Marvel movies are the most ambitious film project of our generation, a franchise that has made the money squeezer of pawnshops and trilogies a joke, with 29 films (as of 2023) unfolding a story on a scale never seen in the worlds of cinema, and we are still far from the end. Love them or hate them, Kevin Feige’s disruptive project has changed all the rules of the game and become the most important cultural phenomenon of the current era.
Ranking the best Marvel movies is a cruel and underappreciated task, but someone has to do it. We pick and rank the best Marvel movies (Sorry Logan and Tobey Maguire, maybe next time), and below are the results. And mainly – a surprise. The Best Marvel Movies were rated from lowest to highest.
20. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Any of the other Marvel movies on this list could have appeared at number 21 because even the worst Marvel films have a loving fan base that found themselves attached to them. This is mainly a testament to the huge variety the MCU has provided, despite the distinct style. I had very low expectations from Ant-Man and The Wasp, I wasn’t too impressed by the trailers, but I watched it because I figured I would see some hidden details about the next Avengers movie, but I must say I was very pleasantly surprised, even the parts that appeared in the trailers suddenly seemed logical and necessary funny, I was surprised by the quality of the plot, overall a Light funny Marvel movie that brings back a bit of Marvel’s humorous tone.
19. Eternals (2021)
Marvel’s superhero movie “Eternals” clocks in at 157 minutes. While some of them are enthralling and others lackluster, there are certainly some unnecessary scenes that could have been removed from the editing room. It takes a while for the film to properly kick off, due to the introduction of 10 new characters including secondary ones. This is Marvel’s most somber offering – it takes itself quite seriously and is rather long, yet boasts a wealth of talent and stunning visuals. Director Chloe Zhao’s obvious fondness for her characters radiates throughout and the script contains plenty of inventive ideas. The battle scenes, too, are truly magnificent.
18. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
When “Avengers: Age of Ultron” came out it was just more of the same thing we’ve already seen, only this time against a robotic opponent. Yes, this is also a storyline we have seen many times. And although it is the weakest film in the Avengers series, in retrospect it can be seen that it was a significant turning point when it came to the wider plot of the Infinity Saga. The film was assigned with the absurd task of setting the stage for at least four other Marvel movies, juggling too many superheroes (not to mention metal parts), and introducing us to Wanda Maximoff, and Quicksilver. And despite the slight disappointment of seeing more of those CGI hits, it had quite a few beautiful moments, successful jokes, and fun fights, and most importantly – it managed not to drop the ball.
17. Ant-man (2015)
Throw in the cute Paul Rudd in one of his cutest roles, as well as the fact that his superpower is being really, really, really small, and you have a great, funny, goofy Marvel movie written by the gifted Edgar Wright. In fact, “Ant-Man” takes itself so not seriously that it almost doesn’t feel like a Marvel movie. It is indeed considered one of the weakest films in Phase 2 of the Marvel Universe, but this only indicates the fanboys of the MCU. You can understand their difficulty. It’s not easy to walk around all day with a broomstick stuck in your butt.
16. Iron Man 3 (2013)
“Iron Man” was the film that started the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe and the first big success that allowed them to continue. “Iron Man 2“, on the other hand, was a big disappointment (despite a very good performance by Sam Rockwell). Therefore, “Iron Man 3” had to be different, and luckily for Marvel Studios, Robert Downey Jr. had a friend who needed a job. That man is the great screenwriter Shane Black, who after writing some great action movies in the 80s and 90s, moved on to direct and helped Downey Jr.’s comeback with his Kiss Kiss Bang Bang comeback. Downey returned the favor, and Black created an action Marvel movie, funny, edgy, nostalgic, sad, and with one of the best and most devastating twists in the history of the MCU. It’s also one of the only Marvel movies that analyze the psyche of the hero, and just a really fun movie.
15. Doctor Strange (2016)
If we want to look at an example of breaking out of the Marvel mold, we probably won’t find much of it in “Doctor Strange” – another rich playboy whose life is turned upside down, another villain who is characterized by “I’m evil!” And curling a mustache and another character who receives a lot of significant development in other MCU films. And yet, “Dr. Strange” was certainly a breath of fresh air at the beginning of Marvel’s third phase, and signaled that the big company wanted to distance itself a little from those six Avengers and their plot: buildings breaking and collapsing alongside a bunch of trippy visuals, It’s the excellent and above all horror director Scott Derrickson’s understanding that the colorful character, who was born against the psychedelia of the 1960s, comes a bit interesting from another Origin story about an automaton. Add to the mix Benedict Cumberbatch and the complaints are indeed dwarfed.
14. Captain Marvel (2019)
The Captain Marvel film caught quite a bit of ire from a particularly loud group of haters, and it’s not really clear why (I mean, it’s clear why, but it’s better to suppress it). If you ignore these background noises, it’s a completely good movie with a cool heroine, fun nineties nostalgia, and very exciting action. Retired indie darling Brie Larson fits nicely into the shoes of the strong heroine. The feminist message about the difficulty of finding your true strength beyond the manipulations of others may not be the most original, but it has considerable value for the target audience of girls and women. Plus, we got the young, cat-alien Nick Fury!
13. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
The second Spider-Man film in the MCU had the difficult task of coming out after “Avengers: Endgame” – a long, serious, and exciting film that marked the end of a certain era in Marvel. Therefore, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” had to be a kind of epilogue, and it certainly provided us with that, along with a fun and lighter film. This Peter Parker adventure provided us with many comedic moments, interesting romantic relationships, and a great performance by Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio. This movie, which takes place during a high school vacation in Europe feels like a particularly fun vacation in itself.
12. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
2016 was the year of superheroes fighting superheroes, and shortly after DC let Batman and Superman spar, it was Captain America’s turn to face off against Iron Man. This crossover Marvel film brought together the best two groups of heroes for an ideological battle that almost immediately turns physical. One group, led by Tony Stark, called for regulation and cooperation with the government, while Rogers and his gang stood on the other side and insisted on freedom of action. The battle between the camps provided mostly fanservice – a giant Ant-Man, Spider-Man making his MCU debut, friends turning against each other, recreating comic book goons, and so on – but “Captain America: Civil War” also has considerable emotional depth in the form of the Steve-Bucky-Tony triangle, and conflict The captain’s loyalties between the brainwashed old friend and the new friend who saved the world by his side. You can understand (or not) each of the parties involved and the effective drama makes this movie more than just a very precious gift to Marvel fans.
11. The Avengers (2012)
In 2012, Marvel had already been teasing us for four years that one day it would collect all the characters it had introduced to us so far and put them in one big blockbuster. The hype skyrocketed, the tension was at its peak, and quite a few of us have already prepared ourselves for disappointment, but then the movie came out and it’s… really good! The first “Avengers” is a film that reminds us of a more innocent era when we didn’t know how terrible director Joss Whedon was, an era where putting six different superheroes in one Marvel movie seemed like a lot and an era where the final battle could take place on one block in one city, and not across the galaxy. Besides, The Avengers also introduced us to Mark Ruffalo for the first time as Bruce Banner AKA The Hulk, a performance that completely saves that character. With the first Avengers, we finally understood that Marvel had a more ambitious plan than usual and the tools to execute it.
10. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
After we were hinted at in “Wanda-Vision” about the Multiverse, and after we met its consequences in the “Loki” series, it was Spider-Man’s turn to get involved with all the universes – and this time with five classic Marvel supervillains from all the universes and two mores Spidermen. The great secrecy of the film, the very impressive guest appearances, the pan-service, and the impressive revenues created a hype that has no chance of being sustained, and slightly distracted from the fact that, overall, this is the ultimate Spider-Man film.
9. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
The biggest weakness of this Marvel film is probably its name, which promises interdimensional madness starring Benedict Cumberbatch. In practice, the most craziness we got was three major dimensions and a glimpse of a few more. If we put the name and the expectations it created aside for a moment, we find that it is a pretty good movie with a twisty and fascinating plot, a superheroine (Wanda) in the role of a villain, an initial introduction to America Chavez, and other surprises. Sam Raimi, who is returning to the genre after directing the Toby Maguire era of Spider-Man, is a champion of challenging the American movie rating and presented a Marvel film we never thought we would see – among other things, gore, monsters, and zombies. If you ignore the name, you will probably also understand that this is one of the most underrated films of the MCU.
8. Black Panther (2018)
For better or for worse, Black Panther was a bigger movie than Marvel. The cultural phenomenon it caused its significance to the African-American community and being the most woke film at the right time inflated its essence disproportionately. I mean, it’s the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and it was chosen by Rolling Stone magazine as the best superhero movie of all time. This is of course a provocative choice, and it is not without reason that it is only in ****** but don’t let the excessive cultural hype fool you – this is a wonderful Marvel movie. The late Chadwick Boseman gives an unforgettable performance as T’Challa alongside Michael B. Jordan, proving that a superhero movie is only as good as its villain. Wakanda beats this list.
7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
The second film about Steve Rogers’ plots is the one that turned him from a kind of cool patriotic Superman into a much more complex character. It’s a paranoid and at times dark film that moves K.F.’s story from the realms of “good versus evil” to a world of hidden intentions, spies, and lies, a world where it’s hard to know who you can trust, to the post-modern era. It’s also almost as much a Natasha Romanoff film, and the dynamic of the captain and the widow is sharpened to perfection in it, with all due respect to Natasha and Clint’s deep but somewhat oppressive friendship. It’s also the debut film of two new players on the field: The Winter Soldier/Bucky, who was almost immediately adopted as a fan favorite, and the Russo Brothers, who have since become the premier directors of the cinematic universe. With impressive cinematography and a unique tone that will later influence the entire Avengers series, it is a brilliance that no Marvel marathon is complete without.
