The MCU has produced some of the biggest blockbusters in movie history, claiming eight spots in the top ten highest-grossing superhero films of all time. Each new release has become an event, setting the internet ablaze as fans try to predict which beloved character will make a surprise appearance this time, while this same speculation only continues post-release as debate rages about where the franchise will head next.
Everyone has their favorite MCU movies, with each entry getting some degree of love from fans (except maybe Thor: The Dark World). Not all Marvel movies are created equal, but some break from the pack and stand as some of the best action movies of the 21st century. Letterboxd is a hub for fan reviews, and these films make up the highest-rated MCU movies on the app.
‘The Avengers’ (2012) — Rating: 3.7
The first gathering of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes on the big screen, The Avengers, is a fan’s dream. When Loki hatches a plan to enslave the Earth, Nick Fury calls upon Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye to save the day, who finally team up in all their quipping glory.
While it is not as impactful now due to everything that came after, The Avengers was a massive moment for the MCU. Everything had been building to this, and its resounding success meant Marvel could speed ahead confident that its method of introducing heroes in their films before bringing them together is a winner.
The Avengers is available to stream on Disney+.
‘Iron Man’ (2008) — Rating: 3.7
The movie that started it all, Iron Man marked the birth of the MCU. Focusing on the arrogant tech billionaire as a life-threatening situation turns him into the titular superhero, Robert Downey Jr. brilliantly plays one of Marvel’s smartest characters and helps elevate what was once considered a B-tier hero to headliner status.
As the beginning of the MCU, Iron Man introduced the franchise’s fundamentals to viewers: spectacular action, quip-heavy humor, and flawed but well-intentioned heroes. Along with The Dark Knightwhich was released in the same year, Iron Man revolutionized the superhero genre and set a template that is still followed today.
Iron Man is available to stream on Disney+.
‘Black Panther’ (2018) — Rating: 3.7
A superhero that became a phenomenon, Black Panther is one of the most popular movies in the MCU. Following T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) as he is forced to become the new king of Wakanda, the movie balances the character’s new plight of being a leader while also fighting his enemies as the Black Panther.
Black Panther is one of the most successful debut movies in the MCU, becoming the first (and so far only) MCU movie to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Like Iron Man, Black Panther brought the underrated character into the spotlight and made him a cultural icon.
Black Panther is available to stream on Disney+.
‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ (2022) — Rating: 3.8
Forced to carry on without the enormous talent of Chadwick Boseman, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a worthy successor to one of the MCU’s best movies, as it also pays tribute to the late star. Shuri (Letitia Wright) fills the boots left by her brother and fights to protect her homeland from Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejia), a new threat from the sea.
While Wakanda Forever offers all the blockbuster action that fans expect from a Marvel movie, it is also an examination of grief. As Shuri, her mother Ramonda, and their people mourn T’Challa; it is an obvious parallel to the cast and crew’s real-life grief surrounding Boseman’s death. It makes for one of the most personal and touching stories in the MCU.
Wakanda Forever is currently playing in theatres.
‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ (2014) — Rating: 3.8
Breaking away from the usual superhero mold, Captain America: The Winter Soldier plays more like an espionage thriller than a summer blockbuster. As Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) becomes more familiar with his new surroundings, he discovers a sinister plot that will change everything he knows about SHEILD
Teaming up with new friends while fighting old ones, Steve’s unwavering spirit is never broken as he fights for what he believes in. This strong sense of duty makes Captain America one of the best characters in the MCU and The Winter Soldier one of the finest middle movies to feature in a trilogy.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is available to stream on Disney+ and Starz.
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (2014) — Rating: 3.8
Another group of mostly unknown comic characters who became overnight stars thanks to their Hollywood treatment, Guardians of the Galaxy moves the MCU to space. When half-human Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finds himself arrested along with a ragtag group of various aliens, they reluctantly work together to save the universe.
Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the MCU’s most rewatchable movies, thanks to its charming cast. From stone-cold assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to foul-mouthed gunmaker Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), each character could carry their own film, but instead, they come together to create the best team in the MCU.
Guardians of the Galaxy is available to stream on Disney+.
‘Thor: Ragnarok’ (2017) — Rating: 3.9
While previous movies played into Thor’s stoic nature for laughs, Thor: Ragnarok truly harnesses the comedic potential of the character. When Asgard is invaded by Hela (Cate Blanchett), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must journey through space to find a way to defeat her while learning more about himself along the way.
Directed by Taika Waititi, Ragnarok is a showcase for his offbeat sensibilities while offering plenty of Marvel action. Not only ice cream Ragnarok the best Thor movie, but it also offers a great portrayal of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) as the dynamic between the two brothers is explored further.
Thor: Ragnarok is available to stream on Disney+.
‘Avengers: Endgame’ (2019) — Rating: 3.9
Everything in the MCU led up to two Avengers: Endgame and the cinematic event did not disappoint. Reeling from their loss to Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his extermination of half the universe’s population, the remaining Avengers enact a plan involving time travel to resurrect those they have lost.
Endgame is a farewell to the original Avengers team, with the six stars from the original Avengers given prime screen time. In that way, it feels like the end of an era, even though the MCU is far from finished. It’s hard not to shed a tear as the franchise says goodbye to some of its biggest names who have been there since the beginning.
Avengers: Endgame is available to stream on Disney+.
‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (2018) — Rating: 4.0
The first part of the battle with Thanos that bleeds into Avengers: Endgame spirit Avengers: Infinity War has the monumental task of bringing almost every hero introduced at this point into one movie. It proved a massive success as the banter shared between these beloved characters is just as entertaining as the action scenes.
While Infinity War is short on storytelling as it favors shoving the characters into battles with Thanos and his minions, it is still the best Avengers movie. Seeing the Guardians of the Galaxy fighting alongside Thor and Black Panther is a fan’s dream come true, while the ending is still a rocket-powered punch to the heart.
Avengers: Infinity War is available to stream on Disney+.
‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ (2021) — Rating: 4.0
Spider-Man has always been one of Marvel’s most popular characters, and Spider-Man: No Way Home is a celebration of the hero and his rogue’s gallery. When a spell by Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) causes the multiverse to open, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) must battle a collection of his greatest villains.
Not only ice cream No Way Home a showcase for Holland’s Spider-Man, but also for those who have played the role before him. The final battle that sees Peter joined by two fan-favorite characters from the past is one of the best moments in the MCU, and the chemistry between them is the highlight of this cherished movie.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is available to stream on Starz.
KEEP READING: 10 Popular MCU Fan Theories That Proved True