All The Despicable Me Movies, Ranked

Gru and his Minions prepare to take over an ice cream parlor in Minions: The Rise of Gru.
(Image credit: Universal Studios/Illumination)

It's kind of hard to believe, but we've had Gru, and in turn, the minions in our lives for over a decade now, as we've been getting Despicable Me movies since 2010. Where does the time go? 

I don't know, but what I do know is that Illumination, which I like to call the house that Gru built (which will soon be lived in by the Super Mario Bros.) keeps pumping them out, and millions of us keep watching them. Now, while your mileage may vary on the franchise – our very own Mike Reyes called Minions: The Rise of Gru, "officially rotten" - I think it's fair to say that many people love this franchise, and you know what? I love it, too. That said, which movie is the top banana? Well, you're about to find out.

Oh, and minor spoilers up ahead.       

The Minions with Scarlet Overkill

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

5. Minions (2015) 

In this prequel, directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, that goes all the way back to the Jurassic age, three minions by the names of Kevin, Stewart, and Bob leave their tribe to go on the hunt for a new evil leader, and they find one in Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock). But, things don't go as planned, and of course they end up challenging her. Laughs (I guess?) ensue.  

Even though Minions was the first Despicable Me-related movie to pass a billion at the box office, it's a complete and utter misfire. This was the movie that made me legitimately start to hate the minion characters, as you can only take their trademark "minionese" language for so long.  

Plus, it's just not funny. It's also a shame that they botched the female antagonist, as Scarlet Overkill is about as forgettable as the plot of this bland film. I know Illumination isn't Pixar (which I think is currently in its golden age) or Disney, but Minions makes it feel like Illumination movies are better suited for the dollar bin at the supermarket than the big screen. It's really that bad.   

El Macho in Despicable Me 2

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

4. Despicable Me 2 (2013) 

Now, here's some early controversy, as most people would likely agree that Despicable Me 2, which was directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin, is the superior sequel to the original, as it has an audience score of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, while Despicable Me 3 has a lowly audience score of 53%, but I can explain my placement! First, though, the plot.  

In this 2013 sequel, we see Gru banding together with the AVL (the Anti-Villain League) in order to have more time with the girls, and to also set a better example for them. This, however, puts him at odds with El Macho, a renowned bank robber who is living incognito. Luckily, Gru has the help of a new character named Lucy (Kristen Wiig), and he'll need all the help he can get, since he also has to go up against another, possibly greater threat in the evil purple minions! 

And, I think that's where Despicable Me 2 rubs me the wrong way, since I detest the evil minions. Somehow, I find them even more annoying than the regular minions. I also find El Macho to be one of the weaker (figuratively, not literally speaking) villains in the franchise. Plus, this is the beginning of Gru's role as a more heroic type, and it kind of feels like an awkward transition in this second film. So, I would say that Despicable Me 2 is fine, but just fine. I do like it, but only a little.  

Gru and his brother

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

3. Despicable Me 3 (2017) 

Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, Despicable Me 3 finds the now-married Gru and Lucy facing off against a new threat in the '80s obsessed former child star, Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker). But, Gru finds that he has other issues to deal with first, because he learns that he has a twin brother (also voiced by Steve Carell) that he never knew about, with the crux of the film being whether they can work together or not to defeat Bratt (Spoiler alert: they can). 

Our very own Eric Eisenberg wasn't fond of Despicable Me 2, but he especially didn't like Despicable Me 3, which he called "insultingly simplistic." That said, I actually think this simplicity works in the film's favor.   

Despicable Me 3's plot is pretty straightforward and to the point, but I think it's funnier for being so. I also think the action set pieces may be the best in the entire series (how can you not love that boat heist in the beginning?). Also, by the third movie, I've warmed up to Gru and Lucy (Grucy!) as a heroic team. Despicable Me 3 isn't perfect - far from it - but when it comes to the Despicable Me sequels, I'll pick 3 over 2 every time.  

The Vicious 6 dropping into Gru's living room in Minions: The Rise of Gru.

(Image credit: Illumination Entertainment & Universal Studios)

2. Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022) 

Directed by Kyle Balda, this second Despicable Me prequel takes place in the '70s, and it features Gru as an 11-year-old villain in training who wants to join a supervillain team called the Vicious Six. A lot of sight-gags, and a surprising amount of winks and nods overwhelm this prequel, but at its heart, it's a sweet film.

And guess what! The minions aren't nearly as annoying in this one. It might be because young Gru plays such a big part in it, so the story isn't purely focused on Kevin, Stewart, and Bob (and now Otto). The Vicious Six (voiced by an all-star cast including Taraji P. Henson, Lucy Lawless, and Alan Arkin, just to name a few) are also all really enjoyable. Overall, it's a madcap adventure, and the kind of fun that you would hope for from the series. It's not for everyone, I suppose, but I definitely enjoyed it. 

The main characters in Despicable Me.

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

1. Despicable Me (2010) 

In this original film directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin, we're introduced to the supervillain Gru and his minions, who want to steal the moon. But, along the way, he adopts three adorable orphans, and then changes his ways. It has heart, it's funny, and it's unique. What more could you possibly want in an animated feature? 

Not much, apparently, since the original is still the best in the franchise. While I much prefer the Sing series when it comes to the Illumination catalog (and, apparently, so does Mike Reyes since he gave both the first Sing, and Sing 2, glowing reviews), I still consider the first Despicable Me to be the quintessential Illumination film, because it has all the wackiness, sight gags, and creativity that I expect from the popular studio.

Plus, I just love that Gru is a villain in this one, which actually fits the title. Add in the great soundtrack, which would be borrowed and carried on into the two sequels, and you have the best Despicable Me movie by far. 

But, what's your favorite Despicable Me movie? For more news on everything despicable, make sure to swing by here often. 

Rich Knight
Content Producer

Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.