All Marvel movies ranked worst to best

Written by:
December 17, 2021
Marvel

All Marvel movies ranked worst to best

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has officially entered Phase Four. From “Iron Man” to “Avengers: Endgame,” 22 movies and a decade of interconnected storytelling comprised Phases One, Two, and Three. While some people may lament that this new phase means closing the door on several of the most beloved characters in the MCU, nostalgia shouldn’t cloud your excitement of what’s to come. 

On the horizon are sequels including “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Thor: Love and Thunder,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “The Marvels,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” And that’s not even counting all of the original series that have been or are slated to be released in Phase Four. 

With the most recent releases, we have seen groundbreaking new visions within the context of the MCU, including two films focused on female superheroes, the first deaf, openly gay, and Asian superheroes, and the first Marvel film with a predominantly Asian cast. 

Although the MCU officially began in 2008 with the release of “Iron Man,” Marvel has been in the movie business since 1986, with the release of the critical flop-turned fan-favorite “Howard the Duck.” Revenues aside, though, which heroes have been the most popular with fans? Has the dawn of the MCU given them more to celebrate or has the glut of superhero movies led to “Avenger fatigue?

Using data from IMDb, Stacker assembled a ranking of every Marvel feature that’s been released since “Iron Man,” the inaugural MCU film. Films are ranked according to their IMDb user rating with the total number of user votes considered in the event of a tie. Read on to find out which Marvel movies had fans flying high and which left them calling out for someone to save the day.

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1 / 26
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#26. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

- Director: Louis Leterrier
- IMDb user rating: 6.6
- Metascore: 61
- Runtime: 112 minutes

In contrast to Ang Lee’s 2003 take on Marvel’s greenest, angriest hero, this 2008 film marks the first entry in the MCU after the success of “Iron Man.” However, the film remains something of a dark horse among the MCU canon; its star, Edward Norton, did not reprise his role in any future MCU film afterward and was later replaced by Mark Ruffalo.

2 / 26
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#25. Black Widow (2021)

- Director: Cate Shortland
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 134 minutes

The second MCU film with a female lead, “Black Widow” is part origin story, part solo mission, set along the timeline between “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” The film follows Natasha Romanoff, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson, as she confronts the faces and places of her past apart from her identity as an Avenger and an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Black Widow” is the first film of Phase Four of the MCU. Johansson would sue Disney following the simultaneous release of “Black Widow” in theaters and on Disney+ in July 2021, claiming the dual release was a breach of contract, which stated her compensation would be based in part on the film’s exclusive performance in theaters. The lawsuit was settled in October 2021 but the terms of that settlement were not disclosed.

3 / 26
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#24. Eternals (2021)

- Director: Chloé Zhao
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Metascore: 52
- Runtime: 156 minutes

The Eternals arrived on Earth in the year 5000 BC to protect the planet from the villainous Deviants. The band of superheroes, having grown fond of humanity, remained on Earth ever since, which is fortunate for the planet since the Deviants return in the present day. Some marquee celebrities among the cast include Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani, Kit Harington, and Richard Madden. “Eternals” is groundbreaking in a number of ways: Lauren Ridloff, a deaf actress, portrays a deaf female version of the Eternals superhero Makkari, becoming the first to do so; Phastos is the first MCU superhero depicted as openly gay; and Gilgamesh is the first superhero played by an actor of Korean descent.

4 / 26
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#23. Captain Marvel (2019)

- Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 123 minutes

At the time of its release, “Captain Marvel” was the first movie in the MCU centered on a female superhero. Captain Marvel, also called Vers, portrayed by Brie Larson, is an elite, rebellious warrior from the planet Hala who sets out on a mission to end the Kree-Skrull War, and in the process, uncovers her origin story on Earth. Viewers nostalgic for the ’90s will appreciate the film’s homage to the decade via grunge-inspired wardrobe, tones of irreverence, and outspoken feminism. Not all viewers were open-minded about a female lead and an actress promoting feminism in the MCU and Hollywood more broadly. Internet trolls were quick to lambaste Larson and the film with misogynistic comments. Despite the negativity, though, “Captain Marvel” grossed $1.2 billion worldwide.

5 / 26
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#22. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

- Director: Alan Taylor
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Metascore: 54
- Runtime: 112 minutes

In this sequel to 2011’s “Thor,” the golden-haired Norse god teams up with his mischievous brother Loki to save the universe from evil dark elves. Critics felt Tom Hiddleston stole the show as the sly downtrodden Loki, standing out among an all-star cast that included Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, and Idris Elba. Despite the mixed reviews, “Thor: The Dark World” grossed nearly $650 million worldwide.

