The Marvel Cinematic Universe Ranked from Worst to Best (Including Spider-Man: No Way Home) Opinions of Kaydence Osgood


Photos courtesy of: Spider-Man movie posters: Marvel Studios, Sony Pictures Incredible Hulk poster: Marvel Studios, Universal Pictures All other movie posters: Marvel Studios Middle Avengers logo: The logo is a trademark of Marvel, the photos inside the logo are courtesy of Marvel Studios, and the whole picture was edited by @paaancaaakes on PicsArt. All photos were collaged together on InShot and edited on VSCO.

Kaydence Osgood, Journalist

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the highest-grossing movie franchise of all time. The franchise started with Iron Man in 2008 and currently holds four of the ten highest-grossing movies of all time (Avengers: Endgame at number two, Avengers: Infinity War at number 5, Spider-Man: No Way Home at number 6, and The Avengers at number 9). As Trident’s resident MCU expert, I felt it was appropriate to pay tribute to the MCU’s success, especially their most recent blockbuster, Spider-Man: No Way Home, in the form of an MCU ranking.


The MCU is comprised of 27 movies, 2 tv shows, and 3 mini-series. It is eighty-three hours and fifty-nine minutes of cinematic genius. I have watched each installment numerous times. I can probably recite movies like Avengers: Infinity War and Spider-Man: Homecoming in my sleep. Along with other fans, I am constantly reading articles that list the MCU films from worst to best, and have even held my own personal rankings on my notes in my phone for over a year. It’s a dream come true to finally have this opportunity to unveil this list to the world.


32. The Incredible Hulk (2008)


Hulk’s origin story has been told time and time again. This film wasn’t the exception. The film follows scientist Bruce Banner dealing with the consequences of being exposed to high amounts of gamma radiation. As the second MCU installment, this movie is highly regarded as one of the worst MCU films among many fans. Looking back it’s difficult to see anyone as Hulk other than Mark Ruffalo, who replaced Edward Norton as the Hulk in all the films following The Incredible Hulk (2008). The plot is choppy and is the perfect embodiment of everything wrong with most late 90s to early 2000s superhero films.


31. What-if

The first, and only, animated installment in the MCU was embodied in a nine-episode season on Disney Plus. The series follows The Watcher (voiced by Jeffery Wright) as he tells the story of different realities. For example, the first episode showcases Peggy Carter, voiced by Haley Atwell, who plays Peggy in the live films as well, receiving the serum and becoming Captain Carter instead of Steve Rogers (voiced by Josh Keaton) becoming Captain America. The show is basically fan fiction at its finest, even including most of the on-screen cast. So where did it go wrong? It’s animated. Don’t get me wrong I love cartoons just as much as the next girl, but it’s hard to see my favorite characters in animated form, performing stunts that a live-action movie couldn’t pull off. It made it unrealistic and hard to watch.


30. Thor: The Dark World


Following the success of Iron Man 3 and The Avengers, this movie had quite a bit to live up to. To say that it didn’t is an understatement. While Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his dysfunctional family are hashing out all their problems on Asgard, Thor’s on again and off again girlfriend, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) just happens to be the one person who stumbles upon an ancient relic and becomes its host. The ancient relic was once the weapon of the Dark Elves, whose masks have an uncanny resemblance to any creepy doll in any horror movie, and now Thor has to protect her. The plot is as mind-numbing and chaotic as it sounds. While it furthers the main characters’ story arcs, it fails to entertain its viewers.


29. Doctor Strange


Until Doctor Strange, the MCU had only flirted with the idea of multiple dimensions and magic. The movie explores Steven Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a world-renowned neurosurgeon, who loses control of his hands in a car accident. After searching for a way to gain back control, he stumbles upon a sorcerer in Kathmandu, where he then learns the mystic arts. The visuals are weird and very different from the rest of the MCU, which was refreshing. However, there was a lot going on in the plot and it was hard to follow at times.


