Best/Worst Movie Reviews

Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Ranking

*Updated Ranking

21) “Thor: The Dark World” (Alan Tay­lor, 2013, Phase 2)

“Thor: The Dark World” hon­estly is one of the more for­get­table su­per­hero movies. It’s not a ter­ri­ble se­quel, but it’s sim­ply dull com­pared to the first film. Be­tween the ro­mance be­tween Thor and Jane Fos­ter (Na­talie Port­man) feel­ing nonex­is­tent, and thereby elim­i­nat­ing her pur­pose in the film, and the hu­mor that just does­n’t land that much, it’s still just mildly okay years later. Chris Hemsworth still gives a great per­for­mance, and Tom Hid­dle­ston’s Loki still brings en­ter­tain­ing mo­ments that make him a lik­able bad guy. But this also suf­fers be­cause of Malekith, the weak­est and the most un­der­de­vel­oped MCU vil­lain of them all.

Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: The Dark World (2013)

20) “Iron Man 2” (Jon Favreau, 2010, Phase 1)

By far the weak­est in the “Iron Man” se­ries, and it de­serves to be. “Iron Man 2” tried too hard to build upon the rest of the uni­verse in­stead stay­ing more grounded with what they got. Most of the ac­tion is very well-han­dled, Scar­lett Jo­hansson’s Black Widow got a great in­tro­duc­tion and Sam Rock­well’s Justin Ham­mer brought some lev­ity. But it’s Mickey Rourke’s vil­lain, Whiplash, and a rushed sto­ry­line that makes this fol­low-up fall short of its pre­de­ces­sor. If it had spent less time set­ting up stuff for “The Avengers, ”it might’ve been a lot bet­ter, in my opin­ion.

Iron Man 2 (2010)

19) “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (Peyton Reed, 2018, Phase 3)

While I don’t think it’s MCU’s best sequel to come out, especially during after Phase 3 with another weak villain and a kind of uneven story that’s only serviceable, Ant-Man and the Wasp is still able to capture the fun and adventurous remembrance that made the first film memorable. Thanks to Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly’s chemistry and delivering quality action sequences, not the greatest, but a worthwhile sequel.

Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

18) “Captain Marvel” (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, 2019, Phase 3)

This was the first MCU movie to feature a female lead, and it can be hard to say “Captain Marvel” is a bit underwhelming. Not to say that this should be considered as one of the worst offerings from the MCU, but I do feel like this should’ve gotten a better origin story because this is the first place we’ve seen her in a film, but it’s still enjoyable enough. Brie Larson gives an alright performance as the titular character, though I wish she was given more personality, and she works well with Samuel L. Jackson, but the action is pretty forgettable and fell a bit short of being amazing. The movie itself is a very mixed bag on what can be considered good and bad. That being said, “Captain Marvel” is still watchable.

Brie Larson in Captain Marvel (2019)

17) “Cap­tain Amer­ica: The First Avenger” (Joe Johnston, 2011, Phase 1)

Com­ing out the same year as “Thor,” “Cap­tain Amer­ica: The First Avenger” could’ve gone a bad di­rec­tion as a solo film dur­ing Phase 1. In­stead of mak­ing it corny, it went for a more se­ri­ous tone. The way that di­rec­tor Joe John­son brought this hero into this World War II pe­riod did­n’t turn out ter­ri­ble. Chris Evans was the per­fect choice to por­tray Steve Rogers/​Cap­tain Amer­ica, as just a small guy who wants to fight for his coun­try. The rea­son why this is­n’t any higher is that, though the ac­tion was amaz­ing, most of it was mon­taged through and the film lost some of its en­ergy af­ter a while.

