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Marvel Cinematic Universe: what is the best phase so far?

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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, 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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Phase I

  • Iron Man
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Iron Man 2
  • Thor
  • 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?

Phase II

  • Iron Man 3
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Ant-Man

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.

Phase III

  • 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.

Phase IV

  • Black Widow
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Eternals
  • 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, RottenTomatoes Critics/Users, and the Peeple’s Poll, followed by the raw data.

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Phase I

# Year Title IMDb RT-critics RT-users Peeple
1 2008 Iron Man 79% 94% 91%
2 2008 The Incredible Hulk 67% 67% 70%
3 2010 Iron Man 2 70% 73% 71%
4 2011 Thor 70% 78% 76%
5 2011 Captain America: The First Avenger 69% 80% 74%
6 2012 Marvel’s The Avengers 80% 91% 91%
Average 73% 81% 79%

Phase II

# Year Title IMDb RT-critics RT-users Peeple
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%
12 2015 Ant-Man 73% 83% 86%
Average 74% 81% 85%

Phase III

# Year Title IMDb RT-critics RT-users Peeple
13 2016 Captain America: Civil War 78% 91% 89%
14 2016 Doctor Strange 75% 89% 86%
15 2017 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 76% 84% 87%
16 2017 Spider-Man: Homecoming 74% 92% 87%
17 2017 Thor: Ragnarok 79% 93% 87%
18 2018 Black Panther 89% 97% 97%
19 2018 Avengers: Infinity War 85% 85% 91%
20 2018 Ant-Man and the Wasp 71% 88% 76%
21 2019 Captain Marvel 70% 78% 78% 85%
22 2019 Avengers: Endgame 85% 94% 90% 92%
23 2019 Spider-Man: Far From Home 76% 90% 95% 87%
Average 78% 89% 88% 88%

Phase IV

# Year Title IMDb RT-critics RT-users Peeple
24 7/2021 Black Widow 67% 79% 91% 85%
25 9/2021 Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 74% 91% 98% 88%
26 11/2021 Eternals 63% 47% 77% 76%
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%
Average 69% 76% 89% 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 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?

Don’t miss your favorite movie moments because you have to pee or need a snack. Use the RunPee app (Androidor iPhone) when you go to the movies. We have Peetimes for all wide release films every week, including Bad Boys: Ride or Die, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga and coming soon Inside Out 2, Despicable Me 4  and many others. We have literally thousands of Peetimes—from classic movies through today’s blockbusters. You can also keep up with movie news and reviews on our blog, or by following us on Twitter @RunPee. If there’s a new film out there, we’ve got your bladder covered.

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4 responses to “Marvel Cinematic Universe: what is the best phase so far?”

  1. Rob Williams Avatar
    Rob Williams

    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!

  2. Well put, Captain Marvel was a good low point.

  3. Michael Fields Avatar
    Michael Fields

    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

    1. 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. 🙂

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