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.
Entries 50 – 41
40 – Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) – 64% – Directed by Andy Serkis (yes, Golum) and written by Kelly Marcel who co-wrote this previous entry, this was one of those Covid movies postponed several times as well all waited for theaters to open back up and us not have to sit for two or more hours with a mask on. It ended up being the third highest grossing film of 2021 as it was a fan favorite, but that’s also like being the third strongest boy on the cancer ward. The film starred much of the same as the previous entry with the addition of Naomie Harris (28 Days Later, Skyfall, & No Time to Die) and Woody Harrelson (some pothead). Unburdened by the need for an origin story, this movie is slightly better than the first, and doesn’t get as bogged down in introducing characters. Still, compared to the comics, Carnage and Shriek are slightly one-dimensional characters and aren’t properly fleshed out possibly due to the PG-13 rating and possibly due to the short runtime for this movie (97 minutes… no time for a second act nap for old man McVicker). I do remember noticing the visuals at the beginning of the film, and how nice they appeared, but that could’ve very well just been a good Blu-ray transfer compared to other films. This movie doesn’t feel as large as other comic book related films which makes it nice and quaint.
39 – Blade II (2002) – 64% – The true travesty of this list is Blade II being ranked as low as it is. This Guillermo del Toro directed (Shape of Water, The Devil’s Backbone, Pinocchio, Pan’s Labyrinth, & Nightmare Alley) and written by David S. Goyer (Dark City, The Dark Knight, & Hellraiser) is a fantastic horror film. It stars Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson from the first film, but adds Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), Thomas Kretschmann (Baron von Strucker in Avengers: Age of Ultron), Luke Goss (Hellboy II: The Golden Army), Donnie Yen (John Wick: Chapter 4 & Rogue One), and Tony Curran (Bor in Thor: The Dark World). In this movie Blade has to team up with vampires to fight something worse than vampires. It is bloody, and action packed, and full of obvious but fun twists and double crosses. This is what genre films should strive to be, and this being out of the top twenty in this list is a crime. Roger Ebert wrote on this movie that it is a “brilliant vomitorium of viscera, a comic book with dreams of becoming a textbook for mad surgeons.” He gets it.
38 – Thor: The Dark World (2013) – 65% – Directed by Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones and Sopranos) and written by Christopher Yost (Thor: Ragnarök, The Manalorian, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and many, many great comic books) and Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, Captain America: Winter Soldier), this is a film that I think is generally misunderstood. This film adds from the previous cast with Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who and G.I. Joes: The Rise of Cobra) and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Suicide Squad and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra). Zachary Levi (Shazam) also replaced Josh Dallas as Fandral. This movie is apparently so forgotten that the writers of this film took time in Avengers: Endgame to explain the events from this movie. This is probably the last time in a film that Thor acted like Thor from the comics. The film was so difficult to work on that the director thought about quitting directing, and after the release of the Zak Snyder cut of Justice League said he wished he could do something similar with this film. The final cut of the film was not something he liked and much of this was apparently due to studio meddling. But we seem glimpses of genius in this film, whether it is Loki’s dialogue while imprisoned or the final battle, which yes, involved a blue beam in the sky, but also did something interesting and different with portal jumping and how that affected the battle (which appears to possibly being mimicked in The Marvels ).
37 – Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) – 65% – This is the second Thor movie directed by Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit, What We Do in the Shadows, and Thor: Ragnarok) and was co-written by him and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (writer/director of Do Revenge). The film stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor & A Cabin in the Woods), Christian Bale (Reign of Fire, The Machinist, and Ford v Ferrari… he might have also played a superhero at some other point), Natalie Portman (Thor, Léon: The Professional, & V for Vendetta), Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok & Annihilation), and Russell Crowe (Gladiator, 3:10 to Yuma, & Romper Stomper). This movie takes elements from Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder and Mighty Thor comic storylines that were impactful and interesting and somehow manages to make them seem trite and uninteresting. I was always a fan of Jane Foster’s Thor for mainly the reason of her dealing with cancer and what transforming into Thor did to the chemotherapy in her body. Her being Thor killed her and it made her a truly heroic and compelling character. This movie did not properly flesh out that story and the motivations of the character. Instead, we just get a female Thor who has cancer and is going to die anyways. There are always constraints and limiting factors when translating a serialized story into a two-hour long film, and sometimes that’s why certain serialized stories just need to not be turned into films.
36 – The Wolverine (2013) – 66% – Off the heels of the previous Wolverine stand-alone film, almost anything was destined to be better. This film was directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, and Logan) and was written by Mark Bomback (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Ware for the Planet of the Apes) and Scott Frank (Logan, Out of Sight, and Minority Report). An interesting bit of trivia is that Darren Aronofsky was originally hired to direct this movie based on a screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie. It starred Hugh Jackman (Kate & Leopold, Australia, and The Greatest Showman) and the titular The Wolverine. The movie also starred Hiroyuki Sanada (The Last Samurai, Sunshine, and John Wick: Chapter 4), Tao Okamoto (Hannibal and Westworld series), Rila Fukushima (Arrow and Game of Thrones series), Will Yun Lee (Die Another Day & Elektra), and Svetlana Khodchenkova (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). This movie is loosely based on the Chris Claremont and Frank Miller limited Wolverine series. While this movie was fairly somber and character driven especially for a comic book film at the time, that ended up working in its favor as it is generally well received by audiences and critics especially after the bombastic and comically bad X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This borrowed a more stripped-down approach that was used in the X-Men: First Class film. While the third act does drift into the ridiculous, it is still at least character focused and doesn’t engage in an unnecessary world end catastrophe.
