How many live-action movies are there based on Marvel comics? At the time this article was updated, October 2022, the answer was 75 if you’re only counting main Marvel franchises, or 84 if you include publications by Marvel imprints.
If you’re a comic book fan getting into Marvel films, or a movie fan who likes superhero action movies, you are well served by cinema. However, it can be confusing to know where to start with how many different movies Marvel has released over the years.
This list will help you know all about Marvel’s cinematic series, Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and otherwise. If you’re looking to get into the MCU, this will help you know where to start. If you’re a completionist wanting to watch everything this giant of the comics industry has to offer, we’ve got you covered, too.
Note: this list focuses on theatrical live action films that were not part of TV series, so it will be missing the 70s Japanese Spider-Man film, 1990’s straight-to-video Captain America, and the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.
Table of contents
- The Beginnings of Marvel Movies
- The X-Men Movies
- Spider-Man Movies
- 2000s Marvel Movie Mix
- The “Spiderverse” without Spider-Man
- Fantastic Four Movies
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe
- For Completionists! Movies From Marvel Imprints
- The Future Of Marvel Movies
The Beginnings of Marvel Movies
The first Marvel movie wasn’t a straightforward movie – it was actually a serial by Republic Studio about Captain America. These films were the most expensive serial that Republic had ever made showing that even classic superhero movies were costly.
40 years went by without another release from Marvel, but in 1986, Star Wars creator George Lucas blessed the world with his campy Howard the Duck movie starring Chip Zien as the voice of Howard and 80s movie royalty Lea Thompson as his love interest. Critics hated it, but fans of so-bad-they’re-good cinema will love it.
- 1944 Captain America
- 1986 Howard The Duck
After their duck film sank in the water, Marvel shied away from the big screen for a little over a decade. It wasn’t until 1998 that they released their next movie: 1998’s Blade. Starring Wesley Snipes as a vampire who hunts other vampires, the film’s dark atmosphere, non-stop action, and interesting cinematography and costume design led to a much better reception this time around. While the original film has only a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it scored high ratings among cinemagoers and even got 3 out of 4 stars from Roger Ebert. The success of the first film led to a more or less equally acclaimed second film and a not so beloved third – Marvel’s first tiny toe dip into the pool of franchises.
While a date hasn’t been confirmed yet, academy award winning actor Mahershala Ali has been cast as the titular Blade who will be joining the MCU sometime in either 2023 or 2024. Interestingly enough, he played a character in Luke Cage and Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, meaning this won’t be his first time playing a Marvel character.
- 1998 Blade
- 2002 Blade II
- 2004 Blade: Trinity
The X-Men Movies
Marvel’s next set of films and their first long-running franchise was the X-Men series made by 20th Century Fox. Depending on who you ask and maybe even the time of day, this franchise is full of masterpieces or full of stinkers – some fans say it’s full of both.
The original trilogy of X-Men films was, up until the third film, incredibly well received. Many of the actors and actresses involved like Sir Ian Mckellen as Magneto, Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, and Halle Berry as Storm are so iconic that it’s hard to separate them from their characters and vice versa. Not only was the series well cast, many consider these films as being the first or at least among the first superhero movies to be more than just action thrill rides – they had emotional character arcs and compelling storylines.
After Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine were released to poor reviews, the series did a soft reboot with X-Men: First Class in 2011. Recasting many of the roles with younger actors, it was a prequel set during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and showed the origins of the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants. It was well received and led to more sequels with the new cast. Days of Future Past was even better received than First Class, but the subsequent Apocalypse and especially Dark Phoenix sequels were largely panned by critics and audiences alike.
The Wolverine was a 2013 sequel to the X-Men Origins film. It and the 2017 Logan, based on the Old Man Logan comics storyline, were well received, reversing the trend of the other two sections of the franchise that started strong and ended weak.
In 2016, Deadpool starring Ryan Reynolds as the fourth-wall-breaking, foul-mouthed, morally-questionable superhero/antihero was an instant hit and led to 2018’s Deadpool 2 which was also a smash hit. By the time of the Deadpool movies’ release, moviegoers were already oversaturated with superhero movies from Marvel, DC, and smaller comic companies that a movie like Deadpool, which didn’t take itself seriously whatsoever and made fun of many common tropes of its genre, was treated as a breath of fresh air.
Unfortunately, what wasn’t as loved was the standalone, final film of 20th Century Fox’s X-Men run: the New Mutants. It was meant to be a horror film take on the superhero genre, but instead ended up flopping in a way that left a sour taste for some fans of the X-Men franchise.
Overall, there were 13 films in the X-Men series. An upcoming third Deadpool film will be released sometime in the next few years, but as part of the MCU instead of this universe. Will any other fan favorite mutants be joining him? We’ll have to wait and see.
- 2000 X-Men
- 2002 X2
- 2006 X-Men: The Last Stand
- 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine
- 2011 X-Men: First Class
- 2013 The Wolverine
- 2014 X-Men: Days Of Future Past
- 2016 Deadpool | X-Men: Apocalypse
- 2017 Logan
- 2018 Deadpool 2
- 2019 X-Men: Dark Phoenix
- 2020 The New Mutants
After the first X-Men movie, the next Marvel film released was 2002’s Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, William Dafoe as Norman Osborn/the Green Goblin, and James Franco as his son, Harry Osborn. It was made and distributed by Columbia Pictures/Sony.
