Every Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie Ranked
With 'Thor: Love and Thunder' currently in theaters, and more MCU movies scheduled for the future, Marvel Studios is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. Now, Moviefone ranks every MCU movie ever released.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown into one of the biggest and most beloved movie franchises in Hollywood history!
With 'Thor: Love and Thunder' currently in theaters, and as we gear up for the release of new superhero movies like 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,' and 'The Marvels' next year, here's how each of these movies measures up.
29. 'The Incredible Hulk' (2008)
'The Incredible Hulk' feels very much like the odd man out in the MCU, tonally, stylistically and in the fact that star Edward Norton didn't stick around for future movies. It's a decent Hulk movie on its own merits, but lacks the spark and humor of the rest of the line. Not to mention that most of its teases for an interconnected cinematic universe never really panned out.
28. 'Thor: The Dark World' (2013)
This is the 'Thor' sequel everyone likes to forget about. "The Dark World" banks too heavily on its underdeveloped villain and the painfully unconvincing romance between Chris Hemsworth's god of thunder and Natalie Portman's Jane Foster. But at least there's plenty of that terrific Thor/Loki (Tom Hiddleston) banter to go around.
27. 'Thor' (2011)
'Thor' marked the MCU's first real transition away from science fiction and into the realm of fantasy. While not every aspect of the film holds up, its Shakespearean family drama (ably cultivated by director Kenneth Branagh) and its compelling look at a powerful god learning how to be a good man do justice to an iconic Marvel franchise.
26. 'Iron Man 2' (2010)
While definitely the weakest entry in the "Iron Man" trilogy, there's still plenty to like in this middle chapter. It gave us the debut of War Machine (Don Cheadle) and all the armor-on-armor carnage we could have asked for, not to mention Sam Rockwell's wild performance as Justin Hammer.
'Iron Man 2' is also significant for being the first MCU movie to really dive headlong into the continuity of this shared universe. It paved the way for everything else to come in Phase One.
25. 'Eternals' (2010)
The Eternals are a team of ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years. When an unexpected tragedy forces them out of the shadows, they are forced to reunite against mankind’s most ancient enemy, the Deviants.
Directed by Oscar-winner Chloe Zhao and delayed multiple times due to the pandemic, 'Eternals' was supposed to introduce a new team of God-level superheroes from space to the Marvel universe. But the result is an uneven and over-bloated Marvel movie that ultimately does not tie-in to the overall MCU.
24. 'Doctor Strange' (2016)
'Doctor Strange' is the kind of superhero movie we were surprised to see popping up in Phase 3 of the MCU. It's a pretty straightforward origin story, showcasing yet another selfish, goateed jerk who discovers his inner hero along with some fantastical powers. The formula still works, but we would have hoped for something a little more daring from the MCU's first foray into the magical realm.
23. 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' (2015)
'Age of Ultron' is a definite step down from its wildly entertaining predecessor. With so much focus on setting up future conflicts, the film often loses track of its own plot. Then there's the underwhelming handling of Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). On the other hand, the debut of Vision (Paul Bettany), the epic Hulkbuster battle and James Spader's kooky robot villain all help to balance out these flaws.
22. 'Ant-Man' (2015)
After 'Avengers: Age of Ultron,' MCU fans needed a superhero movie with smaller, more intimate stakes. They got it thanks to the debut of the smallest Avenger of them all, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). While 'Ant-Man' doesn't rival the best of the MCU, its goofy sense of humor and strong cast make it a very enjoyable romp.
21. 'Captain Marvel' (2019)
'Captain Marvel' wasn’t quite the slam dunk we wanted it to be, but its themes of empowerment and individualism still resonate despite the sloppy filmmaking and flimsy script. Seriously, the idea of 'Captain Marvel' (90s setting, a buddy action movie co-starring a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Skrulls!) is a lot cooler than the actual movie. But still, Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel is a wonderful new addition to the MCU, as proved by her appearance in “Endgame.”
20. 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' (2017)
The MCU never truly felt whole until Spider-Man made his belated debut. 'Homecoming' gave Tom Holland's teen hero a chance to shine on his own, and the result is one of the stronger Spider-Man movies to date. It's more John Hughes-style comedy than traditional superhero romp, but that's where 'Homecoming' gets its charm. Michael Keaton's Vulture is a huge selling point as well.
19. 'Iron Man 3' (2010)
'Iron Man 3' tends to get a bad rap, in large part because of its unusual handling of classic Marvel villain the Mandarin. Frankly, we appreciate the subversive take on the villain. Moreover, 'Iron Man 3' proved that Shane Black's voice is a natural fit for the MCU. It's both hilarious and touching in equal measure, and a showcase for how to bring in new voices while still maintaining a cohesive vision.
