Every Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie Ranked, From ‘Iron Man’ to ‘Black Widow’

Welcome one and all to what I’ve been wanting to update for a while now, which is to give you my personal thoughts and ranking of the current slate of the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). I’ve been a massive fan since the beginning when I didn’t know these movies were going to connect, but I’ve shown my dedication to those who’ve worked hard on them by missing none of them in the theater when I try my best to see them during its opening weekend, with the bonus of talking about them with my friends when they’ve seen it. Are there individuals who love to trash talk them in general? That’s true, but all these films combined made this a billion-dollar franchise.

From 2008’s Iron Man to the recent release of Black Widow, this seems like the appropriate time to look back and provide a ranking of all the films that have come out of Marvel Studios thus far. While we have 24 films here, none of the ones at the bottom are considered bad and haven’t ruined the run it’s been on since. This ranking is only including the movies, which means you won’t be seeing any Disney+ show (WandaVisionThe Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki) on here. However, I’m still debating if WandaVision or Loki is my favorite. And while there are still three more MCU films coming out later this year, I will update them after they’re released. Until then, look for yourselves to see where your favorite lands..

24) ‘Thor: The Dark World’

Directed By: Alan Taylor

Release Date: November 8, 2013

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $206,362,140/ $644,783,140

RT Score: 66%

Thor: The Dark World is honestly one of the more forgettable superhero movies to take place inside the MCU. It’s not a terrible sequel, but it’s simply dull compared to the first film that holds much merit upon re-watches. The romance with Thor and Jane Foster feels non existent this time, and thereby eliminating her purpose in the film, and the humor that just doesn’t land that much, it’s still just mildly okay years later. Chris Hemsworth still gives a great performance as Thor, and Tom Hid­dle­ston as Loki still brings entertaining moments that make him a likable bad guy. Any scene with the two of them remains the best parts. But this also suffers because of Malekith, the weakest and the most underdeveloped MCU villain of them all.

23) ‘Iron Man 2’

Directed By: Jon Favreau

Release Date: May 7, 2010

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $312,433,331/ $623,933,331

RT Score: 72%

By far the weakest in the trilogy, and it’s sad when it’s following the surprise hit of its predecessor. Iron Man 2 tried too hard to build upon the rest of the universe instead of staying more grounded with what they got. Though it’s tough when not to compare this with the original. Most of the action, when it has time to show it, is very well-handled, Scar­lett Jo­hansson’s Black Widow got a great introduction and Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer brought some lev­ity. But it’s Mickey Rourke’s villain, Whiplash, and a rushed storyline that makes this follow-up fall short. If it had spent less time setting up stuff for The Avengers, it might’ve been a lot better, in my opinion.

22) ‘Captain Marvel

Directed By: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

Release Date: March 8, 2019

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $426,829,839/ $1,128,274,794

RT Score: 79%

This was the first MCU movie to feature a female lead, and it can be hard to say Captain Marvel is a bit underwhelming. Not to say that this should be considered as one of the worst offerings from the MCU (Though audiences scores says otherwise), but I do feel like this should’ve gotten a better origin story because this is the first place we’ve seen her in a film, but it’s still enjoyable enough. Brie Larson gives an alright performance as the titular character, and she works well with Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, but the action is pretty forgettable and fell a bit short of being amazing. The movie itself is a very mixed bag on what we can consider good and bad. That being said, Captain Marvel is still watchable. Hopefully, Nia DaCosta can improve with the upcoming sequel, The Marvels.

21) ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp

Directed By: Peyton Reed

Release Date: July 6, 2018

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $216,648,740/ $622,674,139

RT Score: 87%

Ant-Man and the Wasp takes a lighter approach following how Avengers: Infinity War tragically ended It’s a sequel that keeps what fans enjoyed about the first, but this has somewhat of an uneven story that’s only serviceable that’s added on with hit-or-miss jokes and a kind of weak villain in Ghost. With that said, there are still some quality action sequences and the performances/ chemistry of Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lily make for a fun film, even compared less so to the original. Not the greatest among Phase 3, but a worthwhile sequel.