The movie was a huge success and broke box office records when it made more than $100m in one weekend. It holds a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and was, for the most part, enjoyed by both audiences and critics. Sam Raimi, previously known for using practical effects, blended computer animation with models and practical effects to ensure that the web swinging and fight scenes looked comic-like without being too removed from reality.
2002’s Spidey film was such a success that it led to two sequels. Spider-Man 2 in 2004, a sequel that had even more acclaim than the first, and Spider-Man 3 in 2007, the film that even Sam Raimi himself described as awful and features the notorious “emo” Peter Parker dance scene.
After 5 years of slumber, your friendly neighborhood web-slinger was rebooted in 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man with a new Peter Parker/Spidey played by Andrew Garfield alongside Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy and Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connor/Lizard. It scored a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes and got a lukewarm reception by many critics while scoring high with audiences. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 got an even lower score with critics, but was received largely the same by audience members.
While being praised critically as much as Tobey Maguire’s films, many fans love Andrew Garfield’s take on the character and prefer his films. To this day, especially now that there’s a third Peter Parker/Spider-Man actor, there is a lot of heated debate among Marvel nerds for who the best actor was for each part.
The next Spider-Man film wouldn’t come out until 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, but at that point, Spidey joined the MCU and is (at least for now) under the Disney/Marvel umbrella.
- 2002 Spider-man
- 2004 Spider-man 2
- 2007 Spider-man 3
- 2012 The Amazing Spider-man
- 2014 The Amazing Spider-man 2
2000s Marvel Movie Mix
Throughout the 2000s, at first before the start of the MCU and then alongside it, there was a selection of movies adapted from various comics. Some of them starred fan favorites like the Hulk who were familiar with most non-comic fans, but the others were a little less known. Most of these films were panned by critics and audiences alike with 2003’s the Hulk scoring the highest with a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes and 2005’s Elektra the lowest with an underwhelming 11%.
The films from this time are infamous for a variety of reasons. First, many of them have the same campy, so-bad-they’re-good style of Howard the Duck, particularly Nicolas Cage’s Ghost Rider series. Second, many, though not all, were reminiscent of earlier superhero films that had less heart and story to them after those films, like Spider-Man and X-Men, had already been released to acclaim. Third, 2003’s The Hulk is sort of the unofficial start of the MCU – 2008’s The Incredible Hulk was originally meant to be a sequel and only became a soft reboot after the film’s star Edward Norton stepped in to rewrite the script.
Before Ben Affleck joined the DC Cinematic Universe as Batman, he starred in 2003’s Daredevil as the blind crime fighting lawyer alongside Jennifer Garner as Elektra and MIchael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin. Eric Bana portrayed Bruce Banner/The Hulk in the same year with Jennifer Connely as Betty Ross, his love interest, and Sam Elliott as her father, Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross.
In 2004, Thomas Jane starred as Frank Castle, the titular Punisher, alongside John Travolta as Howard Saint.
In 2005, Jennifer Garner reprised her role from the Daredevil film in her own spin-off, Elektra. Terence Stamp played her sensei, Stick, Goran Visnjic was Mark Miller, Kirsten Prout was Abby Miller, Will Yun Lee was Kirigi, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa was Roshi.
2007 saw the one-and-only Nic Cage play Johnny Blaze/Ghostrider, Eva Mendes as Roxanne Simpson, Wes Bentley as Blackheart/Legion, and, showing up in another 2000s Marvel movie, Sam Elliott as Carter Slade.
Less than five years after the original Punisher, there was a reboot with The Punisher: War Zone. Ray Stevenson played Frank Castle this time around with Dominic West as Jigsaw, one of the villains of the film.
Lastly in this period of Marvel cinema, 2012 brought us another Nic Cage classic, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Johnny Whitworth plays Blackout, Fergus Riordan plays Danny Ketch, and Ciaran Hinds plays Mephisto alongside Cage.
- 2003 Daredevil | Hulk
- 2004 The Punisher
- 2005 Elektra
- 2007 Ghost Rider
- 2008 The Punisher: War Zone
- 2012 Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance
The “Spiderverse” without Spider-Man
As mentioned before, Spider-Man joined the MCU in 2017. However, this was a huge fight for both Disney and Marvel to get the rights to the character as Sony retained and still retains them perpetually under their original contract with Marvel made long before the MCU started.
Since Spider-Man is now part of the MCU, it’s led to an interesting situation: Sony retains the rights to so many of the characters from his comic books that they try, to varying degrees of success, to turn into their own franchise.
In 2017, Tom Hardy starred as Eddie Brock and his symbiote pal/enemy in Venom. Alongside Hardy, Michelle Williams played Anne Weying, and Riz Ahmed played Carlton Drake/Riot. Critics despised this film leading to a 30% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it has an audience score of a B+ from CinemaScore meaning that the average movie goer was much more warm to the film. Some on the internet have praised it jokingly for being a lovely rom-com between Eddie Brock and Venom.
