Everyone should watch the best Marvel movies at least once… twice… okay, 10 times in their life! The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a vast and impressive cinematic achievement, but not all Marvel movies are equal (*cough* Thor: The Dark World *cough*). When it comes to marathoning the MCU, you might not have time to watch all the Marvel movies in chronological order, and if that’s the case, you definitely want to make sure you at least watch the best Marvel movies.
Picking the top 10 best Marvel movies of all time is harder than you think – and it gets harder every time they release a new film! That’s why we cheated, and put 11 movies in our list. While there are some obvious duds that don’t come anywhere near the top of the pile, the caliber of movies coming out of Marvel Studios is exceptionally high, with some even counted among the best space movies ever made.
So, when it came to narrowing the 26 (and counting) MCU movies down to just the 11 best… well, let’s just say, there were some ‘heated debates’ at Space.com HQ. And if you’re wondering why we’re only ranking the top 11 of the best Marvel movies, well, honestly, we just didn’t want to write about the Dark Elves.
The good news is that once you find out which films are the best Marvel movies, you can watch almost all of them on Disney+. Sadly, The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man movies aren’t on Mickey Mouse’s streaming service, but who knows, maybe they aren’t in our top 11 list of the best Marvel movies either? You’ll have to read on to find out. And if you don’t agree with our ranked list, please don’t @ us… who are we kidding? Of course you will.
Oh, and beware spoilers ahead for these movies. You’ve been warned…
11. The Avengers
- Release date: May 4, 2012
- Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson
No one thought it could be done, which sounds pretty ridiculous now we’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, but it’s true. When Marvel Studios announced it was going to make a superhero movie bringing together six different superheroes, only four of which had had their own solo movies at that point, everyone thought it would be a mess.
And yet, The Avengers is an almost perfect superhero film. The groundwork which had already been laid in previous Marvel movies definitely helped pave the way for the cinematic collaboration, allowing audiences to dive straight into the action without having to wonder who everyone was. Add to that the quippy one-liners the MCU was becoming known for and a heartfelt human story at its center, and The Avengers is definitely one of the best Marvel movies everyone should watch.
10. Thor: Ragnarok
- Release date: November 3, 2017
- Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett
Up until Ragnarok, Thor’s cinematic journey had been somewhat… crap. While the first Thor movie isn’t awful, it certainly isn’t great, and need we even mention Thor: The Dark World? There’s just something about the theatrical superhero who looks more at home in a Shakespeare play than the modern world that Marvel struggled with at first. But third time’s the charm, as they say.
With Ragnarok, director Taika Waititi took the genius move to lean into the comedy of the character rather than try and ignore it, which allowed for one of the funniest films in the MCU. Plus, Hulk came along for the ride, given he wasn’t allowed another solo film, as well as Loki and a whole host of awesome new characters (Valkyrie, Grandmaster, Korg, etc.) were introduced to the MCU. And who can forget one of the best villains in the MCU? The wicked and wonderful Hela.
9. Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Release date: July 7, 2017
- Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr.
By the time the MCU teamed up with Sony to do its take on Spider-Man, fans already felt like they’d had one too many versions of the web-slinging superhero. But boy were they glad that Marvel went ahead and introduced Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War anyway. Much of the success of the character is down to the perfect casting of Tom Holland and after a standout performance in Civil War, Homecoming was his first individual adventure.
While Peter Parker was dreaming about becoming an Avenger, director Jon Watts kept the superhero on track with a quintessential neighborhood conflict with villain the Vulture. Combined with a high school experience which could have been plucked from the mind of John Hughes and Homecoming is the MCU at its best; a painfully human story that just happens to involve superheroes.
8. Iron Man
- Release date: May 2, 2008
- Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow
It’s hard not to treat the first Iron Man film with a sense of overwhelming reverence given it was the very first MCU movie ever made. But trust us, it isn’t on our list of the top 11 best Marvel movies ever just because it was the first… it’s also a masterclass in superhero origin story filmmaking. It has everything you want; a charismatic but flawed hero at the center of a story about doing the right thing – and tons of gadgets.
Let’s not forget that one of the best things about Iron Man is the equipment! The Iron Man suit was and is one of the most badass weapons in the MCU and it was made all the better thanks to the brash but lovable man behind the wheel, Tony Stark. While the conflict between Iron Man and Iron Monger is pretty lowkey by today’s MCU standards, it fits the journey the superhero was on to become one of the biggest names in superhero cinema.
7. Captain America: Civil War
- Release date: May 6, 2016
- Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson
Captain America: Civil War, also known as The Avengers 2.5, saw everyone’s favorite superhero team split up over a disagreement about their own autonomy. On one side, you have Team Cap and on the other, you have Team Iron Man, and when the two teams collide, you get one hell of a superhero film. Civil War is one of the best Marvel movies because it took the conflict between Cap and Iron Man, which had been bubbling under the surface for a while, to a devastating new level – we saw the superhero family we’d come to know and love torn apart.
Much more entertaining than any fight with a common enemy, Civil War cut fans deep and would have long-running consequences for the future of the MCU. Plus, it introduced Black Panther who’s definitely one the best new superheroes in the MCU.
