The List: Every MCU Movie Ranked From Worst To Best

So, 2 weeks ago I asked you guys to vote on what you thought was the best movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so we could update our list from 2 years ago (you can find the poll here and the oringal list here). The spoiler embargo for Endgame is well and truely over, so if you haven't seen it, or any of the movies on this list then a) spoilers and b) go watch them. Now lets get into the ranking, starting at the bottom (as voted for by you guys) and making our way to the top.

22. Thor: Dark World

Previous Ranking: 13 (out of 14)

No real surprises here. Other than Tom Hiddleston's return as Loki (which is always an up in any film), Dark World is near universally considered the weakest movie Marvel have made. We got some plot progression for the Infinity Saga with the introducion of the Reality Stone (Aether) and the film ended on a tease of Loki taking over Asgard (which led into a film we'll be seeing much, much later in this list), but other than those threads, we got a pretty filler movie with a terrible bad guy (even by early MCU standards) and a lead pairing with no chemistry. Out of the big 3 of the MCU (Iron Man, Cap and Thor) it is safe to say, Thor got the shortest straw early on when it came to solo movies. Speaking of...

21. Thor

Previous Ranking: 12 (out of 14)

Yeah, the early Thor films aren't the most beloved in the MCU. It may be because the third Thor film was so good or it may be that certain other films are getting more love because of what happened in Endgame, but I was actually surprised to see Thor 1 drop this low. It's a film of two halves, either of which would have made for a better film (provided they'd actually cast Jane Foster right), plus there was that utterly pointless Hawkeye cameo. But on the plus side, this film gave us Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, plus Stellan Skarsgard kept his clothes on for the entire film (unlike the sequel).

20. Iron Man 2

Previous Ranking: 14 (out of 14)

Ah yes, the one where Tony Stark's aloholism is handled in a very sensitive and mature way, with an amazing performance by Mickey Rourke. No sarcasm in that sentance what so ever. But on the plus side, this movie did give us Don Cheadle as War Machine and introduced Black Widow to the MCU, so it's not all bad. The problem is that Iron Man 2 is best remembered for its problems, purely because they overshadowed everything else in the movie. The actors (well, everyone not named Mickey Rourke) did the best with what they were given, but they weren't given much. (Though, bump up the rankings because of Endgame and the fact that they retroactively put a Spider-Man cameo in).

19. The Incredible Hulk

Previous Ranking: 10 (out of 14)

As I said last time out, this is the one everyone forgets is in the MCU until Robert Downey Jr. shows up at the end. And that's what's gonna happen if you replace (or in this case, upgrade) your lead actor between films. The film isn't terrible, it's fairly avergae actually, though it does have a pretty cool end battle between Hulk and Abomination. It did leave a few dangling plot threads, such as the birth of The Leader and what exactly Tony Stark was on about at the end of the film, but, you know, early MCU teething problems, they hadn't exactly got the entire plan formulated yet.

18. Ant-Man And The Wasp

Previous Ranking: -

Our first new film, and probably a bit of a harsh assessment. AMATW does improve on the original Ant-Man film (IMO) by being a lot less annoying. However, it has one big problem. A problem so big it dwarfs even Giant Man. This film came out right after Infinity War. Sure it gave us a lead into Endgame, but really, nobody cared about this film. It had an important part to play in the story, but by its placement in the schedule, it was rendered filler and wasn't quite strong enough of a movie to overcome that handicap.

17. Ant-Man

Previous Ranking: 6 (out of 14)

Our biggest ranking drop, Ant-Man was firmly in the top half of the list last time, tying in votes with the original Iron Man. So, what went wrong. Did people actually remember that this film is really, really annoying, that the sidekick characters do nothing but drag the film down and that the villain is legit the second worst MCU villain after Ronan The Accuser? Or is it just because it's kinda been forgotten now that a whole load of newer films have come out that everyone has raved about (when the previous list was made, this was the second newest film, so recency bias may have played a role. Doctor Strange placed one place below with near equal votes for reference). Either way, that's quite a drop for Scott.

16. Iron Man 3

Previous Ranking: 11 (out of 14)

Not really surprising to see this film effectively jump up a couple of places (overtaking Ant-Man and Incredible Hulk), given how Endgame played out. And it's not actually a bad film. It does have a pretty abysmal ending and the twist was, to put it lightly, ill judged. However, this film features a fantastic performance by RDjr., who manages to pull off PTSD much better than aloholism. Stories of executive meddling behind the scenes suggest that this film would probably be a lot more loved had the director been allowed to make the film how it was intended... well, as long as the twist wasn't in it.

15. Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Previous Ranking: 9 (out of 14)

Another film dragged down by backstage meddling, in this case the need to further develop the Infinity Saga by setting up future movies where they had no real right to be set up, this film is the black sheep of the Avengers films. The story feels like it's trying too hard to one-up the original Avengers film, Ultron as a character feels awfully confused (and not intentionally) and the romance between Natasha and Bruce is horribly forced. But on the bright side, fight scenes are A+ (especially Hulk vs. Hulkbuster) and the introducion of the new characters (Vision and Scarlet Witch, with a side order of Quicksilver) is handled pretty much perfectly, considering how the rest of the film went.

14. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2

Previous Ranking: -

The MCU has a lot of Daddy Issues (see Tony Stark, Thor & Loki, Ultron, both T'Challa and Killmonger) but no movie sums this up better than this one. Though it has a far, far superior villain to its predecessor (and one of the best in the MCU, imo) and just as good a sound track, this film's main failing is splitting up the team for the majority of the movie, though it does lead to some funny moments (Baby Groot's ravenger scavenger hunt for example). What made the first film so special was the interplay between its principle cast and this film lacked that. But it made up for it with some truely heartwrenching moments and the best visuals in the MCU up to this point. Plus, great Stan Lee (R.I.P) cameo.

13: Captain Marvel

Previous Ranking: -

This one was divisive. It got a lot of hate from manbabies online for its supposed "feminist agenda", but the biggest question most sane people had was "is this film going to be any good?". And the answer to that is "Errrrr, kinda".  It's not a bad film, but it's not as good as it should have been. The twist of making the Skrulls the good guys was inspired and the interplay between Carol Danvers and Nick Fury is great (oh, points for the deaging on Samuel L. Jackson, best I've seen of that effect), plus who doesn't love Goose. But the film was let down by how little character progression it feels like they're making. By the end of the film, it doesn't feel like Carol Danvers has really developed. Sure she's got her memories back and that's nice, but she's still basically the same as she was at the start of the film, just on a different side of the war. The character arc just doesn't feel as fulfilling as most other (good) MCU films. Oh and it suffers for the same reason as AMATW, being stuck between Infinity War and Endgame, only being given a reprive by the fact it's Marvel's first female lead movie.

12. Doctor Strange

Previous Ranking: 7 (out of 14)

Another film that probably wasn't as good as it should have been, but for different reasons. This film is totally carried by its lead (which is understandable, Benedict Cumberbatch was the perfect casting choice), everything else is pretty much forgettable. A pretty generic plot, a waste of a fantastic actor in the villain role and a big CGI "main boss" at the end that they probably could have held off on using until a later date (like, maybe even for the Avengers). But hey, everything this film set up for was (or looks to be) pretty awesome, be it Infinity War or the as of yet unpaid-off Mordo heel turn.

11. Captain America: First Avenger

Previous Ranking: 8 (out of 14)

Leapfrogging Doctor Strange, we have the first film in the MCU timeline (if you go by internal chronology rather than film release dates). A good old fashioned war film, well, if good old fashioned war films had superheroes and villains with red, skull like features, this film essentially kickstarted the Infinity Saga, introducing the first Infinity Stone (the space stone/ Tesseract) as well as starting a 7 movie long sub plot about the endurance of friendship in the face of adversity. Also, this film becomes a lot more poigniant post-Endgame.

10. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Previous Ranking: -

Now we come to the big ones. I'm pretty sure everyone would be expecting the top 10 to feature the films it does, but in what order. Well, we'll kick off with the best live-action Spider-Man film in 10 years. Jury is still out on this vs. Spider-Man 2, but I'd probably give Homecoming the nod on the better lead performance as both Pete and Spidey. On top of that we also had an amazing interpretation of The Vulture by Batman (which is the closest we're going to get to seeing Marvel vs. DC on the big screen), plus so many additional Spider-Man villains either given parts or cameoed (see, this is how you set up for a Sinister 6 film Universal). The only problem is that Mysterio is in the follow up so therefore Far From Home is automatically better. These are the facts people.

9. Captain America: Civil War

Previous Ranking: 2 (out of 14)

I'm sorry, but you're all wrong. This is way way way way way too low for this film to be on this list. Series best performances from both Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr., the stellar introduction of both Black Panther and Spider-Man, a top 3 best MCU villain in Helmut Zemo and an adaptation of a derided storyline that most people thought unadaptable and they actually made it work? And you're telling me that this isn't still top 3 best the MCU has ever done? Sorry, but you're all actually wrong. I shall try to be civil for the rest of the list, but I want you all to known that you've made a serious error of judgement and I'm very disappointed in you all.

