Every Marvel Comics Movie, Ranked by Critics – Business Insider

Rotten Tomatoes score: 9%
“Fantastic Four” is the second on-screen iteration of the famed Marvel family consisting of Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic (Miles Teller), his love interest Sue Storm/Invisible Woman (Kate Mara), her brother Johnny Storm/Human Torch (Michael B. Jordan), and their friend Ben Grimm/The Thing (Jamie Bell).
After they travel to a different dimension and acquire fantastic, if gruesome, powers, they face off against Doctor Doom, played by Toby Kebbell, a former friend turned homicidal maniac.
“A poorly constructed, ineptly executed, flatfooted piece of Branded Product that plays as though it were written by a piece of software fed every superhero movie script to date and instructed to synthesize them,” wrote Flavorwire’s Jason Bailey.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 11%
After dying at the end of “Daredevil,” Elektra, as played by Jennifer Garner, is revived by her mentor Stick in order to become a force for good. Eventually, she abandons this lifestyle and becomes a contract killer, until an evil organization known as The Hand attempts to kill her.
Tim Robey of The Telegraph called the film “Studio dross of the lowest grade.”
Rotten Tomatoes score: 13%
As you might’ve guessed from the title, Howard is a duck. Specifically, a resident of the planet Duckworld, which is like Earth, but inhabited by ducks. When Howard finds himself on Earth in the state of Ohio, he must team up with a woman, Beverly Switzler (Lea Thompson) to try and get home.
“Sound the horns, light the speakers, and cue the marching band, because ‘Howard the Duck’ is here … and bad movie historians could not ask for a more mallard-droit venture than this,” wrote Michael Burkett of the Orange County Register.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 14%
The first Marvel film of 2024 (though not part of the MCU) is “Madame Web,” which stars Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb, a paramedic living in New York City who somehow gains clairvoyance. She teams up with three young women — Julia (Sydney Sweeney), Anya (Isabela Merced), and Mattie (Celeste O’Connor) — who each have spider-powers in their future to take down a mysterious foe, Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim).
“Even Johnson has her limits, and ‘Madame Web’ blows so far past them that you can practically guess which scenes were shot last based on the degree to which its star has given up,” wrote Allison Wilmore for Vulture.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 15%
In “Morbius,” Jared Leto stars as Dr. Michael Morbius, a highly intelligent doctor who is dying from a rare blood disease. In his quest to find a cure, he accidentally turns himself into a “living vampire,” a being with enhanced strength, sonar capabilities, a psychic connection with bats … and the unending desire to drink blood.
“‘Morbius,’ at best, will be remembered as the latest effort on Sony’s part to make its nascent Sinister Six franchise happen. And, like ‘fetch,’ it’s hard to see that happening,” wrote Liz Shannon Miller of Consequence.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 19%
Nicolas Cage returns as stuntman-turned-flaming-skeleton Johnny Blaze, who has been in hiding since the events of the first film. When he finds out that the devil himself has fathered a child and is planning to raise him, he rides again as the demonic Ghost Rider in exchange for getting his soul back.
“Cage appears to find his role as this second-tier Marvel Comics antihero alternately silly, tremendously fun, and the means to a decent paycheck for not all that much work,” wrote the Austin Chronicle’s Marc Savlov.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 22%
Jean Grey, as played by Sophie Turner, begins to lose control of her psychic abilities, unleashing what’s called the “Phoenix Force.” The rest of her mutant teammates, and some enemies, assemble to try and help Jean control her powers, leading to tragedy.
“Outgunned on the action front by box-office rivals and too nervous to tell a more intimate story, ‘Dark Phoenix’ leaves the franchise running on empty,” wrote Michael Hale of Sight & Sound.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 23%
Yes, the “Men in Black” franchise is based on the Malibu Comics run of the same name. Malibu was then acquired by Marvel in 1994.
The 2019 stand-alone sequel sees Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson take over for Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, playing two new agents, Agent H and Agent M, who are paired up in London to uncover a mole within the agency.
“For all its oddball aliens and fantastical technology, the most unbelievable thing about ‘Men in Black: International’ is just how thoroughly it wastes Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth,” wrote Mashable’s Angie Han.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 24%
Until Mahershala Ali’s “Blade” film is released, this is our most recent version of Blade, a human-vampire hybrid who has dedicated himself to hunting vampires. In the last film of the trilogy, Blade, played by Wesley Snipes, teams up with two new vampire hunters (Ryan Reynolds’ Hannibal King and Jessica Biel’s Abigail Whistler) to defeat Dracula.
“This has all the appeal of reheated, congealed blood,” wrote Time Out’s Nigel Floyd.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 27%
In “Ghost Rider,” viewers watch as Cage’s Johnny Blaze descends into hell as the literal devil’s bounty hunter, a power he received after trading his soul to spare his father’s life. Now, when he’s around an evil spirit, he becomes the Ghost Rider, a flaming skull demon who rides a motorcycle. He gets into a race against the son of a demon to prevent him from unleashing hell on Earth.
“Nic Cage seems comfortable in the role of the flaming-skulled biker, but the plot holes are too deep even for his Herbie-like arachnid motorcycle to negotiate,” wrote David Jenkins for Time Out.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 28%
Years before he became Captain America, Chris Evans took on the role of Johnny Storm, better known as the Human Torch, in “Fantastic Four.” He was joined by Jessica Alba as Sue Storm/Invisible Woman, Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic, and Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm/The Thing.
