The Marvel Cinematic Universe has provided not only some of the best superhero films I’ve ever seen, but some of my favorite movies of all time, period. It’s hard to rank them, but here is every MCU film ranked from worst to best.
Before 2008’s Iron Man, there were some solid superhero films, such as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, the first two X-Men movies, and the criminally underrated Batman Begins. However, Marvels Studios’ Iron Man truly was the starting point for the future of superhero movies as we know it. Almost 14 years later, and so much has happened inside of this universe already. However, it seems it’s only getting started with so many more stories to tell.
Specifically speaking, 2021 introduced a number of new characters and stories in both new films and the Disney+ shows. There’s so much more to look forward to as well, which has me incredibly excited and anticipating everything that’s to come. For now, with 2021 coming to a close and 2022 on the horizon, here’s my ranking of every MCU film so far. There’s still plenty more coming, which is exciting, and maybe one day, about five, 10 years down the line, I’ll update this list with the rest of the other movies.
Before we get started, let it be known I find at least some sort of enjoyment in most of these films. Some are worse than others, of course, and my list may differ from yours, which is totally fine. Films are meant to be subjective. That being said, I think the first couple of ones at the bottom of the list are unanimously considered some of the worst the MCU has offered. Anyway, let’s begin.
27. Iron Man 2 (May 7, 2010)
I think we agree it was going to be a challenge to top Iron Man since it was such a well-crafted and entertaining origin story for Tony Stark. Sometimes, this is the case for sequels, that being they end up being worse than the original. Then again, there are many other examples of sequels that are better than the first film. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Although I enjoyed some elements of Iron Man 2, such as the humor, the introduction Don Cheadle’s War Machine and Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Robert Downey Jr’s masterful portrayal, and the epic racing scene where Whiplash first appears, the movie spends a lot of time setting up an ultimately anti-climactic and dull finale. It also doesn’t introduce any new ideas or build on the creativity and originality the first film established. Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko/Whiplash isn’t all too convincing as well, and is probably one of the worst MCU villains to date. Of course, as mentioned, Iron Man is sort of lightning in a bottle, I just wish it could’ve happened again with its sequel. Sadly, it didn’t.
26. Thor: The Dark World (Nov. 8, 2013)
I’m one of the few who doesn’t think Thor: The Dark World is terrible. In fact, I do think it does a few good things. I truly believe it’s a great continuation of Thor’s story as a character and how he’s grown with everything going on. He goes through many trials in this sequel, including Jane Foster hosting the Aether and potentially being an overwhelmingly powerful weapon in the wrong hands, his mother’s death, and still dealing with Loki’s shenanigans. But, it suffers from familiar problems, that being the lack of a compelling villain in Malekith and heavily underutilizing one of the greatest MCU villains, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Again, it isn’t completely unwatchable and it has its entertaining moments, but ultimately, it doesn’t live up to its potential and doesn’t offer many epic moments. Looking back on it, considering the epic showdowns we’ve seen Thor partake in with many of the movies that followed it, it really doesn’t hold up.
25. The Incredible Hulk (June 13, 2008)
I liked The Incredible Hulk when it first released. Thinking back on Ang Lee’s iteration of this character, I thought it was a massive improvement in almost every facet. I enjoyed the Hulk’s design much more, as well as Edward Norton’s portrayal of Bruce Banner. I also think Tim Roth’s Abomination is sort of underrated. I remember absolutely loving the final battle between him and the Hulk since it was brutal and action-packed. Despite those enjoyable moments, it does virtually nothing else interesting. As discussed, I think Norton is great in the role, but the human moments aren’t very great and don’t add much to the overall film. It spends a lot of wasted time with the humans rather than having more of the Hulk in action. If I remember correctly, I believe he only transforms into the Hulk twice in the entire film. I could be wrong, of course, but being called “The Incredible Hulk” and only being the Hulk for maybe 30 minutes of screen time isn’t enough. Nonetheless, it gets plenty of hate, and although some of it may be warranted, I still found it entertaining.
24. Thor (May 2, 2011)
It may be one the weakest origin stories in the MCU, but it still has a ton of great moments. By far, its greatest achievement is introducing the audience to Chris Hemsworth as Thor. Not only does he have the physicality and overall look based on the comics, but he brought a specific charisma and expertise to the character, which I don’t think anyone else could’ve done, and, as we can all see, he’s only gotten better with time. There are a number of great action sequences, and I enjoyed the romance with Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster. The best part is this is the first time we see Tom Hiddleston as Loki, which is absolutely masterful. As good as Hemsworth is, this movie is mostly a coming out party for Hiddleston, who goes on to be a fan-favorite character in the entire MCU. As good as the characters are (Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Idris Elba as Heimdall, and so on), the movie doesn’t do anything very memorable or special. Of course, it has its moments, but most of the fight choreography isn’t all too impressive. The only other redeeming quality is the story it tells. Sure, it’s better than its sequel, but can’t compete with what comes after it.
