As 2016 draws to a close and big news is less likely to drop, we here at MCUExchange are desperate for content want to take some time and look back on the last 8 years of Marvel Studios, and give our definitive ranking of the 16 films that currently make up the MCU. So we asked all of our writers to make their lists and averaged out all the scores to see how things turned out.


14) The Incredible Hulk

Average Rank: 12.9

Best Rank: 10

Worst Rank: 14

The Incredible Hulk is a perfect example of a movie that’s just fine. Seeing it probably won’t make your day, but it won’t ruin it either. It’s the Applebee’s of movies. Between the fact that it came out during the infancy of the MCU, starred an actor who was later recast, and featured a character whose distribution rights are tied up at Universal, it’s really no wonder that The Incredible Hulk is the one MCU movie that doesn’t really feel like it belongs in the same universe.


13) Iron Man 2

Average Rank: 12.5

Best Rank: 10

Worst Rank: 14

While The Incredible Hulk suffered because it didn’t feel enough like part of the MCU, Iron Man 2 had the opposite problem. Not only did it have to live up to high expectations set by its predecessor, it also had to do most of the heavy-lifting to set up for The Avengers. With the burden of introducing Black Widow, further explaining Fury’s mysterious “Avengers Initiative” and establishing a much larger presence for S.H.I.E.L.D., Iron Man 2 just didn’t have enough room to be great on its own. Still, it was a necessary stepping stone that led to much greater things, and for that we can be grateful.


12) Thor: The Dark World

Average Rank: 12.3

Best Rank: 9

Worst Rank: 14

For me personally, Thor: The Dark World is the only movie that has more bad elements than good ones. While the above-mentioned The Incredible Hulk is forgettable and a bit bland, it also has a fantastic finale fight and great performances from just about everyone involved. The same cannot be said for Thor: The Dark World. While many of Marvel’s films suffer from weak villains, Malekith the Dark Elf is by far the worst offender. Between that and the decision to make Jane Foster’s role in the story even more prominent despite Natalie Portman‘s obvious lack of interest, Thor: The Dark World was definitely a disappointment. Still, more Loki is always a good thing, and Frigga’s death and consequent funeral, is a solid contender for the most beautiful scene in the MCU. On the other hand, Darcy.


11) Iron Man 3

Average Rank: 10.2

Best Rank: 5

Worst Rank: 13

Despite its many flaws and a twist that angered a lot of fans, Shane Black delivered a mostly fun take on the Iron Man franchise. For some people, the twist about The Mandarin alone is enough to hate this movie–though I have to admit to being a big fan of Trevor Slattery. Fans of The Nice Guys or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang probably had a good time at this movie, since it offered a few fun action scenes and plenty of clever dialogue. But a relatively weak story, a villain that angered some comic book fans, and the dual burden of having the expectations of a Iron Man sequel and the follow-up to The Avengers definitely hampered this movie’s potential.


10) Thor

Average Rank: 9.6

Best Rank: 7

Worst Rank: 11

While Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk kept the MCU mostly grounded, Thor was the first property to begin pushing the limits of how weird the MCU could be. One of the greatest aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been its patience; easing audiences into the more arcane aspects of its comic book roots at a pace even casual moviegoers can be comfortable with. The result is a fanbase made up of people like my parents, who have never read a comic in their life but still know what an Infinity Stone is. And Thor was the first step towards that reality, presenting a fantasy character in a relatively grounded universe in a way that made complete sense. Even though it’s fairly low on our list, I don’t have many negative things to say about Thor, since it was the first movie that made me really think that this whole crazy “multiple franchises existing in the same universe” thing could actually work.


9) Avengers: Age of Ultron

Average Rank: 9.3

Best Rank: 7

Worst Rank: 12

I have a sneaking suspicion that, years from now, we’ll look back on Avengers: Age of Ultron the same way we look back on Iron Man 2 now: a sequel to a fantastic movie that couldn’t quite stack up because it was setting up a future installment. In Iron Man 2‘s case, as mentioned above, that set-up was for The Avengers. In Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s case, the set-up is for Avengers: Infinity War, a movie that definitely needs plenty of backstory to be laid before it can deliver the goods. While Thor’s weird side quest to go talk to some water about space rocks was confusing, and the exact nature of what Vision is can be hard to pin down, they’re both necessary elements for future stories. And sure, Age of Ultron wasn’t the best possible sequel, but it was still tons of fun and is a mostly-satisfying follow-up to one of the best superhero team-ups of all time.