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6 / 26
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#21. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

- Director: Joe Johnston
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Metascore: 66
- Runtime: 124 minutes

Captain America’s origin story—and introduction to the MCU—takes viewers back to 1941 as the Avengers’ leader leads the Allies to victory in World War II. Two Captain America sequels, three Avengers films, and millions of dollars later, it’s hard to believe that the film’s starter Chris Evans originally turned down the part three times.

7 / 26
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#20. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

- Director: Peyton Reed
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Metascore: 70
- Runtime: 118 minutes

Scott Lang, played by the hilarious Paul Rudd, gets a second movie after the comedic success of 2015’s “Ant-Man.” But this time, he is joined by Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp. Also known as Hope Van Dyne, the Wasp is not the original from the comics (Janet Van Dyne), but rather her daughter.

8 / 26
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#19. Iron Man 2 (2010)

- Director: Jon Favreau
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Metascore: 57
- Runtime: 124 minutes

Just as the real world was starting to get used to the idea of the MCU’s regularly scheduled superhero blockbusters, “Iron Man 2” depicts Tony Stark’s struggle to adjust to his new life as a privately funded vigilante. In addition to an all-star cast including Robert Downey Jr. Gwyneth Paltrow, and Don Cheadle, the film had some superpowers behind the camera. The high-flying sequel was directed by Jon Favreau (“Rudy,” “Swingers”) and acclaimed screenwriter Justin Theroux wrote the screenplay.

9 / 26
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#18. Thor (2011)

- Director: Kenneth Branagh
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Metascore: 57
- Runtime: 115 minutes

Thor’s 2011 introduction to the MCU skirts the conventional origin story in favor of a family drama of godlike proportions. After being kicked out of his palace by his father, Odin, Thor must prove himself worthy of his powers by battling Loki, his conniving half-brother. The film grossed nearly $450 million worldwide, ensuring that Chris Hemsworth’s seat on the MCU throne would be secure for many sequels to come.

10 / 26
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#17. Iron Man 3 (2013)

- Director: Shane Black
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: 62
- Runtime: 130 minutes

The final film of Marvel’s “Iron Man” trilogy once again had Robert Downey Jr. flying into uncharted territory. It was the first MCU film released after the legendary team-up that was 2012’s “The Avengers,” and its star handled this pressure with Tony Stark’s devil-may-care aplomb—ordering rewrites of his scenes throughout the filming process.

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11 / 26
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#16. Ant-Man (2015)

- Director: Peyton Reed
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 117 minutes

Despite its 2015 release date, “Ant-Man” had been in development since 2006—when “Baby Driver” director Edgar Wright expressed interest in bringing Marvel’s tiniest hero to the big screen. But in a shocking turn, Wright left the project in 2014, citing creative differences with Marvel. Despite this, the size-changing superhero heist was a hit in it grossed over $500 million worldwide and paved the way for the 2018 sequel, “Ant-Man and the Wasp.”

12 / 26
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#15. Black Panther (2018)

- Director: Ryan Coogler
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 134 minutes

After Black Panther’s appearance in “Captain America: Civil War,” fans were clamoring for more of Chadwick Boseman’s Wakandan monarch. Fortunately, this 2018 release did not disappoint. In addition to becoming the third-highest-grossing film of all time in the United States, the film’s plot, director Ryan Coogler, and majority-Black cast were lauded by critics as a major step forward for minority representation in film. In a devastating turn of events, however, Boseman passed away following a private battle with cancer in August 2020.

13 / 26
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#14. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

- Director: Joss Whedon
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: 66
- Runtime: 141 minutes

The second Avengers movie finds the team battling among themselves as one of Tony Stark’s creations goes awry, threatening to destroy not just the Avengers but all of humanity. After finishing the film, director Joss Whedon left the “Avengers” franchise behind, citing fatigue from trying to make a film that met Marvel’s strict plot requirements.

14 / 26
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#13. Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)

- Director: Jon Watts
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 129 minutes

In the second installment of the Tom Holland-era Spider-Man films, Peter Parker must save Earth from the Elementals—monsters who take the form of Earth, air, fire, and water—with the help of an extraterrestrial hero named “Mysterio,” played by Jake Gyllenhaal. The film, which grossed $1.13 billion worldwide, received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike. 

15 / 26
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#12. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

- Director: Jon Watts
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 133 minutes

Tom Holland’s first outing as Spider-Man picks up where “Captain America: Civil War” left off, with the young web-slinger still learning the ropes of his new powers under the stern tutelage of Iron Man. Holland claimed his portrayal of Peter Parker focused on the 15-year-old hero’s youthful naiveté, which clearly won over the hearts of fans—the film grossed more than $800 million at the box office worldwide.