23. Ant-Man and the Wasp (June 25, 2018)
For the most part, I really enjoyed Ant-Man. I thought it was a solid introduction of Scott Lang and a great portrayal by the ageless wonder, Paul Rudd. As for its sequel, it’s also very enjoyable, but other than digging a bit deeper into the quantum realm and how its exploration may affect future MCU films, as well as Evangeline Lilly getting more time to shine as the Wasp, I don’t think it improves on anything else the first one established. Some of the humor lands, but some of it doesn’t as well. I also felt it was a bit disjointed at times and didn’t have a very convincing villain to help carry the weight. Regardless, it’s still a good time and it’s a proper setup for many of the big event stories that followed it. This doesn’t need much mentioning, but Rudd is still fantastic as well.
22. Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1, 2015)
Although still thoroughly entertaining at times, this is, by far, the weakest of the team-up/event/Avengers films. On premiere night, with emotions running high, I loved it. But, with subsequent watches, I’ve realized how many flaws it really has and how much of a downgrade it was compared to Marvel’s Avengers, especially when considering how many narratives it was trying to forcibly push on the audience. For one, the Natasha and Bruce love story never necessarily worked for me, mainly because I don’t think their chemistry was very strong. I think I’m in the majority with this thought process since this relationship was cut short in the films to follow. It mostly served as a distraction to the more crucial events happening in the movie as well. I thought James Spader was incredibly menacing as the voice of Ultron, delivering a very unique and terrifying voice. But, Ultron was nowhere near the threat I thought he would be. I mean, there’s no chance Captain America can actually go blow to blow with him and find some success. On the bright side, as mentioned, it does have its redeeming qualities, such as the introduction of Vision, Wanda, and Pietro, although his appearance is short-lived. The fight sequences are insanely epic too. Overall, I still enjoy it, but the flaws are obviously apparent.
21. Captain Marvel (March 8, 2019)
This movie received plenty of hate for a number of reasons, mainly because some Marvel fandom is insufferable and can’t stand the fact that there’s a female superhero who so happens to be one of the strongest beings in the entire MCU. I do agree some of Brie Larson’s line delivery was a bit awkward and poor in the movie, and some of the set pieces and special effects were borderline lazy and unimpressive. As far as everything else, I believe it works just fine. Carol Danvers is a worthy addition to this universe and brings an interesting depth to it all. I think the de-aged Nick Fury brought plenty of comedic relief, and the introduction of the Skrulls, along with the twist that comes along with it, is fantastic. I’m looking forward to seeing more of their story, as well as The Marvels, which will have Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, the return of Teyonah Prince as Monica Rambeau, and will continue Captain Marvel’s story.
20. Black Widow (July 9, 2021)
Other than the Disney+ shows, Black Widow was the first Marvel film to bring fans back to theaters, and it was a little over two years, to the day, since the last film anybody saw prior to its release, which was Spider-Man: Far From Home in 2019. I, for one, was incredibly excited for it mainly because I felt it would be a proper sendoff Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. Thankfully, I think it is, and it expands more on her story any other film with her ever does. It does have its problems, mainly being how it’s more of a setup for the next character to take up the mantle, that being her sister Yelena, played by Florence Pugh, rather than focusing more on Natasha herself. Taskmaster was immensely disappointing as well, and I didn’t like the direction they decided to go with the character at all. On the bright side, the action sequences are great, and the characters are very likable, especially David Harbour’s Red Guardian.
19. Ant-Man (June 29, 2015)
I still wonder what an Edgar Wright-directed Ant-Man would’ve turned out to be like. He’s a very gifted filmmaker and it’s unfortunate things turned out the way they did with Marvel Studios. However, they found a worthy replacement in Peyton Reed, who was able to craft a comedic, fun time with the character. As mentioned earlier, it was the MCU debut of Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, and we already know how entertaining he can really be. The special effects were great, especially when you see him shrink down to size and perform different stunts, as well as some of the other characters. Easily, the biggest standout is Michael Pena when he starts telling his stories. Unfortunately, this is yet another movie that suffers from having a very weak villain. I’m a big fan of Corey Stoll, but he isn’t given much to work with as Yellowjacket. One of, if not, the most forgettable villains in the entire MCU. Other than that, I can always watch Ant-Man for a good time.
