What is the best and worst Marvel film of all time? Well, I’m sure we all have our opinions on that subject, but I wanted to know what the consensus was. To figure that out I gathered data from three major websites for rating movies and calculated the results. I gathered the average user ratings from IMDB, Letterboxd, and Rotten Tomatoes, along with the critics rating from the latter. I used those values to create an average score (a percentage) and ranked the movies. The films are ranked first by their average score and then by release date (newest to oldest). Average scores for this list are not weighted based on number of reviews, and the formula is modified in the case of missing ratings (generally critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes). While this list will include my own personal thoughts and opinions on each entry along with sections highly plagiarized from Wikipedia, the ranking is based entirely on the average score.
Before I did that, I had another question though: what movies? For this list I gathered all the live action feature length films using Marvel properties as the protagonists or antagonist (legally or not, this is important for one entry). This is not the MCU only or only theatrical releases. If you notice any movie missing, please let us know and we will update the list.
The list is up to date as of Thor: Love and Thunder as I did not want to include any films not readily available to a large audience (on Disney+ for at least a month). With that in mind, supplemental addendums may be published listing where future releases fall in this list. Edit: I’ve been writing this piece for so long that I’ve added in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever as an addendum, and by the time this is published Ant-Man and Wasp Quantumania will have been on Disney for a month. But I think I’m done with Wakanda Forever.
60 – The New Mutants (2020) – 48% – Originally scheduled for an April 2018 release, then February 2019, then August 2019, then April 2020, this movie was finally released in August of 2020 where a potential audience filled with trepidation based on the constant rescheduling or with the ever present pandemic at that time (or both) decided collectively not to go to the theaters to see this movie debuting to on $7 million in sales on its opening weekend for the $70 – $80 million budgeted film. While marketed as a horror film largely in part due to the success of It (2017 film), this is one of the varied reasons for the reschedule as major reshoots were required to give the film this horror edge. The edge however was as dull as a butter knife. The film starred Blu Hunt (The Originals), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Menu, The Northman, The VVitch, and the upcoming Furiosa), Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things), and Alice Braga (Predators, The Suicide Squad, and City of God). The film was directed and co-written by Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) and co-written by Knate Lee (Jackass 3D and Jackass Forever).
59 – Hulk (2003) – 48% – This is the Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain) directed Hulk film co-written by James Schamus (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Ride with the Devil) and Michael France (GoldenEye, Cliffhanger, Fantastic Four, and The Punisher). The film stars Eric Bana (Black Hawk Down, Chopper, Munich), Jennifer Connelly (Dark City, Labyrinth, Top Gun: Maverick), Sam Elliot (Roadhouse, The Big Lebowski, and truck commercials), and Nick Nolte (Cape Fear, Lorenzo’s Oil, and one of the worst mugshots ever). While the film did have some incredibly creative editing, a great score by Danny Elfman, a stellar cast, and did take an in depth look at the psychology of Bruce Banner, it also had lack luster CGI which felt almost dated immediately and a cacophony of third act which was honestly difficult to follow. The film also relied heavily on being a somber character study, which even at the time after the X-Men, Spider-Man, and Lord of the Rings film, genre fans were not interested in when it came to a Hulk film. I personally feel this movie is judged too harshly, and while I’ll agree the CGI doesn’t hold up, the acting and the way the characters were written is far better than most modern comic book films.
58 – Captain America (1979) – 49% – This film stars Reb Brown (Ssssssss and Yor, the Hunter from the Future) as the titular character of Captain America. It was written by Don Ingalis (Airport 1975) and directed by Rob Holcomb (a lot of TV including the final episode of ER). This made-for-TV movie is loosely based on the source material, with former marine and current transient Artist Steve Rogers being injured and given the FLAG formula (basically steroids) which gives him super strength and speed. He has a transparent shield, a goofy motorcycle helmet, but a pretty sweet motorcycle. In this movie, Steve’s father was Captain America in the 1940s and in the third act he decides to finally pick up his father’s mantle. This is a rough movie to watch but can be fun in a so-bad-its-good way.
57 – Dr. Strange (1978) – 50% – This is another made for TV film from the late 70s. This film was written and directed by Philip DeGuere Jr (best known for writing and directing this movie). The film stars Peter Hooten as the titular character. The film also stars Clyde Kusatsu (best known for Admiral Nakamura from Star Trek: The Next Generation) as Wong, Anne-Marie Martin (Prom Night) as Clea, and Jessica Walter (Arrested Development and Archer) as Morgan le Fay. While this film was definitely made on the cheap, unlike many of the other films at this time it does attempt at least to have some similarities to the comic version of Dr. Strange, at least when it comes to the cast of characters and the villain. This movie was made by CBS while it was airing The Amazing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk series, and this movie was an attempt to launch a Dr. Strange series. Ultimately it was not picked up, which is probably a good thing considering the US was about to enter the age of the “Satanic Panic.” I personally have watched this, and while I don’t remember a lot, I remember both being impressed especially when compared to the other made-for-TV adaptations from this time.