20) ‘The Incredible Hulk’

Directed By: Louis Leterrier

Release Date: June 13, 2008

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $134,806,913/ $264,770,996

RT Score: 67%

The In­cred­i­ble Hulk was the second film released in the MCU and came out a month after Iron Man. A lot of people seem to forget that this was a part of the franchise and claim it to be the worst out of everything that has come out. To which I say, “No.” We definitely needed a second attempt at raging green monster after Ang Lee’s bottle of Nyquil released five years before. What worked well in this iteration is the action sequences, the relationship between Ban­ner and Betty Ross, and Edward Norton giving a good performance as Bruce Ban­ner/​Hulk. This is although it’s his fault for not returning later on, but Mark Ruf­falo is the definitive answer to the title role. It also has that MCU trope of the hero fighting someone with the same abilities (Hulk vs. The Abomination). Though it’s been for­got­ten as time passes, The In­cred­i­ble Hulk shouldn’t be slept on.

19) ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

Directed By: Joss Whedon

Release Date: May 1, 2015

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $459,005,868/ $1,402,805,868

RT Score: 75%

The hype for Avengers: Age of Ul­tron was real, as everybody was excited about the darker tone that this sequel was going towards, judging from all the trailers. Did we get that? No, but besides having cool action sequences, including Hulk vs. the Hulk­buster fight, it’s less entertaining the more it’s thought about. Simply put, Age of Ul­tron didn’t have the same impact the first film had, with nothing particularly amazing. Most of us thought Ul­tron (voiced by James Spader) would be a dark villain in the trailers, and he just appeared as a sarcastic and menacing villain mostly, and that’s about it. It didn’t feel like Whe­don gave it his all here in what felt like a setup for future movies. At least we get to know more about Hawkeye and his family life while also getting our introduction to Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Vi­sion. Probably the one Avengers movie that I watched the least.

18) ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’

Directed By: Joe Johnston

Release Date: July 22, 2011

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $176,654,505/ $370,569,774

RT Score: 80%

Com­ing out in the same summer as Thor, Cap­tain Amer­ica: The First Avenger could’ve gone a bad direction as a solo film during Phase 1. Instead of making it corny, this went for a serious tone. The way director Joe Johnston brought this hero into the World War II setting is more enjoyable upon further thinkings. Though I was worried about the casting decision, Chris Evans was the perfect choice to portray Steve Rogers/​Cap­tain Amer­ica, as just a small guy who wants to fight for his country and must defeat Hydra’s Red Skull. The reason why this is­n’t any higher is that, though the action was amazing, most of it was gone through quickly and the film lost some of its energy after a while. Being my weakest in the trilogy and this low on the list still means it’s one to have fun with a decade later.

17) ‘Black Widow

Directed By: Cate Shortland

Release Date: July 9, 2021

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: N/A

RT Score: 80% (As of 7/9/2021)

Seems like a Black Widow standalone would’ve been best if it came out around five years ago. Nonetheless, we got an enjoyable prequel that’s a good enough swan song to Scarlett Johansson’s popular heroine. Even when we already know what’s going to happen since the story takes place when Natasha Romanoff is on the run from the government and enlists the help of her surrogate family to take down the Red Room, you’re still offered an action-packed and personal origin story able to still connect us to the character. All that is a credit to director Cate Shortland for pulling it off for the most part. Johansson’s great, as usual, but you also got scene-stealing performances from Florence Pugh and David Harbour as Natasha’s sister and father. While Black Widow isn’t close to top-tier, especially compared to other solo movies, there’s a chance I’ll like it more when re-watching it.

16) ‘Iron Man 3’

Directed By: Shane Black

Release Date: May 3, 2013

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $409,013,994/ $1,214,811,252

RT Score: 79%

As a fan of Shane Black, I was very excited to see what he could do with Iron Man 3. Taking place a year following the events in The Avengers, the film is definitely better than the second installment; although I see where it has both its detractors and defenders out there. We do see a change of pace with seeing more Tony Stark than Iron Man, which was different, but it made sense with him trying to get back on his feet and want to show some redemption for the character. It delivered some amazing action throughout and Downey Jr.’s performance is nothing but great. However, the big twist with the Mandarin, Iron Man’s greatest enemy in the comics, will certainly make or break the rest of the experience. Though I wasn’t a fan of what they decided to do with the character, Iron Man 3 is another sequel I’m more fond of since first seeing it.

