Pop Culture

Ranking (All) the Marvel Comics Movies (UPDATED)

A new low.
A new low. 20th Century Fox
Avengers: Infinity War opened last weekend to a not quite infinite box office sum, nevertheless becoming the first movie to earn $250 million in its first three-day weekend, and earning a hefty $640 million worldwide. Certainly my positive review accounted for at least $48 of that.

More importantly (not really), Infinity War heralds the end of Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, meaning it's time to revisit our ranking of every Marvel movie ever, not just the MCU (though I'll condense that down at the end). The last time we did this was just prior to the last Avengers movie, Age of Ultron, and there have been quite a few new movies to sift through, several of which have nudged into the upper ranks.

And as a reminder, true believers, this is the definitive ranking of all 48 (...Jesus) Marvel movies released by the various studios: Disney, Sony (Spider-Man), Fox (X-Men, Fantastic Four). I'm also excluding anything released pre-1986 (sorry, 1944 Captain America serial) and those not released in U.S. theaters: Captain America (1990), The Fantastic Four (1994), Man-Thing (2005), and The Punisher (1989).

48. Fantastic Four (2015)
I'm a huge fan of Dr. Doom, one of the greatest comic book villains of all time. So of course (Toby) Kebbell portrays him not as a merciless dictator with supreme technical and sorcerous powers, but as a video game playing beardo with daddy issues (to be fair, the whole team has daddy issues). I also wouldn't be surprised if he ran the Latverian mens' rights community on Reddit.

47. Howard the Duck (1986)
46. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
45. Blade: Trinity (2004)
44. Daredevil (2003)
43. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)
42. Fantastic Four (2005)
41. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
40. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
39. Elektra (2005)
38. Iron Man 2 (2010)
37. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
36. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

35. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
I don’t have a lot to say about this, except you know you've lost the ball when even an 80s nostalgia whore like me won't buy in. Expectedly, the obligatory Weapon X appearance was the best part, but how do you waste Oscar Isaac like that?

34. Ghost Rider (2007)
33. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
32. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
31. The Punisher (2004)
30. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
29. Spider-Man (2002)
28. Hulk (2003)
27. Thor (2011)

26. Ant-Man (2015)
Formulaic, even for a Marvel movie, though his is a lighter, more overtly comedic effort than most MCU films, Guardians of the Galaxy notwithstanding, and (Edgar) Wright's influence is still all over the finished product.

25. X-Men: First Class (2011)
24. The Wolverine (2013)
23. X-Men (2000)

22. Doctor Strange (2016)
The effects are the closest most of us will get to tripping balls in a Disney movie outside of dropping acid and watching "Pink Elephants on Parade" on a YouTube loop.

21. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

20. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) I found the robo-psychotic Ultron hilarious (his reaction to accidentally amputating someone's arm is outstanding), not that there should have been any doubts about which way the character was going when James Spader was cast.

19. Blade (1998)
18. Punisher: War Zone (2008)
17. Iron Man (2008)
16. X2 (2003)
15. Blade II (2002)
14. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

13. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
It’s a tricky thing, because so much of what made the original GotG work was the relationships between these characters, and Gunn (still the only MCU director besides Joss Whedon who is the sole screenwriter of his own movies) wisely continues to emphasize this.

12. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
I was in France when CA:CW was released, and there’s probably a joke to be made in that (most likely by Mark Millar). The unofficial third Avengers movie featured some cool set pieces and introduced T’Challa, but this was the movie where America officially became sick of Bucky. Or maybe it's just me.

11. Deadpool (2016)
There's no looming threat to mankind, no multi-tiered plot linking two dozen movies, and no Infinity McGauntlet, just 100 or so minutes of arterial spray and dick jokes. Manage expectations accordingly.

10. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
9. The Avengers (2012)

8. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Director Taika Waititi succeeds in making Thor both relatable and relevant, and gives us the freakiest — and one of the best — movies in Marvel's ongoing juggernaut.

7. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
I didn’t see Homecoming in the theaters, but when I finally caught up with it I was absolutely delighted. In Tom Holland, we have the most relatable Peter Parker ever, combined with Michael Keaton’s timely and sinister baddie and the inimitable Marisa Tomei, who also has the best line of the movie.

6. Iron Man 3 (2013)
5. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

4. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
It’s as much about sacrifice as fisticuffs, and is as close an analog to The Empire Strikes Back as we're likely to get from the MCU. It's the sprawling culmination of a decade's worth of world-building as much it is a vehicle designed to ensure your butts are in your seats for the sequel.

3. Black Panther (2018)
Kudos to Coogler, Cole, Boseman, Nyong'o, Jordan, Rachel Morrison, Hannah Beachler, and everyone else involved for the finished product. Black Panther is a triumph, and it's this middle-aged, white reviewer's sincere wish that its success leads to many more stories to come.

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

1. Logan (2017)
Ladies and gentlemen, your new No. 1. Logan is everything we complain comic book movies aren’t: It’s contemplative and poignant, and there are depths to these characters only hinted at in earlier films.

And for those of you concerned with just the MCU movies:

19. Iron Man 2
18. Thor: The Dark World
17. The Incredible Hulk
16. Thor
15. Ant-Man
14. Doctor Strange
13. Captain America: The First Avenger
12. Avengers: Age of Ultron
11. Iron Man
10. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
9. Captain America: Civil War
8. The Avengers
7. Thor: Ragnarok
6. Spider-Man: Homecoming
5. Iron Man 3
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
3. Avengers: Infinity War
2. Black Panther

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar