At this point, it seems like the Marvel Cinematic Universe can do no wrong. With 22 movies (and counting) making up one centralized franchise, the MCU has earned Disney billions, made Kevin Feige an Academy Award-nominated producer and redefined the comic book film as a touchstone of modern cinema… depending on who you ask.
If you ask IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes, the MCU is pretty solid, but that is not to say that every one of its films has a perfect score, nor do the scores on either site turn out the same. For instance, the top rated Marvel film on IMDb is Avengers: Endgame at 8.5, but it ranks at Number 2 on the Tomatometer at 94% behind Black Panther, which earned 97% on RT, yet only 7.3 over at IMDb.
The remarkable thing, however, is that no MCU film has a particularly “bad” score according to the collective ratings of critics or audiences, but in Hollywood’s dog eat dog world, there are always going to be a few that get sent to the lower tiers of the totem pole. Based on the collective ratings of IMDb users and verified critics on Rotten Tomatoes, these are the five MCU movies ranked in descending order as the least super.
5. Iron Man 2 (2010)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe hit the ground running with its first swing for the fences with Jon Favreau (known then for directing Elf, writing and starring in Swingers, and playing Monica’s billionaire boyfriend on Friends) at the helm and starring then-troubled actor Robert Downey Jr. in the title role of a superhero who was not considered one of Marvel’s flagship characters at the time. Yet, Iron Man skyrocketed to commercial and critical success in 2008. Two years later, its follow-up could not match the same results.
The first Iron Man is tied with Avengers: Endgame on the Tomatometer at 94%, while Iron Man 2 (which Jon Favreau returned to direct) stands at 73% and IMDb users rated it comparatively lower with a current 7.0 score, both of which (to really put it in perspective) are lower scores than the often mocked Iron Man 3 received from both sites. Perhaps it was Mickey Rourke as the relatively bland main villain, Whiplash, the inconsequential subplot of Tony Stark’s health concerns, and the slow build to an otherwise beautifully constructed action sequence by Gendy Tartakovsky that did not do much to help the sequel win as many fans over.
4. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
I always used to think that of the main Avengers lineup, Captain America was the one getting all the best movies. While many would agree that Chris Evans shines brightly in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers’ first outing, tracing his desperation to join the Army as a scrawny underdog and subsequently becoming a World War II legend after science makes him superhuman, did not make the best first impression with everyone.
Despite earning a certified fresh rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, Captain America: The First Avenger stands at a current score of 6.9 on IMDb, so, why does this well-meaning, popcorn period drama not get the love that subsequent MCU films do? You are asking the wrong guy, because while I enjoy director Joe Johnston’s pulpy, 1940s aesthetic and Chris Evans’ pure and heartfelt performance, as well as believe the story and battle sequences to match the tone perfectly, I suppose my peers, like Tony Stark, initially found Captain America to be a little too square, the story a little too formulaic and the action uninspired and hokey. At least most of us can agree it is better than the straight-to-video Captain America from 1990.
3. Captain Marvel (2019)
Steve Rogers is not the only captain in the MCU to receive mixed reviews for their first movie, to say the least. Despite getting a fresh 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, earning more than $1 billion worldwide and cited as the most powerful hero in the Marvel universe, Captain Marvel’s solo film is not often referred to as one of Marvel’s most beloved endeavors, earning a 6.9 rating from IMDb users, which is at least still better than the 48% audience score on RT.
While Academy Award-winner Brie Larson’s performance as Carol Danvers, a human/Kree hybrid warrior who discovers unexpected revelations about her past when she crash lands on Earth, was met with nearly universal praise, Captain Marvel’s harshest critics believe the film suffers from typical origin story cliches, is overwrought with egregious references to its 1990s period setting and ignores the much-encouraged “show, don’t tell” method when shedding light on its message of female empowerment. Ironically, Shazam!, David Sandberg’s 2019 adaptation of a DC superhero originally referred to as Captain Marvel before Marvel Comics copyrighted the name, received a far better reception from both critics and audiences.
2. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok is one of the most beloved MCU films as of late for its dazzling, colorful aesthetic right out of an ‘80s Saturday morning cartoon and giving the title character a much-needed sense of humor. However, there was a time when the God of Thunder did not have the same appeal whenever the Avengers were not around, even to its star, Chris Hemsworth. Exhibit A - Thor: The Dark World.
In attempt to bring a darker vision to Asgard than the Shakespearean tone Kenneth Branagh applied to 2011’s Thor, Marvel brought in Alan Taylor to instill a vision for the sequel more in line with what the director brought to Game of Thrones. Instead, Thor: The Dark World failed to surpass its predecessor with a villain (Malekith) who may, arguably, be the least engaging antagonist in the MCU, and a convoluted story that makes for an utterly forgettable experience overall. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki serves as the silver lining, but the movie ultimately has a 6.9 rating on IMDb and only 66% on the Tomatometer. With Oscar winner Taika Waititi returning to helm Thor: Love and Thunder, we may never have to worry about legends of Norse mythology suffering the same fate again.
1. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
You might no longer count this film as part of MCU, or even remember it exists, especially since Mark Ruffalo has maintained a winning portrayal of the MCU’s less-than-jolly, green giant since 2012’s The Avengers after Edward Norton walked away from playing Bruce Banner in future films. His exit must mean he agreed with how most people seemed to feel about it.
Scores for The Incredible Hulk are actually pretty neck-and-neck, with IMDb users awarding it a 6.7 rating and critical reception averaging to 67% on the Tomatometer. Many have deemed it as mediocre popcorn fluff with no other purpose than to introduce the Hulk to the MCU. There had not been such an unusual meshing of opinion among two disparate filmgoing worlds that are usually at each others’ throats, especially over comic book films, since… well, probably the last time Hulk got his own movie.
What do you think? Would you also consider these to be the MCU’s worst offenders or do you feel they deserve a second chance? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for more Marvel movie news here on CinemaBlend.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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