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.
30 – Iron Man 3 (2013) – 73% – Written and Directed by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and The Nice Guys) and co-written by Drew Pearce (Hotel Artemis and Hobbs & Shaw) this film finished out the Iron Man trilogy. This film stars Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Don Cheadle, but adds Guy Pearce (Memento and The Proposition), Rebecca Hall (The Gift and The Night House), and Ben Kingsley (Ghandi and Shutter Island). This movie was loosely based on Warren Ellis’ Extremis storyline in the comics. The President in the film is also named after the comic writer. The film strips down the character of Iron Man by causing Tony Stark to lose his suit for the middle of the movie, even delving deeply into the character’s PTSD from the events in The Avengers. This forces Tony Stark to use his wit and intelligence to attempt to overcome the main villain. While I like this part of the film, ultimately this trope is ignored to an extreme as approximately 50 Iron Man suits show up at the end of the film to fight in the final confrontation. I am a bit shocked this movie ranks as high as it does given the online hate this movie received at the time of its release for its take on The Mandarin.
29 – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) – 73% – Directed by Sam Raimi (Evil Dead & Spider-Man) this movie was originally supposed to be directed by Scott Derrickson with the intent of making a horror movie set inside of the MCU. The old phrase “due to creative differences” was thrown out along with Derrickson who went on to make The Black Phone instead. The movie was written by Michael Waldron (Rick & Morty and Loki) but originally Jade Halley Bartlett, a person with barely any IMDB credits, was supposed to write. And then the movie was delayed due to Covid. Luckily Benedict Cumberbatch came back for the titular role. The movie co-starred Elizabeth Olsen (Wind River and Martha Marcy May Marlene), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Children of Men and The Martian), Benedict Wong (Sunshine and The Martian), and Xochitl Gomez (The Baby-Sitters Club). What ultimately seemed a promising and thrilling romp through the multiverse limits the number of ‘verses to about 3 other than the main line continuity universe of the MCU which was a bit disappointing. But it also didn’t feel like other MCU entries which seem to be trying to be comedies before comic book adventure films, and that was a bit refreshing.
28 – Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – 74% – This may be the first film in the MCU where the constraints of the end goal and need for continuity first showed signs of negatively meddling with promising stories. Written and directed by Joss Whedon (the man whose quip-a-minute writing style may be the death of cinema) this sequel to the beloved and classic first Avengers movie didn’t work with everyone. Starring the same cast with Robert Downey Jr, Christ Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, and Samuel L. Jackson, the roster was expanded on with Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla), Elizabeth Olsen (Godzilla), Linda Cardellini (Freaks and Geeks and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3), Paul Bettany (Creation and all the other MCU films before this but just as a voice) and James Spader (Crash and Secretary). The movie expanded the Avengers by three but then only by two by the end of the film in what many consider to be the most pointless and frustrating death of a main character to that point in the MCU. The nicest scenes in the film are probably the moments at the farm where we get some quiet character moments and some interpersonal dialogue that isn’t too quippy. Lucky for us, Joss Whedon left the MCU after this, ruined a DC movie, and now we know who to mute and block on social media based on the simple phrase #releasethesnydercut. This movie also has my favorite Stan Lee cameo.
27 – Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) – 75% – One of the few MCU films coming in at under 2 hours long, this movie at least doesn’t overstay its welcome. This sequel was once again directed by Peyton Reed, and was written by Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers (The MCU Spider-Man trilogy), Paul Rudd (Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers), Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari (No Exit). The movie starred Pail Rudd (Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers), Evangeline Lilly (Lost), Hannah John-Kamen (Game of Thrones), Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix and Hannibal), and Michael Douglas (The Game and Fatal Attraction). This is the second film in the MCU to have a scene which relied heavily on digital de-aging actors. Lucky for us, this process has improved since X-Men Origins: Wolverine. While this movie was a fairly light and enjoyable MCU movie, it did feel something was lacking. This may have been the fun heist element from the first film. But with that said, the action and special effects were all serviceable and fun. This is a nice movie to put on in the background while cleaning your house on a rainy day.
26 – Black Widow (2021) – 76% – The genus Latrodectus from the class arachnida consists of the species Latrodectus mactans, or the black widow. This spider has an incredibly potent venom containing the neurotoxin latrotoxin which causes latrodectism. The bites of these spiders are rarely fatal to humans, but a full-grown female of the species is still dangerous. The females are best known for their sexual cannibalism, where in they eat the male after mating which is where they received the moniker of “widow.” Oops, wrong Wikipedia article. This is a film directed by Cate Shortland (Berlin Syndrome) and written by Eric Pearson (Thor: Ragnarok and the upcoming Thunderbolts film). This movie stars Scarlett Johansson as the titular character, and co-stars Florence Pugh (Midsommar), David Harbour (Hellboy), Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace), Ray Winstone (The Proposition), and Rachel Weisz (The Mummy). This movie started with an amazing opening sequence, but it just went downhill after that. There are no stakes when we know Black Widow won’t die and we don’t care about anyone else except for maybe the actress we already knew was signed to a multiple movie deal with Marvel. In this movie we learn that Yelena Belova is explosion proof. It is far, far too high on this list.