Chris Evans in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

16) “The In­cred­i­ble Hulk” (Louis Leter­rier, 2008, Phase 1)

“The In­cred­i­ble Hulk” was the sec­ond film re­leased in the MCU and come out a month af­ter “Iron Man.” A lot of peo­ple seem to for­get that this was a part of the fran­chise. We def­i­nitely needed a sec­ond at­tempt at rag­ing green mon­ster af­ter Ang Lee’s bot­tle of Nyquil re­leased five years be­fore. What worked well in this it­er­a­tion is the ac­tion se­quences, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Ban­ner and Betty Ross, and Ed­ward Nor­ton giv­ing a good per­for­mance as Bruce Ban­ner/​Hulk. This is in spite of the fact that it’s his fault for not re­turn­ing later on, but Mark Ruf­falo is the de­fin­i­tive an­swer to the ti­tle role.  It also has that MCU trope of the hero fight­ing some­one with the same abil­i­ties (Hulk vs. The Abom­i­na­tion).  Though it’s been for­got­ten as time passes, “The In­cred­i­ble Hulk” should­n’t be slept on.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

15) “Iron Man 3” (Shane Black, 2013, Phase 2)

As a fan of Shane Black, I was very ex­cited to what he could do with “Iron Man 3.” Tak­ing place a year fol­low­ing the events in “The Avengers,” the film is def­i­nitely bet­ter than the sec­ond; al­though I still con­sider it just al­right. We do see more Tony Stark than Iron Man, which was dif­fer­ent, but it made sense with him try­ing to get back on his feet and want to show some re­demp­tion for the char­ac­ter. It de­liv­ered some amaz­ing ac­tion through­out and Downey Jr.’s per­for­mance is noth­ing but great. How­ever, the big twist with the Man­darin, Iron Man’s great­est en­emy in the comics, hon­estly dropped the film’s qual­ity and it ru­ined the rest of the film for every­one when he turned out to be a bum­bling, drunk ac­tor.

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man Three (2013)

14) “Avengers: Age of Ul­tron” (Joss Whe­don, 2015, Phase 2)

The hype for “Avengers: Age of Ul­tron” was re­ally high, as every­body was ex­cited about the darker tone that this se­quel was gear­ing to­wards, judg­ing from all the trail­ers. Did we get that? No, but it still has its mo­ments of awe­some ac­tion se­quences, in­clud­ing Hulk vs. the Hulk­buster fight. Sim­ply put, “Age of Ul­tron” did­n’t have the same im­pact the first film had, with noth­ing par­tic­u­larly amaz­ing. Ul­tron (voiced by James Spader) was try­ing to be both a sar­cas­tic and men­ac­ing vil­lain for the most part, and that’s about it. For some rea­son, it did­n’t feel like Joss Whe­don gave his all here. At least we get to know more about Hawkeye’s fam­ily life, and we get the in­tro­duc­tion to Vi­sion. That’s cool, I guess.

Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, and Chris Hemsworth in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

13) “Doc­tor Strange” (Scott Der­rick­son, 2016, Phase 3)

“Iron Man” but with magic? It worked. “Doc­tor Strange” is the trippy and fresh take on a new char­ac­ter that came out in 2016. This was prob­a­bly the hard­est char­ac­ter to pull off for a stand­alone movie, since it’s built on the con­cept of magic in the MCU, and it’s close to fan­tas­tic. Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch as the Sor­cerer Supreme re­ally cap­tured role per­fectly (he can do no wrong). The film has the best vi­sual style out of all these films, es­pe­cially with the mind-bend­ing mo­ments that felt like look­ing in­side a kalei­do­scope (I wish I’d seen this in 3D). It kind of falls short in the story de­part­ment, the story be­ing just a bit fa­mil­iar. Even so, “Doc­tor Strange” is a solid ori­gin story.

Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange (2016)

12) “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (James Gunn, 2017, Phase 3)

We all knew “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” was­n’t go­ing to be nearly as great as its pre­de­ces­sor, but it’s still close to be­ing more ad­ven­tur­ous and more fun. James Gunn does a good job of flesh­ing out the char­ac­ters in this in­stall­ment, and I fi­nally un­der­stand why cer­tain peo­ple like Yondu or Neb­ula sim­ply the way they are. Some peo­ple weren’t the biggest fans of the film be­cause they think there’s too much hu­mor thrown in. I highly dis­agree. Per­son­ally, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is one of the MCU’s more un­der­rated movies. If peo­ple weren’t fix­at­ing on prob­lems that aren’t big deals, then it would be ap­pre­ci­ated more. It had a good bal­ance of laughs and emo­tional mo­ments and made for an en­ter­tain­ing se­quel. Plus, who can hate Baby Groot?

Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and Dave Bautista in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

11) “Thor” (Ken­neth Branagh, 2011, Phase 1)

Some were wor­ried about “Thor” be­ing cheesy when it was an­nounced, but Ken­neth Branagh’s adap­ta­tion of the God of Thun­der was a sur­prise. The film came used a fish out of wa­ter sto­ry­line, and felt dif­fer­ent, es­pe­cially be­ing the film first for the hero. Even when the film gets bogged down by too much Earth stuff and not that much on As­gard, it’s still highly en­ter­tain­ing. It also gave Chris Hemsworth the huge break­out role that made him the star he is to­day. And Loki is still con­sid­ered to be the best vil­lain in the fran­chise, and you can’t com­plain about that.

Anthony Hopkins and Chris Hemsworth in Thor (2011)

10) “Black Pan­ther” (Ryan Coogler, 2018, Phase 3)

Let’s all agree that Black Pan­ther is one of the coolest char­ac­ters cre­ated in the past two years. Even though I was hop­ing this was go­ing to be in my top 3 fa­vorites, “Black Pan­ther” is still a great movie that had a new cul­tural im­pact. Ryan Coogler di­rected some­thing that felt com­pletely unique and dif­fer­ent, and stood out from the rest of the other MCU films. Mainly, it’s be­cause of the fan­tas­tic world-build­ing of Wakanda. Chad­wick Bose­man’s role as T’Challa/​Black Pan­ther is one of the best por­tray­als of a su­per­hero in ages. Michael B. Jor­dan’s Erik Kill­mon­ger’s mo­ti­va­tion in the film is hon­estly rel­e­vant to to­day’s times. Pro­vid­ing strong, ex­cit­ing ac­tion, as well as a vibe that stays con­sis­tent with what the tone was go­ing for, “Black Pan­ther” is an awe­some comic book movie that we truly need right now.

9) “Thor: Rag­narok” (Taika Wait­iti, 2017, Phase 3)

Di­rec­tor Taika Wait­iti should di­rect more col­or­ful su­per­hero movies, be­cause he was a work of art when it came to helm­ing “Thor: Rag­narok”. By far the best film in this now-tril­ogy, it’s both filled with a ton a fun ac­tion and hi­lar­ity. “Thor: Rag­narok” serves as a soft re­boot to the Thor films. If, for some rea­son, the killer ac­tion did­n’t work, or the per­for­mances from Hemsworth, Tessa Thomp­son, Mark Ruf­falo and Jeff Gold­blum or hu­mor fell com­pletely flat, then “Thor: Rag­narok” would’ve been deemed as garbage, but it stands out as one of the most fun films in a long while.

Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

8) “Ant-Man” (Pey­ton Reed, 2015, Phase 2)

It still would’ve been nice to see what Edgar Wright was orig­i­nally go­ing to do with “Ant-Man” be­fore he left due to cre­ative dif­fer­ences. Still, “Ant-Man” should get a lot more credit, be­cause not only is the film a great su­per­hero movie, it’s a sur­pris­ingly funny and en­ter­tain­ing heist film in be­tween. The film it­self was a sur­prise on a huge scale, fol­low­ing a ridicu­lous hero who shrinks down, and it turned out to be in­cred­i­ble. With some great per­for­mances from Paul Rudd, Michael Dou­glas and Evan­ge­line Lilly, cre­ative ac­tion se­quences and well-timed hu­mor thrown in here, “Ant-Man” is a win. Yes, it’s an­other one with an un­der­de­vel­oped vil­lain, but it still ended up be­ing the best comic book movie of 2015. And by the looks of “Ant-Man and the Wasp”, it could get even bet­ter.

