The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the biggest franchise in the history of movies. That’s not just us being fans and making a lofty statement — it’s a legitimate fact. The MCU is the highest-grossing movie series in history and it’s not even close, with its $22.5 billion in worldwide ticket sales being more than double the total made by the Star Wars series and more than three times the total gross of the James Bond movies.
The movies in the franchise, which total 23 as of 2019, have also been remarkably well-received by critics. But even though nearly all of the movies have earned high marks from viewers, not all have been held in the same regard. So, we decided to rank the MCU movies based on scores given to each film by professional critics and regular audiences.
We let the ratings do the talking in our ranking of the MCU movies. To come up with our scores, we added each movie’s Rotten Tomatoes score to each movie’s IMDb score, giving us a total that shows what critics and audiences think of each movie, on average. Ties were broken by which movie had the most ratings on IMDb.
There were definitely some surprises when putting our list together, with some very popular films being left out of the top five. Keep reading to see where every MCU movie landed on the list.
23. ‘The Incredible Hulk’ (2008)
Every family has to have a black sheep and for the MCU, it’s definitely 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk.” It came out just a month after the first movie in the franchise, the wildly successful “Iron Man,” and it looked like a failure in comparison. Not only is “The Incredible Hulk” the lowest-grossing movie in the MCU, it also has the lowest scores at both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb. Its legacy is further hurt by the fact that star Edward Norton was replaced by Mark Ruffalo in the role of Dr. Bruce Banner/Hulk in all future films, making this one just feel like it doesn’t belong in the bunch.
22. ‘Thor: The Dark World’ (2013)
Along with “The Incredible Hulk,” this 2013 Thor flick is one of only two MCU movies that didn’t earn a “Certified Fresh” grade at Rotten Tomatoes. “Thor: The Dark World” was the second movie in Thor’s own series and got worse grades than his first outing, which also wasn’t one of the franchise’s best moments. This one’s grade of 67 percent at Rotten Tomatoes is tied for the worst of all 23 movies, and its mark of 6.9 out of 10 from IMDb users is also near that low mark.
21. ‘Iron Man 2’ (2010)
The first of many direct sequels in the MCU, “Iron Man 2” ended up grossing a little less than its 2008 predecessor and getting much weaker reviews. There’s a 20-point difference between the grades given to “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2” by critics at Rotten Tomatoes and nearly a full point from IMDb users, which is a significant difference with their system. The movie is important for introducing us to Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and for giving us Don Cheadle’s first performance as James Rhodes but mostly everything else was forgettable.
20. ‘Captain Marvel’ (2019)
There were three movies tied with the same score for this ranking on the list, so we ranked them in order of how many IMDb users had rated them. “Captain Marvel” took us back to the 1990s to give us the origin story of Carol Danvers, a former U.S. Air Force pilot who ended up with incredible powers after an explosion that also wiped her memory. Critics were more into “Captain Marvel” than audiences, based on the grades we checked, but it was a huge box-office success that grossed more than $1 billion worldwide in 2019.
19. ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ (2015)
This 2015 outing is by far the lowest-rated of the four movies to carry the “Avengers” banner. It was the second such film and fell well short of 2012’s “The Avengers” at the box office, but it still ranks as the fifth highest-grossing movie in MCU history. Critics and audiences just weren’t as wowed by “Age of Ultron,” with criticism being directed at how routine it felt, despite the over-the-top action it contained. At least it introduced us to Scarlet Witch and Vision, and that probably goes down as the movie’s most lasting impact on the franchise.
18. ‘Thor’ (2011)
As we mentioned, Thor’s first outing didn’t get much better grades than his second. In 2011, the MCU was finally starting to expand and “Thor” was its first non-Iron Man movie since 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk.” At Rotten Tomatoes, 78 percent of critics liked it, meaning it had a pretty solid reputation with the professionals, who praised its scope, sense of humor and the lead performance of Chris Hemsworth. It was the audience score of 7.0 at IMDb that held it down on the list.
17. ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ (2011)
Similar to “Thor,” IMDb users really haven’t cared for “Captain America: The First Avenger,” with it earning just a 6.9 out of 10 at that site, making it among the least-respected stories in the bunch. As you’ll see, the Captain America films have taken great leaps over the years but the 2011 original didn’t impress as many viewers as the sequels would. This film would be one of only two MCU movies to not gross at least $180 million in the U.S.
16. ‘Iron Man 3’ (2013)
Robert Downey Jr.’s third outing as Tony Stark was markedly better than his second. This was the first “part three” in MCU history and it showed how to successfully keep familiar characters interesting — especially with how it handled Stark and Pepper Potts — and how to keep the audience guessing. The villain of “Iron Man 3” was one of the most memorable in the entire franchise, which you’ll notice is another key to the success of these movies.
15. ‘Ant-Man’ (2015)
“Ant-Man” is one of only four MCU movies not to gross at least $200 million in the U.S. and it’s the only one to fall short of that mark since 2011. In addition to those tepid earnings, this outing also has a weak score from viewers at IMDb, despite a fantastic cast that includes Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas. Critics were kinder to this one, praising Rudd’s likable performance, as well as its lighthearted attitude and unique action scenes that played on Ant-Man’s ability to shrink himself to insect proportions.
14. ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ (2018)
Like its 2015 predecessor, 2018’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp” didn’t set any records for tickets sold or acclaim earned, but it was seen as an improvement on the first. This one gave Evangeline Lilly an even bigger role as the titular Wasp, fighting alongside Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man, and it also upped the ante with its action, especially when the hero uses his suit to make himself roughly the size of a building. Its $216 million gross in America was an improvement on the original but still makes it the lowest-grossing MCU outing since 2015.
13. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ (2017)
Everyone seems to love the Guardians of the Galaxy, and that’s clear from the grades and the earnings both movies in that series have earned so far. This second adventure for the ragtag group of alien misfits earned more than $863 million worldwide, which was even more impressive take than the 2014 original. All the main cast members returned, along with writer-director Sean Gunn, giving us even more of what we already loved. This sequel also let audiences get to know Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill even more personally — while also giving us so much Baby Groot and possibly the single best line in the entire MCU.
12. ‘Doctor Strange’ (2016)
When you hear people talk about their favorite MCU movies, “Doctor Strange” doesn’t seem to come up often. But it got solid scores from critics and viewers, putting it near the top half of the list. This origin story introduced us to Dr. Stephen Strange, a dimension-shifting wizard who worked as a surgeon before a car crash changed his life. Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as Strange was praised and the movie’s out-there visuals were also a source of glee for viewers. It also introduced us to Strange’s ally, Wong, who is one of the most likable characters in the whole franchise.
11. ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ (2017)
When Spider-Man finally joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, his first stand-alone movie in the historic franchise was eagerly awaited. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” was a cash cow, earning more than $880 million worldwide, which is a higher total than MCU classics like “Iron Man” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Critics heaped on the praise, giving it a 92% grade at Rotten Tomatoes, while IMDb users were slightly less excited, giving it a 7.4, which gives it the second-biggest gap between scores from the two sources.
10. ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ (2019)
The most recent MCU outing, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” got even more praise and made even more money than its predecessor. This one took Tom Holland’s Peter Parker all the way to Europe on a school trip, where he runs into catastrophic trouble, of course. “Far From Home” grossed more than $1 billion worldwide and MCU fans were thrilled to hear Spidey would be returning to the franchise again after a contract-negotiations scare.
9. ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ (2014)
While the first Captain America movie was a bit of a letdown to many, “The Winter Soldier” was seen as an incredible followup. This 2014 entry landed on our list of the best sequels in movie history and was the only MCU movie to do so. Critics and viewers both gave “The Winter Soldier” drastically better scores than “The First Avenger,” with praise being pointed toward its intense action sequences and its memorable twist in regards to its villain. However, Captain America would have an even better movie in him.
