 2018, to such an extent that it even picked up a nomination for Best Picture at the Oscars – a first for the franchise.

And as a pure superhero movie, it’s easy to see why Black Panther was so popular. With an engrossing story, top-quality performances across the board, and above all striking visuals and production design in the futuristic land of Wakanda, it’s an entertaining watch throughout, albeit not quite on the level of Marvel’s most gleefully fun movies.

While Black Panther certainly has the intrigue to prove an exciting watch at times, it lacks a certain flair and sense of fun throughout. With an often overly serious atmosphere that takes away from the potentially brilliant entertainment of the story at hand, it’s never an immensely enjoyable watch, and misses out on Marvel’s trademark blend of all-out comedy and fun-loving superhero antics.

Read a full review here.


12. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

The sequel to Marvel’s most obscure yet delightfully weird team of heroes, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is a vibrant, manic and energetic film that encapsulates everything that’s so irresistibly endearing about the MCU’s silliest team.

Above all notable for its kaleidoscopic colour pallette, as well as the second edition of a hugely catchy 70s/80s soundtrack, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is full of fun and energy wherever you look, all the while impressing with a story that, while not entirely perfect, offers up something both different and still pleasingly familiar to the original film.

Where the film falls down, however, is in its often over-indulgent style. While the colours and music are delightful throughout, it all feels a little too much at times, a sense that’s made clearer by the film’s excessively obscure nature, to the extent that it’s a little difficult to get to grips with all the space mumbo-jumbo that you’re listening to for two hours.

Read a full review.


11. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Looking back over the past 21 films of the MCU, there are few that stand out quite like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, easily the franchise’s most serious entry, and one of the biggest fan favourites to this day.

Following on from an enjoyable but heavily flawed original, The Winter Soldier sees Cap go dark as he fights the infiltration of an evil organisation in S.H.I.E.L.D., with the film taking on a distinctly more serious and high-stakes atmosphere than any other in the MCU, and with an almost breathless pace and heavy action throughout, it’s something that directors Anthony and Joe Russo pull off almost flawlessly.

In fact, The Winter Soldier proved so popular that the Russo Brothers were recruited again for the third Captain America film, as well as winning the job for the final two Avengers films.

There’s no denying that The Winter Soldier will remain a real classic of the MCU, and even though its story lacks a degree of real unpredictability, its strikingly serious atmosphere and non-stop pace makes it a thoroughly impressive film regardless.

Read a full review here.


10. Doctor Strange (2016)

With the MCU expanding to more and more new heroes through the years, there have been a number of origin stories that, despite the studio’s best efforts, have all seemed a little too similar. Doctor Strange, on the other hand, takes a slightly different angle on the premise, and with zeal and a great imagination throughout, makes for a genuinely entertianing origin story.

Benedict Cumberbatch impresses with an engaging and convincing performance as a brilliant but arrogant surgeon who finds himself wondering into a world of magic and sorcerers, and while the film still has all the fun of typical Marvel fare, it opens up with an impressively dark and engrossing opening act that manages to carry out a more serious atmosphere very effectively.

Its story is a little non-sensical in the latter acts, but that comes about alongside an increasingly fun-loving and comedic atmosphere, and along with mind-blowing special effects and brilliantly vibrant cinematography throughout, it’s difficult not to have a great time with Doctor Strange.

Read a full review here.


9. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

The first two Thor movies are the lowest-ranked on this list. And deservedly so. However, Thor: Ragnarok‘s placement in the top ten is testament to just how brilliant Marvel and director Taika Waititi’s reinvention of the franchise was.

From the drab, dull and generic feel of the first two movies, Thor: Ragnarok explodes onto the big screen in a kaleidoscope of bright colours, ridiculous action and hilarious humour from beginning to end. Easily Marvel’s funniest movie of all, it’s a hugely entertaining watch that not only links in well with the wider MCU, but also tells its own engaging and entertaining story.

It may not have the intrigue of Marvel’s most exciting films, but that quirky sense of humour and almost non-stop comedy are what really make it such an enjoyable watch, and without a doubt the best Marvel film to go to if you’re in need of a good laugh.