Paul Rudd in Ant-Man (2015)

7) “Spi­der-Man: Home­com­ing” (Jon Watts, 2017, Phase 3)

Out of all the “Spi­der-Man” movies that have come out in the past 16 years, there have only been two great films and three dis­ap­point­ing films that many, in­clud­ing my­self, want to for­get. “Spi­der-Man: Home­com­ing” was a breath of fresh air as we fi­nally got one of my fa­vorites right. This did­n’t fol­low the steps of the other films in hav­ing an ori­gin story, see­ing Un­cle Ben get killed, or hav­ing mul­ti­ple vil­lains. It ac­tu­ally felt like a su­per­hero movie in the style of a John Hughes film. This could’ve eas­ily an­other dis­as­ter, how­ever, it suc­ceeded in stay­ing true to what made this hero great to be­gin with, es­pe­cially in high school. Tom Hol­land cap­tures the spirit of the tit­u­lar hero as the best Spi­der-Man we’ve ever had. And Michael Keaton as The Vul­ture was an in­tim­i­dat­ing vil­lain that ac­tu­ally had a pur­pose. For me, this was the best MCU movie to come out in 2017.

Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

6) “Guardians of the Galaxy” (James Gunn, 2014, Phase 2)

Even four years af­ter its re­lease, “Guardians of the Galaxy” is the riski­est en­try Mar­vel could’ve re­leased since no­body knew about these he­roes. Who wanted to see a comic book movie with a talk­ing tree and a rac­coon? Every­body, ap­par­ently, since it turned out to be a stand­out hit of the 2014 sum­mer sea­son, as well as one of the coolest sci-fi movies of that year. Gun­n’s take on the then-un­known prop­erty works on so many lev­els. I was amazed at how much I loved this when I saw it open­ing night. The best way to de­scribe “Guardians of the Galaxy” is to cross “Star Wars” and “The Avengers.” For a group of in­ter­galac­tic crim­i­nals that no­body knew, they were ab­solutely out­stand­ing. Be­tween Star-Lord (my per­sonal fa­vorite), Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket, there’s so much love to be found for this team. The ac­tion was great, the hu­mor was top notch (the fun­ni­est movie thus far) and it also has the best sound­track of the decade, which, sur­pris­ingly, ac­tu­ally plays a role in the story.

Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and Krystian Godlewski in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

5. “Avengers: Infinity War” (The Russo Brothers, 2018, Phase 3)

Hearing about Infinity War four years prior to its actual release sounded too good to be true. It would’ve been a difficult process to have an epic movie like this and actually make it work. “Avengers: Infinity War” is everything that fans have been waiting for a long time since the MCU’s inception back in 2008. Was there ever a dull moment found in here? Not in the slightest when the action never disappointed. With the Russo’s job to make sure each character had their time to shine fighting alongside each other to stop an end to the powerful Thanos before he can grab all of the Infinity Stones absolutely marks the end of a universe that almost feels like a two-part season finale.

Robert Downey Jr., Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, and Tom Holland in Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

4. “Cap­tain Amer­ica: The Win­ter Sol­dier” (The Russo Broth­ers, 2014, Phase 2)

This is one of the few oc­ca­sions in which I can say that the sec­ond film is ten times bet­ter than the orig­i­nal. This is the movie that made many be­lieve Cap­tain Amer­ica is ac­tu­ally pretty cool. This was my most an­tic­i­pated movie of 2014, and it ab­solutely did­n’t dis­ap­point. “Cap­tain Amer­ica: The Win­ter Sol­dier” is a po­lit­i­cal thriller/​spy es­pi­onage film set in­side a comic book movie, and it suc­ceeded in set­ting that tone in ways that are al­most im­pos­si­ble to imag­ine. Steve Rogers is now liv­ing in to­day’s world and dis­cov­ers more about where he be­longs work­ing with S.H.I.E.L.D. The Russo broth­ers’ first out­ing in the fran­chise is out­stand­ing, with some of the best ac­tion scenes so far, a fear­some vil­lain in the Win­ter Sol­dier and a story that ba­si­cally changed the rest of the world in the MCU.

