You’d have to be living under a rock to not know that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the biggest movie franchises. It spans over 30 films and are all connected to the same engrossing world that makes us head to the theater for opening weekend. Those theater visits have turned into a large profit for Disney. According to Statista, as of June 2022, the MCU has made over 26 billion dollars, making it one of the most profitable movie franchises in history. The best Marvel movies tell the stories of relatable characters we know from the Marvel comics, mixing cinematic genius with the perfect balance of emotion and action.
The franchise started with the first movie, Iron Man, which debuted in 2008. Directed by Jon Favreau and helmed by the charismatic (and unpopular at the time) Robert Downey Jr., this title changed the tenor of “comic book movies” forever.
Collider talks about how it had to be Iron Man to kick off the series: “The other perfect starting point for Iron Man concerns how the film was made the linchpin to usher in an eventual movie for The Avengers. In the 1960s Marvel Comics, Iron Man was one of the original founding members and leaders of the Avengers team. For Marvel Studios to begin a new film franchise, it made all the sense in the world to have Iron Man, an original Avengers team member and leader, as the start of the MCU. The shift with the MCU not only introduced a new blockbuster superhero movie to audiences but also the concept of a shared cinematic universe on a scale that had never been truly achieved before.” After Iron Man, the rest is history.
Marvel movies will continue to earn spots on top lists of best movies every year. Before you assemble and start watching every movie, StudyFinds set out to do the research for you, visiting 10 expert websites to find the consensus best Marvel movies out there. Our list is based on the top recommendations across all sources. Let us know your favorites in the comments below!
The List: Best Marvel Movies, According To Experts
1. Avengers: Endgame
It’s almost unfair to call the culmination of so many movies the best of the MCU – but sticking the landing isn’t always easy. After the heroes are defeated in the previous movie, seeing them come back and beat the odds against Thanos is part of movie history. Audiences around the world shook when Captain America finally said that special line.
Looper talks about how hard of a movie this was to make: “Endgame might actually be the easiest movie in the entire franchise to screw up. Not only does it follow up on the incredible downer ending of ‘Infinity War’, it’s also meant to serve as the climax of all 21 movies that had come before. Just by sheer number of moving parts and scattered plot threads to tie up gave the cast and filmmakers countless opportunities to stumble right off the delicate balance of action, comedy, and heartbreaking moments. With that in mind, saying that they pulled it off isn’t just saying ‘they made a good movie’, although ‘Endgame’ certainly is that. It’s saying that they pretty much pulled off a miracle.”
Speaking of moments, SYFY talks about that one moment that we’ll never forget. “Did you see this in the theater? We bet you did. If so, you won’t soon forget what happened next. Steve Rogers lifts Mjolnir, as these three heroes try to knock Thanos in the dirt. They can’t quite get it done, and Thanos eventually calls out his giant army. Steve stands against them alone, with half of his shield strapped to his arm. It’s one of the most visually stunning shots in the MCU.”
“So, what do we think is the best Marvel movie ever? Avengers: Endgame, of course,” writes Space. “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… 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. ”
2: Black Panther
By the time this movie came out moviegoers had seen the superhero origin story one too many times. Black Panther changed the game by telling the story of a character we met prior, but only briefly. More importantly, the movie showcases an incredibly different, and beautiful culture in Wakanda that spurred its own movement.
SYFY writes that, “the 2018 smash hit from director Ryan Coogler focused on Boseman’s T’Challa as well as Wakanda itself, and it was like nothing we’d ever seen in a comic book movie. The stylings of African art mixed with science fiction was incredible, as was the design of everything Wakandan. Coogler also wove in many real world issues, and the movie had something to say about the state of the world. It still does. Most of this is thanks to the film’s antagonist, Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan. He’s not wrong in his thinking, he just goes about fixing things in the wrong way. T’Challa’s journey is about finding a better way, which he ultimately does.”
The cast of this movie was special, as Men’s Health says, “The movie re-teams director Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, who isn’t the hero here but rather one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s very best villains in Erik Killmonger. The hero, of course, is the late Chadwick Boseman, who so perfectly captures the humble confidence of T’Challa. The rest of the cast is also just ridiculous: Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Sterling K. Brown, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Forest Whitaker, among countless others.”