15) ‘Doctor Strange

Directed By: Scott Derrickson

Release Date: November 4, 2016

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $232,641,920/ $677,718,395

RT Score: 89%

They have sold the logline for Doctor Strange as “Iron Man but with magic,” and I would like it already. So far, this is the trippy and fresh take on a new char­ac­ter that experiments with magic. This was probably the hardest character to pull off for a stand-alone movie, since it’s built on the concept of magic in the MCU, and it’s close to fantastic. Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch as the Sorcerer Supreme really captured the role perfectly (he can do no wrong sometimes). The film has the best visual style out of all these films, especially with the mind-bending moments that felt like looking inside a kaleidoscope (I wish I’d seen this in 3D). It kind of falls short in the story department, the story is just a bit familiar. Even so, Doc­tor Strange is a solid origin story. Probably the Phase 3 film deserving of more attention. 

14) ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Directed By: James Gunn

Release Date: May 5. 2017

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $389,813,101/ $863,756,051

RT Score: 85%

We all knew Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 would not be nearly as great as its predecessor, but it’s still close to being more adventurous and more fun. James Gunn does a good job of fleshing out a few characters in the second installment, and I finally understand why certain people like Yondu and Nebula are simply the way they are. Some people weren’t the biggest fans of the film because they think there’s too much humor thrown in. I highly disagree with why that’s why some have it at the bottom. Personally, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is one of the MCU’s more underrated movies. If they did not fixate those on problems that aren’t big deals, then it would be appreciated more. It had a good balance of laughs and emotional beats that still made for an entertaining installment. Plus, who can hate Baby Groot?

13) ‘Thor’

Anthony Hopkins and Chris Hemsworth in Thor (2011)

Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

Release Date: May 6, 2011

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $181,030,624/ $449,326,618

RT Score: 77%

Some were worried about Thor being cheesy when it was announced, but Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of the “God of Thunder” was a surprise. The film uses its fish out of water storyline, and felt different, especially being the film first for the hero. Even when the film gets bogged down by too much Earth stuff with Jane Foster and her team, which leads to not having too many sequences on Asgard afterward, and some of Branagh’s direction came off as distracting, it’s still highly entertaining. It also gave Chris Hemsworth the huge breakout role that made him the star he is today. And Tom Hiddleston as Loki is still considered one of my favorite villains in the franchise, and you can’t complain about that. Out of the entries in Phase 1, I’m probably more leant on Thor than most.

12) ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home

Directed By: Jon Watts

Release Date: July 2, 2019

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $390,532,085/ $1,131,927,996

RT Score: 90%

For Spider-Man: Far From Home to take place following the events of Avengers: Endgame was a tough job to take on. This Jon Watts sequel might take Peter Parker on a class trip to Europe and not deal with strange occupances, but it shows the sudden responsibilities he must take on following his mentor and must be stronger than he ever was. Film Twitter doesn’t deserve this with all their complaining, as Watts has upped his game with the action, and providing an unexpected villain turn from Jake Gyllenhaal as Quentin Beck/ Mysterio. While I do love the first more, I have no problem saying Spider-Man: Far From Home is a blast to watch. Plus, this has one of my favorite post-credit scenes in the MCU.

11) ‘Thor: Ragnarok

Directed By: Taika Waititi

Release Date: November 3, 2017

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $315,058,289/ $853,977,126

RT Score: 93%

Di­rec­tor Taika Waititi should direct more colorful and stylish superhero movies because he was a work of art in helming Thor: Rag­narok. By far the best film in this now-trilogy, it’s both filled with a ton of fun action and hilarity. The third film serves as a soft re­boot to the Thor films, and understandably the best out of all three. I’ve already liked Thor, but it was because of this that made me love him more than ever. If the killer action didn’t work, or the performances from Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, Mark Ruf­falo as Bruce Banner/ Hulk and Jeff Gold­blum as The Grandmaster or the hu­mor fell completely flat, then Thor: Rag­narok would’ve been deemed as garbage, but it stands out as one of the most fun blockbusters in a long while.

10) ‘Black Panther

Directed By: Ryan Coogler

Release Date: February 16, 2018

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $700,059,566/ $1,346,913,161

RT Score: 96%

Let’s all agree Black Panther is one of the coolest characters created for Marvel. But who didn’t see this as the first film in the studio not only to get a Best Picture nomination, but win three Academy Awards (Costume Design, Production Design, Original Score)? Is Black Panther flawless? No, but it’s a great movie that created a new cultural impact in Hollywood. Ryan Coogler directed something felt that felt completely unique that stood out from the rest of the entries. Mainly, it’s because of the fantastic world-building of the fictional Wakanda. Chadwick Boseman’s role as T’Challa/ Black Panther is one of the best portrayals of a superhero in ages, while Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger’s motivation in the film is honestly relevant to today’s time, making him one of the universe’s best villains. Providing strong, exciting action (excluding the bad CGI), as well as a vibe that stays consistent with what the tone was going for, Black Panther is fascinating, and losing Boseman at a young age still breaks my heart.