Instead of traveling to a parallel dimension, this version of the Fantastic Four’s origin story sees them interact with a cosmic cloud in space, giving them their powers. But, like in the reboot, their primary nemesis is Doctor Doom, this time a former classmate of Reed and Sue’s, played by Julian McMahon.
On the AV Club, Keith Phipps simply called the movie “A garish mediocrity.”
Rotten Tomatoes score: 29%
“The Punisher” stars Thomas Jane as Frank Castle, a former FBI agent whose entire family is murdered after his cover is blown by the vengeful Saint crime family, the head of which is played by John Travolta. Frank then dedicates his entire existence to getting revenge on those who were involved in the death of his wife and children.
“A comic-book action movie with an unpleasant edge,” wrote Nev Pierce for the BBC.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 29%
“War Zone” saw its titular role re-cast with Ray Stevenson, whose version of Frank is now five years into his career as the vigilante the Punisher. This time, Frank goes up against one of his most famous adversaries in the comics, Jigsaw (played by Dominic West), while evading the police who have created a “Punisher Task Force” dedicated to bringing him in.
“You couldn’t call it shoddy, exactly, and the actors take it painfully seriously; it’s just dispiriting to see all this endeavor in the service of something so humorless and disgusting,” wrote Andrew Pulver of The Guardian.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 30%
In “Venom,” Tom Hardy plays journalist Eddie Brock, who loses his job, his fiancée (played by Michelle Williams), and his reputation after he steals confidential documents and confronts a powerful CEO played by Riz Ahmed. Simultaneously, he is exposed to an alien symbiote who calls itself Venom, and the two bond together to protect the Earth.
“Not since ‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’ has a Marvel Comics adaptation centered on such a splendidly weird lead performance,” wrote the Chicago Reader’s Ben Sachs.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 32%
“Kick-Ass” and its sequel are based on the series of the same name, which was initially published by the Marvel imprint Icon Comics. It has since moved to Image Comics, the third-largest comics brand behind Marvel and DC.
Specifically, “Kick-Ass 2” reunites viewers with the vigilante duo of Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Dave Lizewski/Kick-Ass and Chloë Grace Moretz as Mindy Macready/Hit-Girl as they once again face off against Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Chris D’Amico, who has an NSFW alter ego.
“Although the film has the cheap veneer of female empowerment that comes from having a girl assassin, it is rotten with misogyny,” Jenny McCartney for The Telegraph.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 36%
Now that Disney officially owns Fox, the next X-Men movie we get will likely be an entirely different continuity. For a franchise with high highs and low lows, it’s just unfortunate that this was the last hurrah.
“New Mutants” stars Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Blu Hunt, Henry Zaga, and Adam Beach as a group of teenage mutants living in a hospital. They were all sent there after causing horrible accidents (or even deaths) with their powers, only to discover that things at the hospital are not what they seem.
“The concept behind ‘The New Mutants’ is a solid, intriguing one that could’ve reinvigorated the familiar origin superhero story. Instead, Boone opts for genericism, ending the ‘X-Men’ franchise with an angsty-teen whimper,” wrote Meagan Navarro for Bloody Disgusting.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 38%
The cast from the first film all returns, joined by Doug Jones and Laurence Fishburne, who provide the physical form and voice, respectively, of the Silver Surfer, a herald from outer space who serves to warn a planet of its incoming destruction at the hands of the planet-killing Galactus.
“An off-brand superhero movie, the cinematic equivalent of one of those generic breakfast cereals with a badly drawn squirrel for a mascot,” wrote Slate’s Dana Stevens.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 38%
The 2009 film focuses on Logan, or Wolverine, as played by Hugh Jackman, and what his life was like before he became the X-Man that we knew and loved in the three previous movies, following him from the Civil War to the 1970s.
“‘Wolverine’ starts with a roar before sliding into a chaotic, preachy mess,” wrote The Irish Times’ Donald Clarke.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 38%
After the events of the first film, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) has retired and subsequently had his memory wiped of all things alien, but Agent J (Will Smith) drags him back into duty to confront their biggest threat yet.
“This is effective button-pushing sci-fi entertainment, but you won’t need to be neuralized to forget it,” wrote Andy Jacobs for the BBC.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 40%
“The King’s Man” is based on the Icon Comics series “Kingsman” (originally titled “The Secret Service”), telling the story of the very first members of the Kingsman, including Ralph Fiennes’ Orlando Oxford, his son Conrad (played by Harris Dickinson), a maid/spy Polly (played by Gemma Arterton), a butler/spy Shola (played by Djimon Honsou), and more as they go up against Russian sorcerer Rasputin, as played by Rhys Ifans.
“It is downright diabolical for Vaughn to make audiences even imagine a sequel to this unnecessary prequel simply to see if can be as outlandish as promised,” wrote the Los Angeles Times’ Mark Olsen.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 43%
Affleck plays Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer with preternaturally sensitive senses and a healthy helping of Catholic guilt who decides to save Hell’s Kitchen by becoming Daredevil, the Man Without Fear.
He’s joined by Jennifer Garner as Elektra, an assassin with a heart, and Jon Favereau as Foggy Nelson, his best friend and fellow lawyer. They go up against the crime boss Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin, played by Michael Clarke Duncan, and the unstable assassin Bullseye, played by Colin Farrell.
Joe Morganstern of the Wall Street Journal wrote, “It isn’t a great film, or even a greatly original one. Still, it has many grace notes, and interesting oddities.”
