After the release of Iron Man in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has released 23 movies and has over 14 more in development. The pandemic pushed back the release of several films, including Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and The Eternals.

Fans were finally given WandaVision this year on Disney+, the series being the first MCU product released since Spider-Man: Far from Home that was released in 2019. The upcoming MCU development, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, is set to be released on March 19. 

As we enter the fourth phase of the MCU, it’s time to look back at the best movies in the franchise so far. Here are the top Marvel movies, ranked:

9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

After the chaotic events that occurred in The Avengers, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) teams up with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and newcomer Falcon (Anthony Mackie) to take down new threats including a new assassin -- the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). 

The sequel becomes a fan-favorite as it is filled with many twists and turns, making it one of the most exciting and thrilling films in the MCU franchise. 

8.  Spider-Man: Homecoming

15-year-old Peter Parker (Tom Holland) returns home after fighting with the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War. Upon returning, he finds himself wanting to be more than your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. He discovers what it’s like to be a real hero, with the help of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), after he crosses paths with a certain villain, the Vulture (Michael Keaton). 

This coming of age, standalone film is one of the most beloved films of the MCU as it contains many fun, lighthearted and hilarious scenes, heavily resembling a classic John Hughes film. 

7.  Captain America: Civil War

This third Captain America film unleashes a darker side to Marvel, as it shows that actions have consequences. A disagreement between Captain America and Iron Man lead to an all-out brawl between the Avengers. This film is filled with strong tensions, drama and tons of action-packed scenes and shows the downside of being a superhero. 

6.  Avengers: Infinity War

10 years after the first MCU release, we are given one of the most anticipated films of all time. All the heroes in the universe come together to defeat their hardest villain to date: Thanos (Josh Brolin). As Thanos tries to take over the universe with the infinity stones, the Avengers must defeat him before he uses them to create a new reality.  

Every scene is action-packed and puts you on the edge of your seat. The ending is one of the most shocking, tear-jerking endings you’ll ever see. 

5. Thor: Ragnarok

In this third installment of the Thor trilogy, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself sent to another universe, where he’s imprisoned and forced to fight in order to escape. Along the way, he finds fellow Avenger, the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). 

This colorful, hilarious and exciting film shows a different, better side of Thor as he fights several battles (including his own) throughout the film. Brilliantly directed by Taika Waititi, the film easily becomes one of the most loved films in the MCU franchise.  

4. Black Panther

Black Panther is the first MCU film to feature a cast that is African American-dominant. It is also the first MCU film to win an Academy Award, making it one of the biggest successes by Marvel. 

The film inspires empowerment and celebrates African culture in a different, non-typical way. The major cultural impact this movie has makes it one of the best MCU films to date.  

3. Iron Man

Iron Man was the first film released in the MCU, opening up a new creative world for Marvel superheroes. In this first installment, we are introduced to Tony Stark, the genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist. Robert Downey Jr. embodies the role of Iron Man perfectly. With his witty jokes, incredible intelligence and amazing character development, Iron Man becomes one of the favorite and most important characters in the MCU. 

2. The Avengers

Directed by Joss Whedon, this film features the Avengers assembling for the first time to take down Thor’s brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). The Avengers create a pivotal point in the franchise, ending phase one and introducing us to one of the infinity stones and to Thanos, making it one of the most important films in the MCU.

Filled with hilarious, exhilarating and staggering moments, it became one of the biggest Blockbuster movies of all time.  

1. Avengers: Endgame

It’s obvious that this movie tops the list. This enthralling finale to The Avengers tetralogy was a huge success for the MCU. It became the highest-grossing film for over a year (recently being knocked back down by Avatar). 

It’s an emotional ride, start to finish as we see the original six Avengers fight together one last time. The most unforgettable moments in the MCU come from this movie. Avengers: Endgame is the best conclusion to the first three phases in the franchise.  

lh129720@ohio.edu