8. The Avengers

Previous Ranking: 3 (out of 14)

Well, this could have gone horribly wrong. Thankfully it didn't and it led to the biggest movie franchise of all time. The Avengers was not the first movie of the MCU, obviously, but it solidified the MCU as a feature of cinema and caused a wave of immitators (pretty much all of whom have failed miserably DC). The film didn't need to set up any of the characters because they'd already been set up (bar Hawkeye). Now, at this point I was going to make a joke out of Hawkeye being given a raw deal by listing all of the things this film did right with the characters and then ending each sentance by going (bar Hawkeye), but tbh, that's way too low hanging fruit. Let's just say, they could probably have done Hawkeye better, but this film was awesome and move on.

7. Iron Man

Previous Ranking: 5 (out of 14)

So, this film may have dropped 2 places from its previous ranking (though there are now more films), but the fact that it has jumped ahead of 2 of the top 3 films on the last list and the film it tied with last time out is now just outside the bottom 5 should tell you that Endgame had a pretty big influence on how people ranked these films. This is the film that started it all, gave us Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, introduced the world to this B list superhero (he was, lets face it) who then went on to take over the world. Let's be honest it was quite a surprise that it worked as well as it did and it's been able to pull off one more.

6. Black Panther

Previous Ranking: -

The culturally relevant one. Winning Marvel their first Oscar and being a flagship for representation in films, Black Panther was a triumph, in casting, in design (especially those costumes, my god) and at the box office. But is it actually all that good? Well, it bears a striking resemblance in plot to another film we'll be talking about later (which would be fine if they hadn't been released back to back) and they make a rather large mistake of killing off a potentially amazing future bad guy (you know, if you're going to make a political statement, and yes this film is a political statement considering the current political climate, keep the white colonialist around so you can make an even more interesting statement next time). A lot of people rave about Killmonger, I personally don't rate him that much (though he's still top 5 best MCU baddies, just not the best like so many people say). However, this film is still amazing, and thoroughly deserves its place in the top 10.

5. Guardians Of The Galaxy

Previous Ranking: 1 (out of 14)

A yes, the one with the tree and the raccoon. The one nobody thought would work in a million years. The one with the worst villain in the entire MCU (which had a bit of a villain problem until Spider-Man Homecoming). The one that got number 1 last time we did this poll. The fun one. It had zero expectations going in and it was good so that's why GOTG2 is in the bottom half of this list (i.e. it had tonnes of expectations going in and wasn't even better). Do I really need to say anything about this one guys? No! Ok, moving on.

Thor. 4: Ragnarok (wait that's not right)

Previous Ranking: -

The best Thor film by a country mile (not that there is much of a high bar, but you know). Thor Ragnarok sees our titular hero find out that his father had been hiding a deep dark secret from him about his family and the aforementioned fathers death sees that villain present themself and their legitimate claim to the throne, deposing our hero and striping him of his power. Our hero is also forced to contend with another sub-villain who kinda overshadows the main villain considering they're the main focus of the hero for half the film, and we have a fight between the hero and a character who he later allies with to help bring down the main bad guy. Oh and at the end of the film, our hero decides to abandon the old way of living that his kingdom has prospered under for longer than anyone can remember because it prevents the villain from gaining the real victory. In case you can't tell, I was talking about both Thor Ragnarok and Black Panther there. Why didn't they put Ragnarok out before Homecoming? At least then it wouldn't have been so obvious they recycled half the plot.

Anyway, Ragnarok, great film, pretty much the new Guardians Of The Galaxy, Korg is the best, I love Jeff Goldblum and as always Loki is great. Finally Thor got a good film.

3. Captain America: Winter Soldier

Previous Ranking: 4 (out of 14)

This one actually surprised me. The only film to move up a ranking despite the influx of amazing new films. It's safe to say that Captain America got the best trilogy of films out of the MCU (althought Guardians 3 could change that). Though I personally don't rank this film higher than Civil War, I can understand why people might. It's an excellent espionage movie, with the high stakes of the villains true plot taking a back seat to the much more personal stakes of the characters. We also get a fleshed out role for Black Widow (hi Endgame bias) and probably the best interpretation of a terrible superhero concept with the introducion of Falcon (not that I'm saying Sam Wilson, the character, is bad, just Falcon is up there with Hawkeye in terms of "guys you wouldn't pick in a heartbeat if you actually had to save the world"). Oh yeah and Chris Evans does some stuff in this film too, he's pretty good I guess.