9) ‘Ant-Man’

Paul Rudd in Ant-Man (2015)

Directed By: Peyton Reed

Release Date: July 17, 2015

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $180,202,163/ $519,311,965

RT Score: 82%

It still would’ve been nice to see what Edgar Wright was formerly going to do with Ant-Man before he left because of creative differences. Still, this is another standalone film that should get a lot more credit because not only is the film a great superhero movie, it’s an entertaining heist film in between. The film itself was a surprise on a huge and small scale, following a ridiculous hero who shrinks down, and it turned out to surpass low expectations. With some outstanding performances from Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly as Hope Pym, creative action sequences and well-timed humor thrown in here, Ant-Man is a win. Yes, it’s another one with an underdeveloped villain with Yellowjacket, but it still ended up be­ing one of the best comic book movies of 2015. 

8) ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming

Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Directed By: Jon Watts

Release Date: July 7, 2017

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $334,201,140/ $880,166,924

RT Score: 92%

Out of all the Spi­der-Man movies that have come out before Spider-Man: Homecoming, there have only been two great films and three disappointing films that many, including myself, want to forget. Finally, we got an amazing film that brought one of my favorites into the MCU was a breath of fresh air. This didn’t follow the steps of the other films in having this be another origin story; it felt like a superhero movie in the style of one of John Hughes’ films of the ’80s. Tom Holland captures the spirit of the title hero as the best Spider-Man we’ve ever had, which nothing against Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire, but this was the vision of the character I’ve waited a long time to see. And Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/ The Vulture was an intimidating villain that actually had a purpose, with one of the most unexpected reveals in any Marvel movie I’ll never forget. There could’ve been more action in this, but I love Spider-Man: Homecoming.

7) ‘Avengers: Infinity War

Directed By: Anthony and Joe Russo

Release Date: April 27, 2018

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $678,815,482/ $2,048,359,754

RT Score: 85%

Everyone didn’t know what to expect from Avengers: Infinity War when it was announced since it sounded too good to be true. It would’ve been a challenging task to make something this epic and pass it off. The third installment in the Avengers series is everything fans have been waiting for that didn’t leave us disappointed. Rarely a dull moment when it switches from familiar and new locations, the Russo Brothers made sure each character has their time to shine fighting alongside each other to destroy Thanos’ plan to collect the Infinity Stones. We finally see what Thanos is truly capable of, culminating in one of the most unforgettable cliffhangers of the decade.     

6) ‘Guardians of the Galaxy

Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and Krystian Godlewski in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Directed By: James Gunn

Release Date: August 1, 2014

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $333,176,600/ $772,776,600

RT Score: 92%

 Years after its release, Guardians of the Galaxy is the riskiest entry Marvel could’ve released since nobody knew about these heroes. Who wanted to see a comic book movie with a talking tree and a raccoon? Everybody since we got a standout hit during the summer of 2014, as well as one of the coolest sci-fi movies of that year. Gunn’s take on the then-unknown property works on so many levels. I was amazed at how much I loved this when I saw it on opening night. The best way to describe Guardians of the Galaxy is to cross Star Wars and The Avengers. For a group of intergalactic criminals with distinct personalities to save the universe, they were absolutely outstanding. Between Star-Lord (my personal favorite), Gamora, Drax, Groot, and Rocket, there’s so much love to be found for this team. The action was great, the humor was top-notch (the funniest movie thus far) and it also has the best soundtrack of the decade, which, surprisingly, plays a role in the story.

5) ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

Directed By: Anthony and Joe Russo

Release Date: April 4, 2014

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $259,766,572/ $714,421,503

RT Score: 90%

This is one of the few oc­ca­sions in which I can say that the second film is ten times better than the original. This was the movie that made many believe Captain America is actually pretty cool. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a political thriller/​spy espionage film set inside a comic book movie, and it succeeded in setting that tone in ways that’s almost im­pos­si­ble to imagine. Steve Rogers is now living in today’s world and discovers more about where he belongs working with S.H.I.E.L.D. The Russo Brothers’ first outing in the franchise is beyond special with some of the best action scenes so far (The elevator sequence, especially), a fearsome villain in the Winter Soldier and a story that basically changed the rest of the world in the MCU. This doesn’t get mentioned a lot, but I think Captain America: The Winter Soldier is on top as one of the best action sequels that will never get old.

