Ranked: All 33 Marvel Cinematic Universe Films from Worst to Best

From beginning with Iron Man in 2008 all the way to the recent The Marvels, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has provided 33 films to date. Most of them have been very entertaining. Here’s how I rank them from worst to best. *This is a list of just the MCU films and not the TV shows.* 

33. Iron Man 2  (2010)

Iron Man 2 is a bit of a disappointing mess, though there are still a few very entertaining moments to be had – such as the fight between Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) and Rhodey (Don Cheadle) in Tony’s house. There’s a missed opportunity in Mickey Rourke as Whiplash, Sam Rockwell hamming it up as Justin Hammer, endless set-up and teases for future MCU installments, and a repetitive quality in Tony trying to “better himself” again like he already did in the first Iron Man. It’s too bad Jon Favreau left the MCU on this note instead of on the high one he hit before. Grade: C+ (5.7/10)

32. Iron Man 3  (2013)

I’m a bit in the minority here with ranking Iron Man 3 so low, but so be it. I admire that Shane Black tried to mix up the formula a bit with a few narrative twists, but the results are more uneven and irritating than remarkable. The film tries and fails to make Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) and her and Tony’s romance more interesting while at the same time wasting Guy Pierce’s talents as a toothless villain and butchering the Mandarin as a character. The ending feels out of place given the MCU’s future installment happenings as well. Still, Robert Downey Jr. owns the role of Iron Man and the plane scene is pretty awesome. Grade: B- (6.5/10)

31. Ant-Man and the Wasp  (2018)

Like its predecessor, Ant-Man and the Wasp has winning performances from Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, and Evangeline Lilly. It also has a standout car chase scene and some awesome big-to-small visual effects. Unfortunately, it has a lot of wasted potential too: Walton Goggins as an underwritten black market dealer, the quantum realm and Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) are used as plot devices and barely explored, and Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) never feels threatening at all. Scott Lang (Rudd) also seems like a bit of a different character than in the first film, being more of a dimwit here rather than the clever con he was before. A forgettable entry. Grade: B- (6.5/10)

30. Thor: The Dark World  (2013)

I really enjoyed Thor: The Dark World upon first viewing. Repeat viewings really show it to be a flawed filler film in the MCU though. A few hilarious moments (the Captain America cameo, the train scene, etc.) and Tom Hiddleston’s delicious performance as Loki help rescue it, but other things like a bland villain in Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and an annoying side character in Darcy (Kat Dennings) drop it down. The story is also very paint-by-numbers and unmemorable. Grade: B- (6.5/10)

29. The Marvels  (2023)

The Marvels suffers from feeling rushed and unfinished. It seems as if whole scenes are missing that would have connected some of the main plot threads together in a more orderly fashion. The film still offers some breezy fun though and the body-swapping gimmick is a clever touch to make it stand out amongst the pack. The three leads bounce off of each other well too, with Iman Vellani being the standout as the adorable Ms. Marvel. Grade: B- (6.7/10)

28. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness  (2022)

Bringing director Sam Raimi in to guide Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was an exciting choice, and he certainly adds some style and horror shadings to the presentation. Unfortunately he is working against a boring plot and the awkward decision of placing Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) as the antagonist. Newcomer Xochitl Gomez also gets little to do as America Chavez, who comes across as flat. The film works best when Raimi is able to let loose with his energetic visual touches. Some of the cameos are fun too. Grade: B- (6.7/10)

27. Captain Marvel  (2019)

The first MCU film led by a female is… fine. Captain Marvel isn’t the groundbreaking piece it should be, but it is entertaining. The first act is completely clunky, Brie Larson is inconsistent in the lead role (mostly wooden, occasionally impressive), and the Kree-Skrull conflict lacks depth. There’s also a terrible moment involving Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and his eye that completely negates a scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). The saving graces are Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn’s supporting performances, some fun 90s nostalgia, and an exciting climax. The cute cat named Goose is a nice touch as well. Grade: B (7/10)

26. The Incredible Hulk  (2008)

Often put near the bottom of the MCU lists, I actually quite enjoy The Incredible Hulk — even though it’s far from perfect. The Transformers-like destruction at the end is exciting but also ridiculous, and it’s not always easy to stay connected to Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) once he goes green. Norton brought an edge to the character that Mark Ruffalo lacks, though Norton lacks the sympathy notes that Ruffalo hits. I also like the malevolent quality that Tim Roth brings to villain Emil Blonsky. Grade: B (7/10)

25. Eternals  (2021)

After winning an Oscar for directing the drama Nomadland, Chloe Zhao brought her graceful style to the MCU with Eternals. The results are both beautiful and thoughtful, with a large and interesting cast and great locations populating the screen. The structure of the plot feels messy throughout though, and the film really drags at times with its 156-minute length. Some of the characters get little room to shine as well because so many of them are introduced at once. Grade: B (7/10)

24. Thor: Love and Thunder  (2022)

Taika Waititi returned to give us another Thor adventure after directing the fantastic Thor: Ragnarok (2017). Unfortunately lightning didn’t strike twice as Thor: Love and Thunder feels messier. Things get too silly and the humor clashes with the plot threads involving serious subjects like cancer and kidnapping. Bringing back Natalie Portman as Jane Foster is welcome though after she sat out the third film. Christian Bale is the MVP of the film as Gorr the God Butcher, a menacing villain who deserves more screen time than he gets. Grade: B (7.3/10)

23. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania  (2023)

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a colorful, Star Wars-esque adventure. The Quantum Realm is an awesome setting and the film moves quickly. The villain Kang makes his big-screen debut here and Jonathan Majors makes him intimidating; he and Michelle Pfeiffer get some great scenes together as the center of the story revolves around Kang and Janet van Dyne. A lot of the visuals in the film are cool but the effects on Modok (Corey Stoll) are some of the worst in the MCU. Grade: B (7.5/10)

22. Ant-Man  (2015)

It’s sad to think about what could have been if the brilliant Edgar Wright had directed Ant-Man like originally intended. As is, Peyton Reed’s film is an amiable but non-spectacular entry in the MCU. It’s nice that the plot isn’t so end-of-the-world heavy for once, but the storytelling is thick on exposition and clichés at points – and has stereotyped side characters. The one scene with Ant-Man in Captain America: Civil War is actually more memorable than any bit in the Ant-Man film itself, though Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas do elevate the movie. Grade: B (7.5/10)

21. Thor  (2011)

Thor is both dopey and charming as a character, but we’ve come to love Chris Hemsworth as the hammer-wielding warrior. He showed his instant star power with this first entry, and Tom Hiddleston flashed his promise of things to come as Loki. The colorful visuals of Asgard and the Marvel humor really shine in Thor, though the main battle with the Destroyer is a tad boring. Grade: B (7.5/10)

20. Avengers: Age of Ultron  (2015)

Like with Iron Man 2, Avengers: Age of Ultron suffers a bit from familiarity and having too much muchness. However, Ultron (James Spader) and Vision (Paul Bettany) stand out as characters, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is given a big boost in development, and the action scenes – especially the Hulkbuster sequence — are dynamite. The film couldn’t quite recapture the magic of The Avengers, but Age of Ultron still showed us a lot of reasons as to why we love these heroic characters and their team-ups. Grade: B (7.5/10)

The cast of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

19. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3  (2023)

A darker tone is applied for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and the film lacks some of the spark of the first two. It doesn’t help that Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is back to being negative (due to her character being an alternative) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) is in a coma for much of the film. James Gunn’s finale to his oddball trilogy still offers great entertainment at times though. There is a hallway fight scene that is amazing, Mantis (Pom Klementieff) gets to really shine this time around, and the film ends on an emotional note that works. Grade: B+ (7.7/10)

18. Black Widow  (2021)

Black Widow‘s release was pushed back due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, so Phase 4 got a bit of a late start on the big screen. Either way, Black Widow being the Phase 4 kickstarter is a bit weird as it feels like the film should have been released in 2016; it takes place right after Captain America: Civil War (2016) and we already know Natasha Romanoff’s (Scarlett Johansson) fate in Avengers: Endgame (2019). The film itself works though with its Bourne-like action and game cast, with Florence Pugh stealing every scene she is in as Romanoff’s sort-of sister Yelena Belova. David Harbour also gets in a lot of laughs as a Russian spy/former superhero named Red Guardian. Grade: B+ (7.7/10)

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

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a vibrant and fantasy-filled adventure with elegant choreography and cool mythological creatures. Simu Liu is engaging as the title character, while Tony Leung adds a lot of weight as antagonist Xu Wenwu. Awkwafina is annoying as supporting character Katy though, and the modern pop song-fueled soundtrack can be grating at times too. Still, Destin Daniel Cretton’s film is an entertaining origin story, with the second half being especially good. Grade: B+ (7.7/10)

