Now that Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is over, it is finally time to look back and pass judgment on the seven movies Marvel Studios released over the last two years. There were plenty of highs, but a few disappointing lows as well.
We originally published these rankings back in July, the day after Thor: Love and Thunder hit theaters. None of the old rankings have changed, but we did slot in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which has already racked up over $500 million at the box office.
MCU Phase 4 movies, ranked
Eternals is not the worst MCU movie to date, but it is one of the most baffling. We’re introduced to far too many characters far too quickly, the pacing is all over the place, and by the end of the movie, it’s unclear how any of this will tie into the larger universe. Eternals was a misfire, but the cast is likable, and if Marvel can make Thor a pillar of the MCU after the disaster that was The Dark World, there’s a chance for these immortal aliens to be saved as well.
6. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
There are two movies fighting with one another in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. One is the most violent, oddball entry the MCU has ever seen, with Sam Raimi at the height of his powers. The other is attempting to set the stakes for the future of the franchise while messily tying up loose ends from WandaVision. The former is far more successful than the latter. I just don’t buy Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) as a genocidal monster given all that we’ve been through with her character. But at least Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) gets to have some fun in zombie makeup.
5. Thor: Love and Thunder
Following up Thor: Ragnarok was never going to be easy. Love and Thunder never leaps the heights of its predecessor, but there is plenty of fun to be had, with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) having to team up with his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), now wielding Mjolnir and the powers of a god. It delivers incredibly satisfying action and a stellar performance from Christian Bale as the villain Gorr, but it can’t get the tone right.
4. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
The only thing holding Shang-Chi back is its ending. As we said in our review, this origin story starts strong, slowly introducing all of Shang-Chi’s (Simu Liu) estranged family members and revealing the reasons they drifted apart. As a family drama, Shang-Chi is a very strong entry into the MCU, but it doesn’t quite stick the landing.
3. Black Widow
Despite all of the hate that it gets, Black Widow is one of the most fun and exciting movies in Phase 4. Director Cate Shortland came with a vision, and executed it with precision. Scarlett Johansson finally got the starring role she deserved, and although Florence Pugh stole the show, it was still a spectacular send-off for the MCU’s first female superhero.
It’s no small feat that Black Widow managed to combine an origin story and a standalone adventure in 134 minutes, especially considering how messy much of Phase 4 has been. It’s just a shame that it ended in a lawsuit.
2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
It’s a minor miracle that the cast and crew had the energy to make Black Panther: Wakanda Forever at all after the untimely passing of Chadwick Boseman.
Wakanda Forever is both a tribute to the beloved actor and a rousing adventure that focuses on T’Challa’s family picking up the pieces following the character’s mysterious demise. The supporting cast of the first movie does an admirable job filling in for Boseman, and Namor serves as a worthy foe for the most advanced civilization on Earth. It’s a triumph only topped by one movie in Phase 4.
1. Spider-Man: No Way Home
One of the most joyously entertaining movies in the history of the MCU, Spider-Man: No Way Home is hard to top. Not only did it give Peter Parker (Tom Holland) his most compelling and emotionally resonant story to date, but it also seamlessly brought the former two live-action Spider-Men into the MCU. This was a perfect swan song for the Spider-Man trilogy, but also left the door open for more adventures in the future.
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