“I Can Do This All Day”: Ranking Every Film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Denise Vaque, Design Editor

Disclaimer: The following ranking will contain spoilers for every Marvel Cinematic Universe film, including Spider-Man: No Way Home. Films that have been recently added to the MCU through the multiverse plotline, such as the Venom films, Deadpool films and previous Spider-Man films will not be included in the ranking. Read at your own risk!

Boasting a portfolio of over 20 films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s collection contains a lineup of movies both good and bad. As a fan since my childhood, these films hold a special place in my heart as well as in pop culture. However, that does not mean that the films are free of flaws and some are much more enjoyable to watch than others. Below is my ranking of the MCU’s current films.

  1. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

There is no truly bad MCU film except this one. Thor: The Dark World brings audiences back to Asgard after Marvel’s The Avengers, but the plot lacks in just about everything. The movie’s villain is completely forgettable and the romance between Jane and Thor comes off as forced and unnatural — this is a big issue given its importance to the plot. The slow pacing of Jane and Thor’s final reconciliation is frustrating and contributes to the boredom that the film evokes. Thor: The Dark World is just a bad romance movie with some action and a flash of Chris Hemsworth’s abs thrown in. (And there is an aether). That is all. 

  1. Thor (2011)

For characters inspired by Norse gods, director Kenneth Branagh’s choice to have the Asgardians speak in stuffy Shakespearean accents sure is interesting. While it certainly fits the themes of the film and the royal status of the protagonists, it makes the dialogue hard to listen to, adding to the disconnect between audiences and the characters. However, that disconnect pales in comparison to the lack of chemistry between Thor and Jane Foster, who were outshined by Loki in this unmemorable movie. Suffice to say, Chris Hemsworth’s bleached eyebrows are not the worst thing about this film, as its main conflict was easily avoidable and the main antagonist — a giant metal robot with less than half of Ultron’s intelligence — is defeated in a lackluster fight sequence that lasts for less than a minute. Worst of all, this movie set a precedent for future Thor movies to be predictable — Thor is now always a fish out of water, and Loki always fakes his own death.  

  1. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Incredible Hulk is a film you watch once and then never again. For a movie named after the Hulk, the angry green creature makes surprisingly few appearances; instead, it focuses on Bruce Banner for the majority of its almost two-hour run-time. However, this comes as a blessing in disguise as audiences are spared from witnessing an excess of the movie’s bad CGI. Instead, they are confronted with a bland plot in which the protagonist tries to get rid of the powers that make him special; he tries to get rid of the Hulk. With the film being set so far before Hulk’s next appearance in Marvel’s The Avengers, it has become largely irrelevant to the larger cinematic universe and many Marvel fans declare this film is not worth watching. I must say that I agree with their judgment. 

  1. Captain Marvel (2019)

Despite Captain Marvel’s importance as a tale of female empowerment, this film’s plot is confusing. Carol Danvers is constantly accused of being overemotional despite her clearly stoic personality. The movie itself even confirms that Danvers’s emotions weren’t holding her back — rather, it was the Kree power suppressant that had been implanted in her. This hole overshadows any other aspect of the plot for me. With multiple plot twists, 90s nostalgia and a great performance by Samuel L. Jackson, this film gives audiences insight into the backstories of two of the MCU’s most secretive characters. Despite the abundance of hate for Captain Marvel online, I commend Brie Larson for playing such a strong and inspiring character with the script she was given. I will not tolerate Captain Marvel slander even if the movie itself was not my favorite. (Plus, have you guys seen her in Endgame? She rocked it!) 

  1. Iron Man 3 (2013)
    Tony Stark, plagued by insomnia and PTSD after the Battle of New York, uses suit building as a coping mechanism in this film. The technology for his suits advances extremely quickly but at the expense of his relationship with his girlfriend, Pepper Potts. As Stark is eventually stranded in the middle of nowhere with a broken suit, he is forced to confront his own humanity. Reminiscent of Iron Man 2, Tony is able to defeat the villain, save Potts and win her back at the end of this film with almost no consequence. He gets the arc reactor removed from his chest and promises to scale back his Iron Man duties, but Stark is constantly disappointing Potts so we know that it will not be long before he goes back on his promises and all of the growth he made in this movie.