28. Captain Marvel


Captain Marvel was the MCU’s first female-led movie and even though it gave a powerful woman for little girls to look up to, the actual character fell flat with many fans. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), Captain Marvel, is living on a planet called Hala. After a mission for the Imperial Kree Army, she ends up on Earth in 1995. After a long journey, we find out that she gained her powers from absorbing the energy of an alien engine that blew up on Earth. There is never an explanation as to why she received the powers, and it also leads fans to ask why she hadn’t helped the Avengers before Avengers: Endgame. The movie tried to backtrack, but all it ended up doing was creating plot holes that can’t be fixed in the future.


27. Black Panther


Being the thirteenth highest-grossing movie ever and being nominated for numerous awards, some may disagree with this low of a ranking. Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Black Panther, returns to his home of Wakanda to take over the throne. Conflict arises when his secret cousin shows up to also claim the throne. Although an entertaining superhero movie, it is overall a stand-alone movie that doesn’t connect to the universe as the other movies do. It was a solid and predictable film, but it didn’t feel like it belonged in the MCU until its very last post-credit scene.


26. Iron Man 2

Although it didn’t have to work hard to be better than its predecessor The Incredible Hulk (2008), it did have Iron Man to live up to and that’s a hard feat in itself. Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) is out to prove that Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) can be defeated and get revenge for his father. Tony Stark, Iron Man, is still dealing with the consequences of telling the world who he is and balancing the superhero life. The plot is fine and the movie is averagely entertaining. It just isn’t a movie that made an impact on me.

25. Thor


When it comes to superhero films, there is a fine line between cheesy and awesome. Thor flirts with that line throughout the movie. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is a somewhat irresponsible Asgardian who is first in line for the throne. His carelessness leads to a war with the Frost Giants and his being exiled from Asgard on Earth. The movie sets up future fan-favorite characters and is the first film to have tie-ins to Iron Man. Overall, the film is a good laugh and it’s fun to see how much the characters have grown since then.


24. Eternals


The only MCU film to ever receive less than a 50% score on rotten tomatoes really didn’t sit well with fans. Backtracking about seven thousand years, viewers get to watch as the Eternals help humanity and learn why they are there. With a star-studded cast, Angelina Jolie as Thena, Kit Harington as Dane Whitman, Richard Madden as Ikaris, and many more, there was every opportunity for this movie to be great. Its plot was confusing and made more plot holes for the audience than it did for entertainment. The movie was slow and its climax was predictable. However, it had fun characters that left me excited to see where they go.


23. Captain America: The First Avenger

Set in 1942, it finalizes the setup for The Avengers. During WW2, the U.S. government set up a super-soldier program to create the perfect soldier to win the war. Skinny and selfless Steve Rodgers (Chris Evens) gets picked for the program and becomes Captain America. This was the first film that Disney was involved in making and its improvement compared to past Marvel films is obvious. The plot is enjoyable, funny when need is, and action-packed. In regards to its leading man, there is just something about a clean-cut, do-gooder that gets on my nerves.

22. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

There is something to say about a classic, secret organization that has another corrupt secret organization within it trying to disband it. The Winter Soldier is no different. Steve Rodgers, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) have to take down HYDRA while also dealing with another super soldier, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). Bucky is also Steve’s once thought dead best friend and is being brainwashed. The film is a refreshing and entertaining spy movie with a little superhuman woven through. Overall, its lack of originality just doesn’t give it room to shine in comparison to other MCU films.

21. Ant-Man and the Wasp

Since this movie was the first movie to come out after Avengers: Infinity War, there was a lot of anticipation. It is set after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been on house arrest and has taken the time to be closer to his daughter. Hope Pym (Evangeline Lilly) convinces Scott to do one last mission as Ant-Man. The movie was funny and really showcased the character growth from the first film. The only thing that set me off of the film was its villain. She had a good storyline but her costume and portrayal just didn’t live up to the Marvel standard. There was also very little reference to Infinity War which was disappointing.

20. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The first movie had taken an obscure group of superheroes and made them a phenomenon. Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father, Ego (Kurt Russell), finds him over thirty years after he’d abandoned Peter’s mother on Earth. Just like the first film, there was amazing humor with a great soundtrack. Along with a few new characters, the film had everything it needed to be even better than the first one. Towards the middle of the film the villain turns out to be Ego and a whole mess of things start to happen. It gets chaotic and Ego’s character gets unbearably annoying, turning the movie into only a decent installment.

19. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

As a huge fan of Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, I was ecstatic when Marvel announced a show featuring him and another of my favorites. The six-episode mini-series shows viewers what the world is like following Avengers: Endgame, more specifically a terrorist organization that has formed. Bucky and Sam Wilson, Falcon, team up to stop them. Since its full runtime is around five hours, the show was able to dive into the personal lives of the characters and quite a bit of growth happened. The series was enjoyable and the plot was intriguing. My only remark on the show was how much it focused on Sam. Bucky ended up being more of a supporting character.

18. Spider-Man: Far From Home

As the first film after Avengers: Endgame it had quite a movie to follow up. Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is dealing with his grief and wants to take a break from being a superhero for a bit to go on a school trip with his friends. When new threats arise, Peter Parker is called upon to help. Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), the eventual villain, was the lowest point of the movie. His costume was cheesy and his personality was irritable at times. Even though the main premise wasn’t the most entertaining, I am a sucker for anything with Spider-Man in it.

17. Ant-Man

Every MCU film has humor in it, but Ant-Man is one of the funniest installments. The film is simply Scott Lang’s backstory. It’s nothing special or exciting and sometimes I forget about the film, but when watched it’s comforting and lifts my spirits.

18. Guardians of the Galaxy

A film so good, it got its own ride at Disneyland. It introduced not only one but five new characters. Following a group of misfits trying to save the Universe comes with a lot of laughs. Along with a top-notch soundtrack, it’s the perfect recipe for an amazing movie. Although, the ending bordered on cheesy, and the main character, Peter Quill, was annoying at times.

15. Black Widow

Eleven years in the making. As the MCU’s first female superhero, fans had been waiting for her movie since she was introduced in Iron Man 2. Her backstory had been teased and glossed over multiple times and this was the chance to finally clear it up and explain her relationship with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Although the outcome only cleared those things up a little bit, the film introduced Yelena (Florence Pugh), who is set to take over as Black Widow in future films. It was funny and cute, but just wasn’t everything fans such as myself had been waiting for.

14. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

When the movie was first announced and even after the first trailer was released, I wasn’t that excited for the film. Since it is a Marvel movie I went and saw it opening weekend anyway and I was very pleased with the result. Shaun, Shang-Chi, (Simu Li) starts out the movie as a valet driver, living his best life with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina). After a wicked cool bus-fight scene, Shaun finds out about his old life, and family drama has caught up to him. It is action-packed, hilarious, and worth every second.

13. Hawkeye

Like Black Widow, fans have been waiting ten years for this installment. Hawkeye had been introduced in Thor and was always in the background or at the butt of a joke. The six-episode series didn’t give the background story fans had been waiting for but introduced Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), who has also taken up the Hawkeye mantle. It’s centralized around Clint Barton, Hawkeye, getting home to his family for the holidays, but of course, it wouldn’t be a superhero film if he could get home easily. Overall, it is lighthearted, with some witty moments and the villain is just an average street gang in New York, which was refreshing following the superhuman villains in all the films leading up to the series.

12. WandaVision

After teasing her abilities for years, WandaVision was Wanda Maximoff’s (Elizabeth Olsen) first chance to showcase her strength. The grief of losing almost everyone in her life causes Wanda to reach her breaking point which leads to the events of the show. The show officially establishes her as the Scarlet Witch and even though the beginning of the nine-episode mini-series was slow, it turned out to be epic.

11. Iron Man

The one that started it all. There is some argument that the movie is only so great because of everything it symbolizes. I think when rating all of them that thought was at the back of my mind, but Iron Man is so high on the list because it is an amazing movie. Its greatness is what made the rest of the universe possible. The way it sets up Tony Stark’s backstory and the end-credit scene that set up the whole future just flowed perfectly. Although there were a few kinks that would be fixed in later movies, the film was well received and very entertaining.