8) Captain America: The First Avenger

Average Rank: 7.7

Best Rank: 3

Worst Rank: 10

Captain America could easily be one of the most ridiculous characters in the MCU. Instead, he’s become the natural leader of the team and rivals Iron Man in terms of popularity. Captain America: The First Avenger managed to handle the character’s World War II origins and embrace their camp and cheesiness, while still treating Steve’s journey to become a hero seriously. Plus, it introduced us to Peggy Carter, which ought to be reason enough to bump it up a few places on anyone’s list.

doctor strange 4

7) Doctor Strange

Average Rank: 7.5

Best Rank: 4

Worst Rank: 13

Now we arrive at our first entry on this list from 2016, and coincidentally the halfway point as well. People often criticize the MCU for sticking to the “Marvel Formula,” and Doctor Strange is essentially a checklist of what that formula is. Smart dialogue, straightforward story, incredibly charismatic and well-developed hero facing off against a villain who is neither of those things. So is it formulaic? Sure. But the formula is a good one, and Marvel knows exactly how to make it work. And the phenomenal visuals and clever finale make Doctor Strange a very good, if not especially groundbreaking, installment in the MCU.


6) Ant-Man

Average Rank: 6.5

Best Rank: 3

Worst Rank: 12

Another fairly traditional, “formulaic” movie from Marvel, this one caught up in plenty of production problems and creative difficulties. Still, the final result was inventive and plenty enjoyable, and introduced us to Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, who has a natural charisma that makes him a great addition to the team, as we saw in Captain America: Civil War.


5) Iron Man

Average Rank: 4.8

Best Rank: 2

Worst Rank: 9

The one that started it all, and still many people’s favorite MCU movie to date, you really can’t say enough good things about Iron Man. The fact that it’s so far down this list is not a mark against Iron Man, but rather a testament to how damn good the next four films are. Robert Downey, Jr. just is Iron Man at this point, and the MCU is the most successful franchise in history, so it’s easy to forget a time when neither of those things were guaranteed. The fact that Iron Man holds up as well as it does 8 years and 13 movies later is a testament to just how great the MCU can be.


4) The Avengers

Average Rank: 3.6

Best Rank: 1

Worst Rank: 7

The culmination of Marvel’s Phase One, and the ultimate test of the crazy vision that began when Iron Man was released in 2008. I can still remember how triumphant I felt after watching The Avengers, thrilled that something I’d wanted for so long had actually happened, and it was every bit as awesome as I hoped. May 4, 2012: the day the nerds truly inherited the Earth.


3) Captain America: Civil War

Average Rank: 3.5

Best Rank: 1

Worst Rank: 7

Now we come to our second entry on this list from a film that came out this year, and boy was it a great one. Unlike the Iron Man trilogy, which started strong but had sequels which disappointed, Captain America: Civil War concludes one of the strongest superhero trilogies of all time. While The First Avenger was a solid, if not excellent, origin story, the two sequels it spawned have cemented Cap as arguably the MCU’s best hero.

What’s more, despite juggling an Avengers-sized cast, Civil War manages to feel personal, and is a conclusion to the story of the relationship between Steve and Bucky. And unlike the comic story with which the movie shares its name, both sides of the conflict that divides the Avengers are understandable. Oh yeah, and it also happened to be the best Spider-Man movie in over a decade.


2) Guardians of the Galaxy

Average Rank: 3.3

Best Rank: 1

Worst Rank: 7

For a movie that many predicted would be “Marvel’s first flop,” Guardians of the Galaxy ended up awfully high on our list. Undoubtedly the weirdest concept for a Marvel film to this day, Guardians of the Galaxy proved the incredible strength of the Marvel brand. The film showcased its ensemble incredibly well, bolstered by a talented cast and excellent writing.

Sure, the story is fairly formulaic, and the villain is the blandest one this side of Malekith. But the strengths of this movie outweigh the weaknesses to the point that the problems are negligible.


1) Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Average Rank: 2.2

Best Rank: 1

Worst Rank: 6

For the second year in a row, the number one spot on our list goes to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Cap’s sequel transcends the superhero genre–it’s essentially a Jason Bourne or Mission Impossible spy action movie, except it happens to be about a superhero. With more and more pundits shouting about “superhero fatigue” every year, Captain America: The Winter Soldier proves that a sustainable comic book genre is possible, as long as each movie strives to be something beyond a superhero movie as well. Despite being in the same universe, Captain America: The Winter Soldier doesn’t at all feel like it belongs in the same genre as, say, Guardians of the Galaxy, because both of those movies are “superhero movies” in name only.

But beyond its impact on the genre, Captain America: The Winter Soldier tops our list because it’s just a damn good movie. Superb action sequences, excellent writing, and a story that, just like Civil War, feels personal. From the opening sequence on The Lemurian Star to the final battle on the helicarriers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier delivers on every level. And while not every member of our staff ranked it at the very top of their list, it won our rankings by a landslide. With two of our top three movies being directed by The Russo Brothers, it seems safe to say that we have a lot to be excited about in Avengers: Infinity War.

That’s our updated rankings of all 14 MCU movies to date. What do you think? Think we should have put something higher or lower? Let us know, and put your own rankings, in the comments below!