Rotten Tomatoes score: 46%
It’s been a tough time for the MCU over the last couple of years, and “Quantumania” seems to be a nadir for the long-running franchise.
In this film, Ant-Man (or Scott Lang), played by Paul Rudd, travels to the microscopic Quantum Realm to save his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton), who was sucked in there by a mysterious device. Along for the ride are his girlfriend Hope/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), her mom Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), her dad Hank (Michael Douglas), and various other citizens of this new plane of existence.
Kyle Smith of The Wall Street Journal called it “another lackluster blockbuster.”
Rotten Tomatoes score: 47%
“Apocalypse” is the ninth “X-Men” film overall, and the third installment in the prequel trilogy that stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Nicholas Hoult as younger versions of mutants from the original three films.
In “Apocalypse,” the team must unite to defeat the world’s first mutant, En Sabah Nur, or Apocalypse, as he tries to remake the world when he is awoken after thousands of years.
“This is one of the big dangers for the extended franchise model of filmmaking, that characters and series will be kept alive not because there’s a story to tell, but because the franchise must be kept alive,” wrote Peter Suderman for Vox.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 47%
“Eternals,” directed by Oscar winner Chloé Zhao, attempted to introduce an entirely new team of superheroes, an alien race called the Eternals, to the MCU and followed them from prehistoric times through the present day. Your mileage may vary on how successful she was, but “Eternals” did introduce Harry Styles to the MCU, so there’s that.
“Zhao ultimately robs the artist’s comic of its sweep by constantly turning a space opera into a repetitive character drama,” wrote Ed Gonzalez for Slant Magazine.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 50%
“The Golden Circle” stars Taron Egerton once again as Eggsy, a newly minted member of the secret spy organization the Kingsman. After many of its members are wiped out, Eggsy and his colleague Merlin (Mark Strong), travel to the US and meet their American equivalents, the Statesman.
David Edelstein simply wrote, “What a mess it is” in his review for Vulture.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 51%
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone reunite as Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, and his doomed girlfriend Gwen Stacy in this over-stuffed sequel that sees Peter going up against Jamie Foxx’s Electro, Dane DeHaan’s Green Goblin, and Paul Giamatti’s Rhino.
“Over-stuffed with plot and consequently struggles to invest the audience in any of it, since there’s so much to get through and so many future films and spin-offs to set up,” wrote The Atlantic’s David Sims.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 57%
“The Last Stand” is another interpretation of the “Dark Phoenix Saga,” this time focusing on Famke Janssen’s version of Jean Grey after she’s resurrected following her death in “X2.” Like the 2019 version of the story, Jean is unable to control her powers and kills people that she cares about until she is ultimately taken out by Logan.
“‘The Last Stand’ pretty much looks and plays like the first films, though perhaps with more noise and babe action and a little less glum,” wrote Manohla Dargis for The New York Times.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 57%
“Blade II” might be a little tough to watch in the year 2024, as its plot focuses on a pandemic that turns vampires into Reapers, aka rabid vampires, but the additions of Ron Perlman and a young Norman Reedus are worth the watch. Plus, it was directed by horror visionary Guillermo del Toro, which means at the very least that it’s never boring.
As the AV Club’s Nathan Rabin wrote, “The world can always use another entertainingly trashy B-movie, and ‘Blade II’ fits the bill.”
Rotten Tomatoes score: 57%
“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is a lean, mean, killing machine. Ostensibly, the movie is about Venom and Eddie working together to defeat the serial killer Cletus Kasady, played by a dialed-in Woody Harrelson … but, in actuality, it’s a romantic comedy between Venom and Eddie trying to figure out how to live together in one body.
“A love story written in blood, sweat, and the slime of half-eaten brains,” wrote The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey.
Rotten Tomatoes score58%
Wesley Snipes makes his debut as Blade, a vampire-human hybrid who has dedicated his life to hunting down vampires in the seedy underworld of his home city, using his unique advantages, like the ability to walk in the daylight.
“‘Blade’s’ stomach-turning special effects, bone-crunching martial arts and cynical humor will more than satisfy any action-film addict’s need for a fix of eye-popping escapist adrenaline,” wrote the Washington Post’s Michael O’Sullivan.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 62%
After saving the universe, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) has once again left Earth to continue saving the rest of the galaxy — but when her powers get entangled with her best friend’s daughter, Monica (Teyonah Parris), and a Captain Marvel superfan who has nicknamed herself Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani), she must return to her home planet to see what exactly is going on, and confront the mistakes of her past.
“It’s silly and makes little sense, but it’s such a fun time at the movies. And isn’t that why we go to see movies in the first place?” wrote Kristen Lopez for The Wrap.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 63%
Eric Bana took on the role of Marvel’s not-so-jolly green giant in Ang Lee’s version of “Hulk” in one of the most faithful comic-book movies, at least aesthetically speaking, even if the character’s origin wasn’t exactly the same as on the page. A supporting cast of Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, and Nick Nolte also elevates this movie.
“Where so many comic-book movies feel as disposable as Kleenex, the passionate, un-cynical ‘Hulk’ stamps itself into your memory. Lee’s movies are built to last,” wrote Newsweek’s David Ansen.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 63%
“Spider-Man 3” made the mistake of trying to cram too many villains into one film, a mistake that “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” replicated a few years later. In the film, Peter, as played by Tobey Maguire, faces off against his best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco) as the new Green Goblin, Flint Marko/Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), and Eddie Brock (this time played by Topher Grace), aka Venom.