18. Iron Man 3 (May 3, 2013)
I walked out of Iron Man 3 with a bunch of mixed thoughts. The biggest disappointment, for me, was the Mandarin storyline and how they made him out to be an absolute joke. I also didn’t enjoy how Tony Stark spent the majority of the movie being, well, just Tony Stark. However, I’ve seen it a few times since its release and my thoughts about have changed a bit, and for the better. For one, I think it’s a great dive into Tony’s mental health and personal life. Seeing all he’s gone through with the “Battle of New York” and how he almost sacrifices himself to save the world, and so on, it’s a great character study about a very flawed man who, despite some ego issues, is really starting to come to terms about who he really needs to be and starts focusing on the more important stuff in life. Some of the actions sequences are also very memorable and overall, it’s still a good Iron Man movie filled with a number of humorous moments. I do understand why some can’t stand it, either, particularly because of some of the issues I’ve already mentioned, as well as typical villain problems with Guy Pierce’s Aldrich Killian.
17. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5, 2017)
After seeing the near-perfect Guardians of the Galaxy, my excitement for Vol. 2 was through the roof. For the first hour of the film, however, I found myself trying to get into it and I was starting to lose interest. It was a big mess at the start, jumping from one storyline to the next while trying to juggle a bunch of different characters and their arcs. Thankfully, once Kurt Russell’s Ego, the Living Planet, is introduced and it shifts to the main plot line, it all starts to stabilize and come together. There are a variety of underlying themes this sequel touches on which are both relatable and important to me. In reality, it’s a devastating father-son story and it has a strong revelation about realizing who’s been there for you all along, regardless of the rocky relationship you may have. Despite that, some of the humor lands, some of it doesn’t. At its core though, what holds this all together is the main characters and their bond. Speaking on Ego again, I thought he was a fantastic villain and one of the best the MCU has ever produced, so there’s that.
16. Marvel’s Eternals (Nov. 5, 2021)
This is yet another example of a movie people shredded for some reason, but I actually really enjoyed it. I mean of course, I get some of the criticism it received and it does make sense why there were some dislikes and problems with it. The outrage was completely unnecessary and uncalled for, though. I really enjoyed the characters in this movie and I thought the world building, along with the backstory for these characters, from a supernatural sense, was phenomenal. The main issues I have with it is how it tried very hard to let the audience know it’s still part of the MCU by trying to tie it to a variety of events, both from actual history, and things that have happened in the MCU. I mean, nobody really asked for this, and they don’t necessarily have to be involved in every little detail. I understand trying to explain where they were the whole time, but it was a bit much and at times, it traded substance for exposition. Besides that, the action scenes were outstanding and visually pleasing. I hope we get to see more of these characters in the future.
15. Doctor Strange (Oct. 20, 2016)
Prior to Doctor Strange, there were some films that dabbled with some darker, borderline horror elements, including the vision Tony has in Age of Ultron. Doctor Strange doesn’t fully tap into it, but there are definitely some horror vibes in it, and it’s thanks to the director involved, Scott Derrickson, who is no stranger to the genre. This was a very unique film and unlike anything we’ve seen in the MCU up until that point. In many ways, it was a trip to watch because of all the mind-bending aspects involved in it, such as the changing landscapes, all the different spells, and even the characters in it. For one, Tilda Swinton plays a remarkable Ancient One, even though they should’ve opted for more proper representation. Then again, I can’t knock her for the work she did, especially considering how different she is compared to anything we’ve seen in the MCU. Wong is also a worthy addition to this universe and his comedic timing is unmatched. My favorite character was probably Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Baron Mordo, however. I loved the change that happens inside of him when he starts to see things for what they really are. In the end, he really does become sort of a villain and you can’t blame him for it. Some things didn’t necessarily work for me, and it’s mostly some of the storyline aspects being a bit underwhelming. But, it’s still a great film overall and I can’t wait to see what happens with Into the Multiverse of Madness.
14. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7, 2017)
This wasn’t the introduction to the MCU’s Spider-Man, but it was the first solo film in this universe, and it was a big success, in my opinion. Obviously, it has its issues, and most of it deals with how it handles the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. It isn’t your typical Spider-Man story, and I can get behind the belief that it’s a great superhero film rather than a good Spider-Man one. Part of it is because many people believe it relied too much on Tony Stark/Iron Man having too much of an influence in his decisions and how he behaved as a superhero. Of course, I get he played a mentor role in Peter’s life, so I didn’t see it as much of a big problem, but I do understand the criticism. I still think it does a fine job in showcasing how he overcomes the trials that come his way. What works the most, for me, is Micheal Keaton’s menacing portrayal of Vulture, along with his friendships and relationships with Jacob Batalon’s Ned, Laura Harrier’s Liz Allen, and Zendaya’s MJ. The comedy is definitely there as well.
13. Iron Man (May 2, 2008)
No matter what you think of this film, and I’m sure it holds a special place in everybody’s heart, Iron Man is fully responsible for kickstarting what we now know as the MCU. There were some fantastic superhero films to come before, but nothing really influenced the future of this genre like Iron Man. Many were skeptical about the casting of Robert Downey Jr. and what Jon Favreau was going to be able to create, but obviously, it ended up working out better than any of us could’ve ever imagined. It’s an expertly crafted origin story with an incredibly charismatic Tony Stark thanks to RDJ, and Jeff Bridges is highly underrated as Obadiah Stain. I still go back and watch it from time to time just to remember where it all started and to see how far it’s come.
12. Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016)
This is one of the better event movies and it holds up incredibly well. Before tackling the Avengers series, the Russo Brothers got a little warm up, if you will, with Civil War by creating an interesting and compelling story about certain characters who have more in common than they realize, at the end of the day. The conflicts each of them have with each other, as well as internally, is on full display here, which puts them at odds with one another about who they are and what they should be doing. If there is a gripe I have with it, it’s all the twists and turns they throw at you in order to properly develop certain storylines. I do feel some of it gets lost in everything going on and doesn’t always stick the landing as it was intended to do. However, most of it works incredibly well. The action scenes are some of the best I’ve seen in the MCU, the problems they have, as a group, feel real and genuine, and ultimately, I think it brings all of them closer together in the long run. Plus, it is the introduction of both the late Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa/Black Panther and Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man, which have proven to become staples in this universe. In retrospect, I even respect Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo a bit more, especially after seeing The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
11. Thor: Ragnarok (Nov. 3, 2017)
As of right now, Thor: Ragnarok is the definitive Thor film. Of course, I still enjoyed the first one, and the sequel obviously has its problems, but I think Ragnarok finally got this character right, at least in terms of the kind of universe they’ve established with the MCU. Before Ragnarok, I wasn’t entirely sure what Marvel Studios had planned for him and I couldn’t really get a good read on the kind of character he was going to end up being. Ragnarok completely changed that and it’s probably thanks to the wacky, genius mind of director Taika Waititi. Thor has turned into more a comedic character now and he has shown glimpses of his comedic prowess in the past. Credit has to be given to Chris Hemsworth, who’s simply fantastic as the character. Ragnarok is an outrageously fun time from beginning to end, even though it could be a bit uneven in tone, and not every joke lands, especially in certain scenes where I feel these jokes shouldn’t have been utilized in the first place. Overall though, it’s hilarious and one of the funniest films the MCU has to offer.
10. Captain America: The First Avenger (July 19, 2011)
The First Avenger is one of my favorite origin stories in the entire MCU. We’re all introduced to a character who eventually becomes one of the leaders and an absolute fan-favorite. I’ve always appreciated and loved what Captain America stands for, and Chris Evans was the perfect actor to bring this iconic superhero to life. The film isn’t prone to getting lost in some of its exposition and, at times, it feels like a montage with all the war scenes and fighting sequences. However, it’s a proper introduction to Steve Rogers and what he had to overcome. Ultimately, it shows the person you are on the inside is far more important than your physical appearance, which is why he was able to partake in the “Super Soldier” experiment. Thrown in a phenomenal cast with the introduction of Hayley Atwell’s Agent Peggy Carter and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes, as well as a typical Tommy Lee Jones performance, which is always great, and you get a cast you can get behind. I can’t forget the extremely underrated Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull, who often gets overlooked when talking about the MCU’s greatest antagonists.