56 – The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988) – 50% – This is the first in the trilogy of made-for-TV movies spinning from the Incredible Hulk television series which ended six years prior. This movie stars, of course, the legendary Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno reprising their roles from that series. This film also introduced Donald Blake played by Steve Levitt and his alter ego Thor played by Eric Kramer (Robin Hood: Men in Tights and True Romance). This movie was written and directed by Nicholas J. Corea. This movie features Thor and the Hulk taking on the mob, which obviously was not a true threat. But to my seven-year-old self when this movie came out, it was epic to see Hulk and Thor fight side-by-side.
55 – Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979) – 50% – This is a sequel to the previous made-for-TV Captain America film also starring Reb Brown as the titular character. This movie also stars Chirstopher Lee (The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and the classic Hammer Horror films) as the main antagonist of the film. The movie was written by Wilton Schiller and directed by Ivan Nagy. Once again, this film has very little to do with the actual comic book, although the costume and shield do get slightly more accurate in this movie as appose to the first one.
54 – X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) – 52% – Directed by Gavin Hood (Tsotsi and Ender’s Game) and written by David Benioff (Game of Throne showrunner) and Skip Woods (A Good Day to Die Hard) this is the infamously bad movie that has become an on-going gag in the Deadpool movies. Starring Hugh Jackman reprising the titular role, it also featured Live Schreiber as Sabertooth, Danny Huston (Yellowstone) as a young Striker, Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) as Wade Wilson, Kevin Durand (The Strain) as Fred Dukes aka the Blob, Lynn Collins (John Carter and The Walking Dead) as Silverfox, and Taylor Kitsch (John Carter and Friday Night Lights) as Gambit. This film also cameos a disturbingly de-aged Patrick Stewart as Professor X. This film is infamous for having the workprint of the film leaked a full month before the release of the film. The workprint is the entire movie but without the finalized VFXs which make it to this day a hilariously fun way to watch this film, especially considering many of the final VFXs were bad even for their time (see de-aged Xavier and CGI claws). The film is also infamous, as mentioned above, for its treatment of Deadpool. Unlike some of the other entries previously mentioned on this list, this movie is at least entertaining even if it is bad, which is probably why it sits where it does on this list. Most surprising of all things though the tie-in video game is well regarded at least for the console releases.
53 – Spider-Man Strikes Back (1978) – 52% – This was directed by Ron Satlof and written by Robert Janes, two men without wikipedia entries. This is a two-part episode of the late 70s Spider-Man television series that was released outside of North America in Theaters which was the second in the trilogy of films associated with this series. We’ve already seen the third film on this list, and just like that film we once again have Nicholas Hammond as Spider-Man and Robert F. Simon as J. Jonah Jameson. In this movie Spider-Man takes on Mr. White played by Robert Alda (a storied film screen legend in nothing you’ve seen) a terrorist demanding $1 billion dollars, or he’ll set off a plutonium bomb in New York City. Does Spidey stop him? Probably.
52 – The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989) – 53% – The second of the trilogy of made-for-TV movies in the late 80s based off the Incredible Hulk television series, this film once again stars Bill Bixby as Dr. David Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the titular Incredible Hulk. This movie also stars Rex Smith (70s teen idol) as Matt Murdock/Daredevil and John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones) as Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin. This film also features Stan Lee’s first Marvel cinematic cameo as a juror in the epic Courtroom sequence (the best scene of the movie). One of the intentions of this film was to launch a Daredevil television series, which did not come to fruition due to the low ratings when the movie aired. This movie was directed Billy Bixby and was written by the Gerald Di Pego (The Death of the Incredible Hulk)
51 – The Punisher (2004) – 53% – This movie was co-written and directed by Jonathan Hansleigh (writer of Die Hard with a Vengeance, Jumanji, Armageddon) which was his directorial debut. The film was also co-written by Michael France who we’ve seen on this list before. The movie was produced by Hansleigh’s wife, Gail Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead). It starred Thomas Jane (Deep Blue Sea, The Mist, The Expanse) as Frank Castle / The Punisher and was influenced by Garth Ennis’ “Welcome Back, Frank” story. John Travolta (Battlefield Earth, Staying Alive, Looking Who’s Talking Now) stars as the main antagonist of the film. This film also starred Rebecca Romijn (X-Men), Ben Foster (X-Men: Last Stand and Pandorum), Will Patton (Armageddon and Remember the Titans), Roy Scheider (Jaws and Sorcerer), and WWE icon Kevin Nash. While an uplifting romp compared to future installments featuring this character, this film was critically panned upon release for being grim and cheerless. Due to poor box office returns future sequels were canceled, but Thomas Jane did reprise his role in the short film “Dirty Laundry.” This movie is ranked far too low in my mind and is better than many of the movies to come on this list.