He also infamously dances down the streets of New York City with the most emo haircut of all time, which is later referenced in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” a decade later.
“Too many villains, too many pale plot strands, too many romantic misunderstandings, too many conversations, too many street crowds looking high into the air and shouting ‘oooh!’ this way, then swiveling and shouting aaah!’ that way,” wrote Roger Ebert.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 63%
The follow-up to smash hit “Thor: Ragnarok” and the first-ever fourth solo film for an MCU hero didn’t live up to expectations, at least according to critics. But we did get to see Natalie Portman return to the MCU as her version of the Mighty Thor, a couple of screaming goats, and a jaw-dropping post-credits cameo.
“Though Chris Hemsworth, as usual, has a lot of fun in the title role, the film around him too often strains to provide excitement and laughs,” wrote Wall Street Journal’s Kyle Smith.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 67%
“Thor: The Dark World,” the 2013 sequel to the 2011 film, stars Chris Hemsworth as the titular Norse god, Tom Hiddleston as his mischievous brother Loki, and Natalie Portman as Thor’s Earth-bound love interest Jane Foster. It wasn’t as well-received as its predecessor, but it has its defenders.
“This feels like a really, really, expensive episode of ‘Doctor Who.’ In a good way,” wrote Larushka Ivan-Zadeh for Metro.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 67%
Edward Norton took over for Eric Bana in “The Incredible Hulk,” which was plagued with rumors of behind-the-scenes drama, including that Norton rewrote much of the movie while it was shooting, and that there were many clashes between Norton, director Louis Leterrier, and Marvel Studios.
Those dueling visions led to a moderately received comic-book film.
“The climax is a bit of a yawn, but most of what precedes it is vigorous and sharp,” wrote Tom Charity of CNN.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 67%
A decade after we last saw Agents J and K, viewers were once again treated to the comedic duo of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, but with a twist.
The film focuses on an alien who travels back in time to kill a young Agent K (Jones) in the 1960s, leading Agent J (Smith) to also travel back and team up with the young Agent K, played by Josh Brolin, to fix the future.
“The movie represents at least a partial return to form, not as inventive as the first, but surely better than the recycled materials that made up the second,” wrote The Atlantic’s Christopher Orr.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 71%
“The Wolverine” separates Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine from the rest of the X-Men for his own little side-quest in Japan where he wrestles with the consequences of his actions (aka killing Jean Grey in “X-Men: The Last Stand”) and with his “curse” of immortality.
“Director James Mangold’s film features some breathtakingly suspenseful action sequences, exquisite production and costume design and colorful characters, some of whom register more powerfully than others,” wrote Christy Lemire for RogerEbert.com.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 71%
Released just five years after Tobey Maguire hung up his spider-suit in 2007, “The Amazing Spider-Man” had its work cut out for it. And, largely, the movie succeeds at introducing a new take on our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and his second-most iconic love interest Gwen Stacy (played by a luminous Emma Stone), while attempting to introduce new lore regarding Peter’s parents’ disappearance.
“The casting is just right. As if moving back in time, Andrew Garfield is the Spidey Sean Connery, as opposed to Tobey Maguire’s Roger Moore,” wrote The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 72%
In retrospect, “Iron Man 2” had an impossible job: to build upon what is still regarded as one of the finest superhero films of all time.
Perhaps that’s why critics weren’t too kind to “Iron Man 2,” which focused on Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, being rude to everyone around him while covering up his impending death. Oh, and Mickey Rourke is there playing Whiplash, a Russian villain who loves his bird.
“Casting the likes of Downey and Rourke and then imprisoning them in jointed refrigerators is resource-squandering of the highest order,” wrote Dana Stevens for Slate.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 73%
After the events of the Disney+ miniseries “WandaVision,” Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff has been taken over by the dark forces of the Scarlet Witch, putting her on a collision course with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Stephen Strange as he works to protect a new teenage friend, America Chavez (played by Xochitl Gomez), from Wanda’s plans.
“It might be Marvel’s multiverse, but ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ is [director Sam] Raimi’s plaything. And we wouldn’t want it any other way,” wrote Kristy Puchko for Mashable.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 75%
“Kingsman,” which is based on the Icon Comics run of the same name, is a far bloodier and funnier movie than anything viewers had seen from a comic-book movie in some time. Taron Egerton stars as Eggsy, a petty criminal and Royal Marines dropout who is turned into a super-spy with the help of his mentor, Harry, played by Colin Firth.
“On Day One of filming, they must have thrown away the moral compass and taken a group vow to splatter our sensibilities with stylish, gratuitous violence and one ‘Wait, what?!’ moment after another,” wrote Richard Roeper for the Chicago Sun-Times.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 76%
The Avengers team up once again in “Age of Ultron” to take down the nihilistic AI known as Ultron, designed as a “suit of armor around the world” by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, aka Iron Man and the Hulk, who is hell-bent on destroying the planet at all costs.
“The sharp, interpersonal dramedy that made the first movie such a delight is again present in flashes, but not infrequently it is drowned out by the noisy, inevitable need to Save the World,” wrote Christopher Orr for The Atlantic.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 77%
Of course, some of those characters predate the Icon Comics character, but without the on-screen success of “Kick-Ass,” it’s hard to tell when those adaptations would’ve come to pass.
“Kick-Ass” stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson — who is currently suiting up for his third comic-book movie as Kraven the Hunter — as Dave Lizewski, a normal teenager and comics super-fan who decides to become a vigilante called Kick-Ass. He inspires a movement, and teams up with other vigilantes like Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) to take down organized crime.
