The 25 Greatest Marvel Comic Book Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Marvel is, dollars-to-donuts-big-enough-for-Iron-Man-to-sit-in, the most consistent hit maker in Hollywood. See their slate over the last ten years as proof. Even before the MCU was THE MCU, Marvel was churning out must-see films (and a few misfires; wave "hi" to "Blade III" and "Fantastic Four.") Here's a quick look back at Marvel's 25 best films, both from within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and from without.
20. '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 and all the armor-on-armor carnage we could have asked for. "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.
15. '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.
23. 'X-Men' (2000)
The first "X-Men" is admittedly pretty rough around the edges, but it's still easy to see why this movie spawned a massive franchise and helped kick-start the flailing superhero genre. Dated though it is, "X-Men" features some of the best superhero casting ever, thanks to Hugh Jackman, Sir Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellen. It also has a unique, creepy vibe that we kind of miss in subsequent movies.
20. 'Blade II' (2002)
"Blade II" definitely lacks the novelty of its predecessor, but there's still plenty to love about Wesley Snipes' sophomore outing as the stylish vampire slayer. Director Guillermo Del Toro's biggest contribution here is introducing a new breed of super-vampire, one deadly enough that Blade is forced to join forces with regular vampires just to confront it. The result is an enjoyable sequel that also had a clear influence on "The Strain" years later.
5. 'Deadpool 2'
Total Gross: $318,491,426 While "Deadpool 2" didn't quite exceed the massive box office haul of the original, it still easily became one of the top-grossing movies of 2018. And hitting just a few weeks after "Infinity War," no less.
13. '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.
8. 'Spider-Man' (2002)
Like "X-Men," the original "Spider-Man" tends to show its age alongside the more recent Marvel movies. Still, its fundamental appeal remains after all these years. This film delivers a mostly pitch-perfect rendition of Peter Parker's evolution from lonely nerd to slightly less lonely superhero. It established a strong foundation for an even better sequel.
18. 'Deadpool' (2016)
"Deadpool" was unlike any X-Men movie fans had ever seen when it exploded into theaters in 2016. This gleefully inappropriate action comedy gave the X-Men line the dose of self-awareness it needed. And beneath all the raunchy jokes and meta humor, it managed to tell a heartwarming story about two weirdos finding love against all odds.
11. '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. And 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. Seriously, when has an actor realized a character in a genre piece so fully formed as RDJ does here?
16. 'Captain America: The First Avenger' (2011)
The early momentum of the MCU could have easily gone off the rails if "Captain America: The First Avenger" turned out to be a dud. Flashing back to World War II and focusing on Marvel's most squeaky-clean Avenger was a risk that ultimately paid off. "The First Avenger" brought a much-needed dose of "Indiana Jones"-style adventure to the MCU. Chris Evans' Steve Rogers immediately emerged as the compelling moral center of the MCU, and the movie still holds claim to the greatest last line in any Marvel movie.
15. 'X-Men: First Class' (2011)
The "X-Men" franchise was badly in need of an overhaul after the disappointing "X-Men: the Last Stand" and the downright abysmal "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." Fortunately, "First Class" was up to the task. This pseudo-prequel/reboot flashed back to the early days of the X-Men and gave the franchise the fresh start it needed. Seeing the original crew of X-Men is fun, but the real meat of this film is in the fascinating Xavier/Magneto dynamic.
14. 'Thor: Ragnarok' (2017)
The "Thor" series used to be a weak link in the chain that is the MCU, never connecting with audiences on the level of "Iron Man" or "Captain America." Luckily, the third time proved to be the charm. Director Taika Watiti brought his wacky sense of humor to bear, giving fans a colorful, campy cosmic road trip. While at times the rampant silliness undercuts the more dramatic elements of the story, as a whole we much prefer Watiti's Thor to what came before.
13. 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' (2017)
Given the underwhelming nature of Sony's "Amazing Spider-Man" reboot movies, it was enough to wonder if moviegoers were fed up with the wallcrawler. But as "Homecoming" proved, it only takes one good movie to turn around a struggling franchise. Spidey's first MCU movie succeeded by emphasizing Peter Parker's chaotic home and school life as much as his superhero antics. And not for nothing, but we didn't realize how badly we needed Michael Keaton to return to superhero movies until we saw his take on Vulture.