10. Loki

The “God of Mischief” promised a crazy and mind-twisting series, even before the show actually premiered. The six-episode first season had spectacular visuals that left viewers wanting more. Between the huge character growth and action-packed plot, there wasn’t any room to be bored. The show did well-keeping viewers up with its complicated elements such as time travel and such. To say I was excited when it was revealed there would be a season two would be an understatement.

9.   Spider-Man: Homecoming

The Spider-Man franchise had already been made two other times, with two other actors who played Spider-Man, over the course of fifteen years prior to the release date of this movie. Although some argue the film was only so good because this Spider-Man was tied to the MCU, which by 2017 had already proven itself and gained a following. I do see how it being tied into the universe helped it, but their take on Spider-Man was a little different than the last two and it paid off. I have personally seen this movie more times than I can count and love it. The directors decided not to make it another backstory and just followed his introduction in Captain America: Civil War. The movie was funny and captured the awkwardness that ensues when a teenager gets superpowers.

8.   Thor: Ragnarok

With the first two Thor movies not being well-received, Marvel replaced the previous director with Takia Waititi and that decision was genius. The film is hilarious while also touching and overall entertaining. It explores Thor’s ever-expanding family drama and the trouble that ensues when your brother is the “God of Mischief” and your long-lost sister is the “Goddess of Death”. It was so good Thor will become the only character to have four solo movies when Thor: Love and Thunder comes out in July.

7.   Iron Man 3

Normally Iron Man 3 isn’t this high on people’s lists. The opening and closing lines about “creating our own demons” just gets me every time. I also admire how it addresses Tony Stark’s PTSD following The Avengers. The villain is just dumb and the plot isn’t great. There is character development that I am just a sucker for, but there is just something about the film that sticks with me.

6.   Captain America: Civil War

What movie pits all the superheroes against each other? It is brilliant. By the time this movie came out fans had already seen two Avengers movies and there had been many types of villains, so why not make the villain the other superheroes. Although a Captain America film, some argue it’s Avengers two and a half. It is so pivotal for all the movies that followed.

5.   Spider-Man: No Way Home

Three generations of Spider-Man movies combined into one epic film. There is no better recipe for success. It also was the first Spider-Man film where his secret identity was revealed and the film follows the struggles that ensue. There are many twists and turns, and so much is happening in one movie, but somehow it all works.

4.   Avengers: Endgame

The biggest and most anticipated film of the last decade. For a few months, it was the highest-grossing movie of all time and symbolized the end of an eleven-year saga. Following the events of Avengers: Infinity War, there was a lot of explaining to be done. The three-hour and two-minute film is a roller coaster of emotions. There was so much hype surrounding the film and it surpassed expectations.

3.   Avengers: Age of Ultron

Many people would argue that this installment should not be this high on the list. Even though it went on to be one of the highest-grossing films of all time, it wasn’t received well by fans. I understand what they are saying, it’s cheesy at times and when it came out it was confusing. Now that the things teased in the film have cleared up, it’s become apparent how vital it was to the whole picture. I also think there is a part of me that wants to cling to the last film before the Avengers broke up, people died, and everything became complicated.

2.   The Avengers

Simply put, this was the first superhero film too, successfully, bring together a group of people that didn’t go together and make them save the world. When the film was first announced there was a lot of doubt. How were they going to make it work and not make it unbearably dumb? Of course, Marvel pulled it off and the film paved the way for so much more.

1. Avengers: Infinity War

It’s no secret that Avengers: Infinity War is the one where everyone dies at the end. That is what is genius about it. Who kills half their characters right at the end of a movie? Marvel made fans wait a year to find out if their beloved characters were coming back, and how. The movie brings everything that had happened and had been teased in the ten years before into one cohesive storyline. It is gut-wrenching and jaw-dropping at every moment.

This article was written on 1/30/22, information such as future dates or top-grossing rates are subject to change. As written all pieces of information are based on reliable and official resources.