“Everything you’ve likely heard about ‘Kick-Ass’ is true, providing you’ve heard it’s profane, outlandish, ultra-violent, shocking, funny and wildly entertaining,” wrote Tom Long of The Detroit News.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 77%
Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston were both essentially unknowns when they were cast as Norse gods Thor and Loki (as evidenced by their casting announcement in Deadline), and this movie catapulted them both to the A-list almost immediately.
Both Hemsworth and Hiddleston are still involved in the MCU in 2022, with Hemsworth’s Thor getting a fourth solo film (a first for the MCU) and Hiddleston’s Loki getting a second season of his Disney+ series (also a first for the MCU). Seeing their chemistry as brothers in this first film explains why.
“The new Marvel Comics movie ‘Thor,’ directed by Kenneth Branagh, is equal parts trippy, tacky, and monumental, the blend surprisingly agreeable, a happy change from all those aggressively down-to-earth superhero flicks like ‘Iron Man,’” wrote David Edelstein for Vulture.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 79%
“Iron Man 3” focuses on Tony Stark dealing with his PTSD after the events of “Avengers,” like his near-death experience flying a nuclear bomb through a wormhole in space. But the big twist of this movie, the bait-and-switch identity of the Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley, remains this movie’s biggest legacy.
“A thrilling film and a somewhat satisfying conclusion to the ‘Iron Man’ trilogy,” wrote Nicolás Delgadillo for Discussing Film.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 79%
Brie Larson stars as Carol Danvers, a former US Air Force pilot who is exposed to a blast of cosmic energy in the ’90s, experiences memory loss, and is taken in by an alien race called the Kree. As Carol tries to remember her past, she’s introduced to a young(er) S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, a digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
“The main strength is a core of female friendship: Carol Danvers is the only Marvel hero you could imagine getting hammered and belting out songs by No Doubt,” wrote The Observer’s Wendy Ide.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 79%
Set between the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” and exactly a decade after her introduction as Natasha Romanoff in “Iron Man 2,” Scarlett Johansson finally stars in her own solo film with “Black Widow.” The film also introduced actors Florence Pugh, David Harbour, and Rachel Weisz to the MCU, all three of whom we’d love to see again in the future.
“In all the ways that matter to an MCU fan, ‘Black Widow’ the film meets or exceeds all expectations. It is a killer action flick, and a unique viewing experience… in that I loved it, and the fact that I loved it also makes me livid,” wrote Salon’s Melanie McFarland.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%
Simply put, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, is the role that Chris Evans was born to play. Audiences see Evans first as a digitally altered scrawny kid from Brooklyn who, against all odds, is chosen to receive a “super soldier serum” and become Captain America due to his pure heart. With anyone else, it’d be unbearably cheesy, but Evans sells it.
“No clever messages here, just bang-on romance and action, with another fresh twist on 20th-century history woven in for the kids to dive into after the credits have rolled,” wrote Ed Gibbs for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 82%
“X-Men” gave us Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Ian McKellan as Magneto, Halle Berry as Storm, Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, James Marsden as Cyclops, Anna Paquin as Rogue, Rebecca Romijn as Mystique … the list goes on.
While the film is a pretty straightforward origin story/team-up film, the action set the template for what the next 20-plus years of movies would look like.
“The ‘X-Men’ comic books have spawned a cottage industry of mutant characters, and the movie helps make sense of these legions while offering the established fan base something new to cheer,” wrote Jami Bernard for the New York Daily News.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 82%
After the galaxy-saving stakes of the first two “Guardians” films, it was refreshing to watch our favorite rag-tag group of heroes come together to just save one of their friends, Rocket (Bradley Cooper), after he was gravely injured by a new threat, Adam Warlock (Will Poulter).
Of course, the film also deals with Peter/Star-Lord’s (Chris Pratt) trauma of having to see a new version of his dead ex-girlfriend Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) — a sentence that only makes sense if you’ve seen “Infinity War” and “Endgame) — but if this is the last we see of our nice space friends, it was a great run.
“Now that nearly every other cinematic release reads like a holding pattern until they finally get around to mutants, ‘Guardians Vol. 3’ is the first sign in a while that Marvel might actually have some genuine enjoyment left in the tank,” wrote Jackson Weaver for CBC News.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 83%
Rudd plays Scott Lang, a white-collar criminal who is enlisted to take on the mantle of Ant-Man, a shrinking superhero who used to be Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym.
But, as Pym is too old to suit up, he and his daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) teach Lang how to control ants, shrink and grow at will, and later break into Pym’s lab to take down Darren Cross (Corey Stoll).
“Paul Rudd stars in a formulaic but consistently entertaining and likable Marvel summer blockbuster,” wrote NME’s Nick Levine.
Rotten Tomatoes score83%
After the tragic (and unexpected) death of Chadwick Boseman in 2020, the highly anticipated “Black Panther” sequel was rewritten to be a story of grief and mourning, while also setting up the future of Wakanda in the MCU for years to come.
Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, and Winston Duke all put in stellar performances, while Tenoch Huerta introduced viewers to the underwater king Namor with a bang.
“A thoughtful and mature exploration of communal grief in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ is a fitting tribute to the legacy of Chadwick Boseman,” wrote Chicago Reader’s Sheri Flanders.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 84%
“Deadpool 2” expanded the universe of Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool, a mutant mercenary who has a tendency to break the fourth wall. In addition to bringing back Teenage Negasonic Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), Colossus (Stefan Kapičić), and Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), “Deadpool 2” adds Josh Brolin as Cable and Zazie Beetz as Domino, two welcome additions.