9. The Avengers (May 4, 2012)
Other than Iron Man, this may be the most important film in the MCU. Prior to this, other than the X-Men, there was never a superhero team-up movie of this caliber. Despite the success of Iron Man and The First Avenger, a lot was riding on this movie to work out since I truly feel it shaped the rest of the MCU as we know it. None of the other Avengers films and the rest of the other event films would’ve worked if not for The Avengers. This set the standard for all the other massive movies to follow and it’ll forever hold a special place in my heart. Loki is fantastic in this role and he does a great job setting up the conflict between the team. This is where the personalities of both Steve and Tony begin to clash, which obviously sets up future issues between the two. We also get the debut of Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/Hulk, which he absolutely shines in. Seeing all of these iconic superheroes fight side by side to save the world is something I will never forget experiencing for the very first time. It’s not flawless, but it’s pretty close to it.
8. Spider-Man: Far From Home (July 2, 2019)
I’ve recently become aware that Far From Home gets a lot of hate, but I’ve never quite understood why. I mean, sure, I guess I can also understand the criticism about it not being the greatest Spider-Man story, just a great superhero film overall. But, kind of disagree with that sentiment. I truly feel this is where Peter really starts to mature into who he’s supposed to be as Spider-Man. I think we tend to forget he’s still a teenager in these first two movies and still has a long life ahead of him being the web-slinger. Another common criticism is how it relies too heavily on Jake Gyllenhaal’s Quentin Beck/Mysterio, but he’s fantastic as the villain, so I don’t quite get it. Regardless, I absolutely love Far From Home and I still stand on it being one of the best Spider-Man films. The visuals are, at times, mind-blowing, especially when Mysterio is creating an illusion to throw Peter off. It’s probably my favorite scene in the entire movie. I think his relationships with everyone also grow exponentially in this film, specifically with Zendaya as MJ, who only gets better and better in this role.
7. Black Panther (Feb. 16, 2018)
This may be the most culturally significant superhero film ever released, especially for the African-American community. Technically, the fandom still had black superheroes such as Blade, the Falcon, and so on. There was just something different about Black Panther, however. A superhero film about a black character has never been made with such a grand scale. After seeing the late Chadwick Boseman’s introduction in Civil War, I knew Marvel Studios and director Ryan Coogler were cooking up something groundbreaking with the world of Wakanda. Sure enough, it delivered in ways I couldn’t even imagine. Boseman was born to play this role and it still hurts he’s gone so soon. The world of Wakanda was beautiful to look at and it’s the kind of world-building that changes the landscape of superhero movies as we know it. The cast was phenomenal, including Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, and one of the best villains of all time, Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan. Most importantly, it sends a very important, genuine, and relatable message. Some of the CGI was a bit wonky at times, but it can’t come close to taking away from the overall spectacle.
6. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Sep. 3, 2021)
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. I mean, of course, I was excited for it not only because it’s a new MCU film, but it’s an entirely new character making his debut in this universe. The trailers did enough to hype me up for it and surely enough, it delivered in ways I didn’t expect. I can honestly say it has the best action I’ve ever seen in the entire MCU and I’m sure many others fans who have seen it feel the same way. Technically, Shang-Chi is considered the master of Kung Fu, so I wasn’t expecting anything less in that department. Despite that, it’s also everything else which makes it an overall well-rounded film. The story is compelling enough to grab at you from the very start, the new places and set pieces are locations we haven’t been introduced to yet in the MCU, and the cast really brings the best out of these characters, balancing the different kinds of themes and tones it’s trying to throw at you. It’s a perfect blend of everything to make it an extremely entertaining experience. It’s one of the best origin stories in the entire universe, if not the best.
5. Avengers: Infinity War (April 27, 2018)
Infinity War is a spectacular event film. We all know this. But, even though everyone probably has the same opinion, the reason why you watch this movie is because of Thanos himself. Regardless of all of the other heroes who are in it, essentially, this is Thanos’ movie. It’s actually one of the first films in this universe where the villain is actually the main character, and it’s all the better for it. Thanos is probably the greatest on-screen villain of all time and the build up to his inevitable arrival was well worth the wait. Josh Brolin masterfully brings this character to life with precision, care, and dedication. The best part is everyone else is pretty fantastic in it as well, especially Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange, and this is probably the best Chris Hemsworth has ever been as Thor. There are some memorable moments in this movie which I’ll never forget, such as Captain America, along with Natasha and the Falcon, showing up to aid Vision and Wanda against two of the children of Thanos, as well as Thor’s arrival during the “Battle of Wakanda.” Of course, and probably one of the most memorable moments in the history of the MCU, the infamous snap from Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet. You can hear a pin drop in the theater when fan-favorite characters starting turning to dust. The Spider-Man/Iron Man scene still hurts till this day. It’s one of the best superhero movies of all time.