  1. Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2 might just be Tony Stark at his worst, as he becomes reckless and uncaring at the thought of his imminent death due to Palladium poisoning. Stark struggles as the government and the rest of the world try and fail to recreate his Iron Man suit. After a struggle to handle his fate in a graceful manner, Stark comes to a breakthrough as he synthesizes a new element and saves himself from the poisoning. Stark really turns it all around in this movie, as he is able to defeat those who have attempted to copy his suits for nefarious reasons and reconcile with those he hurt. The story — which is essentially self-contained and insignificant — is wrapped up in a pretty bow at the end. While there is nothing explicitly bad about this film, it just does not hit the mark for my expectations of an Iron Man film, especially after the bar was set so high with the original movie.

  1. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Ant-Man and the Wasp is a movie that proves that even with all of the right ingredients, sometimes movies just do not work out. Despite stellar performances from every cast member and an interesting premise, Ant-Man and the Wasp is an overall forgettable movie with few stand-out moments (however, the weaponization of a Hello Kitty Pez dispenser and the way Scott Lang shrunk to the size of a child). In a non-shocking twist, the main villain turns out to just be misunderstood. Lang decides to help her, but not before everyone else is snapped into nothingness and Ava is all but forgotten about. The impacts of the film are minimal with the return of Janet Van Dyne and the set up for Lang to help the Avengers time travel in Avengers: Endgame. This movie is not bad, just easily forgettable and inconsequential. 

  1. The Eternals (2021)

Despite blatant flaws with this film’s CGI, I commend Director Chloe Zhao’s execution of the daunting task of introducing more than ten new, compelling characters to the MCU in a way that is not overwhelming to audiences or distracts from the plot. The two hour and 37 minute film is enjoyable to watch but feels hard to buy into with a myriad of plot holes and historical inconsistencies. Sersi breezes past an explanation of why her group stood idle as Thanos threatened the universe but jumped to action at the possibility of Earth’s destruction. Although the film’s time jumps were hard to follow at times, they did give important context to not only the characters but to the history of the Earth. I enjoyed the casual inclusion of Makarri’s disability and the use of ASL throughout the film. While each character’s distinct personality traits shone through, the chemistry between the film’s main love interests was lacking, as the lesser-known counterparts overshadowed the celebrity cast members. s. Despite this film’s flaws, it earns brownie points for introducing Harry Styles to the MCU as Eros. 

  1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Although Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a renowned fan-favorite film, it lacks the sense of importance as other MCU films. While the reveal of the Winter Soldier as Bucky is intriguing, the fact that he is constantly brainwashed into forgetting his past life squandered its impact. It almost strips the audience of hope for something better…until the very end. The impact of Nick Fury’s death is also demeaned as it is swiftly revealed that it was all a fake-out. While Natasha’s disguise reveal and the shocking deaths of the council members are exciting, it seems that besides Peggy Carter’s funeral scene, plot twists are the only way emotions could be integrated into the film. Despite its name, this movie is really not about Captain America, but more about the corruption of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the fate of Bucky Barnes. Steve Rogers’s character development is paused in order to allow these other plot points to take precedence. Overall, it seems that the film’s twists are one of the only aspects keeping it interesting, and after the first watch, the story can only be described as dull. 

  1. Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange is like a copycat of Iron Man but with better CGI and magic. Although this film’s stunning visuals and character development are done right, I cannot help but think that the plotline of an injured man seeking knowledge (about science or magic) from a wise mentor who eventually dies is a bit too familiar. While this movie was not unenjoyable to watch, I think its stunning visual arts are what really distinguishes it from other MCU movies. Scenes in the mirror dimension and the Sanctum Santorum beautifully make use of setting and CGI. Besides that, the villains are quite easily defeated and the main antagonist Dormamu is reduced to a mockery as Steven threatens to taunt him for all eternity. Doctor Strange is a fine movie but not one that I would consider watching multiple times.

  1. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

When it first came out, Spider-Man: Homecoming sparked a lot of criticism from fans as Peter Parker was simply handed things throughout the movie, like his suit and position as a “Stark Intern.” In previous movies, Spider-Man had to figure out how to be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man all by himself without the constant help of Tony Stark. During this movie, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker was swept up in the glory of donning a Stark tech suit and handling larger threats, effectively losing himself. It was not until the third act of the film when Peter was stripped of the fancy suit that he really began to evolve into the Spider-Man that the city needed, and not a wannabe Avenger. Peter’s commitment to saving The Vulture, despite the character’s criminal dealings and murderous streak, is representative of a true hero. Although this film skips past Peter’s origin story and the death of Uncle Ben, it offers a fresh and exciting perspective to a character who has historically been cursed with reboots.

