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10 Harsh Realities Of Rewatching The MCU’s Highest-Rated Movies

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10 Harsh Realities Of Rewatching The MCU’s Highest-Rated Movies

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Summary

  • Marvel Studios can learn some valuable lessons from its highest-rated MCU movies on
    Rotten Tomatoes
    .
  • Most of Marvel Studios’ highest-rated MCU movies released prior to 2019’s
    Avengers: Endgame
    .
  • Marvel Studios has been neglecting some of its newer heroes, and has left the futures of its popular franchises uncertain.
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The list of the highest-rated movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes with some harsh realities and hard lessons for Marvel Studios. Since Iron Man kicked off the MCU in 2008, Marvel Studios has produced 33 feature films, with the most recent, The Marvels, hitting theaters in December 2023. The MCU continues to grow, with new movies releasing in 2024, 2025, and beyond, but not all of the MCU’s movies have been well-received. Marvel Studios can learn some valuable lessons from some of the MCU’s highest-rated movies, however, which may inform new storylines, character debuts, and focal points going forward.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, some of the MCU’s highest-rated projects include those in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, all three solo Spider-Man projects, Captain America’s MCU adventures, and the MCU’s first project, Iron Man. 2018’s Black Panther tops the list, however, with a critics score of 96%, though not all of the MCU’s projects have been so lucky. While the likes of Eternals, The Marvels and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania fall at the bottom, the MCU’s highest-rated movies may deliver some harsh realities to Marvel Studios, though the MCU’s upcoming releases could bring the franchise back to form.

MCU’s Top Ten Movies

Critics

Audience

Black Panther (2018)

96%

79%

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022)

94%

81%

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

94%

90%

Iron Man (2008)

94%

91%

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

93%

98%

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

93%

87%

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

92%

87%

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

92%

92%

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

91%

98%

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

91%

95%

Source

All 7 Upcoming MCU Movies Ranked In Order Of Our Excitement

Seven MCU movies are currently scheduled for release in the coming years, each garnering varying levels of excitement about the franchise’s future.

10 Very Few Projects After Avengers: Endgame Are Highly-Rated

Most Of The MCU’s Best Projects Released In The Infinity Saga

One thing that is clear from the ranking of the MCU’s highest-rated movies is that very few of them released after 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. Endgame, and 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, concluded the MCU’s Infinity Saga, and is widely regarded to be the peak of the MCU. Many movies released in the years since have struggled to capture the audience’s imagination in the same way, which proves that Marvel Studios needs to make changes to bring its upcoming releases up to the same caliber.

Several Upcoming MCU Projects Could Break This Shocking Trend

Luckily, many of the MCU’s upcoming movies stand a chance of reigniting passion in the franchise. Deadpool & Wolverine, Captain America: Brave New World, Blade, and The Fantastic Four could all achieve huge success, if pulled off properly. While some movies in the Multiverse Saga have failed to garner the same support as those prior to Endgame, Marvel Studios appears to be on the right track.

9 The MCU’s Highest-Rated Post-Endgame Franchise Is Being Ignored

Shang-Chi Hasn’t Been Seen Or Mentioned Since His Phase 4 Debut

In the wake of the Infinity Saga’s conclusion, Marvel Studios began to introduce new heroes to the MCU, including Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi in 2021’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. With a critics score of 91%, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the most successful movie focusing on a new MCU hero, yet Shang-Chi hasn’t been heard from since his Phase 4 debut. Marvel Studios should capitalize on the movie’s success, but this exciting hero has been seriously neglected.

Shang-Chi 2 Is In Development At Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi 2 is in development, with director Destin Daniel Cretton returning, but the status of the upcoming movie is uncertain. It’s unclear how far into production Shang-Chi 2 actually is, as Cretton has been focusing on the Wonder Man series for Disney+, so Shang-Chi 2’s release date hasn’t been revealed. Three years after his debut, Shang-Chi’s future in the MCU is still a mystery.