6. Iron Man (2008)
The film that gave birth to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and brought back Robert Downey Jr., took 18 years to bring to the cinema, bringing to the screen one of the most unique and controversial superheroes in the history of the genre. Looking back, “Iron Man” is one of the most important Marvel films released in the first decade of the millennium, and if I need to exaggerate a little I can say in retrospect that it changed the face of cinema! Even without all this historical baggage, this is a tremendous work of its kind, a great action seasoned with the infinite charm of Downey Jr., who here got a chance to restore his career and jumped at it as if his life depended on it, and apparently they did depend on it. The superhero who is basically an arms tycoon without superpowers was just what the genre needed after the Chris-Nolan obscurity of Batman to reinvent itself. And what a great invention.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy: Part 2 (2017)
One of the main complaints Marvel movies have always had is that all their guest appearances and connecting storylines can confuse and alienate new viewers. Maybe that’s why Guardians of the Galaxy 2, James Gunn’s sequel to the first hit, eschews all that for another wacky space story with no guest appearances from characters from other films. In this place, there is even more color, more strange aliens, more songs from the seventies, more great jokes, and an original but very Marvelous story about a relationship between a father and son (one of whom is a planet). Besides, there are amazing performances by Kurt Russell, Chris Pratt, Michael Rooker, and more. If there’s one Marvel movie that will make you both laugh and cry, it’s probably this one.
4. Avengers: Endgame (2019)
17 titles into the best Marvel Movies, it’s time to take a time out and land this crazy ship in port safely. At least until the release of the next saga. On the face of it, the wonderful “Infinity War” set the tone for the ending of the Thanos saga in a wonderful way, but it also got the people at Marvel with a huge challenge – packing most of the plot lines into a huge climactic movie that unites too many superheroes, and sure enough to meet the unreasonable expectations of the fans. And they succeeded. They really succeeded. The epic, long, busy, and now-we-really-have-to-give-closer-to-this-character movie didn’t feel like one big chore, but a fun movie that manages to revisit past Marvel films, provide a fun time-wasting plot, entertain, interest, and even to close a perfect circle with the catchphrase that opened the whole saga somewhere in the first Iron Man. Along the way, “Avengers: Endgame” also manages to encounter themes of grief and loss in a Hollywood action film. Even if you have objections to its length or to the preoccupation with tying up ends, it is hard not to be impressed by the enormous achievement in the size of packaging the saga so impressively.
3. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
That moment when Thanos snaps his fingers and half the living things in the universe just disintegrate into particles and ionize. What an amazing and wonderful moment. What a mind-bending scene. What a perfect end to the Avengers saga. For almost three hours, viewers are busy wondering how the group of superheroes is going to get out of this, and in the last minutes of the film, it becomes clear that they are not going to get out alive. All the clichés of the genre are turned on their head and explode with shock. And what is particularly brilliant is that in these moments of the finale, you can even feel a strange identification with the ultimate evil of the series, and Thanos’ motives suddenly seem logical and even correct. And suddenly it turns out that the monster also just wants to save the world in its own way. Then came Endgame which ruined everything with its nonsense, but this seminal moment of breaking the rules of comics will never be taken away from Infinity War. For such moments it was worth watching 29 films in the series.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
On paper, it might seem like a strange bet – to bring one of Marvel’s craziest groups of heroes to the cinema, in a film that takes place entirely in space. The main role was given to an actor who was previously associated with comedy, and around him, they placed two colorful aliens, a maniac raccoon, and a giant talking tree. Besides, the film’s importance within the saga’s complicated plot pool would have left Marvel with a big problem if it all didn’t work. Luckily it totally worked. I mean, it’s not just luck, it’s James Gunn. The director-screenwriter managed to create a precise combination of humor, action, emotion, and drama while introducing characters and details critical to the continuation of the plot. The result also touched the hearts of non-fans and gave the cinematic universe a needed shot of weirdness, which turns out – according to our list – paid off big.
1. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
If you had told me a few years ago that “Thor: Ragnarok” would top this list of best Marvel movies I’d probably laugh and then be a little embarrassed. For his first two movies, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor was one of Marvel’s weaker superheroes, and we’re not talking superpowers. Eric Bana’s Shakespearean drama and the too dark world made the god of men a bore among all the Marvel movies. Who knew that he would turn into the funniest superhero of all in the span of one movie? Marvel knew that’s who. After all, it was not for nothing that they brought Taika and Ititi, who was still a New Zealand director who created cute off-beat comedies, to turn the gods on their heads. And it’s not just a lesson in rebranding – Vaititi managed to revive the character of Thor, bring out his wonderful comic side from Mesworth, inject color into his films, and bring back the pop art of the original comics. The movie that came out of this combination was fun, smart, funny, and entertaining in a way that changed the MCU forever. “Guardians of the Galaxy” did do it before him, but in “Ragnarok” we realized that Marvel’s new formula can take even the most boring hero of all, turning him into the basis of the funniest movie they’ve ever created in Marvel.