Read a full review here.


8. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

The culmination of all the first eleven years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A three-hour extravaganza that brings superhero action to the screen on a scale never seen before. And while Avengers: Endgame is an undeniably impressive finale to the Infinity Saga and a hugely entertaining watch, it’s not quite as spectacular as it perhaps should have been.

Don’t get me wrong, Endgame is a really good way to spend three hours, and if you’ve been following this franchise right from the beginning, you will be delighted by every moment of this truly wonderful love letter to the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Couple that with emotion and passion that outweighs any other Marvel movie, and you have a film that brilliantly brings the largest cinematic franchise in history together under one roof in brilliantly entertaining fashion.

With great action and an enjoyably intricate story, it’s a film that keeps you entertained right the way through, but it lacks the real audacity and boldness of the very best Marvel movies, all the while struggling to top Infinity War, its immediate predecessor, when it comes to delivering the biggest stakes ever seen in the franchise. As a result, it may feel a little more on the generic side, and not quite the epic and spectacularly surprising finale that it should be, but there’s still no denying what a hugely entertaining watch it is from beginning to end anyway.

Read a full review here.


7. Iron Man (2008)

The one that started it all. Iron Man is genesis for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and arguably one of the most important movies of the 21st Century, having kickstarted a world-beating box office trend that stands strong to this day. And with all of that reputation and historical importance, also comes a hugely entertaining and charismatic movie that really helped to reinvent the superhero genre over ten years ago.

While The Dark Knight gets all the plaudits for the best superhero movie of the 2000s (and rightly so), Iron Man’s reappraisal of what a good, summer superhero movie should be is what really makes it so good. Rather than the aggressive, action-heavy style of genre movies of the early decade, Iron Man puts a lot more focus onto character development, as well as a bright sense of fun and excitement that was really missing from the genre previously.

At the centre of all of that is the fantastic performance from Robert Downey Jr., which with sheer charisma and energy throughout, makes Tony Stark and the then-near unheard of Iron Man an immensely entertaining hero. As a result, while there’s great action and laughs throughout, Iron Man’s strongest suit is its main character, and a character that you can’t help but love from beginning to end.

Read a full review here.


6. Captain Marvel (2019)

Marvel has had a go at almost every genre and every possible reconfiguration of the superhero origin story, but Captain Marvel is the film that takes everything back to basics, and makes a hugely entertaining blockbuster out of it.

Although its story is far from the most challenging or original take on the genre – with glaring similarities to Superman’s origin story – there’s something gleefully innocent and playful about Captain Marvel, a film that takes Marvel’s brilliantly crafted brand of humour and action and mixes it with pure, unadulterated superhero fun, all of which is undeniably delightful to watch for the entire movie.

It may be a little on the simple side, and it may not link into the ever-growing stakes of the wider MCU quite so well, but with great action and hilarious humour, as well as an immensely likeable lead turn from Brie Larson, there are few Marvel movies that are quite as purely entertaining as Captain Marvel.

Read a full review here.


5. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

The beginning of the end. Avengers: Infinity War was the movie that finally brought together every different corner of the now-enormous Marvel Cinematic Universe, and with the arrival of a seemingly undefeatable enemy, put the fate of the Avengers and the whole universe in desperate danger.

With a two and a half hour runtime that unites the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and everyone in between, the ambition and scale of Infinity War is genuinely astonishing, and with immense dramatic stakes and surprising twists throughout, there’s no denying just how spectacular a franchise finale the film is.

And even though it is a little on the long side, as well as somewhat disjointed in its opening act, it stuns with a devastating enemy on a scale never seen before in the entire franchise, and with a bold and unpredictable cliffhanger that leaves anything possible in Endgame, it’s easily Marvel’s most ambitious and immense movie of all.

Read a full review here.


4. Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)

Unless you’re really into your comic books, you probably had no idea who the Guardians of the Galaxy were when this movie came out (I certainly didn’t). And yet, with little prior fame, Marvel pulled a rabbit out of the hat with this movie, arguably the MCU’s brightest and freshest film of all.