8. ‘Captain America: Civil War’ (2016)
Anyone who’s seen “Civil War” will tell you that it feels more like an Avengers movie than a Captain America movie. This one boasted a ton of stars, a two-and-a-half-hour runtime and had a storyline that carried some weight into the future of the entire MCU. It saw Captain America and Iron Man facing off in a battle of opposing ideals and it saw the MCU debuts of Spider-Man and Black Panther. “Civil War” would make more than $1.1 billion worldwide and is one of eight MCU movies to make at least $400 million in the U.S.
7. ‘Black Panther’ (2018)
No movie in the MCU earned more critical acclaim than 2018’s “Black Panther.” Its score of 97 percent at Rotten Tomatoes is the best of the franchise, and it’s the only superhero movie to ever be nominated for best picture at the Oscars and the only MCU movie to ever win an Oscar. However, its score of 7.3 at IMDb gives it the widest chasm between the two sources of any movie in the franchise. “Black Panther” was a massive phenomenon, grossing more than $700 million in America alone, making it the second-highest-grossing movie in the MCU.
6. ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (2018)
“Infinity War” was edged out by “Black Panther” as the highest-grossing movie of 2018, but this Avengers flick got the edge when it came to a combined viewer score. This massive blockbuster was the third Avengers outing and it didn’t disappoint people who’d been waiting three years for it. It saw the huge collection of superheroes that audiences had spent 10 years rooting for all get together to take on a mighty foe in Thanos. The ending was famously a punch to the gut but that didn’t slow its $678 million domestic gross.
5. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (2014)
When people first heard the MCU was going to include a team of heroes most people hadn’t heard of whose ranks included a talking raccoon and a walking tree, many were skeptical. When they saw “Guardians of the Galaxy,” though, they were blown away. Arguably the most fun movie in the entire franchise, this helped launch Chris Pratt to superstardom and show how funny and irreverent a huge-budget comic book movie could be. “Guardians of the Galaxy” earned a 91-percent grade at Rotten Tomatoes and was the MCU’s highest-grossing movie of 2014.
4. ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ (2017)
After two lackluster movies under the Thor banner, MCU fans were wondering if lightning could ever strike for this hero’s series. All the doubt was erased in 2017, when “Ragnarok” changed the tone of the Thor movies to something much more fun, original and wild by taking him to a strange planet and teaming him with the Hulk. What made “Ragnarok” even more awesome was its meaty roles for women, including Cate Blanchett as Thor’s evil sister and Tessa Thompson as a hard-drinking warrior. This one was simply a blast for everybody.
3. ‘Iron Man’ (2008)
Here’s where it all started. In 2008, “Iron Man” kicked off what would become the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it did so in serious style. The film was a massive hit with critics and audiences, thanks largely to its huge attitude and a flawless performance from Robert Downey Jr. The effects may not look as good today as they did back then, but “Iron Man” still represents a very high mark for superhero adventures and for other MCU films to live up to. It’s the highest-scoring single-hero movie in the MCU, according to our system.
2. ‘The Avengers’ (2012)
While “Iron Man” established MCU, “The Avengers” planted its flag and made sure the franchise wasn’t going anywhere for a long time. It’s tough for audiences today to realize how unprecedented the first Avengers movie was, with its years of world-building and solo-character movies leading up to a single event where the heroes appeared together, but it was unlike anything that had ever been attempted. It paid off, as “The Avengers” earned rave reviews from critics and viewers and became by far the highest-grossing MCU movie until it was finally surpassed in 2018.
1. ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (2019)
It’s tough to get a conclusion right, but everyone seems to agree that “Avengers: Endgame” nailed it. The fourth Avengers movie was the final one to see the original core group of classic heroes — Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk — together on screen. Audiences couldn’t wait to see how it would resolve the devastating ending of 2018’s “Infinity War” and it did so wonderfully in a three-hour adventure that seemed to fly by. “Endgame” got stellar scores of 94 percent at Rotten Tomatoes and 8.6 out of 10 at IMDb, making it the clear leader of the pack. Its $858 million domestic gross is also the best in MCU history, making it an impossible act to follow.