18. 'Captain America: The First Avenger' (2011)
The first 'Captain America' movie offered fans their first glimpse back at the early days of the MCU, in the process delivering an adventurous WWII romp worthy of 'The Rocketeer.' This movie simply wouldn't have worked without a star capable of bringing the Sentinel of Liberty to life. Thankfully, Marvel found exactly that in star Chris Evans.
17. 'Black Widow' (2021)
The story starts off in Ohio in 1995, with a young Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena (Florence Pugh) under the care of their parents, Melina (Rachel Weisz) and Alexei (David Harbour). If you've seen 'The Americans' or 'Little Nikita,' you have a pretty good idea what's going on; the family is a cover for a Russian espionage operation that's coming to a climax.
Natasha and her "family" make a narrow escape from S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and then it's off to Cuba for a reunion with the man behind the mission, Dreykov (Ray Winstone), before heading back to Mother Russia. But young Natasha is having none of it; she and Yelena want to stay in the states, but they get pulled apart, drugged, and shipped off to the infamous Red Room to become tools of the state.
Prolonged by the pandemic, and released simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+, 'Black Widow' is set between the events of 'Captain America: Civil War' and 'Avengers: Infinity War.' The movie explores Natasha's backstory, while also introducing us to her adopted family including Yelena. Unfortunately, viewers already knew Natasha's ultimate fate, as the movie was released after 'Avengers: Endgame'.
16. 'Thor: Love and Thunder' (2022)
Natalie Portman, Chris Hemsworth, and Christian Bale shine in 'Thor: Love and Thunder,' which is a strong MCU sequel but not quite as entertaining as 'Ragnarok.' Director Taika Waititi goes to the well one too many times with similar jokes and set pieces as the last 'Thor' movie but still delivers a stylish and satisfying film.
Once again directed by Waititi, Hemsworth returns as the God of Thunder, while Portman returns as Jane Foster/The Mighty Thor, to take on Bale's villain, Gorr the God Butcher. The film also stars Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, Jamie Alexander as Sif, Taika Waititi as Korg, and Russell Crowe as Zeus. The result is another fun and stylish MCU outing from Waititi that features amazing performances from Portman, Hemsworth, and Bale, but tries to recreate too many moments from 'Ragnarok' and as a sequel never transcends its direct predecessor.
15. 'Iron Man' (2008)
It's hard to underestimate the importance of this movie. While various Marvel characters had found cinematic success at different studios, 'Iron Man' marked the beginning a true shared universe full of Marvel characters whose stories intertwine and evolve over time.
Were 'Iron Man' not as entertaining as it is, the MCU as we know it probably wouldn't exist. The third act is a little weak, but Robert Downey Jr.'s charismatic performance instantly transformed Iron Man into a pop culture icon.
14. 'Ant-Man and the Wasp' (2018)
'Ant-Man and the Wasp' doesn't radically reinvent the shrinking superhero wheel, but it does improve upon the foundation built by its predecessor. It helps that this sequel puts Evangeline Lilly's Hope Van Dyne squarely in the spotlight, creating a fun Dynamic Duo where previously there was only a solo hero. The movie also makes the most of Ant-Man's powers for its action scenes, and includes an 'Avengers: Infinity War' centric end-credit scene.
13. 'Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2' (2017)
The true strength of the 'Guardians' movies, beyond all the cosmic spectacle and James Gunn's unique direction, is the fact that these characters are really just one weird, dysfunctional family. That's something the sequel draws on even more successfully than the first.
'Guardians Vol. 2' is a hilarious space fantasy that also boasts some of the most emotionally charged scenes you'll find in a Marvel movie, as well as featuring five different star-studded end-credit scenes.
12. 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' (2021)
'Legend of the Ten Rings' rights the wrongs of 'Iron Man 3' by improving on the character of Xu Wenwu and making him a real threat to the MCU. Awkwafina brings the funny with her character Katy, and Simu Liu's title character is a great addition to the Marvel universe. Not to mention the welcomed return of Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery, and cameo appearances from Wong (Benedict Wong) and Emil Blonsky/Abomination (Tim Roth).
11. 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' (2019)
Not only was this a follow-up to 'Spider-Man: Homecoming,' which introduced the world to a very street-level Peter Parker (Tom Holland), after a brief glimpse in 'Captain America: Civil War,' but it was also the culmination of Marvel’s “Phase 3.”
It also had to feel like a satisfying epilogue to the universe-shattering 'Avengers: Endgame.' So, you know, no pressure! 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' is still really great, with a winning European backdrop and a terrific villain in Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio.