2. Avengers: Infinity War

Previous Ranking: -

Ok, I'll make this one snappy...


Anyway. A fantastic film about Thanos, also including Gamora and some other characters. A little bit disjointed in places due to all of the characters involved and how much they actually had to get done in this one film, but boy does it work. Opening by punching you straight in the guts by killing Loki within the first 10 minutes and then going on to punch you over and over and over until finally haymakering you in the face with the ending (and sucker punching you with Spider-Man when you're down). Only one film really stood a chance at beating this one. And to the surprise of no one...

1. Avengers: Endgame

Previous Ranking: -

Hi Endgame bias *waves*

So, yeah... We all knew this was going to win right? If you didn't, what did you think was going to beat it? Yes it has a lot of plot holes (though if you actually think really, really hard and fill in the gaps yourself, there aren't that many) and yes Thor is actually fat (the picture above is only representative of the first 20 minutes) and the handling of his PTSD is played for laughs as oppossed to the much more delicate Iron Man 3 depiction, so those are bad marks. But on the other hand, Professor Hulk. That should be enough to convince anyone that this film should be number one, but just in case, we got an AWFUL! LOT! OF! FAN! SERVICE! No, really, there was AN AWFUL LOT OF FANSERVICE IN THIS FILM. Oh and they carried on the emotional punches to the gut from Infinity War to such an extent that if you didn't cry at least 3 times when watching this film for the first time I'm not sure you're actually human. The perfect way to finish off the Infinity Saga.

So, there you go. That's our list, as voted for by you guys. Leave your comments down below about how wrong you think everyone else is for their rankings and how much I'm wrong about Thor Ragnarok and Black Panther being the same film just in a slightly different order with different casts (I'm not by the way).

JR out.

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10 Responses to The List: Every MCU Movie Ranked From Worst To Best

  1. G. W. says:

    While I see your point about Ragnarok and Black Panther, most of those plot points you mention are very common tropes, and if you really want to go there you can argue that both movies ripped off The Lion King, which ripped off Hamlet anyway.

  2. The Atomic Punk says:

    Even without having seen the top two, I think that the top five is fair. Since I am so far behind on the MCU (last one that I saw was Ant-Man), I will stick with what I know. Bottom line is Iron Man started it all. It was a true origin story. It set the bar and audience expectations. I think even the Norns foretold that Robert Downey Jr. was going to absolutely own the role of Tony Stark.

    While we can poll and debate until Ragnarok come, without Iron Man‘s surprising cross-audience appeal, we would not have the MCU. Every movie after that, I say came along for the ride.

  3. The Atomic Punk says:

    Oh, I agree, JR. Just even one or two more lines from Hawkeye could have really developed the character. Instead, the MCU went with the loner with a mysterious past. Only later to reveal that he is married and a loving father. That should have been subtext in the first movie. Though, I don’t know how Hawkeye plays out after Age of Ultron. So many missed opportunities to make him more than a tag-along.

    Admittedly, Iron Man and Captain America are the leads. Still, the other Avengers were treated as hired muscle. Black Widow didn’t even have a Russian accent! The best line out of any of them was Banner: “I’m always angry.”

  4. Brons says:

    I have to disagree with the following criticism that I’ve seen several times, not just here:

    [Captain Marvel] was let down by how little character progression it feels like they’re making. By the end of the film, it doesn’t feel like Carol Danvers has really developed. Sure she’s got her memories back and that’s nice, but she’s still basically the same as she was at the start of the film, just on a different side of the war.

    While it istrue that the storytelling departs from the classic heroic cycle in terms of “character development”, the reason is that it is a different kind of story, still one of heroism, struggle and coming into one’s own, just not the sort that Joseph Campbell and Lord Raglan wrote about.

    The classic Hero Cycle is a male coming of age story. It is about how a child, specifically a male child, grows to be a man, how he finds and masters his power. You can see this in Raglan’s inclusion of “marries a princess” and Campbell’s “Meeting with the Goddess”, “Meeting with the Goddess” and “Atonement with the Father”. As generally formulated, these notions of the Hero’s Journey, and character development, are pretty seriously gendered That’s not to say that there aren’t good stories that follow these tropes, taking a girl through the process of becoming a woman and a hero. In many ways you see the Heroic Cycle and Journey in the recent Wonder Woman movie. Still, the formulas are more resonant with a male figure assuming his power.