8 Special Presentations Are Great, But The MCU Seems To Be Moving Away From Them

Werewolf By Night & The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special Are Both Highly-Rated

Marvel Studios’ expansion of the MCU in Phase 4 saw a wide range of TV shows being produced for Disney+, but also marked the rise of the MCU’s Special Presentations. These roughly-hour-long specials provided audiences with a bite-size storyline, with Werewolf by Night debuting Jack Russell and the MCU’s monsters, and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special catching up with the titular team. Both of these projects are highly-rated, but Marvel Studios hasn’t delivered any further Special Presentations since 2022.

Marvel Studios Hasn’t Confirmed Any Further Special Presentations, But They Have Been Rumored

Special Presentations create the opportunity for smaller stories to unfold without much connection to the wider world of the MCU, so it’s curious that Marvel Studios hasn’t confirmed any more. Comicbook.com reported that a Special Presentation focused on Mephisto may be in development, but this hasn’t been confirmed. With Disney clamping down on Marvel Studios’ storytelling, Special Presentations may present the perfect opportunity for new characters to be introduced.

The rumored Mephisto-focused Special Presentation has reportedly filmed on the set of Marvel Studios’ upcoming Agatha series.

7 The Guardians Of The Galaxy Don’t Have An MCU Future Yet

James Gunn Did A Fantastic Job With The Guardians Of The Galaxy Franchise

James Gunn managed to bring one of Marvel Comics’ most obscure superhero teams into the MCU in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which became a surprising success for Marvel Studios. Since then, all four of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s live-action adventures have been highly-rated, with the Holiday Special excelling with a critics score of 94%. However, after James Gunn’s exit from Marvel Studios, no new Guardians of the Galaxy projects have yet been confirmed, but Marvel Studios should avoid abandoning the popular franchise.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Set Up A New Team

2023’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, James Gunn’s final project in the MCU, perfectly set up future storylines for the titular cosmic team. A new Guardians of the Galaxy team was established, the High Evolutionary was confirmed to have survived, and powerful heroes, such as Adam Warlock and Phyla, were introduced. It would be a huge mistake for Marvel Studios to leave these threads unexplored.

6 There’s A Lot Of Pressure On Sam Wilson’s New Captain America

Chris Evans’ Captain America Projects Performed Very Well

Although none of them made it into the top ten highest-rated MCU movies, all three of Chris Evans’ solo projects as Steve Rogers’ Captain America still fared very well. Critics scored The First Avenger 80%, The Winter Soldier 90%, and Civil War topped the list with 91%, proving just how valuable Steve Rogers’ Captain America was to the MCU. This, unfortunately, puts a huge amount of pressure on Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson, who will make his theatrical debut as the star-spangled man-with-a-plan in Captain America: Brave New World.

Can Captain America: Brave New World Match The Previous Trilogy’s Success?

Captain America: Brave New World is a landmark project for Marvel Studios, as this will be the first time a new Captain America has been seen on the big screen. Marvel Studios’ recent CinemaCon presentation raised excitement for Brave New World, hopefully creating the opportunity for the project to match, or even beat, the success of the MCU’s first Captain America trilogy.

Source

Captain America Is Asked To Rebuild The Avengers In Brave New World Footage Description

The first footage for Captain America: Brave New World is finally screened at CinemaCon 2024, previewing Sam Wilson’s upcoming MCU solo movie.

5 The MCU’s Spider-Man Franchise May Be Completely Reinvented After No Way Home

Spider-Man’s Previous MCU Projects Have All Been Very Highly-Rated

All three of Marvel Studios and Sony Picture’s solo Spider-Man movies in the MCU have achieved huge levels of success. Spider-Man has always been one of the most beloved Marvel Comics heroes, and Tom Holland’s depiction of the wall-crawler has been celebrated, but this leaves the future of the character in danger. The MCU’s Spider-Man 4 is in development, but it could lose what made the previous trilogy so successful, as Spider-Man: No Way Home ended with Peter Parker’s life being all but erased.

Spider-Man: No Way Home Left With Peter Parker Starting Anew

The fact that everyone Peter Parker knows and loves no longer remembers him means Spider-Man 4 will be starting from scratch. This means that some of what made the previous Spider-Man trilogy may be missing from the upcoming projects, potentially meaning Homecoming, Far From Home and No Way Home’s success won’t be replicated. Of course, Marvel Studios can avoid this issue, but only time will tell.

