Over the past 13 years, Marvel has put together an expansive universe full of plenty of fan-favorite characters from the comics. While the MCU wasn’t the first time some of these characters were adapted to the big screen, it is the most popular, and arguably the best.
Right now there have been 24 entries into the franchise beginning with Iron Man in 2008, and most recently Spider-Man: Far From Home kicking off phase four of the MCU. In this article, we will take a look at all these films and rank them in order to determine which films are the best additions to the franchise so far.
24. The Incredible Hulk
Often when fans speak of the MCU they choose not to include 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, and for good reason. Released shortly after Iron Man kicked off the MCU to the mainstream movie-going audience, this interpretation of the Hulk’s story went largely overshadowed. The film had its own problems and because of these takes the last place in our rankings of the MCU.
23. Thor: The Dark World
In 2013, Thor: The Dark World was released as a follow-up to the success of 2011’s Thor. The film is full of high-stakes action and continues the gripping story of Thor being told, as well as acting as a vessel to introduce yet another Infinity Stone to the universe, but compared to other films in the MCU The Dark World doesn’t stack up.
22. Iron Man 2
When Iron Man launched the MCU in 2008 fans eagerly awaited a follow-up which would come in Iron Man 2. Starring an almost identical cast to the first film, the sequel looked poised to be another box office success, which it was but for fans, it failed to meet the mark of its predecessor. Whether it was the choice of villain, tone of the film, or the challenge of living up to the first film, Iron Man 2 is widely regarded as the worst of the three films.
21. Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Age of Ultron was in a similar position to Iron Man 2 where it was expected to live up to the spectacle that was the first Avengers film. While it was a huge success, critics and Marvel fans alike felt that it hadn’t lived up to the first entry into the series. The film had plenty of action and a compelling story, but something was missing that could have given the film the allure of other Avengers films.
20. Black Widow
While having Black Widow receive her own film was great to see, despite being so late into the MCU, the film struggles from pacing issues and has one of the worst villains in a Marvel film to date. The action pieces are expertly done and some of the performances by Florence Pugh, David Harbour, and Scarlett Johanson are fantastic so the film does have redeeming qualities.
Ant-Man was first introduced into the MCU in 2015 and was the character’s first time on the big screen. Having the challenge of explaining the character to fans, this movie takes a slower pace than some others in the franchise and offers a lot to digest. Outside of these flaws, it’s a fun action-packed film that feels perfectly at home in the MCU.
18. Ant-Man And The Wasp
As a follow-up, Ant-Man and the Wasp were released in 2018, sandwiched right between the final two entries so far into the Avengers franchise. The film is full of action with plenty of humor to compliment, but as fans awaiting the epic conclusion in End Game, Ant-Man and the Wasp felt somewhat out of place.
17. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
In the MCU, some of the most popular series tend to struggle in their second iteration and this trend continues with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. There isn’t much else to say other than the movie is a perfect action film with plenty of comic relief sprinkled in, but it fails to live up to the Guardians of the Galaxy’s first adventure in the MCU.
16. Iron Man 3
What seemed to be the conclusion of Iron Man’s story in the MCU, Iron Man 3 showcases the growth of Tony Stark as a character and provides fans with a nonstop adventure with plenty of twists along the way. After the otherworldly threat showcased in The Avengers, the villains in Iron Man 3 seem less significant, and while things look down for a short while you never really fear for Tony Stark during the film. Because of this, Iron Man 3 takes number 16 on our list.
The first time we saw the Asgardian warrior Thor on the big screen was in 2011, and the film brought the idea of inter-realm travel to the MCU. Setting the base for what was to come in the sequels, Thor does a great job at welcoming us to this new world and is a great action film in its own right.
14. Captain Marvel
In 2018 the MCU went back in the timeline to give us the origin story for Captain Marvel. What plays out like a buddy cop film, for the most part, Captain Marvel is a fun adventure that introduces viewers to one of the comics’ most powerful Avengers.
13. Captain America: The First Avenger
You can’t have a Marvel Cinematic Universe without Captain America and the first time the characters were brought in living up to the hype. In Captain America: The First Avenger, we are introduced to the origin story of the character through the lens of a war-inspired action film. Fans who stuck around after the credits were also teased about what would be to come in the MCU.
12. Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange is a unique film because it boasts a completely different tone and setting to the others in the MCU. Being one of the less well-known characters drawn from the comics, the movie explains the tale of Steven Strange, but also the greater multiverse that is present behind the scenes in the MCU.
11. Spider-Man Homecoming
Having had multiple Spider-Man franchises made by other studios before, there were big shoes to fill when the web-slinger made his way into Disney’s MCU. Fortunately, this iteration of the character was the best yet. Instead of telling the already well-known origin of the character, Homecoming picks up right in the action following Spider-Man’s involvement in Captain America: Civil War. This is one of the more fun entries into the MCU and most definitely the best interpretation of Spider-Man in a long while.
10. Thor: Ragnarok
The third film in the Thor series, Ragnarok completely switched up the tone making a fun, humorous action film showcasing Chris Hemsworth’s comedic abilities to compliment the serious persona of Thor. Much like Homecoming, if you’re looking for a fun film based in the MCU then Ragnarok may be the perfect choice for you.
9. Guardians Of The Galaxy
After the success of The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy were the second group of heroes introduced to the MCU and it was a massive success. The film perfectly balances comedy and action while also laying the groundwork for the bigger threat to come in phase three. If you’ve not seen this film then you should add it to your list as it’s a must-watch.
8. The Avengers
The first time we saw The Avengers on screen was in 2012 and it was a testimony to the impressive world-building Marvel and Disney had accomplished with the movies prior. Without the record-breaking success of this film, there is a good chance the MCU would look substantially different today.
7. Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: Civil War functions similarly to an Avengers film bringing together a huge cast of characters from movies in the MCU, but its story is based around Captain America himself. While the underlying villain of the film is Baron Zem, with the large amounts of the film dedicated to conflict between members of the Avengers there was no way it could suck.
6. Spider-Man: Far From Home
The most recent film on this list, Spider-Man: Far From Home takes all the best features of Homecoming and moves them to a more impressive setting. With another great villain, flawless performances as Spider-Man and Jake Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of Mysterio, Far From Home is one of the best films in the MCU.
5. Iron Man
Kicking the MCU off, Iron Man is an origin story for Tony Stark, but it feels like much more. Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of the character is undoubtedly one of the best in the MCU and a huge factor for its success. Iron Man should be a go-to title for any Marvel movie fan.
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
While most of the films in the MCU are action movies, The Winter Soldier is by far the most impressive. Without any space or magical interference, this film is simply a run and gun action movie and owns it through and through.
3. Black Panther
Black Panther is another of the more recent additions to the MCU and the second time we saw T’Challa on the big screen. Everything about this film is perfect for the MCU including the visuals, the acting, the complex story, and even its soundtrack. Black Panther takes number three on our list.
2. Avengers: Infinity War
It would be hard to place any individual film ahead of the final two entries to the phase three Avengers saga. Infinity War lays the groundwork for the conclusion, introducing us to Thanos and giving fans an understanding of his reasoning. While not every character is present in this film, the roster of Avengers is substantial and the action sequences are grand. Infinity War is our pick as the second-best film in the MCU.
1. Avengers: End Game
It should come as no shock that End Game takes the number one spot. Concluding over a decade of storytelling with one of the biggest movie action set pieces, this film is a testament to the world-building of the MCU. So far, this is undoubtedly the best film in the franchise.