My COMPLETE Ranking of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Infinity War is on the horizon. This immense crossover will undoubtedly be the culmination of every Marvel Cinematic Universe film so far, so I decided that now would be a great time to release my definitive ranking for all those films.

This was a tricky task, and so that you can see how my rankings compare to critics and the general public, I’ve also included data from IMDB user aggregate rankings (out of 10) and the critical metascore that IMDB provides (out of 100). You can also see a comparative ranking table at the bottom of the post.

I know that many of you will disagree with my rankings. If you do, tell me! This is a great topic that I know every MCU fan will want to wade in on.

#1 The Avengers (2012)

IMDB user rating: 8.1 (=2nd) // Critical metascore: 69 (8th)

Deciding on the order of the top 3 was incredibly hard, but in the end, there was only one film for the top spot. The Avengers brought together a superhero universe like no film had ever done, bringing together a range of big characters without murdering the plot or the script. This film is the definition of blockbuster.

#2 Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

IMDB user rating: 8.1 (=2nd) // Critical metascore: 76 (2nd)

Hot on The Avengers’ heels is Marvel’s other big team. Not many people had heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy before 2014, but Marvel put them on the map in a big way with a hilarious film. All comedic Marvel movies from that point on would be judged by this high standard.

#3 Captain America: The Winter Solider (2014)

IMDB user rating: 7.8 (=6th) // Critical metascore: 70 (7th)

The top 3 is rounded out by the film that turned Captain America from the 1-dimensional Star Spangled Man into a character we could actually get behind. Exploring relevant 21st century issues in one of the MCU’s greatest story lines to date, I’m genuinely surprised that the IMDB user and critic rankings don’t place it as highly as I do.

#4 Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

IMDB user rating: 8.2 (1st) // Critical metascore: 73 (=4th)

The last MCU film before Infinity War was fantastic and it shows how good I think my top 3 are that this amazing film didn’t make it in. It’s everything I wanted a Thor – and Marvel – film to be. I’m not surprised it has the highest user ranking, and I’m pleased to see that critics liked it too.

#5 Captain America: Civil War (2016)

IMDB user rating: 7.9 (=4th) // Critical metascore: 75 (3rd)

I’m not surprised that I’m a little lower on Civil War than IMDBers and critics. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but maybe it’s because the graphic novel is so stunning that something about it just never quite reached the stratospheric heights I’d envisioned. In my mind, this could have been the stand out best MCU film, as opposed to the last of my top 5.

#6 Iron Man (2008)

IMDB user rating: 7.9 (=4th) // Critical metascore: 79 (1st)

The first ever MCU film may seem like the distant past, but this gem is still under 10 years old the high IMDB user and critic rankings are testament to its quality. If you haven’t watched it in a while, it’s well worth a revisit.

#7 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

IMDB user rating: 7.8 (=6th) // Critical metascore: 67 (9th)

The recent sequel to the groundbreaking Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor, but it was very funny nonetheless. I think the ranks across the board are pretty fair.

#8 Ant-Man (2015)

IMDB user rating: 7.3 (11th) // Critical metascore: 64 (12th)

Choosing between GotG 2 and Ant-Man for 7/8 was hard and I’m not sure I made the right decision. I’m surprised its so low in the rankings for users and critics, as I think it’s one of the funniest Marvel films.

#9 Doctor Strange (2016)

IMDB user rating: 7.5 (9th) // Critical metascore: 72 (6th)

I’m definitely lower on Doctor Strange than some people, but I don’t think it’s a bad film. It was very good, but didn’t make the impression on me that some of the better films did.

#10 Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

IMDB user rating: 7.6 (8th) // Critical metascore: 73 (=4th)

Everything I just said about Doctor Strange applies to Spider-Man as well. I liked it a lot, but wasn’t blown away in the same way as I was for, say, Thor: Ragnarok.

#11 Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

IMDB user rating: 7.4 (10th) // Critical metascore: 66 (10th)

All of the ratings for the second big Avengers film put it in the middle of the pack, and that seems fair. I feel like it didn’t need much more to be an awesome film and there are some unbelievable scenes, but the biggest let down for me was Ultron himself. Why couldn’t he have been more like the Ultron of the trailers?!