35 – Iron Man 2 (2010) – 68% – This sequel was directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Jungle Book, & Chef) and was written by Justin Theroux (writer of Tropic Thunder and played the main character in The Leftovers). It once again stars Robert Downey Jr (Tropic Thunder) and Gwyneth Paltrow (The Royal Tenenbaums) and adds to the cast with Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda), Scarlett Johansson (Ghost World), Sam Rockwell (Seven Psychopaths and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), and Mickey Rourke (Immortals and Body Heat). Don Cheadle replaced Terence Howard in this film as James Rhodes after Terence Howard (reported the highest paid actor in the first film) was offered a pay cut (reportedly up to 50 to 80 percent) and either left the project or was fired. While for most this film is not as good as the original, it does a great job at one thing: Sam Rockwell. And in terms of trying to find someone to play against the charisma magnet that is Robert Downey Jr, I’m not sure they could’ve found someone better. One of the biggest crimes the MCU has committed is not bringing his character back in a larger role. This movie is also considered to have the first appearance of Peter Parker, as it has been retroactively established that the child wearing the Iron Man toys and standing up to the drones in the third act is him.
34 – Blade (1998) – 69% – The second R-Rated Marvel movie released was directed by the man who is often attributed with convincing Sean Connery to quit acting: Stephen Norrington (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). This movie was written by comic movie staple David S. Goyer (responsible for four other entries on this list). This movie stars Wesley Snipes in the titular role of the Daywalker. Co-starring are Stephen Dorff as the least threatening villain of all time, Kris Kristofferson presumably playing himself, Donal Logue having the time of his life, Udo Kier in one of his least weird films, and N’Bushe Wright giving probably the best performance of the entire film. While some… most of the CGI in this film does not stand the test of time, this film proves to be a fun, bloody action flick which set a fairly definitive bar for any Blade movies to come. I personally think the sequel is a far better film, and even though it is only 5 places below this film on this list, it does deserve to be above this entry in my (correct) opinion. This film is responsible for teaching us that apparently some people try to ice skate uphill.
33 – Thor (2011) – 70% – Shakespearean and Christopher Nolan staple Kenneth Branagh directed this entry in this list. This movie was also written by Ashley Miller & Zack Stentz (Andromeda and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), and Don Payne (The Simpsons, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Thor: The Dark World). The story for the film is credited to Thor comic scribe J. Michael Straczynski (who also has a cameo in the film) and Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend). It introduced us to Chris Hemsworth as the titular character who had only been in three films prior (Star Trek, A Perfect Getaway, and Ca$h). The film rounded out its cast with Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, and Anthony Hopkins, giving us possibly the strongest supporting cast of any MCU film series. The film loosely borrows from JMS’ storyline, doing away with the Dr. Donald Blake human persona (although the name is referenced in the film). As a MCU film goes, it may have one of the best character arcs for the hero as Thor goes from an arrogant and immature man to the selfless hero deserving of wielding Mjölnir. Sadly, all of this was undone in future entries of the film series in service of comedy. But the other thing I’m happy they changed in later films is Thor’s eyebrows.
32 – The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) – 71% – This reboot was written by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac), Alvin Sargent (Spider-Man 2), and Steve Kloves (Wonder Boys) and was directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer). It stars Andrew Garfield as a potentially too handsome Peter Parker. Emma Stone (Birdman and La La Land), Rhys Ifans (the guy in Notting Hill that everyone used to say reminded them of me), Dennis Leary (Rescue Me), Martin Sheen (Badlands, Apocalypse Now, and The Departed), and Sally Field (Smokey and the Bandit, Soapdish, and 80 for Brady) round out the cast. This film is another origin story for Spider-Man where we all get to cry when Uncle Ben dies and Spider-Man learns his most valuable lesson. We also get the death of Captain Stacy storyline which is basically immediately ignored in the second film and leads to the death of Gwen Stacy. So impactful stories which spanned the first 150 issues of the series about a relatable character are now compacted into two movies which makes it difficult to understand how a quippy and fun-loving character isn’t a morose and depressed cynic. Also the Lizard, the villain of the story, has very unclear and convenient motives. But the scene where all the cranes turn towards the street so Spider-Man can swing on them is a great moment in Spider-Man on the big screen.
31 – Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – 72% – Directed by Joe Johnston (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Rocketeer, and Jumanji) and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (Captain America: Winter Soldier and Civil War & Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame), this WWII throwback is first movie to watch if you’re watching all the MCU movies in chronological order. Starring Chris Evans (The Fantastic Four), Tommy Lee Jones (Batman Forever), Hugo Weaving (The Matrix), Hayley Atwell (Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning), Sebastian Stan (Pam & Tommy), Toby Jones (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and Stanley Tucci (Road to Perdition). While this movie may not be the best in terms of action especially with the unimpressive shield throwing scenes, the movie makes up for this with a fantastic cast and a classic and compelling story. Although slightly different from the comics (Bucky and Steve being friends from before and “vita-rays” being the main differences), this (and Iron Man) may be the most comic accurate films in the MCU.