Unlike their distinguished competitor, Marvel isn’t really known for their animated features. They’ve tried multiple times to dip their toes into it with extremely mixed results. In fact, based on the calculation of the average score across multiple sites only 2 out of the 19 entries that counted towards this list could be considered “certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes (28 of the top 80 live action films would be considered “fresh”).
If you saw the Top 80 films list, the calculations to come up with this list are the same. This list is not in order of my opinions but rather the average across three major websites that provide audiences and critics scores. All of these entries were above the 70 minutes mark, and I did not include any of the motion comics (maybe another list, one day).
The bottom nine are listed as honorable mentions:
Iron Man: Rise of Technovore (2013) – 47.3%
Iron Man and Hulk: Heroes United (2013) – 50.7%
Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher (2014) – 52.7%
Invincible Iron Man (2007) – 52.7%
Thor: Tales of Asgard (2011) – 54.3%
The Tomb of Dracula (aka Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned or Yami no teiô kyuketsuki dorakyura) (1980) – 56%
Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Frost Fight! (2015) – 57.7%
Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (2008) – 57.7%
Ultimate Avengers 2: The Rise of the Panther (2006) – 58%
10 – Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell (2016) – 58% – This film is the second film to spin out of the Avengers Assemble television show (Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Frost Fight being the first). In this Hulk and Doctor Strange team up with the Howling Commandos to fight monsters rampaging on Halloween. The movie is was directed by Mitch Schauer who was the supervising director for the entire run of The Super Hero Squad Show.
9 – Ultimate Avengers: The Movie (2006) – 61% – This was the first film in the Marvel Animated Features (MAF) direct-to-video films, which had Craig Kyle (writer of the X-Force comic series and Thor: Ragnarok movie) as the supervising producer over all 8 films. The films varied in quality with 3 being on the top ten in the list and the other five being honorable mentions. This movie was directly based on The Ultimates comic series by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. While at the time we were in the fledgling days of the now superhero movie boom, it felt extremely unlikely we would ever see an Avengers film. I remember at the time thinking this was the best we would ever get. Luckily, I was very wrong.
8 – Doctor Strange (2007) – 61.3% – Also part of the MAF direct-to-video films, this was the fourth release. This is a basic origin story for the character with Baron Mordo and Dormammu being the ultimate antagonists, so not too far off from the movie that would come out nine years later. This film, like many on this list, features the voice talent of Kevin Michael Richardson, Fred Tatasciore, Tara Strong, and Phil LaMarr who, if you have ever watched anything animated or played any video games, you’ve heard their voice. They each have over 500 acting credits on IMDB (with Tatasciore having close to 1000).
7 – Planet Hulk (2010) – 61.7% – This was the seventh release as part of the MAF direct-to-video films. This film is an adaptation of the comic storyline of the same name. This film is directed by Sam Liu who is probably one of the most prolific directors of animated features today, doing most of his work for Marvel’s distinguished competitor, but has also done three of the films on this list (one an honorable mention and another to come on this list).
6 – Iron Man and Captain America: Heroes United (2014) – 62% – This is part of the Heroes United direct to video releases. Only two films were made as part of this series with the first being Iron Man and Hulk: Heroes United (second to the bottom on this list). This film features Iron Man and Captain America taking on the Red Skull and Taskmaster. This movie does feature Red Skull brain washing Captain America into becoming Captain Hydra, so maybe this had a small influence on what would become that controversial comic book story. Most notable for this is Clancy Brown voicing the Taskmaster.
5 – Monster of Frankenstein (aka Frankenstein Legend of Terror or Kyoufu Densetsu Kaiki! Frankenstein) (1981) – 62.5% – This was a Japanese animated adult-oriented film loosely based on the Marvel Comic of the same name as was The Tomb of Dracula. The English dubbing for both movies is notoriously bad. The Japanese translation of the title is Horror Legend Return! Both films are easy enough to find on YouTube, but are relatively slow.
4 – Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors (2018) – 72% – The only release in the Marvel Rising that was long enough to make this list, it is also the first entry from this franchise. The film, series, and comic releases under the Marvel Rising banner were focused on a younger audience than most of the entries on this list by having younger and less established characters as the focus of the stories. They were fairly well regarded by critics. This release was still when Marvel was pushing the Inhumans line as they did not own the rights to the X-Men yet, so it does focus on those characters, mainly the two newer ones to the comics Ms. Marvel and Inferno. This also tied into the Agents of SHIELD television series with Chloe Bennet reprising her role as Quake. Milana Vayntrub portrayed Squirrel Girl in this release and was set to reprise that role in the unaired and now defunct New Warriors television series which was to release that same year.
3 – Hulk Vs (2009) – 74.5% – This is the final entry on this list from the MAF direct-to-video films. It almost did not make to this list as it is technically not a single film but rather two shorter stories. The first short is Hulk vs Thor which features Hulk being manipulated by Loki into laying siege to Asgard and fighting his way through the pantheon of heroes in their ranks until he gets to Thor. The second short is Hulk vs Wolverine which is a loose retelling of their first battle in the comics. It also features Wolverine’s origin, and Hulk and Wolverine fighting Sabertooth, Lady Deathstrike, Omega Red, and Deadpool. Both features are short on plot and heavy on action which make them fun to watch.
2- Big Hero 6 (2014) – 83.3% – It only took seventeen previous entries to finally find a movie that generally audiences may have heard of. This is based on the comic by Man of Action studios (Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Reouleau specifically but also the great Joe Kelly and Joe Casey) who are probably best known for writing the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon series. This is a loose adaptation as the original comic which featured Sunfire, Viper, and Silver Samurai. The main characters of Hiro and Baymax do appear in the comics although Baymax is dramatically different as he is a robotic dragon instead of the balloon robot in the movie. The movie itself was also marketed as a Disney production rather than a Marvel production being that this comic line was relatively unknown. This won Best Animated Feature at the 87th Academy Awards.
1 – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) – 91% – At the time of writing this, the sequel to the film has been released for a few weeks now and may be one of the largest films of 2023. But that’s not a huge surprise because this movie was huge when it came out as well. Often lauded as the best Spider-Man film, this movie made Spider-Ham a household name. I remember reading Peter Porker the Spectacular Spider-Ham comics as a little kid from Marvel’s Star Comics imprint (along with Heathcliff and Planet Terry). It was and is a bit surreal to see him in this movie. But even with astonishing visuals and amazing voice acting, this movie most importantly understands the character of Spider-Man and what that means regardless of the individual behind the mask. Sadly as we are starting to see a gluttony of “multiverse” style comic book movies (which is just an excuse for nostalgia baiting) that don’t understand that isn’t what is special about this movie. It understands the character. It understands what the mask means.