#12 Thor (2011)

IMDB user rating: 7.0 (=13th) // Critical metascore: 57 (=15th)

As the first MCU film I ever saw, Thor will always have a special place in my heart. There’s a lot to love about this film, but in my mind it lacks the rewatchability of my higher ranked films.

#13 Iron Man 3 (2013)

IMDB user rating: 7.2 (12th) // Critical metascore: 62 (13th)

When I first saw it, I liked this film. Many people didn’t. It’s very funny and, in my opinion, a decent film, but it’s definitely an odd one. It’s hurt by the fact that the big plot points seem to have had no effect on the rest of the MCU.

#14 Thor: The Dark World (2013)

IMDB user rating:  7.0 (=13th) // Critical metascore: 54 (17th)

As I get to the last few, I want to stress that I don’t think any of these films are really bad. They’re just not at the standard of the other films. There are some great moments in the second instalment of the Thor series, but take Loki out and most of those moments disappear.

#15 The Incredible Hulk (2008)

IMDB user rating: 6.8 (17th) // Critical metascore: 61 (14th)

Another forgotten child of Paramount’s early take on the MCU, this film is undoubtedly harmed by the surreptitious swapping of Edward Norton for Mark Ruffalo in the first Avengers film. It’s actually a good watch, but forgettable, which is the issue with all of these bottom 3.

#16 Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

IMDB user rating: 6.9 (16th) // Critical metascore: 66 (10th)

I just find this film quite dull. I don’t care about a lot of the characters and Captain America is nowhere near the convincing, 3-dimensional hero he becomes in The Winter Soldier.

#17 Iron Man 2 (2010)

IMDB user rating: 7.0 (=13th) // Critical metascore: 57 (15th)

Meh. Who really cares about Iron Man 2? Although I will say that the Monaco racing scenes are pretty cool.

 

My Verdict IMDB users Critics
The Avengers Thor: Ragnarok Iron Man
Guardians of the Galaxy The Avengers Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America: The Winter Soldier Guardians of the Galaxy Captain America: Civil War
Thor: Ragnarok Captain America: Civil War Thor: Ragnarok
Captain America: Civil War Iron Man Spider-Man: Homecoming
Iron Man Captain America: The Winter Soldier Doctor Strange
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2  Captain America: The Winter Solider
 Ant-Man  Spider-Man: Homecoming  The Avengers
 Doctor Strange  Doctor Strange  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  Spider-Man: Homecoming  Avengers: Age of Ultron   Avengers: Age of Ultron
  Avengers: Age of Ultron Ant-Man Captain America: The First Avenger
 Thor Iron Man 3 Ant-Man
 Iron Man 3 Thor Iron Man 3
 Thor: The Dark World  Thor: The Dark World  The Incredible Hulk
  The Incredible Hulk  Iron Man 2 Thor
Captain America: The First Avenger Captain America: The First Avenger  Iron Man 2
 Iron Man 2 The Incredible Hulk Thor: The Dark World

3 Comments Add yours

  1. You have an interesting order of preference. I wrote a similar article, although, almost every spot doesn’t agree with yours. That’s why Marvel is brilliant. Nobody can definitively say ‘this is their best film’.
    You can read my article here, if you’d like: https://thegeekycriticblog.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/ranking-all-17-films-in-the-mcu-from-the-best-to-iron-man-2/

  2. Great list. Somewhat similar for me, and given how comparable several of these films are to one another in level of how great they are, you did a great job of ranking.

    For me personally, I think Thor: Ragnarok definitely stole the number one spot. As far as film quality, it’s completely on par with GotG and Avengers for me, however, the redeeming of Loki and his total bad-assness is part of what skyrocketed it above for me. I just found helping round out his character and bring him back just took it to the next level.

    Plus, they finally got rid of Thor’s scraggly hair.

  3. bengarry says:

    Thank you! In a year’s time I’ll probably want to change it but I think that’s just the nature of something like this.

    In my mind, the top 4 are all close. I’ll be interested to see if Ragnarok is good to rewatch – that’s the main thing that counts against the likes of Guardians 2 and Doctor Strange for me.

    And I have to admit, the new look Thor did work very well!

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