The Best And Worst Thing About Every Marvel Movie

Star-Lord and the Guardians in Vol. 3
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Considering just how big the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become, the fact that its overall quality still trends toward being pretty good is a significant accomplishment. We all have our favorite movies, and our least favorite, but most of the time things are fine. Sometimes the MCU can be legitimately great, and it’s rarely actually that bad.

But, as with any form of art, perfection is largely unattainable. The best MCU films still have elements that could be better. By the same token, the worst installments aren’t entirely without merit. So, from Iron Man to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, here is a look at every single Marvel Cinematic Universe film, and the best and worst parts of each one. 

Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark at the end of Iron Man

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Iron Man 

Best Thing: Robert Downey Jr’s perfect casting

If there was one thing that first MCU movie had to get right above all else it was casting its first hero, and they simply could not have done any better. Robert Downey Jr. is absolutely perfect as Tony Stark. Both the actor and the character were men in need of second chances, and Downey shows that vulnerability perfectly while also coming across as heroic.

Worst Thing: The final battle is just robots punching each other

Iron Man set a tone for excellent casting in the MCU but unfortunately also set a tone for unfortunate endings. The big finale is ultimately just two guys in armored suits punching each other. There just isn’t a lot else there.

The Incredible Hulk about to throw a punch

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The Incredible Hulk 

Best Thing: Hulk Smash

If you’re going to see an Incredible Hulk movie then what you’re probably looking for is a massive green dude to break stuff and punch things. As far as that goes, The Incredible Hulk succeeds pretty well. The action sequence at the end against Abomination is fun enough that you might not notice the bad part about it.

Worst Thing: Early CGI doesn’t hold up

The bad part is that the CGI doesn’t really work. Part of this is certainly looking back in retrospect, as the Hulk looks different now, not only because he’s played by a different actor, but because he's animated better. 

Mickey Rourke in Iron Man 2

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Iron Man 2

Best Thing: Justin Hammer

There are two villains in Iron Man 2 and one of them audiences have repeatedly hoped we might see again. Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer isn’t the most important new addition to the franchise in the sequel, but he is absolutely the most fun.

Worst Thing: Whiplash

The other villain, however, doesn’t succeed nearly as well. Whiplash is what happens when your Iron Man movie is so successful you rush a sequel and just pull a villain off the shelf. There’s no depth here, which makes the conflict ring hollow.

Chris Hemsworth in Thor

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Thor 

Best Thing: The Introduction Of Tom Hiddelston’s Loki

Thor would eventually come into his own, but he’s certainly not the most interesting thing in his own movie. From the very beginning, it was clear that what Marvel found with Tom Hiddleston as Loki was truly special. 

Worst Thing: Kenneth Branagh is not an action movie director

Branagh is a great director and the decision to bring his Shakespearean sensibilities to the superhero genre actually works a lot better than you might expect. Where he’s clearly having trouble, however, is the action. The superpowered battles just don’t have the impact, either on screen or for the audience, that they should.

Steve Rogers and Rocky in Captain America: The first avenger

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Captain America: The First Avenger 

Best Thing: Steve throws himself on a grenade

Before Steve Rogers ever gets injected with super soldier serum he shows that he’s actually been Captain America from the beginning. The willingness to throw himself on a live grenade is what causes the rest of the movie to happen; it endears him to the other characters and to us, as well.

Worst Thing: The silly brief love triangle

There’s a scene shortly after Steve leads a heroic rescue mission where a woman (Natalie Dormer) who is very impressed by him makes a move and kisses him just as Peggy walks up. It leads to one of those classic misunderstandings which only exist in movies to keep romantic partners apart longer, and it’s always silly. 

MCU's Avengers getting ready to fight Chitauri

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The Avengers

Best Thing: That one team shot

You know the one. The moment when The Avengers become The Avengers. The camera circles around them, the music swells, and six movies come together in one moment, proving that the MCU truly works.

Worst Thing: Coulson’s death

It’s a key moment, as it’s part of what brings the characters together, but Agent Coulson was just as important to the success of the MCU as any of the Avengers, and it’s been missing something ever since he died.

Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin in Iron Man 3

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Iron Man 3 

Best Thing: The Mandarin Twist

Because the MCU is based on existing Marvel Comics, you can get a general idea of what may happen if you know the stories, which is why the big twist in Iron Man 3 is so great. Nobody saw it coming.

Worst Thing: The Mandarin Twist

Having said that, a lot of people hated the Mandarin twist, and there’s an argument to be made that taking one of Marvel’s few Asian characters and having him ultimately played by a non-Chinese actor was the wrong move.

