Debating what the best movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe could occupy a good chunk of time, and, with a current roster of 31 movies (As of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania), we’d probably have a dozen movies getting a number one vote from a few people. But, a much easier question to pose is: what’s the best Phase in the MCU? Phase IV ended with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Technically Phase IV ended with The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, but I’m only going be consider movies in this ranking.
Here’s a quick list of the movies in each phase so you can glance through and see which one you would rate the highest. Below I have tables with every movie and their rating from IMDb.com, and RottenTomatoes Critics/Users, and as a kicker, I have the Peeple’s Poll results from the RunPee app for the last three movies of Phase III and all of Phase IV.
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- Iron Man
- The Incredible Hulk
- Iron Man 2
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Marvel’s The Avengers.
Can you imagine going back in time to 2008 and telling yourself that Robert Downey Jr. would make Iron Man a cultural phenomenon and the subsequent movies would still be going strong after 15 years and 31 movies and numerous TV series?
- Iron Man 3
- Thor: The Dark World
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
I don’t think this is the best phase, but we have to appreciate some solid groundwork that was laid down in these movies. Plus, we were introduced to the Guardians of the Galaxy.
- Captain America: Civil War
- Doctor Strange
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Black Panther
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
- Captain Marvel
- Avengers: Endgame
- Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Wow, this was just a relentless string of powerful movies. Personally, half of my top-10 MCU movies came in this phase.
- Black Widow
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
- Spider-Man: No Way Home
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
- Thor: Love and Thunder
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
There were some hits and misses in this phase. You don’t need me to tell you which ones were which. 🙂
My choice for my favorite phase is easy. What about yours? Take a minute to pick yours before you see the data below.
Deep Data Dive
Here’s a chart of all the movies rated by IMDb.com, RottenTomatoes Critics/Users, and the Peeple’s Poll, followed by the raw data.
|2||2008||The Incredible Hulk||67%||67%||70%|
|3||2010||Iron Man 2||70%||73%||71%|
|5||2011||Captain America: The First Avenger||69%||80%||74%|
|6||2012||Marvel’s The Avengers||80%||91%||91%|
|7||2013||Iron Man 3||72%||79%||78%|
|8||2013||Thor: The Dark World||69%||67%||76%|
|9||2014||Captain America: The Winter Soldier||77%||90%||92%|
|10||2014||Guardians of the Galaxy||80%||91%||92%|
|11||2015||Avengers: Age of Ultron||73%||75%||83%|
|13||2016||Captain America: Civil War||78%||91%||89%|
|15||2017||Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2||76%||84%||87%|
|19||2018||Avengers: Infinity War||85%||85%||91%|
|20||2018||Ant-Man and the Wasp||71%||88%||76%|
|23||2019||Spider-Man: Far From Home||76%||90%||95%||87%|
|25||9/2021||Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings||74%||91%||98%||88%|
|27||12/2021||Spider-Man: No Way Home||82%||93%||98%||92%|
|28||5/2022||Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness||69%||74%||85%||81%|
|29||7/2022||Thor: Love and Thunder||63%||64%||77%||80%|
|30||11/2022||Black Panther: Wakanda Forever||68%||84%||94%||84%|
According to IMDb and RT/critics, the best MCU movie is Black Panther with 89% and 97% respectively. RT/users rank Spider-Man: No Way Home the highest with 98%. RunPee users are split between Spider-Man: No Way Home and Avengers: Endgame with a 92% in the Peeple’s Poll.
Eternals is the lowest-rated movie by all accounts except for RT/users. RT/users gave that honor to Ant-Man and the Wasp with a 76%. Eternals and Thor: Love and Thunder come in a close second to worse with 77%.
Focus on Phases
Here’s a look at the averages of the phases by themselves without the mess of all the individual movies.
Things I notice
First, what the H is up with IMDb.com? They consistently rate movies lower than anyone else, and it’s not even close.
Second, the RottenTomatoes critics and users are in agreement for Phase III, but they couldn’t be more different from each other in Phase IV. I’m shocked that RT/Users have Phase IV rated higher than Phase III. I mean, Phase IV had Eternals, by far the lowest-rated of all MCU movies.
Average the averages
If we average the averages of IMDb, RT/critics, and RT/users then we get the following result. (I’m going to leave the Peeple’s Poll results out of it since we don’t have complete data.)
It makes sense to me that Phase III comes out on top. That is by far my favorite phase. But the RT/users rated Phase IV at the top, yet when we look at the overall average Phase IV comes out last, by just a hair. And Phase II is the 2nd best? Really?
I just had to see how Eternals impacted the overall ratings for Phase IV. If I remove that movie from the Phase IV roster then the number change as so:
IMDb: 69% to 71%
RT/critics: 76% to 81%
RT/users: 89% to 91%
Peeple’s Poll: 84% to 85%
That would bring Phase IV’s Average of averages up to 81% and the second-best phase of the bunch. Interesting what one rotten apple can do to the fruit salad.
How about you? What’s your favorite phase of the MCU?
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Join the conversation
Rob Williams Administrator
What an absolute stinker of a question! Iron Man was an incredible start to the franchise. I still out it to the top of my choices to this day. Sadly though, the rest of the phase was a bit lack lustre.
I’m going to go with Phase III for my favourite. When Captain Marvel is the low spot you know you have a winner on your hands!
Dan Gardner Administrator
Well put, Captain Marvel was a good low point.
For me Personally the first one, had the best movies, the last one was the WORST. Also as far a Rotten Tomatoes, I think the critics there are the whole website is owned or paid for by Disney, as the “critics” ALWAYS rank Marvel movies higher then the people who saw them (Audience) and the rank DC lower then again the audience. Which makes no sense to me how you can be off 30-40 points
Dan Gardner Administrator
Interesting. I didn’t know that Disney owned RottenTomatoes. I wish they’d spend the money to at least fix the website. I can’t even load the homepage because it locks up my browser every time. I have to google the movie and jump directly to that page on their sight to get it to load correctly.
Personally, I think the RunPee Peeple’s Poll is the best source of movie ratings, but perhaps I’m biased. 🙂