16. Spider-Man: Homecoming  (2017)

Spider-Man: Homecoming is a bit too Iron Man-centric at times and lacks the emotional weight of the best Spider-Man films (i.e. Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 2 (2004)). Still, the film is breezy and colorful, and Tom Holland nails both the awkwardness and arrogance of Peter Parker. Michael Keaton is a plus as a solid villain with a neat character twist. Grade: B+ (8/10)

15. Spider-Man: Far From Home  (2019)

Though Spider-Man: Far From Home shares some of the same issues as Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), such as focusing on Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) too much, I like it a bit more than that first film. Tom Holland really comes into his own and Jake Gyllenhaal shines as the illusion-forming Mysterio, though Gyllenhaal is strapped with a cringe-worthy exposition dump scene. The comedic moments shared among the high school students and teachers are bright and the European locations add a fresh level for the visuals. The awkward-cute relationship between Peter (Holland) and MJ (Zendaya) adds to the film’s charm too. Grade: B+ (8/10)

14. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever  (2022)

After the tragic loss of actor Chadwick Boseman, everyone was unsure what was going to happen with the Black Panther series as a sequel was already in development. Ryan Coogler and his team managed to re-fashion the sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, to pay respect to Boseman’s legacy while also shifting the story focus to characters who were supporting players in the first film. The result is a poignant but uneven sequel that goes on for too long at 161 minutes. The cast is mostly outstanding though, with Angela Bassett and Tenoch Huerta (as the fascinating villain Namor) shining in supporting roles; Bassett was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Letitia Wright also does a fine job of shifting into the lead position as Shuri. Grade: B+ (8/10)

13. Doctor Strange  (2016)

Doctor Strange from Scott Derrickson is a visual stunner even by Marvel standards and features some of the coolest costumes in the MCU as well. Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) story is a bit rote feeling on the surface, with similarities to Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.), but surrounding it is a lot of unique razzle-dazzle. Cumberbatch fits effortlessly into the title role, and the supporting cast around him is game too. Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One adds a nice touch. Grade: B+ (8/10)

12. Captain America: The First Avenger  (2011)

The First Avenger has a hokey and old-fashioned feel about it that’s actually quite delightful. As with Chris Hemsworth in Thor, Chris Evans instantly proved his muscle and likability as Cap in this MCU entry. The romantic teasing between Evans and Hayley Atwell is infectious, and the supporting cast — including Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci, etc. — is one of the strongest in the standalone films in terms of everyone getting a chance to shine. Grade: B+ (8/10)

11. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2  (2017)

The second solo outing with the Guardians doesn’t quite hit the same weird, sweet spot as the first, but it comes close. For a blockbuster sequel, it actually has quite a bit of character and relationship building, and it hits some emotional spots in its thematic exploration of father-son relationships. Some of the wit is forced, but most of it hits hilariously. Everyone does a fine job, with a welcome Kurt Russell, but the movie is stolen by Michael Rooker as Yondu. Grade: B+ (8/10)

10. Guardians of the Galaxy  (2014)

The silly, laid-back space opera quality of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy is hard to dismiss. It was a bold turn by Marvel at the time to build such a big movie around these lesser-known characters, but the payoff was huge. All of the scrappy anti-heroes at the center of the movie are interesting and the soundtrack ranks among the best of the 2010s decade. The film also made Chris Pratt an instant movie star, with good reason since he is effortlessly charming as Peter Quill. Grade: A- (8.3/10)

9. Spider-Man: No Way Home  (2021)

Spider-Man: No Way Home goes heavy on fan service and nostalgia as it brings back villains and heroes from past Spider-Man films from the Sam Raimi era. Tom Holland gives one of his best performances as the web-slinger here, really selling the emotional beats. The villains also get more depth to them too; Willem Dafoe steals every scene he is in as Green Goblin. Some of the editing choices feel awkward at times, but the film is still a blast from beginning to end as it honors everything Spidey. Grade: A- (8.3/10)