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3) “Iron Man” (Jon Favreau, 2008, Phase 1)

The film that started it all ten years ago. No­body, in­clud­ing my­self, thought a su­per­hero movie based on Iron Man would re­ally work. And few non-comic book read­ers were fa­mil­iar with the tit­u­lar char­ac­ter. But it blew every­one away and be­came a ground­break­ing ori­gin story. My dad took me to see it open­ing day af­ter school, and the more I thought about it, the more amaz­ing it was. Be­sides sim­ply be­ing phe­nom­e­nal, this film also launched Robert Downey Jr.’s come­back ca­reer with his role as Tony Stark/​Iron Man. You clearly see the par­al­lels be­tween the ac­tor and Stark. It was a risk to cast him for this part, and af­ter all these years, you can’t pic­ture any­one else. I loved all the ac­tion, it was smart, and hon­estly, Jeff Bridges’ Oba­diah Stane is an over­looked vil­lain. If this movie failed at the box of­fice and did­n’t re­ceive the pos­i­tive re­views it did when it re­leased, I don’t think we’d have all of the rest of the movies we love to­day.

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man (2008)

2) “Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War” (The Russo Broth­ers, 2016, Phase 3)

“Is­n’t this ba­si­cally ‘Avengers 2.5?’” you may ask. But still, “Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War” might be the most am­bi­tious and per­sonal film yet made in the MCU. The story hinges on a real con­flict that has grown be­tween Cap­tain Amer­ica and Iron Man in a way that’s go­ing to im­pact the later films: Does the help of our he­roes cause a lot of col­lat­eral dam­age in our world? It does a great job at show­ing two sides of the ar­gu­ment, and you’re not quite sure what side to take. Team Cap or Team Iron Man? That’s the dilemma that’s grow­ing upon every­one. This also gave us the in­tro­duc­tion to both Black Pan­ther and Spi­der-Man, and they steal every scene they’re in. The air­port bat­tle se­quence alone is hands down the best ac­tion se­quence to ever be filmed. It be­came the one thing every­body re­mem­bers from “Civil War”. Once again, the Russo Broth­ers made an­other amaz­ing ac­tion that bal­ances out the tense and near heart­break­ing mo­ments. “Bat­man V. Su­per­man,” take notes.

Chris Evans, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Anthony Mackie, and Sebastian Stan in Captain America: Civil War (2016)

  1. “The Avengers” (Joss Whe­don, 2012, Phase 1)

The ul­ti­mate crossover we never thought would come true did just that on the big screen. Af­ter set­ting up these char­ac­ters in their own movies, it would be flat-out in­sult­ing if “The Avengers” did­n’t end up be­ing mem­o­rable. See­ing Iron Man, Cap­tain Amer­ica, Thor, The In­cred­i­ble Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawk­eye unit­ing to­gether to stop the mad­ness Loki wreaks upon the world was be­yond spec­tac­u­lar. I re­mem­ber that out­stand­ing scene with the cam­era pan­ning around our he­roes, while Alan Sil­vestri’s theme kicks in, and the tears of hap­pi­ness that flowed be­fore earth’s might­i­est he­roes take down Lok­i’s army in New York. This was one of the best the­ater ex­pe­ri­ences I’ve ever had. I was even kind of sick that morn­ing, and this made me feel bet­ter in two hours. Joss Whe­don did such an in­cred­i­ble job helm­ing this and see­ing his vi­sion cap­ture every­thing with­out any prob­lems is worth watch­ing. To this day, “The Avengers” was my fa­vorite movie of 2012 and is still the sec­ond-best comic book movie of all-time af­ter “The Dark Knight”.

Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, and Chris Hemsworth in The Avengers (2012)

1 comment on “Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Ranking

  1. DC Bolling

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