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4, 2014)
The Winter Soldier was one of the first films in the MCU where it felt like you didn’t need to be a fan of these properties in order to enjoy it. The Winter Soldier is a film anybody can sit down and watch, especially fans of crime-thrillers such as the Mission: Impossible series and the Bourne trilogy. You can see how this movie is inspired by these kinds of films since once it gets going, it’s an absolute thrill ride and you aren’t sure what’s going to happen next. Aside from that, it also feels very grounded and it doesn’t get caught up with all the supernatural situations we’re used to seeing. The fight choreography is some of the best I’ve seen in the MCU, especially the fight scenes with Captain America and the Winter Soldier himself. The story stays consistently fluid and never runs out of steam or loses its track trying to push other narratives. This is probably Scarlet Johansson’s best performance as Black Widow as well. It’s the best Captain America movie out of the entire trilogy, by far, and it’s one superhero movie I will always sit down and watch whenever it’s on or if I feel like watching it all over again.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug. 1, 2014)
Ultimately, this is a movie about a group of rejects or misfits who never really fit in with anyone else, except each other. I truly believe this is why it was a big hit with everyone who saw it, including myself. Prior to watching Guardians of the Galaxy, I had no prior knowledge about their comic book arcs and what they were really about. I wasn’t all too familiar with James Gunn’s work either, but I was a fan of the casting and all the concept art I saw prior to the first trailer being released. Once I saw the first trailer, I was completely on-board and ready to experience something completely unique and different in the MCU. Not only did it surpass my expectations in every way, it’s still a movie I see at least once a year and it’s one of the most enjoyable superhero films of all time. Chris Pratt brings a ton of depth to Peter Quill/Star-Lord with his comedic timing, witty dialogue, and underrated leadership qualities. Zoe Saldana really gives off the warrior, no-fun attitude vibe at first, but you easily warm up to who she is after learning a bit more about her. Bradley Cooper is phenomenal as the voice of Rocket Raccoon, and I can’t really see anyone else playing him. Dave Bautista as Drax is literally perfect casting and I think he really captures the kind of character Gunn had in mind all along. Most importantly, there’s Groot. Groot doesn’t say much (just “I Am Groot,” obviously) but he steals every scene he’s in and is the pulse of this entire film. It has its villain problems since Ronan is a bit underwhelming, but from start to finish, you’ll find it very difficult not to be overjoyed with what you’re watching.
2. Avengers: Endgame (April 26, 2019)
In my opinion, this is the most significant film in the entire MCU. It’s culmination of 11 years of films in this universe coming together to tell a superhero story for the ages. Endgame is simply spectacular in every sense of the word. Sure, it has its fan service and it spends a lot of time developing certain characters and storylines without having the same action Infinity War brought us. But, this is why I appreciate this movie so much in the first place. It’s the end of the line for some of these characters, such as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Steve Rogers/Captain America, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, and even Thanos (at least for now). Specifically speaking, this is the best Robert Downey Jr. has ever been in this role and it’s a fitting conclusion after all the incredible work he has lent himself to for that decade of superhero awesomeness. This has some of the most epic and memorable scenes/moments in the entire MCU, including the trinity (Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor) facing off against Thanos, Steve finally carrying Mjolnir, and the return of everyone who got dusted during the snap returning, with Cap uttering the line “Avengers assemble.” Endgame handles its story and characters with care and honor, respectfully paying tribute to what came before it, but also opening up a number of possibilities for the future of this universe and I’ll forever be grateful to have had the chance to experience it.
1. Spider-Man: No Way Home (Dec. 17, 2021)
This may be a controversial pick to some due to claims of recency bias and the hype still not calming down. However, I’ve thought about this long and hard, and before this, Endgame was obviously my favorite film in the entire MCU, but No Way Home really pulled off what I once thought would never happen. It truly is a love-letter to Spider-Man fans across the world and it does it with grace, precision, and honor. Of course, it’s full of fan service, but it’s one of the few films where I can say the fan service is handled properly and not just for the sake of being in there in order to please the viewers and the fandom. Willem Dafoe is an absolute revelation in the film and I honestly believe he’s better than he is in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. The rest of the villains all have a purpose which is believable as well. Tom Holland is the absolute best he’s ever been as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, being tested like he’s never been and going through dark, emotional struggles we haven’t seen him experience just yet. We’ve seen Holland grow up as this character right before our eyes and I’m truly hoping this isn’t the last we see of him. As of right now, it stands as my favorite MCU film of all time, even though this list is always subject to change with subsequent watches and new films releasing.