12. 'Guardians of the Galaxy' (2014)
"Guardians" may well be the riskiest Marvel movie to date. Having established heavy-hitters like Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man, Marvel needed to prove that fans would follow them into space for a movie featuring heroes most casual fans have never heard of. Flash forward a few years later, and characters like Drax and Rocket Raccoon are household names. "Guardians" is a welcome reminder that quality, not brand recognition, is what has made the MCU into the box office juggernaut it is.
7. '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. 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.
1. 'Black Panther'
Total Gross: $700,059,566 "Black Panther" is one of those cinematic cultural events that only comes along once or twice a decade. This movie became king of the MCU hill specifically because it appealed to a wide audience who don't usually turn out for superhero movies.
9. 'Blade' (1998)
Before Blade, the idea of a good Marvel movie was basically unheard of. This turned out to be the little superhero movie that could, wooing audiences through a combination of stylish action, snappy writing and a great performance from star Wesley Snipes. It set the standard for every great Marvel movie to come.
8. 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' (2014)
The continuity of the "X-Men" franchise is nonsensical at the best of times. "Days of Future Past" is the one movie that actually uses that continuity to its benefit. This sequel unites the classic and reboot casts for a tale of time-travel and desperate survival. It features some of the most thrilling and emotionally charged moments in the whole series, as well as that fantastic Quicksilver sequence. It also paved the way for a brighter future for the franchise going forward, though Fox hasn't exactly made good on that potential.
7. 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' (2017)
The second "Guardians" movie perfected the formula established in the original. It's quite possibly the funniest Marvel movie ever released, yet it's also the most heartfelt. Beneath all the cosmic trappings, it tells a story about damaged oddballs finding a family in each other.
6. 'X2: X-Men United' (2003)
"X2" is a textbook example of a sequel taking a winning formula and improving upon it in nearly every way. This sequel crams in more mutant favorites, more of Hugh Jackman doing Wolverine things and a generally more resonant and effective story. At one point, "X2" was an obvious choice for the best superhero movie ever made. And even after all this time, it's still one of the best.
5. The Battle of New York In 'The Avengers' (2012)
Phase 1 of the MCU culminated in "The Avengers," the first movie to bring together Iron Man, Black Widow, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and Hawkeye in one place. The results were electrifying, with Joss Whedon's energetic script fueling a terrific team dynamic. Plus, the final battle in New York remains one of the most thrilling sequences in the MCU. All this, plus Mark Ruffalo's Hulk instantly made us forget every incarnation that had come before.
4. '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. Without this movie, "Agents of SHIELD" might never have gotten good.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown into one of the biggest and most beloved franchises in Hollywood. And with multiple new sequels hitting theaters every year for the foreseeable future, it's not slowing down anytime soon. As we gear up for the releases of new superhero epics like "Captain Marvel" and "Avengers: Endgame," here's how each of these movies measures up.
2. 'Logan' (2017)
While not the last X-Men movie to come out of Fox before the impending Disney takeover, "Logan" can and should be looked at as the swan song for this series. It's tough to imagine a better note to go out on. This sequel features Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart playing their iconic X-Men roles one more time, as a dying Wolverine finds himself given one last chance to save the mutant race and find meaning in a life defined by brutality and suffering. The final shot of this movie gets us every time.
1. 'Spider-Man 2' (2004)
As much as we adore the MCU, even Marvel has yet to outdo the all-time greatest Marvel movie. "Spider-Man 2" truly set the gold standard for the genre in the 21st Century. It captures everything we love about Peter Parker and his personal struggles. It also features the best Marvel movie villain in Alfred Molina's Doctor Octopus, a beloved mentor turned bitter enemy. "Spider-Man 2" is thrilling, romantic and quirky in equal measure, and it's had no trouble holding its own against the dozens of Marvel movies that have popped up since.