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16 / 26
Marvel

#11. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

- Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Metascore: 71
- Runtime: 132 minutes

In this film, the titular character Shang-Chi is a powerful fighter who is forced to confront his past and his family’s involvement with the Ten Rings—powerful objects that grant immortality. There is a pattern of Marvel movies being criticized as unoriginal, predictable, and shallow.  However, many critics felt “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” was the first MCU film in a long time to break that cycle, lauding it as soulful, complex, and distinct. Despite being Marvel’s first superhero of Asian descent to hit the big screen and being well-received among many Asian communities, the film was not approved for release or distribution in China due to concerns over stereotypes from the 1973 comic upon which “Shang-Chi” is based. 

17 / 26
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#10. Doctor Strange (2016)

- Director: Scott Derrickson
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 115 minutes

“Doctor Strange” tells the story of Dr. Steven Strange as he goes from arrogant surgeon to reality-bending wizard. Although the film grossed over $650 million at the box office worldwide and received an Oscar nomination for special effects, controversy would follow the film’s casting.

18 / 26
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#9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

- Director: James Gunn
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 136 minutes

The sequel to 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” sees Peter Quill and the gang struggle to function as a superhero team in light of their individual family issues—including the arrival of Quill’s father, Ego. True to the over-the-top nature of Marvel’s intergalactic crime fighters, this film features five mid- and post-credits scenes—more than any other Marvel film.

19 / 26
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#8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

- Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Metascore: 70
- Runtime: 136 minutes

This second film of the Captain America series marked the first MCU film directed by Joe and Anthony Russo; the brothers would later helm the smash hits “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” They weren’t the only key players to be introduced in this film: through his portrayal of Cap’s old friend-turned-rival, Bucky Barnes actor Sebastian Stan’s contract with Marvel will run for nine films.

20 / 26
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#7. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

- Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 147 minutes

The friendships forged among the heroes of the MCU are tested in this film as Captain America and Iron Man lead separate factions against each other in response to governmental legislation of superheroes. In addition to massive success at the box office—it would become the third highest-grossing film of 2016—the third Captain America flick features another accomplishment: the famous airport battle among the film’s protagonists was shot almost entirely digitally.

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21 / 26
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#6. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

- Director: Taika Waititi
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 130 minutes

The sequel to “Thor: The Dark World” was full of changes for fans of the God of Thunder, not the least of which was actor Chris Hemsworth’s new shorter hairstyle. Despite these changes, fans praised the film’s comedic tone—which was largely attributed to New Zealand director Taika Waititi.

22 / 26
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#5. Iron Man (2008)

- Director: Jon Favreau
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 79
- Runtime: 126 minutes

As the first film of the MCU, this origin story of Tony Stark’s metal-suited hero introduced now-familiar MCU fixtures like Stan Lee cameos, post-credits sequences, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Surprisingly, as the film is the basis for the rest of the cinematic universe much of the film’s dialogue was improvised by the actors.

23 / 26
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#4. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

- Director: James Gunn
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 121 minutes

This intergalactic adventure film was a breakout role for former “Parks and Recreation” actor Chris Pratt, who lost 60 pounds to portray the immature rogue Peter Quill. Additionally, the film’s soundtrack comprised of pop hits from the ’60s and ’70s was the first soundtrack without any new songs to land the #1 spot on the Billboard Top 200 chart.

24 / 26
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#3. The Avengers (2012)

- Director: Joss Whedon
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 143 minutes

This ensemble superhero film was an unprecedented hit for Marvel, bringing in over $1 billion at the box office. However, the process that brought “The Avengers” and all its preceding standalone films to the big screen was a gamble: Marvel offered the movie rights to its “Iron Man,” “Captain America,” “Hulk,” and “Thor” as collateral to receive funding from Merrill Lynch.

25 / 26
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#2. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

- Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 149 minutes

This Avengers film has already become Marvel’s biggest success, having earned the title of the fourth highest-grossing film of all time. In order to keep important details from leaking before the film’s premiere, directors Joe and Anthony Russo included fake scenes in actors’ scripts—to the point that, at the time of the premiere, some of the film’s actors didn’t even know the complete plot.

26 / 26
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#1. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

- Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 181 minutes

“Avengers: Endgame” is the culmination of MCU Phases One, Two, and Three—the final chapter of a 10-year saga. In this finale, the Avengers and other remaining MCU heroes embark on a mission using quantum mechanics in an attempt to bring back those who were snapped away by Thanos. After bringing in nearly $2.8 billion globally,  “Avengers: Endgame supplanted “Avatar” to become the highest-grossing film of all time—for a little while, at least. In March 2021, “Avatar” was re-released in China, earning $50 million—enough to reclaim the #1 spot. 

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