17+ Marvel Movies Ranked From Blah to Brilliant
18th May, 2022
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Superheroes are no longer limited to the glossy pages of a comic book. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, or the MCU as it’s been dubbed, has given the characters life, and how! That said, every aspect of these movies is hotly debated. Apart from casting and cinematography, various factors, big and small, affect how a movie is received. Some, unfortunately, did not live up to their hype, while others left their fans reeling even months after. To add our two bits to everything that’s happened so far, here are 27 Marvel movies ranked from worst to best.
Chloe Zhao’s Eternals had a promising plot to mark the beginning of the next MCU phase that will focus more on the outer cosmic going-ons. The movie had the perfect formula for a blockbuster with a star-studded cast like Angeline Jolie, Salma Hayek, Harry Styles, and Kumail Nanjiani. However, owing to many characters that didn’t resonate with the audiences and a plot that felt too loosely woven, the movie has more detractors than supporters. Despite the stunning action sequences and good representation, focusing on developing the characters and concepts might have earned this one some more points.
Thor – The Dark World (2013)
A closer insight into the Norse mythology’s nine realms and a movie focusing on the rivalry of Thor and Loki? Where do we sign up?! Unfortunately, Thor: The Dark World tries to balance between two very different relations (Thor and Loki; Thor and Jane), and the viewers are left to deal with some tepid romance and out-of-place humor. However, the movie transforms from a slogfest to an adrenaline-pumped saga when Loki realizes his mother, Freya, has passed away. The movie was a commercial success, but many also consider it one of the weakest links in the MCU.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The movie had everything that hinted towards the beginning of the MCU—A super-soldier serum, Captain America easter egg, and a cameo from Tony Stark. And yet it failed to please fans simply because of the differences in cinematography and lackluster CGI when compared to the other movies. While Edward Norton was praised as Bruce Banner, Abomination, played by Tim Roth, felt slightly off-center. Interestingly, it was Lou Ferrigno, who played Dr. Bruce Banner in the TV series The Incredible Hulk (1977), who recommended that Edward Norton reprise the role of the green monster.
Doctor Strange (2016)
Remember the trippy sequence when the Ancient One punches Doctor Strange into the astral world? No wonderDoctor Strange is sometimes tagged as ‘Inception on Steroids.’ The transformation of a renowned, cocky Dr. Stephen Strange is shown wonderfully but parts of the movie felt merely cobbled together. The script did little more than introduce the characters for the Avengers: Infinity War, even though Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange was casting perfection. The movie has tons of Pink Floyd references, and these contribute to the overall edginess the movie and Cumberbatch have going for them.
Black Widow (2021)
Black Widow was released after Avengers: Endgame , which meant that Natasha Romanoff had already died, thereby messing up the MCU timelines. So, they had to come up with an origin story, although TBH, the movie felt more like a launchpad for Florence Pugh as Yelena. Although it packs a great deal of fast-paced MCU trademark action sequences, the personal drama occupies a lot of screentime and the grit has just enough gloss to not stick. The movie feels like a Jason Bourne spin-off, with just enough Avengers thrown in to realize it’s an MCU movie.
Ant-Man introduced us to the fascinating concept of the quantum realm. However, it failed to live up to its promises of being a trippy and psychedelic journey, ending up looking like nothing more than a pretty kaleidoscope. The movie has a predictable plot that involves a reformed criminal who will do whatever it takes to provide for his daughter. Although it had a light-hearted tone (remember Michael Pena’s storytelling with ridiculous details?), the same undermined some dramatic moments. And with all the Malekiths and Killmongers in the MCU that had understandable motivations, Ant-Man’s Darren is simply one-dimensional and forgettable.
Avengers – Age of Ultron (2015)
If there is a Marvel villain that has been underdeveloped in the MCU, it is Ultron. The antagonist’s nature in the comics is far more menacing than how it appeared onscreen. The plot makes it look like Ultron hates the Avengers simply because they seem hypocritical rather than having ideological differences. Avengers: Age of Ultron has its own merits, like the Hulkbuster fight and a glimpse of Steve Rogers’ worthiness to lift Thor’s Mjolnir. Although the movie did great numbers because of the vast superhero roster, it faced flack for not playing into the audiences’ expectations.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
The biggest hurdle that made Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings perform slightly underwhelmingly is a plot that cared too little about the protagonist. While most MCU movies have a simple premise, even if they have to jump between the past and present, this movie can leave you a bit confused with its tangents. The flaw is bothersome because it is an origin story. That being said, the movie does many things right. The action is undoubtedly among the best in the MCU, the script is witty and saves the plot from being two hours of gloom.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Just like its predecessor, Ant-Man and the Wasp does not require much of the viewer’s attention due to its silly and goofy screenplay. This can be acceptable, as not every movie needs to devastate the audiences, but this one just fell flat on other grounds too. Although Ant-Man and the Wasp may be forgettable as soon as the credits roll, it is perfectly timed in the MCU. Ant-Man realizes, upon his return, that half of the population on earth has perished due to Thanos’ snap. The ending of the movie acts as a prelude to Avengers: Endgame.