6. Black Panther
- Release date: February 13, 2018
- Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o
Speaking of Black Panther, his movie is definitely one of the best Marvel movies ever made too. The rich and colorful world of Wakanda makes a dazzling backdrop for the superhero’s solo outing as he returns home after the events of Civil War (and the death of his father) to become king. As you might expect, not everything goes to plan and one of the reasons Black Panther is one the best Marvel movies is because it has one of the best Marvel villains; Killmonger.
The fight for the throne is an action-packed and emotional story, which left fans desperate for more and cemented Black Panther’s position as one of the best new superheroes on the MCU scene.
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Release date: April 4, 2014
- Cast: Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johansson
It’s often been said that the reason MCU movies are so good is because they’re great comedy/action/thriller movies first, and superhero movies second. If that’s true, then Captain America: The Winter Soldier is definitely one the best spy movies ever made. Fresh off the back of defrosting and saving the world in The Avengers, Steve Rogers is continuing to adjust to the contemporary world when The Winter Soldier comes into his life.
The deadly assassin is more myth than man, but he starts a chain reaction that will lead to Cap’s entire world being turned upside down. Not only a pivotal movie in the MCU timeline, The Winter Soldier is also packed full of the most perfect action sequence you’ll ever see – that elevator scene! *chills*
4. Spider-Man: No Way Home
- Release date: December 15, 2021
- Cast: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch
Spoiler alert! Don’t read this if you want to dodge major spoilers… you have been warned… again.
By the time Marvel Studios teamed up with Sony for its take on Spider-Man fans already felt like they’d had one too many versions of the web-slinging superhero, but thanks to the perfect casting of Tom Holland and Jon Watts’ directorial vision, the Spidey trilogy has become one of the strongest in the MCU. And the best Marvel movie in that trilogy is without a doubt the most recent; Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Picking up directly after the events of Far From Home, Spider-Man is struggling with the fallout from Mysterio revealing his true identity. He tries to enlist the help of Doctor Strange to make everyone forget, but the spell goes wrong and causes the multiverses to collide. Bad news for them, but great news for fans as this means we get to see Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Mans visit the MCU, as well as some of the best villains from their films. With plenty of laughs between the three Spideys, but also some heartbreak as well, No Way Home isn’t just a great MCU film, it also makes the previous Sony Spider-Man films better too, which is why it’s one of the best Marvel movies of all time.
3. Avengers: Infinity War
- Release date: April 27, 2018
- Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans
Imagine The Avengers, but like… a 1,000% times bigger, and you’ve got Avengers: Infinity War. By this point in the MCU, there’s a whole host of new superheroes who put in an appearance in Infinity War to try and save everyone from Thanos and his deadly desire to bring balance to the universe.
To say this film could have been a mess is an understatement given how many characters, worlds, and weapons were involved but somehow the Russo brothers managed to bring it all together into a film which not only makes sense, but is actually one of the best Marvel movies out there. With equal parts action and heart, Infinity War raises the bar for the MCU and sets Endgame up to push it even further.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
- Release date: August 1, 2014
- Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace
A raccoon, a tree, Thanos’ daughter, a grief-stricken murderer, and a wise-cracking manchild might not seem like the best combination for a superhero team, but the Guardians of the Galaxy could give The Avengers a run for their money. While the concept for the first Guardians film didn’t exactly win non-comic book fans over at first (did I mention the raccoon?), it’s now widely considered one the best Marvel movies ever made. And that’s due in no small part to its ridiculous sense of humor and phenomenal soundtrack.
The Guardians aren’t afraid to have fun whilst saving the day – usually because they’re a bit iffy on whether they’re the heroes or villains depending on how they’re feeling at the time – and that’s why we love them. They might fight and snark at each other on a daily basis, but they’re a family. A highly dysfunctional and dangerous family.
1. Avengers: Endgame
- Release date: April 26, 2019
- Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans
So, what do we think is the best Marvel movie ever? Avengers: Endgame, of course. It might seem like somewhat of a predictable top pick given it’s the ultimate finale to the Infinity Saga, but there’s more to it than that. Putting aside the individual moments which make Endgame great (Cap wielding Mjölnir, that badass female superhero scene, finally hearing Cap say “Avengers, assemble”), it also introduces time travel to the MCU. Not only is this pretty mind-blowing in terms of what it means for future films, but it also meant we got to relive some of the key moments in the MCU before we said a tearful farewell.
And tearful it was, because we lost not one but three of the original Avengers in Endgame. While Cap got his happily ever after and Tony and Natasha died literally saving the world, none of the goodbyes were easy for fans, but they were perfect for those characters. Who’d have thought over 10 years after we first heard “I am Iron Man” in cinemas, that the MCU would be where it was when Tony uttered those iconic words for the last time? And the best thing about Endgame isn’t even the goodbyes, but the future it sets up as well. Cap passing the shield onto Falcon, Thor joining the Guardians, not to mention whatever Morgan Stark is going to grow up to do! Endgame is the perfect… well, ending to the Infinity Saga. And the perfect beginning to what comes next for the MCU. And that’s why it’s the best Marvel movie.
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