  1. Ant-Man (2015)

In an age where people have flying metal suits and can swing around on webs, Ant-Man’s ability to both shrink and enlarge himself are unique. Played by Paul Rudd, Scott Lang is a lovable Robin Hood-esque ex-con finishing his time in prison for stealing from a millionaire. Down on his luck and unable to keep a job, Lang agrees to participate in one last heist; however, he does not realize that it will be the most important one of his life. Scott proves himself to be a crafty and intelligent man while the heist is in process, and is chosen by Hank Pym to don the Ant-Man suit. His mission is to stop the production of weaponized suits that can be used to wage war. Lang’s strong moral character allows him to put himself in danger and constantly prioritize the safety of others. Ant-Man is not specifically a comedy, yet I found myself laughing non-stop during this movie. Moreover, I found the shrinking scenes extremely compelling for showing viewers an ant’s point of view on human-sized objects.  

  1. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

The first Avengers movie was revolutionary for bringing together vastly different characters in a unique way. As the Chitauri invade New York City under the direction of Loki, who seeks to become the new ruler of Earth, the group works together to save the citizens and ward off the incoming waves of alien ships. When they learn that the government plans to nuke the city, Iron Man takes it upon himself to fly the missile into the alien portal, effectively destroying the Chitauri mothership and saving the city. Tension builds as Stark fails to come back out of the wormhole only for him to fall out of it at the last second, having damaged his suit by flying it into deep space. The film’s classic moments like Hulk tossing Loki, the “puny god,” around like a rag doll and the shawarma after-credits scene have cemented the film as an iconic piece of pop culture. It is not a bad thing that Marvel’s The Avengers has been surpassed by other films — if anything, it is a testament to Marvel’s constant improvement and innovation. However, I will always be thankful for this film and the joy it brought me as a child. 

  1. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Dealing with the death of his mentor and losing five years of his life to the blip, Peter Parker just wants to be a normal teen for the summer. However, this is not possible as his vacation is almost immediately interrupted by the emergence of an elemental, and the world’s introduction to multiversal traveler Quentin Beck. Throughout this film, Peter tries to balance his responsibilities as Spider-Man with his desire to have fun and find love. What audiences don’t suspect is that Mysterio, Peter’s new mentor, was manipulating him the whole time in a ploy to get his hands on the E.D.I.T.H. glasses — Stark’s final gift to Parker before his death. The elementals, Mysterio’s backstory and even mentorship were part of an elaborate scheme. After defeating Mysterio, it seems that everything can go back to normal for Peter, but audiences don’t have to wait too long before J. Jonah Jameson’s familiar face pops up on a billboard and broadcasts Peter Parker’s identity to the world in a shocking last-minute plot-twist. This movie was great with its perfect use of deception, humor and CGI visuals that haunt Peter. 

  1. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Captain America: Civil War is an Avengers movie disguised as a Captain America film. In this movie, the whole group gets back together to fight…each other. Driven apart by Zemo and the Sokovia accords, the teammates are split by differing ideologies and set in their ways. The airport fight scene parallels a normal Avengers fight scene, except it is jarring because the characters are up against each other. Spider-Man’s introduction to the MCU through this movie was highly anticipated, and Tom Holland’s Peter Parker stole the show in each of his scenes by nerding out over Bucky’s metal arm and defeating Ant-Man the same way Luke Skywalker took down the AT-AT in Star Wars. My main critique of this movie is the forced romance between Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter. Given that we now know that Rogers does end up with Peggy Carter, I despise his kiss with Sharon even more due to the added incestuous implications. Civil War is a great movie that could have done without the unnecessary romance plotline. 

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Set in the 1940s, Captain America: The First Avenger shows Steve Rogers’s struggle to defend others and fight for his country despite his small stature and shy nature. Due to his courageous and self-sacrificing character, Rogers is chosen by a military doctor to be part of the super-soldier program. Once transformed, Steve is disappointed to be used as a propaganda actor and jumps into the line of duty when he learns that his best friend Bucky Barnes is in trouble. Making the ultimate sacrifice to crash his plane into ice rather than the city, Rogers proves himself to be more than a man in an American flag costume. Admittedly, my guilty pleasure is listening to the “Star-Spangled Man” song over and over again as it is one of the best things that came out of this gem of a movie. 