Thor holding the Mjolnir in Thor: The Dark World

(Image credit: Marvel/Disney)

Thor: The Dark World 

Best Thing: Freya’s death scene

Thor: The Dark World has its share of issues, but Rene Russo’s Freya isn’t one of them. Her death scene is a fairly big surprise, and so it hits with emotional weight when the rest of the movie largely doesn’t.

Worst Thing: Who was the villain again?

The only thing that would have made the death scene better is if she were killed by a villain we actually remember. You don’t recollect his name or why he was the villain, and that’s the problem. No, I'm not going to look it up and pretend I remember.

samuel l jackson as nick fury in captain america the winter soldier

(Image credit: Marvel/YouTube)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier 

Best Thing: The Elevator Fight

Marvel movies are full of action sequences and most are fine, but few of them are truly great. Captain America: The Winter Soldier's elevator fight is well choreographed and shot, allowing for one of the most unique and exciting battles in the MCU. Even Chris Evans knows it's the best.

Worst Thing: Nick Fury’s “death”

Did anybody actually believe that Fury died here? The movie makes the reveal that he’s still alive feel like they thought they fooled somebody. They did not. 

goot in guardians of the galaxy vol 1

(Image credit: Marvel)

Guardians Of The Galaxy 

Best Thing: We are Groot

By the end of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, we're fully on board with this team of broken misfits. Which makes the fact that we lose one of them hurt a lot more than we might expect. Groot’s final words resonate in a way that only a creature's of few words can.

Worst Thing: Another unmemorable villain

Perhaps because it has so many characters to introduce, it doesn’t have much time left for its villain. As such, Ronan the Accuser is given a very rushed setup and a weak motivation, despite his connection to the biggest villain of the first three phases. 

Ultron

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Best Thing: James Spader’s Ultron

Ultron maybe doesn’t have the most original motivation for rogue AI, but he does have the best possible voice for it. James Spader is absolutely perfect as the voice, and he brings a life to the CGI character that it desperately needs. It's a shame Spader has not returned to voice him since.

Worst Thing: Black Widow’s sterilization

The romance between Bruce Banner and Black Widow is an idea that starts and ends here, so it ends up having little impact, but that makes Natasha’s tearful admission that she cannot have children (and the implicit indication that there is something wrong with her because of it) that much more out of place.

Ant-Man crouching

(Image credit: disney)

Ant-Man

Best Thing: Creative final fight

The final battle in Ant-Man follows many of the same beats as several (far less) interesting battles in the MCU, but what those fights didn’t have was a Thomas the Tank Engine toy the size of a city bus. This battle uses the unique abilities of the characters to great effect to make this fight much stronger.

Worst Thing: Not enough Hope Van Dyne

Ant-Man is all about Scott Lang becoming a capable superhero, and it’s a fun journey, but the movie already has a woman quite capable in Hope Van Dyne. Leaving the Wasp reveal until a post-credits scene feels like a waste. 

Team Cap in Civil War

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Captain America: Civil War 

Best Thing: The airport battle

Is the airport battle a bit like taking all your superhero action figures and throwing them together? Yeah, but that’s also why it’s great. Not since the first Avengers had we seen so many of our favorite Marvel heroes in one place, and it still didn’t get old.

Worst Thing: Zemo’s plan is convoluted as hell 

Zemo is far from the worst villain in the MCU. He’s actually one of the more interesting ones overall, but it has to be said that his plan here is completely ridiculous. There are so many steps involved that it's almost funny that the plan actually succeeds.

Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange

(Image credit: Disney / Marvel)

Doctor Strange 

Best Thing: A final battle that isn’t just a fistfight

Some of the best parts of Marvel movies have been the action sequences where heroes and villains fight, but Doctor Strange tries something different when the hero goes up against Dormamu and finds a way to win that is entirely about outsmarting, not out punching, his opponent. It's not less exciting, but it's a lot more creative.

Worst Thing: Not enough Rachel McAdams

At this point, it seems like every working actor has a role in the MCU, but some of them have been criminally underused. When you get Rachel McAdams in your movie you should do something with her, but Doctor Strange doesn’t.

Karen Gillan as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 

Best Thing: Nebula and Gamora

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an emotional movie all the way around, but the most powerful relationship is between Gamora and Nebula. They very nearly kill each other before Nebula finally takes the first step to healing by revealing how she truly feels. It’s an incredible moment.

Worst Thing: Mantis as the butt of jokes

Mantis is a great addition to the Guardians, but her introduction is a tough one. The way that Drax perpetually insults her, in a way that is played for laughs, just isn’t as funny as it was supposed to be. 