The makers of the movie went ahead with the cliched concept of the fall and rise of a hero, erm god. Odin banishes Thor from Asgard and strips away his power to teach him some good ol humility. While this made sense to dads worldwide, it did keep the protagonist powerless for 75% of the movie. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston as Thor and Loki were the perfect casting choice, and the runtime wrapped up with a grandiose family dispute in Asgard, tying a bow on the cookie cutter superhero movie that everyone pretty much liked.
Spider-Man – Far from Home (2019)
One of the best things about the Spider-Man movies is the character’s comic timing. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker straddles the line between protector and protected beautifully, bringing to the screen a hero who is slowly growing comfortable in his own skin. The plot does become a little annoying with Peter mostly relying on Mysterio, but it is easy to sympathize with a boy who just wants to not face trauma again any time soon. The movie successfully depicts the push and pull Peter faces and how he is just not ready to take up the mantle of his billionaire mentor.
Captain Marvel (2019)
It took a year more than a decade, but MCU finally released a solo movie on one of the greatest superheroes. But did it live up to the hype? Captain Marvel became one of the highest-grossing entries and the first female-starring superhero movie. Despite the overwhelming reception, there was a great divide about whether Brie Larson was the right choice for Carol Danvers. However, debate notwithstanding, Captain Marvel has one of the best non-linear storylines. The makers did not go with the origin story, instead, they showed that Carol already had superpowers.
Spider-Man – Homecoming (2017)
Spider-Man: Homecoming was one of the most awaited MCU movies. One of the best things the movie makers did was they took a fresh approach to Sam Raimi’s Spiderman, as this movie does not dwell on the past, it gets right into the plot without referring to the backstory. This Peter Parker was a lot more reliant on third-party tech than his predecessors, but considering the universe was basically Tony Stark’s, that’s understandable. The movie maintains a youthful, coming-of-age feel and has a decently intimidating antagonist in the form of Vulture.
Captain America – The First Avenger (2011)
This movie is yet another example of a great casting choice. Chris Evans is perfect as The First Avenger. It was refreshing to see him as a responsible and patriotic Captain America rather than a funky playboy. However, the villain’s motive in the movie undermines its menacing character. Red Skull’s characterization was limited to grabbing the infinity stone so that he could be the most powerful warmonger and win World War II. Despite that, Captain America: The First Avenger is not too bleak a portrait as its second act is creative and engaging.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
The Iron Man franchise is one of those examples where audiences and film critics both agree on the fact that the film had forced plot developments. The sequence where Tony tells the address of his Malibu Mansion on camera to challenge Mandarin, who later attacks and destroys it, simply feels like a stakes-raising set piece for the trailer. The movie did manage to show a more emotional and sensitive side of Tony Stark as he befriends a kid named Harley Keener, which leads to an extremely cute dynamic between jaded genius and curious boy genius.
Avengers – Infinity War (2018)
Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of decades' worth of storytelling done over the course of 20 MCU movies. Hulk finally meets his match and the magnitude of the problem the Avengers face hits the viewers pretty hard. However, when it was time to put Loki’s cunningness and charm to the test, the god of mischief goes out with a whimper and instead, it is Thor’s time to shine. The god of thunder’s entry with the newly-forged Stormbreaker is one of the greatest battle sequences and still has us wowed.
Iron Man (2008)
Jon Favreau’s Iron Man is the beginning of the MCU, and it is one of the best launch vehicles any superhero has had. It did not dwell on an origin story aside from vague murmurs of a troubled past and started smackdab in the middle of all the drama Stark kept getting himself into. The action sequences of the movie are light, bright, and impressively crafted. The movie has all the plot points and moral messages expected from a superhero flick and Downey Jr. as Iron Man is funny, human, heroic, and engaging as hell.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 revolves around Peter Quill discovering his biological father, Ego, and how he turns out to be a cosmic genocidal maniac. The movie has all the emotionally resonant dramatic moments, and it finds the perfect balance of heart and humor. However, the collateral damage was turning emotionally complex characters (read Drax) into a joke. Although Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has a slow start, it eventually becomes a tightly-structured action movie. From George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord to Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain, this movie has a better soundtrack than the first one.