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy was the MCU’s first comedy movie starring actors Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. The film’s soundtrack is phenomenal, and heavily features classic 80s hits cleverly intertwining the plot through Starlord’s Walkman cassette player. After an adventure that leads the Guardians to steal a man’s prosthetic leg and break out of prison, the team defeats the villainous Ronin the Accuser with a dance battle to save the universe. Despite its ridiculousness, this scene is hilarious as the antagonist stands there in confusion while Peter Quill dances his heart out. The experience of watching Guardians of the Galaxy is unlike anything else, and the film really deserves more recognition. Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy is a joy-filled movie with no dull moments and strong ties to the MCU.

  1. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

I bet you didn’t see this one coming. Despite Avengers: Age of Ultron’s reputation for being one of the best and most popular MCU films, I have a bone to pick with director Joss Whedon for his complete misuse of the character Quicksilver in this film. Pietro Maximoff’s death is inexplicable — he can run faster than the speed of sound but cannot dodge a few bullets? Besides that, I think that Ultron was expertly played and made for one of the best MCU villains ever. His ideas were well-thought-out and his intelligence was on par with Tony Stark’s, leading to some great dialogue. My favorite scene is the introduction of The Vision, in which he not only copies Thor’s cape but also lifts his hammer, immediately earning the Avengers’ trust while ironically saying that he understands if there is no way to do so. Overall, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a great film that is spoiled by Quicksilver’s unrealistic character death.

  1. Black Widow (2020)

Black Widow is the female empowerment film I needed growing up, and it is a shame that Marvel waited till the end of Scarlett Johanson’s superhero career to create it. After ten years of being sexualized and largely neglected, Natasha Romanoff shines in her own solo film as viewers get a look into the childhood she never talked about, and the Budapest situation often joked about between her and her best friend, Clint Barton. Natasha’s younger sister, Yelena, stole fans’ hearts in this film with her blunt and sarcastic personality that matches her expert assassin skills perfectly. David Harbour’s Red Guardian brings this film much-needed comedic relief as it covers the topics of the exploitation, trafficking and sexual abuse of women. It is unfortunate that many viewers miss the reality that the film’s villain is not Taskmaster but rather her father Dreykov, who has been her abuser, as well as the rest of the Widow’s. It is heartbreaking to realize that Natasha will never reunite with either of her families but the Black Widow persona only adds to the impact of Nat’s sacrifice. This film gives viewers the backstory we always wanted but never knew how much we needed. 

  1. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

As an ambitious film project featuring around 80 characters, Avengers: Infinity War was a movie anticipated to be like no other. In terms of plot, this movie is completely unpredictable, killing off Loki — one of the franchise’s most popular anti-heroes — in the first five minutes of the film. As someone who wore a Loki t-shirt to watch this movie, I will admit that I ugly cried from the beginning to the end of this film. Avengers: Infinity War is especially significant as it is the first MCU film where the good guys lose. The impact was not lost on fans who watched heartbreaking scenes of Bucky, Groot, Peter Parker and more being dusted away. To add on to the feelings of loss and devastation evoked by this movie, the gut-punching phrase of “Thanos will return” followed the credits, with no mention of the future for the presumably dead Avengers. 

  1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has become a fan favorite for its Asian representation, martial arts fight scenes and comedy. Marvel has been lacking Asian representation since the beginning, and I am glad to see the company finally take steps in the right direction. The film also features a platonic friendship between a male and female, fighting the idea that romance lingers between every pair of friends. Xialing is a standout character who has been wronged by almost everyone in her life but becomes stronger because of it. She stands for no one but herself, and I am very excited to see what the future holds for her as she builds her own empire from the ashes of her father’s. It is evident that the cast and crew of this movie worked extremely hard to mix traditional and modern elements together into this work of art. 

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the type of movie that will never get old. With a soundtrack full of fun 80s hits and jam-packed with nostalgia and humor, the film is fun for the whole family. The comedy is not overly reliant on the plot twist that Ego killed Peter Quill’s mother, as Kurt Russel’s expert performance even leaves characters such as Gamora feeling uneasy. The way in which the Guardians defeat this villain is especially creative, and Yondu’s emotional funeral scene is a tear-jerker as his Ravager family  honors him, after a lifetime of service and a sacrifice to save the life of his son. This film has also blessed us with a myriad of memes, from Yondu as Mary Poppins to invisible Drax to trash panda and even baby Groot. Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 deserves more recognition as a top MCU film because it is not only an example of compelling storytelling but also of comedic genius. 