In “Deadpool 2,” Deadpool teams up with an X-Force (of sorts) to find young Russell Collins, a mutant with fire capabilities, who is the target of the time-traveling assassin Cable, who wants to kill Russell as a teen before he becomes a serial killer in the future.
“‘Deadpool 2’ goes bigger than the first, but the shockingly touching family theme pulls all of the new characters and big set pieces together well. Another wild, hilarious ride for the character with just enough honesty and heart,” said Perri Nemiroff in a Collider video review.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%
The whole gang reunited in 2003 for “X2,” which sees the X-Men go up against Brian Cox’s William Stryker, an anti-mutant military scientist who is planning to commit genocide against all mutants.
“‘X2’ is pretty much all that you’d ever want out of a comic book movie. It’s smart, it’s breathlessly paced, the characters have at least 2 1/2 dimensions, and the action sequences are jaw-droppers, even on the small screen,” wrote The Advocate’s Alonso Duralde.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%
After playing Deadpool in the 2009 “X-Men” spin-off “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” Reynolds was determined to do the character justice in his own film with a completely redesigned version of him.
Seven years later, Reynolds starred in “Deadpool,” which tells the story of mercenary Wade Wilson who embarks on a journey to cure himself of terminal cancer with some unintended consequences, like when he becomes immortal and scarred across his entire body.
“‘Deadpool’ is obnoxious and puerile and infantile and has an irritating meta tone so snide that it’s constantly in danger of nullifying the entire movie, and I still got a pretty big kick out of it,” wrote Will Leitch in The New Republic.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%
“GOTG Vol. 2” delves into the true parentage of Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, as played by Chris Pratt. In addition to the rest of the stellar returning cast, Kurt Russell was added to play Peter’s biological father, Ego the Living Planet, and Pom Klementieff joined the team as the empathic alien, Mantis.
“In Marvel lingo, ‘Guardians 2’ feels like a great six-issue arc, the kind of storytelling that used to be the backbone of superhero comics,” wrote The Atlantic’s David Sims.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%
“Avengers: Infinity War” is the first part of the culmination of the first 10 years of the MCU, which concluded one year later in “Avengers: Endgame.”
“Infinity War” follows Thanos, an alien who is dedicated to erasing half of the universe’s population, as he scours space for the six Infinity Stones. Meanwhile, the Avengers stop at nothing to prevent him from getting all six with disastrous consequences.
“The conclusion of ‘Infinity War’ is so shocking because it doesn’t feel like a cliffhanger, more like a drastic wiping clean of the slate before the whole cycle starts again, with whatever reversal of fortune or comprehensive reboot it may be,” wrote Film Comment Magazine’s Jonathan Romney.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%
“First Class” will go down in history as the film that introduced audiences to young Professor X and Magneto, played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, respectively.
The film takes place in the ’60s, as a young Magneto tracks down the Nazi scientist who killed his mother, and a young Professor X has yet to be confined to his wheelchair.
“For reasons arising from the way the ‘X-Men’ film franchise has developed, this is the first Marvel movie set in the period when the characters were created, and thus able to embrace the Rat Pack cool that was part of their original charm,” wrote Kim Newman of Sight & Sound.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 87%
By adding the Wasp to the title of the film, Evangeline Lilly is the true first woman to play a titular superhero in the MCU, though she still shares top-billing with Paul Rudd as Ant-Man.
In “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” the two insect-themed heroes reunite to rescue Hope’s mom, played by the radiant Michelle Pfeiffer, from the mysterious quantum realm after an accident decades prior.
“Its intent is limited to amusing and diverting for a couple of hours of high-summer fun. That it does,” wrote Matthew Norman of the London Evening Standard.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 89%
Cumberbatch joined the MCU to play Dr. Stephen Strange, a hot-shot surgeon who loses the use of his hands after a brutal car accident and seeks out sorcerers who can help him regain his strength.
As Richard Bailey wrote in The New Yorker, the film “lives up to its title, in mostly good ways.”
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
For a generation of movie fans, Tobey Maguire will forever be their Spider-Man, and director Sam Raimi’s trilogy, beginning with 2002’s “Spider-Man,” will always be the best on-screen representation of the most famous wall-crawler in movie history.
“Spider-Man” stars, as stated, Maguire as Peter Parker, and he’s supported by an all-star cast of Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris, and more. The story watches Peter go from a gawky teenager to the super-powered, spandex-clad Spider-Man as he faces off against the Green Goblin (Dafoe), who is determined to take away everything that matters to Peter.
“At its best, ‘Spider-Man’ takes the adolescent yearning at the heart of most superhero sagas and gives it a lovely swing. The script, by David Koepp, isn’t inspired, but it keeps the emotional beats clean, and director Sam Raimi treats his hero tenderly: He gives him space to watch and think as well as act,” wrote Slate’s David Edelstein.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
If “Captain America: The First Avenger” was Marvel’s take on a WWII drama, “Winter Soldier” is the MCU’s version of a tense, political thriller as Cap uncovers multiple layers of conspiracy within the US government, and must go on the run from his presumed-dead best friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), now brain-washed into the murderous assassin the Winter Soldier.
“‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ delivers the superhero movie goods, but it does so with a grin and a wink, and that seems more and more like the right way to approach these things,” wrote Jason Bailey for Flavorwire.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
“Days of Future Past” reunites the original “X-Men” cast from the first three movies with the younger versions of themselves introduced in “First Class” by taking Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and sending him back in time to prevent a great tragedy in the present-day.