10. 'The Avengers' (2012)
Few things in the MCU can top the joy of seeing Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) joining forces on the big screen for the first time. This is the most purely fun MCU installment, with plenty of patented Joss Whedon banter and the dynamic Battle for New York sequence bringing everything home.
9. 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' (2022)
Doctor Strange, with the help of mystical allies both old and new, traverses the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse to confront a mysterious new adversary.
The result is a strong sequel that surpasses its predecessor and transcends the genre by introducing horror elements into the MCU. Director Sam Raimi delivers one of his best films, which is anchored by excellent performances from Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen.
Not to mention the MCU's introduction of Clea Strange (Charlize Theron), and the Illuminati, which includes Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Black Bolt (Anson Mount), and Reed Richards (John Krasinski), as well as Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell) from the animated Disney+ series 'What If ...?'
8. 'Captain America: Civil War' (2016)
'Civil War' is the kind of superhero movie that's only possible after years of steady world-building and character development. We saw the Avengers at their best in Phases 1 and 2. But this film chronicles what happens when the dream dies and close comrades become bitter rivals. This film boasts some of the most memorable action scenes of any MCU movie, but it's really all about the fractured bromance between Captain America and Iron Man.
7. 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' (2014)
'Winter Soldier' proved to be the perfect Marvel movie for its time, combining the optimism and idealism of its predecessor with a newfound sense of paranoia and political intrigue. The Hydra conspiracy makes for a compelling narrative throughline, and the dynamic between Chris Evans' Cap and Sebastian Stan's corrupted Bucky Barnes gives the movie all the emotional weight fans could ask for. This sequel also had and continues to have a profound impact on the larger MCU.
6. 'Black Panther' (2018)
'Black Panther' was the first MCU movie nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, and it's not hard to see why. This film became a cultural phenomenon by introducing moviegoers everywhere to the fantastical land of Wakanda. It also boasts one of the best villains in Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger and an iconic performance from the late great Chadwick Boseman.
5. 'Thor Ragnarok' (2017)
Sometimes, you just need a few tries to perfect a franchise's formula. That was the case with 'Thor,' a series that truly found its voice in its third installment. Far sillier than its predecessors, 'Ragnarok' is both a cosmic road trip movie between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and a dramatic look at the fall of a civilization. The movie is also a welcome reminder that it's possible to marry the needs of a shared universe with the unique voice of a director like Taika Waititi.
4. 'Guardians of the Galaxy' (2014)
This movie represented a real "make or break" moment for the MCU. Would fans embrace the cosmic side of the MCU as readily as they had Earth's mightiest heroes? Thankfully, the movie's lovable cast of oddballs, pronounced sense of humor and epic action scenes were more than enough to win over those not familiar with names like Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Groot (Vin Diesel) or Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper). Director James Gunn's soundtrack is also a highlight and helps drive the film's story.
3. 'Avengers: Infinity War' (2018)
'Avengers: Infinity War' wasn’t just the third 'Avengers' film, but it was the first part of a two-part saga meant to sum up and expand the first ten years of the MCU. That’s no small task, and it’s no small movie. But somehow the RussoBrothers, coming off of two spectacular 'Captain America' installments, pulled it off.
Set largely in space and folding in characters from distant parts of the MCU (including the Guardians of the Galaxy), 'Avengers: Infinity War' is an absolute blast with an unforgettable ending that still haunts the MCU to this day!
2. 'Spider-Man: No Way Home' (2021)
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is unmasked and no longer able to separate his normal life from the high-stakes of being a super-hero. When he asks for help from Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) the stakes become even more dangerous, forcing him to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man. Teaming with other Multiverse Spider-Men (Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield), they must now work together to take out the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina), Electro (Jamie Foxx) and other Spider-Man villains from around the multiverse.
‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ is an entertaining and exhilarating movie that delivers on all its outrageous promises and expectations while building on the MCU’s Spider-Man by paying homage to all that has come before it. Not only is ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ the best of the solo Tom Holland movies, it is one of the best MCU films, and possibly even the best live-action Spider-Man movie ever made.
1. 'Avengers: Endgame' (2019)
Somehow, Marvel Studios’ biggest achievement is also its best. It’s not just that 'Avengers: Endgame' crams all the action, suspense, and humor that you’d expect from Marvel into its surprisingly three-hour-plus runtime, but it also makes room for actual emotional moments and character beats.
This is, without question, the most heartfelt and tear-jerking entry in the entire MCU, a culmination and continuation of everything that’s been established and embellished upon in the last ten years of filmmaking. To say anything more would probably get us dusted, so we will just say that Marvel really did save the best for last, including the greatest superhero battle ever filmed!
If you are a big Marvel fan, and you want to have a movie marathon, here is how you can watch the Marvel movies in chronological order.