    Captain Marvel doesn’t seek to take Carol Danvers through this sort of cycle. Rather, it takes her through a different cycle, one that is quite familiar to a great many women. Again, it is not exclusively female, many boys and men can see it reflected in their lives, but in our culture, it is particularly resonant with women, I believe.

    As noted by many, Carol starts her movie already in possession of her superpowers. She isn’t on a journey to acquire and grow into them. She is a powerful woman, but she is one who is held back and controlled through lies about who she is, where her power comes from and her proper role in the world—lies that she believes. She is told that the power that is naturally hers aren’t hers by nature, but are a gift by another powerful authority figure, and that she is indebted to the authority and owes it fealty and obedience.

    Hers is an internal journey and journey not into power, but into truth. She doesn’t need a wizard or mentor, to be reborn from the belly of the whale, to avoid the guiles of the Temptress, to atone with her father. She needs to realize who she is. She needs to overcome the lessons of inadequacy, to find the power within herself, to realize that it was always there and that is who she is. She doesn’t need to be granted power. She needs to realize it, in both senses—to recognize it in herself and make it actual.

    It isn’t just “nice” that she has her memories back. It is vital to her story that she learns who she is. The journey she is on is to finding who she is, who she has always been. It is to overcome debilitating lies. This is where the flashbacks of her always getting back up, of crying “No!” in the face of defeat, of rejecting being told explicitly and implicitly that she is “just a girl” comes from and why it is so powerful for many women, girls, and yes, men and boys who have been cast as secondary, as not good enough.

    Carol is very much not the same as she was. True she has not been empowered, but she has been liberated. She knows who she is. She has found her identity and learned that it is strong and powerful. She has overcome and flourished, as she always should have. This is growth, development and fulfillment. She has gone on a voyage of (self-)discovery and triumphed.

    So, no, she isn’t the hero of a thousand faces, and her story is not just another superhero coming of age transformation. That I will grant. But it is a wonderful and heroic story, a story of liberation, a search for truth, and one of self-discovery. It speaks powerful to many women, and to many who are treated as second class. This is why I rated it as one of the very best. Iron Man was first, and Captain America iconic, but they are stories that are like scores of other superhero films, thousands of other tales. Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel I love because they aren’t just the Hero Cycle, the Hero’s Journey, the adolescent male coming of age myth. They tell us less common heroic tales. They step outside the mold.

    That’s just my two bits.

  5. Brons says:

    I wanted to credit a woman who gave voice to this same thought, but though I looked, I just couldn’t find it before I wrote my preceding comment. Naturally, as soon as I posted my comment without citing her, I stumbled across it by accident, so, here’s a tip of the hat to Jennifer Harrison, who wrote much the same in her Twitter feed:

  6. JR19759 says:

    @Brons-Okay, I’ve never looked at Captain Marvel from that perspective before. It’s a very interesting take. I have to disagree with the idea that her power is hers naturally, she gained it by accident (to put it into perspective, if Yon Rogg had been standing a few feet forward, he’d have the same powers, pressumably), t0 but other than that, yes, then I agree that her story is about liberation from a lie to control her. It’s an interesting take, like I said, I hadn’t thought about it that way before. Thanks for sharing.
    I might show this to my mate who hates the film because of Carols character development, see if his opinion shifts a bit.

  7. Ubiquitous Pixel says:

    The first Avengers movie and Black Panther beat out Civil War? Criminal! I’m calling the police! Winter Soldier was one of my favorites, so can’t complain. Black Panther, I wasn’t impressed with it or the villain. I grew up loving Black Panther and I guess I was looking for more badass scenes with Black Panther in it. I didn’t feel wowed, as for comics and cartoons make him so much more. I actually really liked Incredible Hulk, he’s better than the current Hulk in my opinion, but the movie wasn’t the best. The rest of my opinions on movies will rest in my head.

    I must note… I love your view points and explanations JR, bravo, well written.

  8. Steve says:

    “…given a reprieve by the fact it’s Marvel’s first female lead movie.”
    I suppose you can say that if you’re talking strictly about the present-day MCU, but Captain Marvel is NOT the first Marvel movie female lead.
    Jennifer Garner in ‘Elektra’ beats her by 14 years.
    That being said, I just didn’t enjoy the movie as much as both Ant-Man and Thor movies at all, and would have put her much lower. It’s just doesn’t do it for me.

  9. JR19759 says:

    @Steve- Yes, I meant MCU. Also, I think we should all agree that we forget that the Elektra movie ever happened.

  10. Jake says:

    Guardians 2 is SO much better than the first one. It’s more consistent tonally, the character arcs are strong and resonant, and I don’t think I’ve watched to the end without crying.