Michael Keaton as Vulture

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Spider-Man: Homecoming 

Best Thing: Michael Keaton’s Villain speech

Michael Keaton is great across the board in Homecoming but the best moment comes as he's driving Peter and his date to the prom, and they have a conversation that, on the surface, seems plain, but is actually a much deeper conversation. They reveal themselves to each other, without giving anything away. 

Worst Thing: The M.J. “twist”

Homecoming tries to mix up the formula of Spider-Man movies, and does such a good job overall that feeling a need to force Zendaya’s character into being M.J. just isn’t right. She’s her own character, and should have been allowed to be such. Making her M.J. doesn’t do anything the movie or franchise needs.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston)in an elevator together in Thor: Ragnarok

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Thor: Ragnarok

Best Thing: A new tone that suits Thor better

Everything changed for Thor with Ragnarok, but most importantly, what changed was his sense of humor. With Taika Waittiti at the helm, we had a Thor that was much lighter in tone, and that seems to suit the character and Chris Hemsworth a lot more.

Worst Thing:  An unworthy end to the Warriors Three

However, a casualty of Ragnarok, literally, were the Warriors Three, who it seems Waititi didn’t know what to do with, and so he disposed of them in short order. They deserved better. 

Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther walking away from fiery crash

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Black Panther

Best Thing: T’Challa rejects the ancestors

It’s difficult to not just say “everything” is what’s best about Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman is one of the MCU’s great casting decisions. If that hadn’t been clear previously, it is in the climax of the film, when T’Challa takes his father and the rest of his ancestors to task for their bad decisions.

Worst Thing: Two great villains gone too soon

One of the other things that makes the film so great is its villains. Michael B. Jordan is excellent as Killmonger, and at least he had a whole movie to shine. Andy Serkis’ Klaue felt like a villain who was never really given a chance to be as big as he could have been, despite being excellent whenever he was on screen.

Gamora in Vormir in Avengers: Infinity War

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Avengers: Infinity War

Best Thing: Groot and Stormbreaker

There are numerous moments in the last two Avengers movies that were clearly designed to make fans stand up and cheer, but the greatest moment of Infinity War comes from the least likely place. Groot becomes the true hero of the film when he unites the pieces of Stormbreaker and uses his own arm to give the weapon a handle.

Worst Thing: The Soul Stone

Many lives are lost in Infinity War, but none are more heartbreaking than Gamora. And, not simply from a storytelling standpoint. It’s frustrating because the premise of the Soul Stone sequence, that Thanos loves Gamora, is so clearly false by virtue of what he’s willing to do.

Michael Peña as Luis in Ant-Man & the Wasp

(Image credit: Marvel/YouTube)

Ant-Man And The Wasp 

Best Thing: Michael Pena’s Luis

We met Luis in the first Ant-Man movie and he was absolutely hilarious, so the sequel did what all sequels at least claim to: give us more of what we want. Luis becomes a much more significant part of Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the sequel is better for it.

Worst Thing: More forgettable villains

Stop if you’ve heard this one before, but sometimes we forget who the villains in Marvel movies even are, and this is very much the case in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Ghost is set to return to the MCU, but we'll need a refresher on who she is.

Brie Larson as Captain Marvel

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Captain Marvel 

Best Thing: Captain Marvel Blasting Yon-Rogg

Sometimes a superhero movie builds to an epic and inevitable encounter between a hero and villain, and we get a fight that is everything we dreamed of. Sometimes the villain gets blasted into a wall because the hero owes him nothing, and it's even more satisfying.

Worst Thing: Unnecessarily '90s

Captain Marvel is set in the ’90s for “prequel” reasons, which is fine, but unlike the Guardians of the Galaxy films, which use music for particular story and character reasons, the setting here isn’t that important, and yet it never stops forcing itself on the story.

The cast of Avengers: Endgame

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Avengers: Endgame 

Best Thing: Avengers Assemble

It was the moment we waited more than a decade for. A complete unification of every living hero in the MCU up to that moment. It was everything we wanted.

Worst Thing: Smart Hulk is born off screen

Considering just how long the Avengers movies are you'd think they would have found time to not just explain the origin of Smart Hulk, but let that important stuff happen on-screen.

Zendaya and Tom Holland in Far From Home

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Spider-Man: Far From Home 

Best Thing: Peter & MJ

It’s not really a shock that Tom Holland and Zendaya got together in real life because the chemistry between the two is excellent. We never really got to see it in the previous Spider-Man movie, but it’s the backbone of this one, and it's excellent.

Worst Thing: Mysterio’s backstory

Retroactively connecting a story back to something that we've already seen is, almost without exception, a clunky way to do things, and when it comes to Mysterio’s motivations, it’s pretty clunky here, as well. 

Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova in Black Widow

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Black Widow

Best Thing: Florence Pugh

We lost our first Black Widow with the titular movie, but the film gave us a suitable replacement. Pugh’s Yelena isn’t a carbon copy of Scarlett Johansson, which means she’ll still bring something new to the MCU, while still lending similar skills to any plot that requires her. 

Worst Thing: The Taskmaster Reveal

It is perfectly acceptable for an MCU movie to do something drastically different with a character that is well-known in comics. However, if you’re going to treat the identity of a character as a big deal, the reveal needs to be bigger than what we got here.

Tony Leung as the Mandarin

(Image credit: Disney)

Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings 

Best Thing: Wenwu vs. Jiang Li

The martial arts combat of Shang-Chi is a nice change of pace from the usual MCU dust-up, and the best is the fight/romance of Wewu and Jiang Li. It’s a beautifully choreographed battle and an equally beautiful love story all at once. 

Worst Thing: CGI dragon fights

Shang-Chi does a great job introducing us to its characters and getting us to care about them, which makes it disappointing when the final battle focuses largely on massive CGI dragons that, while impressive, the audience has not invested in.

Salma Hayek and the cast of Eternals

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Eternals

Best Thing: An impressive ensemble 

Say what you will about Eternals, but it put together an incredible cast, developed each one into fully realized characters, and did so in a way that was compelling and interesting.

Worst Thing: The Massive Mid-Film Info Dump 

Relaying information that the audience needs can be one of the most difficult things for any movie. Many movies, and lots of Marvel movies, struggle with this, but Eternals massive info dump where a Celestial just explains everything to Sersi stops the movie dead in its tracks.

Spider-Man: No Way Home's three Spider-Men posed for battle

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Spider-Man: No Way Home 

Best Thing: The live-action Spider-Verse

In a moment that Spider-Man fans could have only have dreamed of before it happened, three different big screen Spider-Men shared the screen and fought together. How could you not have loved that?

Worst Thing: So. Many. Villains.

Getting three Spidey’s was great, but they could have fought fewer bad guys. It’s not that any of them were bad, but only a couple of them really get any chance to be part of the story.

Elizabeth Olsen in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

(Image credit: Marvel Studios )

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness 

Best Thing: Scarlet Witch Murders Everybody

The alternative universe version of various Marvel heroes was cool. Watching Scarlet Witch completely own them all was even better.

Worst Thing: Mordo is wasted

Mordo had an interesting character arc in the first Doctor Strange, and seeing where he would go made the sequel a compelling idea. Unfortunately, by the time we got to it, the MCU had a different story to tell, so the tease from the first movie went nowhere. 

Natalie Portman

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Thor: Love And Thunder

Best Thing: The Mighty Thor

In a rare move, Marvel revealed years in advance that Natalie Portman would return to the MCU as The Mighty Thor. You don’t need to worry about spoilers when your reveal is awesome enough. 

Worst Thing: Thor Gets Lost in his own movie  

The Mighty Thor was great, and Thor: Love and Thunder has one of the better MCU villains in years. Unfortunately, Thor himself feels largely overlooked by his own movie. 

Letitia Wright as Shuri at the end of Wakanda Forever

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 

Best Thing: Shuri’s emotional journey

We knew that Wakanda Forever was going to be an emotional movie for lots of fans, but to make the road toward acceptance the actual plot was an inspired decision. We all understand Shuri’s story.

Worst Thing: Thunderbolts subplot

The journey of Everett Ross here is not nearly as satisfying. He seems to be there mostly to set up future movies, which takes away from the one we are actually watching.

Kang The Conqueror in Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania 

Best Thing: Kang

Kang is expected to be the villain of this current MCU arc, and Quntumania was his coming-out party. It’s a great performance and a fantastic hint of what is to come.

Worst Thing: Where’s Luis?

With the movie mostly taking place in the Quantum Realm, I’m sure the filmmakers just didn’t know how to incorporate Michael Pena’s Luis in a way that made sense, but it’s a lesser film without him.

Guardians lineup in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3

Best Thing: The Bestie Boys One Shot

The Guardians of the Galaxy movies have given us solid action and great music, and in one of the trilogy’s final moments, it gave us all that and more in a simulated one-shot that looked epic and sounded amazing.

Worst Thing: Adam Warlock

Vol. 2 promised us Adam Warlock, but one wonders if he would have appeared if that post-credits scene had been left out. The performance and character are good, but the movie doesn’t seem to know what to do with him.

That's every MCU film. Do you agree with our choices?

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.