“A pleasingly coherent, plot-driven action movie, positively streamlined by the standards of today’s superhero blockbusters,” wrote The Independent’s Laurence Phelan.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Yes, “Big Hero 6” is based on the Marvel team of the same name, which began in the late ’90s. When Disney purchased Marvel in 2009, it was only a matter of time before the House of Mouse merged their two powerhouses, Marvel and Pixar.
And, with the success of “Big Hero 6,” there’s a strong argument for more comic-book Pixar movies. This one focuses on Hiro Hamada, a teenage robotics prodigy living in San Fransokyo.
After the death of his older brother Tadashi, Hiro connects with Tadashi’s invention, a healthcare robot named Baymax, to save the city, along with Tadashi’s friends Fred, Go Go, Wasabi, and Honey Lemon.
“An origins story ripe with innocence and loss, this anime-inflected treat harks back to Disney’s big-hearted heritage even as it looks forward towards new worlds of innovation,” wrote The Observer’s Mark Kermode.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Essentially an “Avengers” movie, “Captain America: Civil War” sees Captain America team up with his friends Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) to save his friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) from getting wrongfully convicted for a bombing at the United Nations.
Cap goes up against Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Vision (Paul Bettany), and War Machine (Don Cheadle) to save his friend.
Of course, this movie is also famous for introducing Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, aka Black Panther, and Tom Holland as the MCU’s version of Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man.
“It is one of the best movies to ever come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, balancing engaging action set pieces and witty dialogue with intelligent character studies and ethical debates,” wrote Salon’s Matthew Rozsa.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Picking up a few months after the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” Peter Parker/Spider-Man must figure out how to balance his life as a web-slinging superhero and a simple teenager with a crush on his friend MJ, played by a delightful Zendaya.
Add in a truly unhinged Jake Gyllenhaal performance as Quentin Beck/Mysterio, and you have the makings of a solid Spidey film.
“The stakes this time turn out to be considerably lower, and your friendly neighborhood Spider-Teen is arguably just the guy to bring things down to Earth and reestablish a human scale,” said NPR’s Bob Mondello.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%
“Men in Black” follows Will Smith as James Edwards, an NYPD officer who becomes convinced that aliens are real, leading him to join the Men in Black, a secret government organization dedicated to monitoring and protecting alien refugees that live on Earth. He’s partnered with Agent K, played by Tommy Lee Jones.
It’s a loose adaptation of the Malibu comic series of the same name.
“‘Men in Black’ is the wryest, sharpest, most entertaining special effects film in recent memory, a simultaneous participant and mocking parody of the more-bang-for-your-buck behemoth genre,” wrote CNN’s Paul Tatara.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%
After four years of teasing out the six main Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, Hawkeye, and Hulk), they all met up on the big screen for the first time in “The Avengers.”
Under the watchful eye of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, viewers saw Earth’s mightiest heroes team up for the first time to take out Thor’s brother Loki as he attempted to conquer the world on behalf of a mysterious purple alien.
“A mega-budget action extravaganza that succeeds on just about every level, and it’s one you should certainly go and see as soon as possible,” wrote Luke Holland for NME.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
At the time, it was a huge swing for Marvel to entrust writer/director James Gunn with bringing one of the lesser-known superhero teams into the MCU. But, as we know, it was one of the smartest gambles Marvel ever made.
“Guardians,” led by the ever-charming Chris Pratt as Peter Quill, combines hilarious jokes with a genuinely sweet story about found family: In this case, Peter finds Gamora (Zoe Saldaña), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel), and Rocket the Raccoon (Bradley Cooper).
“Blessed with a loose, anarchic B-picture soul that encourages you to enjoy yourself even when you’re not quite sure what’s going on, the scruffy ‘Guardians’ is irreverent in a way that can bring the first ‘Star Wars’ to mind,” wrote Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” was the third reboot of Spider-Man in 15 years, but somehow, once again, the powers that be managed to find a third actor who was just as qualified as his predecessors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield to bring Spidey to life.
After his introduction in “Civil War,” “Homecoming” focuses on Peter Parker’s sweet bond with Tony Stark/Iron Man, and his realization that being a hero is about more than a cool suit.
“The youthful vibe of this character reset, with its sense of humor and its light touch, makes ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ one of the most enjoyable Marvel movies in years,” wrote Chesapeake Family Magazine’s Roxana Hadadi.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Simu Liu tweeted Marvel back in 2018 asking if they were “gonna talk or what #ShangChi.” Three years later, Liu debuted as Shang-Chi in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”
In it, Shang-Chi comes to accept his past as a member of his father’s (played by the always wonderful Tony Leung) criminal organization, the Ten Rings, while protecting his mother’s village from the attacks of a demon known as the Dweller-in-Darkness.
“It’s a good movie. It’s got a plausibly fearsome villain by way of Leung, a nice ensemble of heroic personalities, and a dose of actually-poignant family drama undergirding all the rest,” wrote K. Austin Collins for Rolling Stone.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%
For many years, “Spider-Man 2” was considered, at least by critics, to be the best Spider-Man movie. From the iconic subway fight against Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock to the tear-jerking hero speech by Aunt May to an almost exact replication of one of Spider-Man’s most iconic comic panels, “Spider-Man 2” remains genuinely enjoyable, even 20 years later.
