- 'Thor: Love and Thunder'
- 'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania'
- 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness'
- The Marvels
- 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'
- 'Black Widow'
- 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings'
- 'Spider-Man: No Way Home'
- 'Spider-Man: Far From Home'
- 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3'
It's a turbulent time for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since "Avengers: Endgame," Marvel has released a number of films and TV shows that underwhelmed audiences, prompting questions about whether Hollywood's biggest franchise is on its deathbed. Does "The Marvels" continue this troubling trend? This personal — but authoritative — ranking stacks the new film up against Marvel's other recent movies:
Chloé Zhao's "Eternals" is a sprawling, overstuffed superhero epic that gets bogged down in mythology and exposition while not fleshing out all the characters equally well. It's also not the visual feast fans expected from the "Nomadland" director, and Zhao doesn't earn the long running time.
10. 'Thor: Love and Thunder'
Taika Waititi goes full Taika Waititi in "Thor: Love and Thunder," a step down from "Ragnarok" that overindulges in goofy comedy. It's all too much at a certain point. The (a)tonal contrast between infantile humor and a storyline about Jane Foster suffering from cancer is jarring, to say the least.
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9. 'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania'
The appeal of the prior "Ant-Man" films was their lower stakes and scenes of Scott Lang growing and shrinking in recognizable environments. By trying to be a high-stakes epic set in a microscopic world, "Quantumania" loses both of those draws, but at least the comedy lands more consistently than in "Love and Thunder."
8. 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness'
It's admirable that Marvel allowed Sam Raimi to put his stamp on "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," which is at its best when leaning into the horror. But more coordination with the "WandaVision" team was needed, as the film betrays Wanda by negating her arc from the show. Her transition from sympathetic protagonist to evil villain is far too abrupt.
7. 'The Marvels'
"The Marvels" is the shortest MCU film, and it feels like it. The plot is rushed, the villain is underdeveloped, and Carol Danvers lacks a strong arc that she sorely needed after having amnesia for much of "Captain Marvel." Spending more time to dig into her state of mind would have been wise given decades of the character's life have been skipped over. But the conceit of the heroes swapping places creates some inventive and lively action, and Larson, Teyonah Parris and Iman Vellani have so much fun together that the movie is a breezy, if messy, good time. Vellani is the MVP as a wide-eyed Ms. Marvel, proving her hiring was Marvel's best casting decision since Robert Downey Jr.
6. 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'
"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is a moving tribute to Chadwick Boseman that turned out far better than anyone expected given the tragic circumstances. Its success is largely thanks to the performances of Dominique Thorne and Tenoch Huerta. The film, though, gets sidetracked setting things up for the future, à la "Iron Man 2."
5. 'Black Widow'
The biggest problem with "Black Widow" is that it came out five years too late. The Natasha Romanoff solo film was needed around 2016, when the character was still alive. Putting that aside, this is a propulsive spy thriller with solid action, and the sisterly dynamic between Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh is the star of the show.
4. 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings'
If all of "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" was like its spectacular 45-minute opening, it might be one of the best MCU films. As is, it's still a strong origin story with Marvel's most well-choreographed fight sequences, and, refreshingly, it can mostly be enjoyed on its own.
3. 'Spider-Man: No Way Home'
Yes, "Spider-Man: No Way Home" is the ultimate example of fan service. But it's fan service done well. The film finds a smart way to bring Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire into the story to support the arc of Tom Holland's Peter Parker, not simply to make the audience cheer.
2. 'Spider-Man: Far From Home'
"Spider-Man: Far From Home" is an underrated Spidey entry that grapples with the events of "Endgame" but also the fundamental conflict of Spider-Man, as Peter's personal life is repeatedly derailed by his duty to protect others. The film benefits from a more focused story than "No Way Home," and Jake Gyllenhaal's Mysterio is the Tom Holland trilogy's most compelling villain.
1. 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3'
James Gunn plays all the right notes in the "Guardians of the Galaxy" finale, an emotional send-off that's as weird-but-heartfelt as we'd want from the director's Marvel swan song. Only he could make an audience weep as a CGI raccoon hugs a CGI otter, and the film handles Gamora's death in a mature, affecting way. The Guardians will surely return. If they don't, Gunn gave this series the cathartic ending it deserved.
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