4 Marvel Studios Hasn’t Released An Avengers Movie Since Endgame

Avengers Movies Have Always Fared Well Among Audiences

The Avengers were established as the premiere superhero team in the MCU, guiding the story for over a decade in the Infinity Saga. However, in the wake of Avengers: Endgame, the status of the team has remained unclear, as no further Avengers movies have yet been produced. Although Age of Ultron only scored 76%, all the MCU’s Avengers projects have been highly-rated, so it’s surprising that Marvel Studios hasn’t capitalized on this success and popularity, and produced more in Phases 4 and 5.

Avengers 5 Will Release 7 Years After The Highest-Rated Avengers Movie

Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige did confirm the development of Avengers 5 and Avengers: Secret Wars back in 2022. These projects are set to bring the team back together at the end of the Multiverse Saga. However, by the time Avengers 5 releases in 2026, seven years will have passed since Avengers: Endgame, longer than audiences have ever gone without an Avengers movie since the MCU began.

Avengers: Endgame became the highest-grossing movie of all time, prior to the re-release of 2009’s Avatar.

3 Black Panther’s Live-Action Future Is Uncertain

Black Panther Is The MCU’s Highest-Rated Movie

While 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever suffered slightly with a critics score of 83%, 2018’s Black Panther is the highest-rated MCU movie, totaling a whopping 96%. Black Panther crossed $1 billion at the box office, was the first superhero movie to be nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Picture, and was the first MCU movie to win Oscars in several categories. Nevertheless, Marvel Studios hasn’t confirmed the development of future Black Panther movies, even though it seems ridiculous for the franchise to be abandoned.

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Black Panther’s MCU Story Will Continue

Black Panther and Wakanda Forever director Ryan Coogler is reportedly working on a number of projects for Marvel Studios. This includes the upcoming animated Eyes of Wakanda series, as well as a live-action Wakanda-set series, and perhaps a series focused on Danai Gurira’s Okoye. However, the MCU’s Black Panther 3 hasn’t been confirmed, but it would be a mistake to not see this story continued.

2 Some Of The MCU’s Highest-Rated Heroes Have Disappointing Sequels

Several Multiverse Saga Sequels Haven’t Lived Up To Their Predecessors’ Successes

In recent years, Marvel Studios has come under scrutiny for delivering projects lacking in quality, mostly attributed to the massive increase in content in the Multiverse Saga. This has meant that some of the MCU’s most popular movies have been continued in disappointing sequels, including Thor: Love and Thunder, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and The Marvels. This trend needs to change in the MCU’s future, as some of the most popular franchises are being dismantled.

Recent Disappointing Sequels Prove Disney’s New Mandate Wrong

Disney CEO Bob Iger recently noted that Marvel Studios would be focusing on producing sequels of its popular franchises going forward. This could negate the introduction of risky characters in the MCU, but the recent slate may prove this mandate wrong. Thor: Ragnarok, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel were celebrated, but their sequels flopped, suggesting this may not be the way to go.

1 There Are No Female-Led MCU Movies In The Top 18 Highest-Rated Movies

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Clocks In At Number 19 In The MCU’s Highest-Rated Movie Ranking

Representation issues have always been at the forefront of criticisms aimed at Marvel Studios, particularly in the early days of the MCU. It took until 2019’s Captain Marvel for an MCU movie to be female-led, and while this representation has recently become more prominent, it’s still far from equal. Marvel Studios needs to make more effort to allow its female-led projects to see more success, as none of the top 18 highest-rated MCU movies are female-led, with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s 83% dropping it at number 19.

None Of The MCU’s Upcoming Movies Are Female-Led

Unfortunately, this trend won’t be changing anytime soon, as none of Marvel Studios’ confirmed upcoming theatrical releases are female-led. Deadpool & Wolverine, Captain America: Brave New World, Thunderbolts*, Blade, and The Fantastic Four, while including female heroes, will primarily focus on male characters. This is a pattern that needs to change in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, allowing more female heroes to be celebrated.

Source

Marvel’s Female Avengers Cast (As We Know It)

Marvel Studios has introduced many female superheroes over the years, any number of whom could join forces to form the MCU’s female Avengers team.

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