“It’s unusual and gratifying to find a multimillion dollar movie that’s been put together with some thoughtfulness, that doesn’t neglect subtlety in between delivering the smash-bang-wallop,” wrote Anthony Quinn of The Independent.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%
“Ragnarok” was one of the most impressive feats in MCU history. After all, two “Thor” movies are among some of the lowest-rated MCU movies, while “Ragnarok” is in the top 10 of all Marvel movies, period.
This comes down to director Taika Waititi, who was able to infuse his signature style and tone into the MCU in this cosmic adventure that’s also a straight-up comedy, following Thor on his journey to prevent the destruction of his home world, Asgard.
“Beautifully filmed with serious kinetic energy by director Taika Waititi, with a crackling script, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is a heap of fun. Cue ‘Immigrant Song,’” wrote Kristen Lopez for Culturess.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%
At this point, you’ve probably heard that “Logan” is more of a Western than a traditional superhero movie, which is correct.
“Logan” follows a beaten-down Logan whose powers are leaving him, all his friends are dead or dying, and he’s living in secret as a limo driver. But when a mysterious young mutant with powers like his shows up, he musters his strength one last time to help her escape.
“Make no mistake, ‘Logan’ earns its tears. If Jackman and Stewart are serious about this being their mutual ‘X-Men’ swan song, they could not have crafted a more heartfelt valedictory,” wrote Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” now has the distinction of sharing the third-best Spider-Man movie crown with “Spider-Man 2” (more on the top Spidey films later). But “No Way Home’s” charms are impossible to deny, even if the plot has more holes than Swiss cheese.
For Marvel movie fans, it’s hard to imagine something more satisfying than seeing Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire together on screen, discussing their rogues’ galleries, Tobey’s weird web situation, or how with great power comes great responsibility.
“Throughout all of it, the weird and complex history of Spider-Man as a cinematic icon isn’t a hindrance to the story; instead, it’s an enhancement, using the quirks of the character’s legacy as a source of illumination into why he has endured so long,” wrote Liz Shannon Miller of Consequence.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%
The reason that pop culture is what it is today can be boiled down to the mega-success of this movie, which set up an entire cinematic universe, revived Robert Downey Jr.’s career, and boosted director Jon Favreau’s status so high that he’s now basically one of the auteurs of the entire “Star Wars” universe.
But this film is simple: Billionaire weapons manufacturer Tony Stark (Downey) is kidnapped by a group of terrorists, which leads him to discover his weapons are landing in the wrong hands. So, he builds a suit of armor and becomes a superhero.
“Led by Downey’s career-resurrecting performance as billionaire weapons peddler Tony Stark, it proves just as indispensable to the movie’s giddy escapist appeal as the seamless CGI effects and eye-popping pyrotechnics,” wrote Craig Outhier of the Orange County Register.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%
“Endgame,” as a movie, is a magic trick. Somehow, this movie crams in 11 years of MCU storytelling and every major character from all of the films, and travels back in time to essentially walk through the universe’s greatest hits, has real stakes, and makes a three-hour movie fly by.
When the Avengers decide to try and undo Thanos’ universe-shattering snap, the original crew from the 2012 movie (with a few notable additions like Karen Gillan’s Nebula, Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man, and Don Cheadle’s War Machine), travel through Marvel history to find the Infinity Stones.
“Eleven years of Universe building, and this is the crescendo. It really pays off, I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” said James Luxford on the BBC.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 95%
“Across the Spider-Verse,” the sequel to “Into the Spider-Verse,” takes the story of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) and levels it up in every way.
Now, Miles is up against not just an extra-dimensional villain known as the Spot (voiced hilariously by Jason Schwartzman), but also an entire society of spider-people, including his old friends Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) and Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), as they are told by Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac) that Miles isn’t even meant to exist.
“‘Across The Spider-Verse’ truly explodes the idea of what a comic book movie can be. This is thanks to the boundlessly exuberant and adventurous way it both constructs and captures its world(s) during this jaunt through the multiverse,” wrote Uproxx’s Jason Tabrys.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%
After the late Chadwick Boseman was introduced in “Captain America: Civil War” as Black Panther, fans were waiting with bated breath for his solo film, and they weren’t disappointed. “Black Panther” is a riveting story, where the “villain” (a supremely cast Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger) has a very compelling point and even gets the hero, T’Challa, to change his mind.
Supported by all-stars like Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Daniel Kaluuya, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Sterling K. Brown, along with newer finds like Letitia Wright and Winston Duke, “Black Panther” is special.
To date, it’s the only Marvel movie to be nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards.
“‘Black Panther’ is a revelation, the first film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that truly feels like an of-the-moment masterwork that also happens to be a comic-book movie,” wrote Roxana Hadadi of Chesapeake Family Magazine.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
“Into the Spider-Verse,” which took home best animated feature at the 2019 Oscars, is a movie that has to be seen to be believed. Spider-Men (and -Women!) travel from all over the multiverse to help teenager Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) grow into his own as his universe’s new Spider-Man.
It proves you don’t have to be Peter Parker to be Spider-Man, anyone can wear the mask, as Miles says. The upcoming two-part sequel has a lot of hype to live up to, but we’ll always have the greatness of “Into the Spider-Verse” to fall back on.
“Maintaining a breathless pace, the filmmakers pile up sci-fi conceits, one-liners, and a melange of animation styles; as opposed to lots of other comic book adaptations, this actually captures the sensation of getting absorbed in a comic book,” wrote the Chicago Reader’s Ben Sachs.
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