Captain America – Civil War (2016)
One of MCU’s most critically acclaimed entries, Captain America: Civil War is also dubbed as Avengers 2.5 as it is an ensemble of all the superheroes in the MCU. Having said that, the movie manages to keep its focus on Captain and Iron-Man successfully. The conflict between two friends who have braved far worse storms already and their differing ideologies makes for a lot of heartbreak and very little humor, departing from the usual MCU formula. The movie also plays its part well in the larger scheme of things, introducing Spiderman and Black Panther.
Black Panther (2018)
Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther arrived with a record-breaking bang in 2018. The movie keeps you on edge from the start, introducing the world and its politics in bits and pieces, broken up by enough action to keep you from getting bored. Black Panther is extremely likable, but almost appears tame until Killmonger arrives in Wakanda. The movie has a unique theme of tradition vs. progress, and that strengthens its emotional punch. While Chadwick Boseman killed it as T’Challa, it was the women of Wakanda that shone throughout as they fought ferociously beside him.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy had a refreshing tone amid a flurry of typical MCU blockbusters. With tons of pop culture references, the movie has high-stakes action sequences with biting banter. Being a standalone movie, it drifts off from the plot to set up a stage for Marvel’s cinematic series, which makes it look like merely an episode in a larger tapestry. Guardians of the Galaxy can be the perfect example of depicting team dynamics. It brings together some of the most dysfunctional characters working reluctantly towards one common goal, ultimately showing a wonderful found family.
Captain America – The Winter Soldier (2014)
The movie is about Steve Rogers struggling to embrace the modern world while battling a new threat from old history: A Soviet agent called the Winter Soldier. It has everything one would expect from a Captain America movie–Nazis, HYDRA, and adrenaline-pumping actions sequences. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is also one of those movies that relies less on CGI-aided action sequences, as it has some of the best conflicts between Steve Rogers and the Winter Soldier, both emotional and physical. However, audiences have spotted several continuity mistakes in the action sequences, which is a big letdown.
Thor – Ragnarok (2017)
The third installment from Thor’s Trilogy, Thor: Ragnarok is the most successful movie with Thor as the protagonist. Taika Waititi’s first-ever blockbuster managed to convey both humor and action mixed with a hint of family drama. Although a standalone movie, it is full of Easter eggs and references. For instance, the movie’s antagonist, Hela (Thor and Loki’s sister), dismissed the infinity gauntlet from Odin’s vault as fake. The movie set the stage for Avengers: Infinity War, depicting how the destruction opened the door for Thanos.
The Avengers (2012)
This movie is known to make millions of dollars of gross earnings look like peanuts. With a box-office collection of more than $1.5 billion The Avengers was a behemoth crossover event, a gamble that paid off handsomely. It is the first MCU movie with an ensemble cast of superheroes sharing the screen, and they did a brilliant job in balancing it, making sure none of the superheroes hogs most screen time. It leaves the viewers worried, exhilarated, and awed in turns, cementing its position as one of the best MCU movies.
Avengers – Endgame (2019)
The final battle at the end of this movie was the pay-off every Marvel fan deserved and got. Certain aspects of the plot, such as time traveling and the concept of the quantum realm, were quite confusing and spawned theories by battle-hardened fans and novices alike. Despite the heartbreak, deaths, and disappointments, the movie is also a bouquet of some of the best ‘feel-good’ moments like Scott’s reunion with his daughter and Thor appointing Valkyrie as the leader of Asgard. The cherry on top? Captain America actually lifts Mjolnir; we knew he was worthy!
Spider-Man -No Way Home (2021)
Amid all the furor of MCU exploring the concept of the multiverse, Spider-Man: No Way Home was one of the most awaited movies of 2021. It got a lot of attention from fans that rooted for Spiderman even before he was part of the MCU. Spider-Man: No Way Home is one big nostalgia ride as they roped in unexpected guests from another universe to help MCU’s Spiderman straighten up the mess he created trying to wipe off people’s memories with the help of Doctor Strange. The movie has everything—menacing villains, nostalgia, and iconic meme references.