A smash hit that really launched Chris Pratt’s blockbuster career, as well as a vital development of the Marvel formula with the introduction of more farcical comedy and humour, Guardians Of The Galaxy was a huge surprise the world over, yet continues to delight with its fantastically entertaining sci-fi action and laughs.

Reminiscent of the likes of Star Wars, Guardians Of The Galaxy’s almost entirely disconnected nature from the world of superheroes and bad guys in the MCU so far was what made it feel so new and fresh, and coupled with that gleeful humour and silliness, as well as a legendarily entertaining soundtrack, there are very few movies out there in the MCU which can make you smile and laugh quite like this one.

Read a full review here.


3. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Despite being a Marvel property, Spider-Man wasn’t allowed into the MCU at first because of rights restrictions, as Sony were busy making their own Spider-Man franchise in the early 2010s. However, after clever negotiating and a lot of money, Spidey roared into the MCU with a brilliant crowd pleaser in the form of Homecoming.

Having briefly starred in Civil War a year before, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man brought a new life to the classic character, and while the movie still tells you the well-known origin story, it does so with a completely different style to the films that have come before, making Spider-Man: Homecoming a fresh and undeniably welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

With great humour and action, the movie is a heap of fun throughout, but it also impresses with a story that’s a whole lot more unpredictable and exciting than is often the case with Marvel, combining the relatively small scale of a young Peter Parker’s life in New York City with clever links to the greater stakes at play in the wider MCU, all of which makes Homecoming a hugely entertaining and entirely delightful watch throughout.

Read a full review here.


2. The Avengers (2012)

The Avengers is the quintessential Marvel movie. Arriving at the end of Phase One, and bringing together heroes from entirely different film franchises, it marked a real turning point in what was possible in building a movie franchise, with the concept of a shared universe surprising and impressing viewers and fans across the globe.

Although its story and stakes may pale a little in comparison to what has become of the MCU after eleven years, what The Avengers did was groundbreaking, and by bringing together a group of heroes that had never been seen on the big screen together before, it provided a hugely impressive and immensely entertaining blockbuster that completely changed the game in Hollywood.

With Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Hulk all having had their own solo adventures, the film’s greatest achievement is how it convincingly portrays them as a makeshift team of heroes, not only providing entertainment through the film’s core blockbuster plot, but also through the unique back and forth between characters already established in other films, creating an entirely different and altogether more satisfying vibe to ensemble superhero movies of the past.

It’s a hugely entertaining movie, with great action and humour throughout, and even though it’s not quite the best Marvel movie of all in my book, there are few films that sum up the brilliance of the MCU quite like The Avengers.

Read a full review here.


1. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

In the end, over the course of eleven years and 21 films that have covered the entirely galaxy and broke box office records in every corner of the globe, there is one film that stands head and shoulders above the rest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that’s Captain America: Civil War.

While Marvel has entertained millions with its numerous takes on the stories of good vs. evil, there is no film in the entire franchise that tells a story like Civil War, which ramps up the stakes and drama to the highest level as a rift grows within the Avengers, and while evil still poses a threat, their biggest enemy turns out to be their own colleagues.

As a result, Civil War is easily the most engrossing and dramatically impressive film in the whole MCU, with a riveting assessment of the nature of being a superhero and, having cleverly utilised events of previous films, an enthralling dissection of the consequences of everything that we’ve watched up to this point.

Couple that with typically great humour, rapid pacing, charismatic performances across the board, and the best action sequence in the entire franchsie, and you have a film that’s a non-stop thrill ride of excitement and intrigue, with the perfect balance between pure blockbuster entertainment and serious storytelling, something that still hasn’t been replicated on any other occasion.

It’s a hugely entertaining movie, and one that perfectly utilises all of the ingenious world-building of the MCU, and even though it may be more of an Avengers movie than a Captain America standalone, there’s no avoiding just how brilliant Civil War is, and the fact that it is easily the very best film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Read a full review here.

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About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com