GQ UK followed with similar sentiments: “Black Panther is also a near-perfect film. Absolutely every component hits, from Ludwig Göransson’s percussion-heavy score to Ryan Coogler’s deft hand behind the camera and the late Chadwick Boseman’s talismanic central performance. It is a world-building movie that never labours its point; Wakanda comes to life so seamlessly, the result of brilliant collaboration in front of and behind the camera.”
3. Thor: Ragnarok
This film shocked a lot of people. Before this hit, the previous two solo Thor movies were considered some of the weakest films in the franchise. So what did Marvel do? Hire Taika Waititi to really shake up the formula with Thor. What we got was a space viking adventure that was hilarious, entertaining and endlessly rewatchable. The AV Club says, “Taika Waititi gave the MCU its best comedy to date, buddy or otherwise. The ‘What We Do In The Shadows‘ director plays up the deadpan humor and awkward interpersonal dynamics, finding killer pairings in Chris Hemsworth and every single one of his co-stars, from Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk to Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie to Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, who is at his most charming here.”
“It’s a technicolor wonderland that takes the previously stodgy Thor and puts him in a buddy comedy with the Hulk, a movie that shows just how elastic the MCU heroes can be without breaking,” says Polygon.
“Irreverent, helter-skelter, more colorful than an Oompa Loompa’s cheese dream and just a little off its Ragnarocker (in the best way), it has all the hallmarks of a franchise confident enough to throw the ball to the most singular filmmakers and let them run with it,” writes Timeout.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
Known as the MCU’s first “out-there” comic book movie – featuring a talking racoon (don’t tell him we said that), and other wacky chracters, The Guardians of the Galaxy perfectly blended the superhero genre with science fiction and comedy. The movie stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper and more. And let’s not forget about the soundtrack. Perfection. “From its opening sequence, where Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord dances through an abandoned alien vault on a distant planet to ‘Come and Get Your Love’, it was clear that ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ would bring something truly otherworldly to the MCU. It was not a well-known comic storyline, but the film provided a much-needed shot of humor for a series in danger of becoming a little too serious after the events of ‘The Winter Soldier’. With a soundtrack of ’70 and ’80s hits, and Pratt at the helm of a band of entertaining misfits, it became an instant fan favorite,” says WIRED.
Esquire explains that, “‘Guardians’ has everything a Marvel movie should: an awesome soundtrack, a hilarious script, a unique visual style, its own attitude, an ensemble of fully-developed characters, a talking tree, and the rare ability to stand alone among the rest of the universe. ‘Guardians’ is at once part of the MCU and literally its own galaxy, yet it still provides the backbone for how all these worlds are connected.”
Rotten Tomatoes agrees, “Guardians of the Galaxy is just as irreverent as fans of the frequently zany Marvel comic would expect — as well as funny, thrilling, full of heart, and packed with visual splendor.”
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America’s second solo film concludes the list due to it’s “spy-thriller” vibe and central conflict. Collider says: “The folks behind ‘Winter Soldier’ were smart enough to understand that Captain America is an old-fashioned throwback and that he represents what we want the world to be. There’s a rich vein of conflict when he’s thrown up against what cynics cite as pragmatism and viewing the world ‘as it is.’ From there, you get a character, who lifts us up and inspires us to be better rather than getting us dragged down in the mud.”
The MCU has always been great about blending sub-genres into the superhero genre. As Space puts it: “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. ”
Parade talked about how they loved the lead of the movie, Chris Evans. “A sophisticated leap for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: The Winter Soldier tells the story of a superhuman World War II veteran who is thawed from suspended animation into the modern world. Evans is so good in these movies, and Steve Rogers’ struggle to make sense of how his country and society at large have evolved, for better or worse, makes for enthralling drama. It’s like a spy thriller of a bygone era, only with superheroes.”
You might also be interested in:
- Rotten Tomatoes
- The AV Club
- Men’s Health
- GQ UK
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.