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.
20 – Doctor Strange (2016) – 80% – It may be a bit controversial to say, but this was the last MCU film (at the time of writing this) to have new, fun, and interesting visuals. Even when it came out though, it was just Inception on steroids. Now the effects and style of this movie have been copied at least once a year, with the recent Shazam sequel being the latest that I have seen to borrow heavily from the CGI style of Doctor Strange. Directed and co-written by modern horror master Scott Derrickson (Sinister and The Black Phone) and co-written by Jon Spaihts (Dune and Prometheus) and C. Robert Cargill (Sinister and The Black Phone), this film starred Benedict Cumberbatch (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Imitation Game) in the lead role. The film also co-stars Rachel McAdams (The Notebook), Benedict Wong (Sunshine), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal and Riders of Justice), Tilda Swinton (3000 Years of Longing), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Children of Men) who probably should’ve been Doctor Strange.
19 – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017) – 80% – [By John Coughlin] – The second installment of James Gunn’s space faring trilogy brings back the original cast of characters, and adds Kurt Russell as Ego, and Pom Klementieff as Mantis. It is apparent that Marvel has given Gunn more freedom to make his own kind of movie following the success of the first film. That freedom comes with positives and negatives depending on how much you like James Gunn. This is a film about fathers and imperfect relationships told with the same fun style that is Gunn’s signature. It is a fun, funny, and heartwarming movie that can be over the top at times.
18 – X-Men: First Class (2011) – 81% – This reboot which was latter retconned into being soft-reboot-retcon (see entry #11 on this list) is the start of the series that appears to add a new secondary mutation to all the mutants: anti-aging. This movie was directed and co-written by Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman: The Secret Service) and written by Ashley Edward Miller (Thor), Zack Stentz (Thor), and Jane Goldman (Stardust and Kingsman: The Secret Service). The film stars James McAvoy (Wanted & It Chapter Two), Michael Fassbender (300 and Inglorious Basterds), Rose Byrne (Sunshine and 28 Weeks Later), Jennifer Lawrence (House at the End of the Street), Oliver Platt (Executive Decision and Lake Placid), and Kevin Bacon (Friday the 13th and Tremors). For the way this movie treats the character Darwin (Edi Gathegi) alone, this movie should not be in the top twenty.
17 – Black Panther (2018) – 81% – Based on its budget, this is one of the most profitable films (percentage wise) on this list. Whether you liked this movie or not, it is hard not to recognize the huge cultural impact this film had. While this film also follows the typical MCU formal (the main character comes into being, falls, and then must defeat a mirror version of themselves to rise and complete the hero’s journey) it is still praised for having possibly one of the most compelling and well-acted villains in the MCU. The movie was directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler (Creed and Fruitvale Station) and co-written by Joe Robert Cole (The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story). It stars Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up and 42) as the titular character. It also stars Michael B. Jordan (Creed and Fruitvale Station), Lupita Nyong’o (Us and 12 Years a Slave), Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead), Martin Freeman (Love Actually and Shaun of the Dead), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out and Nope), Letitia Wright (Death on the Nile), Winston Duke (Us), Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got to Do With It), Forest Whitaker (Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai), and Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings trilogy and Planet of the Apes trilogy).
16 – Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) – 81% – The second reboot to this series seemed to finally get the character of Spider-Man correct: awkward nerdy but also quippy hero. This movie was also able to take the thesis of Spider-Man (With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility) and turn that into the plot and theme of the film without ever saying it out loud. This movie also learned long before Batman movies that we don’t have to always see the death of loved ones that spawned the character’s motivations in the first place. The movie was directed by Jon Watts (Clown and Cop Car) and written by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley (Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and Game Night), Christ McKenna & Erik Sommers (Ghosted and the Lego Batman Movie), and Christopher Ford (Clown and Cop Car). The film stars Tom Holland (In the Heart of the Sea), Michael Keaton (Mr. Mom and Batman), Jon Favreau (PCU), Zendaya (Dune), Donald Glover (The Martian), Marisa Tomei (Only You and Chaplin), Bokeem Woodbine (Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies), and Robert Downey Jr (Only You and Chaplin). This film also features one of my personal favorite scenes from all the movies on this list which is the drive to the prom sequence. It is a classically suspenseful scene expertly directed and the way Keaton is able to convey so much information with just his eyes in the rearview mirror is a testament to him as an actor.