  1. Iron Man (2008)

And the film that started it all…Jon Favreau’s masterpiece, Iron Man, came together with the perfect casting of Robert Downey, Jr. as the self-assured Tony Stark, Gweneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan. The film worked perfectly to introduce the world to the concept of a superhero without powers or a secret identity. Stark’s character charms audiences into falling in love with the playboy, genius, billionaire and philanthropist. The incredible writing and compelling storyline led to its box office success and great reception from audiences and critics. This prompted studios to take more chances on superhero movies, leading us to the MCU we have today.

  1. Black Panther (2018)

On top of its impressive score, divine costumes and creative cinematic choices, Black Panther broke barriers as the first MCU film with a person of color as the lead. Chadwick Boseman’s impressive acting helped portray the story of two cousins who come from vastly different upbringings and have different philosophies for handling racism and conflict. The film’s exploration of the impacts of colonialism is significant, as it allows audiences to see the dichotomy between the real world and the utopian Wakandan bubble. Black Panther has one of Marvel’s best movie soundtracks with music inspired by both the sounds of Africa and the hip-hop/rap scene of Compton, California. The film does right what everything Thor got wrong, from making the characters’ dialogue authentic to giving them personalities and humor. Despite T’Challa and Shuri’s royal status, they are relatable characters who maintain a sense of coolness while still using humor to balance the film’s darker themes. This film is genuinely one of my favorites as it is a perfect celebration of culture and confronts history simultaneously. 

  1. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

As the highest-grossing movie of all time, earning an astonishing $2.797 billion at the box office, Avengers: Endgame was also the most anticipated MCU film of all time. After the death of half of the Avengers — and half of the Universe — in Avengers: Infinity War, fans were anxious to see how the remaining characters would defeat Thanos. Opening day tickets sold out in minutes as the three-hour production promised to address the aftermath of the mad titan’s massacre. The film delivered with impactful character deaths and fan service moments such as Captain America wielding Mjolnir, Iron Man’s snap and a cathartic utterance of the phrase, “Avengers, assemble” over a dramatic orchestral rendition of the franchise’s theme song. Steve Rogers passing on the mantle of Captain America to Sam Wilson, and finally getting his dance with Peggy to the tune of “It’s Been A Long Long Time” was the perfect tear-jerking scene to end off a culturally iconic era of the MCU. 

  1. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor: Ragnarok is a breath of fresh air for the previously stuffy and tired Thor franchise. Director Taika Waititi expertly subverts the audience’s expectations of what a Thor movie should be by doing away with the Shakespearean accents, old accessories and Asgard altogether. Waititi’s introduction of refreshing humor and a sense of relatability was all Thor needed to take him from one of the MCU’s most boring, one-dimensional characters to becoming a fan favorite. This film is a breakthrough, as the characters go through drastic transformations and the franchise learns to not take itself too seriously. Despite a rebrand to a more light and comedic tone, Thor suffers more loss than ever before. He loses Mjolner, his eye, his father, his land and himself. He is forced to grow beyond the comfortable bounds of being a lovable dummy as he ascends to the throne and learns to take responsibility. Although Loki previously outshined Thor in every movie, this film represents the birth of Thor as the true main character. It cannot go without mentioning that scenes such as “get help” and “he’s a friend from work” are what make this movie so rewatchable. The jokes never get old, and you can always look forward to Thor’s epic lightning beatdown set to the tune of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.”

  1. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Spider-Man may very well be one of the most beloved superheroes of all time, and with three recent and very popular portrayals of the character, audiences were thrilled to see Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s Spidermen join Tom Holland’s on the big screen in Spider-Man: No Way Home. In this film, the stakes are high for Peter as he faces a plethora of iconic villains from across the multiverse after a spell to make the world forget his secret identity goes wrong. This movie is packed with call-backs and fan service that make it highly enjoyable to watch. At my screening, audiences clapped and cheered when Peter #3 (Andrew Garfield) caught MJ, thus redeeming himself after his tragic failure to save his own love, Gwen Stacey. The movie also has a high emotional impact, as Peter #2’s (Tom Holland) Aunt May died at the hands of the Green Goblin but not before uttering the famous line: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” The film ends on a melancholy note as the whole world forgets about Peter, revealing to the audiences that the past three Spider-Man films were simply an origin story, and now Peter Parker is truly ready to become Spider-Man. May the next Spider-Man trilogy be just as amazing!

With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever coming out in 2022, I am excited to see what the MCU has in store for future films.