4) ‘Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man (2008)

Directed By: Jon Favreau

Release Date: May 2, 2008

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $318,604,126/ $585,366,247

RT Score: 94%

We’ve come to the one that started it all. It was a weird thought to have a superhero movie based on Iron Man be the launching pad to your shared cinematic universe. And few non-comic book readers were familiar with the titular character. But it blew audiences away and became a groundbreaking origin story. My dad took me to see it opening day after school, and the more I thought about it, the more amusing it was. Besides simply being phenomenal, this film also launched Robert Downey Jr.’s comeback career with his iconic role as Tony Stark/​Iron Man. The parallels between the actor and Stark are hard to ignore, and it was a risk to cast him for this part. After all these years later, you can’t picture anyone else. I loved the slick ac­tion, it was smart, and honestly, Jeff Bridges’ Oba­diah Stane is an overlooked villain. If this movie failed at the box office and didn’t receive positive reviews when it was released, I don’t think we’d have all the rest of the movies we love today.

3) ‘Captain America: Civil War

Directed By: Anthony and Joe Russo

Release Date: May 6, 2016

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $408,084,349/ $1,153,296,293

RT Score: 90%

Captain Amer­ica: Civil War might be the most ambitious and personal film yet made in the MCU. The story hinges on a real conflict that has grown between Captain Amer­ica and Iron Man in a way that’s going to impact the later films: Does the help of our heroes cause a lot of collateral damage in our world and will signing the Sokovia Accords the smartest thing to do? It does a great job at showing two sides of the argument, and you’re not quite sure who to choose: Team Cap or Team Iron Man. That’s the dilemma that’s growing upon everyone. This also gave us the introduction to both Black Panther and Spider-Man, and they steal every scene they’re in. The airport battle sequence alone never fails to blow me away, even when just thinking about it. Once again, the Russo Brothers made another memorable sequel that balances out the tense and near heartbroken moments. Batman V. Superman, take notes.

2) ‘The Avengers’

Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, and Chris Hemsworth in The Avengers (2012)

Directed By: Joss Whedon

Release Date: May 4, 2012

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $623,357,910/ $1,518,812,988

RT Score: 91%

The ultimate crossover we never thought would come true did just that on the big screen. After setting up these characters in their movies from Phase 1, it would be flat-out insulting if The Avengers didn’t end up being a guaranteed hit. See­ing Iron Man, Captain Amer­ica, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye uniting together to stop the menacing Loki from wreaking upon the world had no right be this spectacular. While I believe Joss Whe­don is a terrible person, back in 2012, he did such an incredible job helm­ing this and seeing his vision capture everything to near perfection. It was then when it was my second favorite comic book movie. I remember that outstanding scene with the camera panning around our heroes, while Alan Sil­vestri’s theme kicks in, and the tears of happiness that flowed before earth’s mightiest heroes take down Lok­i’s army in New York. This was one of the best theater experiences I’ve ever had. I was even kind of sick that morning, and this healed me for those two hours.

1) ‘Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame rerelease bringing Spider-Man sneak peek, deleted scene |  EW.com

Directed By: Anthony and Joe Russo

Release Date: April 26, 2019

Domestic Box Office/ Worldwide: $858,373,000/ $2,797,501,328

RT Score: 94%

How does one hate Avengers: Endgame when it’s The Return of the King of Marvel movies? I knew it would be one to remember when I was thinking about every detail the next morning. A lot of thoughts were in our minds wondering what could occur here in what I believe is a perfect culmination of the past 11 years setting through these movies. Just how Infinity War is Thaons’ film, this belongs to the remanding Avengers in a risky mission of undoing his goal. For a three-hour runtime, it’s still impossible how the Russo’s and the writers delivered some iconic moments of humor, making us care for all these characters for their lives and jaw-dropping/ unpredictable scenes in the third act that will never be erased from my memory. Also, there’s no other superhero movie that’s able to make a grown man cry more than twice. Since this was made for fans with inventive knowledge of the previous films, Avengers: Endgame is what you would call an “event” that captivates its viewers with its action, tie-ins, and the best performances from its ensemble, especially Robert Downey Jr.’s show-stopping role as Tony Stark/ Iron Man. You couldn’t ask for a better conclusion than this.

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