15 – Spider-Man 2 (2004) – 82% – This film’s placement is a dead giveaway that this list is not based upon my personal opinion. This is, in my estimation, not only the best Marvel comic book movie, but in my top 5 greatest films based on the medium (visit the YouTube channel: Hydro Man Ran which features fellow M6P columnist Andrew Burbage and myself, as this subject will be the topic of a future episode there). In one aspect, this film has moments that perfectly capture Sam Raimi’s manic filmmaking style, but also features moments of compelling drama, intense action, and inspiring heroics. The melding of all these factors along with CGI which has aged shockingly well and wonderful performances from all the actors solidifies this as a top-notch summer blockbuster. To top it off, the expanded edition of the film doesn’t just add scenes of boring dialogue that stutters the pacing set with the original edit but extends the train fight sequence by a substantial portion. And let us not forget the amazing transition shot of Spider-Man swing which zooms out from Doc Ock’s sunglasses, which is the only moment in these movies I don’t agree with Martin Scorsese. This movie adds to the previously established and fantastic cast with Alfred Molina (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Donna Murphy (Star Trek: Insurrection), and Aasif Mandvi (Die Hard with a Vengeance).
14 – Deadpool (2016) – 82% – While the humor of the film may not have been for everyone (especially the dumb parents who don’t understand how movie ratings work and took their children to see this), the way this movie was able to stretch its meager budget (meager for the type of film) was impressive. To me two things were crystal clear at the end of this movie: one, all the money was on screen without a doubt, and two, everyone seemed committed and passionate about the movie they were making. Again, it may not be your cup of tea, but it’s hard to hate a movie when you realize that (unless, again, you’re a dumb parent). This movie was directed by Tim Miller (Terminator: Dark Fate and Love, Death & Robots) and was written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Zombieland, and 6 Underground). The film stars Ryan Reynolds playing the same character he’s played since Two Guys, A Girl, and A Pizza Place. Co-starring are Morena Baccarin (Serenity), Ed Skrein (Alita: Battle Angel), T. J. Miller (The Emoji Movie and a literal bomb threat), Gina Carano (My Son Hunter, which was its own kind of a bomb threat), and Brianna Hildebrand (Playing with Fire).
13 – Captain America: Civil War (2016) – 82% – [By John Coughlin] – Directed by brothers Joe and Anthony Russo, Captain America: Civil War is much more than a sequel in the Captain America trilogy. This film brings back most of the Avengers and even adds two more. Tom Holland and Chadwick Boseman make their MCU debuts as Spider-Man and Black Panther. We are also introduced to Daniel Bruhl as the villainous Baron Zemo. The plot is loosely based on the Marvel Comics event, “Civil War” by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, and carries forward elements from The Winter Soldier. Captain America Civil War is a memorable film on its own, and it has lasting ramifications for the Avengers through Endgame.
12 – Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) – 82% – While I’m slightly shocked that this film rates higher than its predecessor (even if it is only a single percentage point) this is another great Spider-Man entry. One sequence I’ll always remember from this film is the great fight between Spider-Man and Mysterio that actually feels like it is capturing and translating those fights from the comics. Mysterio can’t go toe-to-toe with Spidey, so the “special effects” and psychological manipulation that he does is great. This film also does an interesting job of making Mysterio’s abilities seem grounded and realistic at least as far as the MCU is concerned (not real world realistic). The film was directed by Jon Watts (Clown and Cop Car) and written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers (Community, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Spider-Man: No Way Home). The film stars the same cast as the previous film adding Jake Gyllenhaal (Jarhead and Zodiac), Samuel L. Jackson (Deep Blue Sea), Colbie Smulders (Stumptown), and J. B. Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm).
11 – X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) – 83% – A time traveler from the future traveled to the past and undid the blurb written for this entry in the present. Sorry.