8. Avengers: Endgame  (2019)

Eleven years of the MCU built up to Avengers: Endgame, which ties up the Infinity Saga portion of the cinematic universe. It’s a massive, 3-hour epic with a lot riding on it and it mostly succeeds in sticking the landing. The pacing is uneven, the climax edges toward bombastic at times, there are a few missed opportunities in terms of character building (especially involving Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)), and some of the plot structure logic could be nitpicked. All of that said, Avengers: Endgame is still a grand achievement in blockbuster filmmaking. It has clever callbacks to previous MCU entries, emotionally powerful touches that are earned, and excellent humor throughout (a certain element involving Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is especially hilarious). Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Evans have perhaps never been better in their roles than they are here. Grade: A- (8.3/10)

7. Thor: Ragnarok  (2017)

Probably the funniest of all the MCU films, Thor: Ragnarok is easily the best of the standalone Thor films as well. Taika Waititi brings his unique directorial style to the material and keeps things fast and zany from beginning to end. Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo have amazing chemistry together here, and Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum turn in some juicy, over-the-top performances as villains. Some people were disappointed that the film doesn’t capture much of the darkness of the Ragnarok comic, but I think the film works tremendously on its own terms. Grade: A- (8.5/10)

6. Captain America: Civil War  (2016)

Captain America: Civil War, in all honesty, is the Avengers sequel that I wanted out of Age of Ultron. It features many great characters but also has narrative and emotional focus. The airport action sequence is an adrenaline rush, and the movie manages to let side characters like Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Black Panther (Chadwick Bosman), and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) have great moments despite it being Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man’s (Robert Downey Jr.) show. Grade: A- (8.5/10)

5. Black Panther  (2018)

Admittedly, I found Black Panther‘s plot beats to be pretty predictable at times. That said, the film still stands tall among the standalone MCU outings. Why? Because director Ryan Coogler and his team have made an excellent superhero film that is culturally aware and has a message without being preachy, and the villain Erik Killmonger (a terrific Michael B. Jordan) has a rich level of tragedy unmatched by most other MCU villains. The film’s Afrofuturism look is also eye-catching, with Wakanda being a world full of detail, while all of the badass supporting female characters shine. It’s not too surprising that Black Panther won three Oscars and was nominated for many more, including Best Picture. Grade: A- (8.5/10)

4. Avengers: Infinity War  (2018)

Running nearly 2 1/2 hours long and featuring tons of characters, Avengers: Infinity War is exhausting, overcrowded, and unbalanced at times. It’s also epic, ambitious, and jaw-dropping. What works best here are the character conflicts between Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and the complexity of Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) relationship. Speaking of Thanos, he’s a great supervillain, and Brolin plays him excellently; Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) scores big bad guy points too. Some characters make really dumb decisions (I’m looking at you Star Lord (Chris Pratt) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen)), but Avengers: Infinity War is a thrilling blockbuster with a lot of repeat viewing value. It also contains one of the boldest endings of all the MCU films. Grade: A- (8.5/10)

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier  (2014)

One of the darker and more mysterious entries in the MCU, Captain America: The Winter Soldier brilliantly plays out like a crackling, grounded conspiracy thriller for much of its runtime. Outside of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thanos (Josh Brolin), the film features some of the MCU’s more interesting villains, as well as some of the grittier action scenes. The freeway and elevator sequences are amazing, but it’s the storytelling and character development in The Winter Soldier that really glow. Grade: A- (8.7/10)

2. Iron Man  (2008)

The film that kicked off the whole MCU, Iron Man still ranks among the greatest superhero movies. It was so fresh and funny upon release, and it remains so upon repeat viewings. Robert Downey, Jr. has played Tony Stark terrifically throughout the years but his debut as the character here will always hold a special place in our hearts. Grade: A (9/10)

1. The Avengers  (2012)

Only a few times in my life have I felt magic in the air like the first time I saw The Avengers with an excited crowd. And the film lived up to the hype and then some. The story in The Avengers isn’t as strong as in some of the other MCU movies, but Joss Whedon’s film has a freshness in its team-up quality and humorous writing that still hasn’t been matched by any other superhero movie. The Avengers is still highly entertaining even after many viewings, and it has a perfect balance to its few characters that later, overstuffed MCU sequels lack. Grade: A (9/10)

Written by
Daniel Rester is a writer for the We Live Film portion of We Live Entertainment. He is a Southern Oregon University alumnus and has a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Communication (Film, Television, and Convergent Media) and Emerging Media and Digital Arts. He has been involved with writing and directing short films for years. Rester also won 2nd place in the Feature Screenplay Competition in the 2015 Oregon Film Awards for his screenplay "Emma Was Here," which is currently in post-production and will be Rester's feature directorial debut.

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