25 – X-Men (2000) – 76% – In an age where the only good Marvel movie was Blade, we didn’t know what to expect when going to see this movie. The excitement for this film was palpable. Directed by Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects) and written by David Hayter (the voice of Solid Snake in the Metal Gear games) this movie started the modern comic book film tradition still going today after twenty-three years. The film starred Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: TNG), Hugh Jackman (Prisoners), Ian McKellen (Gods and Monsters), Halle Berry (Die Another Day), Famke Janssen (GoldenEye), James Marsden, Bruce Davidson (Willard), Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (The Punisher), Ray Park (Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace), and Anna Paquin (True Blood). Originally Dougray Scott was signed on for the role of Wolverine but was injured in a motorcycle accident during the filming of Mission: Impossible 2, and so the unknown Hugh Jackman was brought in for the role (Viggo Mortensen also turned down the role). This movie was so exciting at the time it was until the third or fourth viewing that I realized that Halle Berry slowly slips out of her African accent as the movie progresses, until her final line, which might be the worst in the film, about frogs and lightning is spoken completely in her normal accent. Michael Jackson, yes, the singer, actively campaigned to play Xavier, but luckily for everyone the ultimate fan choice won the role in this scenario.
24 – Spider-Man (2002) – 76% – Another film, just like the previous entry, which was a celebrated event in geekdom back in the day. Adjusted for inflation this movie had a box office return of 1.5 billion dollars. Also adjusted for inflation, the average ticket to the theater would still have been almost $5 cheaper than the average today. I’m trying to drive home how big this movie was, not how much more expensive things are today, sorry. Directed by Sam Raimi (The Quick and the Dead) and written by David Koepp (Jurassic Park and Mission: Impossible), this film did what was considered impossible, which was bring Spider-Man to the big screen. Starring Tobey Maguire (Wonder Boys) as the titular character, the film co-starred Willem Dafoe (Platoon), Kristen Dunst (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), James Franco (127 Hours), Cliff Robertson (Midway and Gidget), and Rosemary Harris (The Gift). While some of the CGI modeling doesn’t hold up too well, this is still an expertly told comic book film and origin story.
23 – Ant-Man (2015) – 77% – Originally set to be directed by the acclaimed director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) and co-written by him along with his often-writing partner Joe Cornish (The Adventures of Tintin), this film ended up being directed by Peyton Reed (Bring It On and The Break-Up). This is what is referred to as a “downgrade.” Edgar Wright left the project for “creative differences” which basically means that Marvel was more interested in moving pawns on a chess board than creating a great movie. What we ended up with was a good movie. It isn’t anything groundbreaking. There are moments of great levity, and the third act heist aspect is a lot of fun. But overall, the film lacks a consistent energy and could’ve used a tighter edit with a slightly shorter runtime. The film stars Paul Rudd (Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers) as the titular character and is supported by Evangeline Lilly (Lost), Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris), Michael Peña (Fury), and Michael Douglas (Fatal Attraction and Falling Down).
22 – X2 (2003) – 78% – The sequel to the 2000 hit film, this film was also directed by Bryan Singer (part of Bohemian Rhapsody) and was written by Michael Dougherty (Superman Returns and X-Men: Apocalypse), Dan Harris (Superman Returns and X-Men: Apocalypse), and David Hayter (X-Men and Watchmen). While including much of the same cast as the last movie, this film added Brian Cox (Manhunter and The Autopsy of Jane Doe), Alan Cumming (GoldenEye and Spice World), Kelly Hu (Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan), and Aaron Stanford (The Hills Have Eyes). The plot and story borrow heavily from the Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills. The film still has one of the greatest opening sequences of any film on this list with the assault on the White House, and left the viewers at the time with the teasing of an epic potential for follow up film (sadly not delivered). For its time, this was one of the greatest comic book movies ever produced and I would argue is much better than many of the films ranked higher in this list.
21 – Deadpool 2 (2018) – 79% – This film directed by David Leitch and starring Ryan Reynolds as the titular character, brings back the crass, fourth-wall-breaking humor that made the first film a hit. The movie features an ensemble cast including Josh Brolin as Cable, Zazie Beetz as Domino, and Julian Dennison as Firefist. The supporting cast is just as strong, with T.J. Miller, Morena Baccarin, and Brianna Hildebrand reprising their roles from the first film. While the film falls into some of the sequel pitfalls of repeating too many of the jokes and losing some of the charm of the original, it still manages to be an enjoyable and entertaining ride. Overall, Deadpool 2 delivers on the action and humor fans were expecting and does a great job expanding the Deadpool universe while setting up potential future films. I barely remember this film, so I had ChatGPT write all of that.
21* – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) – 79% – I took so long writing the rest of the entries for this article series that I had to add this film. This sequel directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler and also co-written by Joe Robert Cole has a devastating and heart-breaking history. If you’re reading this list, you’re probably aware of the untimely demise of Chadwick Boseman to colon cancer. Somehow, what this film does wonderfully is pay tribute to his short but powerful legacy as an actor, while also moving forward and finding a future for the character in the MCU. This film is also important in the MCU by having Angel Bassett be the first Oscar nomination for acting in this series of movies. This movie has much of the same cast as the previous film but adds Tenoch Huerta Mejía (Sin Nombre), Dominique Thorne (Judas and the Black Messiah), Mabel Cadena, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld and Veep) in her first role in the MCU that feels more than just a cameo. As a fan of Namor from the comic books, I still like what they did with the character in this movie in terms of rewriting the history of Atlantis. For me, the film is bogged down by the requirement to introduce the Ironheart character as in multiple sequences this seems to stall the pacing of the film. Without that character (mandate from on-high?) I strongly believe, even with the loss of Chadwick Boseman, this film might’ve been considered better than the first.