Fans liked it enough that a sequel came out in 2021 called Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Hardy and Williams return with new co-stars Naomie Harris as Frances Barrison/Shriek and Woody Harrelson as Cletus Casady/Carnage. It was praised a little more warmly than the original was by critics. A third Venom film is in early development stages and little is known about it at the moment.
Trying to branch out from just the symbiote characters in the Spiderverse, Sony released Morbius in 2022. Jared Leto plays Dr. Michael Morbius and Matt Smith as Lucien/Milo. It’s a film that was so universally panned that it spawned a meme of internet users ironically liking the film causing Sony to re-release it in theaters later in the year after its original run ended. It currently holds a 15% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson will be starring as Kraven the Hunter in early 2023 while Dakota Johnson will play Madame Web in her film in 2024. Although it’s listed as 2024, it’s not yet been announced when El Muerto starring Bad Bunny will release.
- 2017 Venom
- 2021 Venom: Let There Be Carnage
- 2022 Morbius
- 2023 Kraven the Hunter (Upcoming)
- 2024 Madame Web (Upcoming) | El Muerto (Upcoming)
Fantastic Four Movies
If you thought that Elektra and Morbius were as low as it could get for Marvel’s theatrical releases, you’d be surprised. 20th Century Fox’s cinematic takes on the Fantastic Four have all largely been panned with one of them achieving the lowest rating of any Marvel movie to date. It’s worth noting that while not on the list due to being unreleased, the 1990s saw an attempt at making a Fantastic Four B-movie that never seemed to pan out.
In 2004, the film starred Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, Jessica Alba as Susan Storm/Invisible Woman, Chris Evans (yes, the same one who later became Captain America) as Johnny Storm/Human Torch, Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm/Thing, and Julian McMahon as Victor Von Doom/Dr. Doom in Fantastic Four. It scored a 28% on Rotten Tomatoes, although some people have begun to reflect more fondly on it after the 2015 reboot.
While it didn’t get much praise by critics, the first film did well enough with audience goers to earn a sequel, 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. It starred the same cast as the original with Doug Jones providing the body and Laurence Fishburne providing the voice of the Silver Surfer. It earned a 37% this time around and audiences enjoyed it enough, but no sequels were made.
In 2015, Fox tried again with another Fantastic Four. This time around, Miles Teller portrayed Mr. Fantastic, Michael B. Jordan was Human Torch, Kate Mara was Invisible Woman, Jamie Bell was Thing, and Toby Kebbell was Doom. Most of the films above, even those that did terribly, managed to score around a B or higher with audiences according to CinemaScore. This film got a C-. It holds a 9% on Rotten Tomatoes making it the lowest scoring film on this list.
While no specific plans have been put i
- 2004 Fantastic Four
- 2007 Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer
- 2015 Fantastic Four
The Marvel Cinematic Universe
You were probably twisting in your seat wondering when we’d finally get to the main dish of this meal: the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While some people bemoan the current cinematic landscape due to the prevalence of sequels, adaptations from other media, crossover franchises, etc. it’s important to remember that it took years for Marvel to get their movie formula right, and while it seems like it’s always been part of the world at this point with how massive the franchise has gotten, there were plenty of gambles Marvel took along the way that ended up paying off but could have lead to failures in other circumstances.
As of October 2022, there are 29 released MCU movies with at least another 8 slated to be released between now and 2024. There are several series on Disney+ that aren’t included in the list, but tie in to the overarching storyline of the universe/multiverse.
We have split this section into different phases as Marvel has done to separate the different storylines. Let’s dive into Phase 1.
Phase One. Simpler times. The majority of these movies are origin films for the original set of Avengers that lead into their first team-up film while slowly Thanos and the infinity stones, something that would become more important as Phase Two and Three developed.
In 2008, Marvel took a chance on a recovering addict named Robert Downey Jr. who had been facing legal troubles in the ‘90s and ‘00s that had jeopardized his career. This paid off massively as his portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man gave birth to a massive juggernaut (not to be confused with the X-Men’s Juggernaut) of a franchise that has made billions at the box office, in merchandising, and elsewhere. The first Iron Man stars Robert Downey Jr. alongside Terrence Howard as Rhodes, Jeff Bridges as Obadaiah Stane, Shaun Toub as Ho Yinsen, Jon Favreau as Harold “Happy” Hogan, and Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts. Samuel L. Jackson comes in after the credits to announce the Avengers Initiative, starting a long running trend of these films having post-credits sequences that tease later films. It’s tied as the second highest rated Marvel movie on Rotten Tomatoes with a 94% and was adored by audiences. Partially due to the success of Iron Man and to Marvel’s financial troubles, Disney ended up buying it a year after the film came out.
Also in 2008, Edward Norton took over briefly as Bruce Banner/the Hulk in the Incredible Hulk. Liv Tyler took over as Betty Ross and Tim Roth played the Abomination. While not as acclaimed as Iron Man, it was still liked and helped build up steam for the new Marvel movie franchise.
Up next, Iron Man 2 came out in 2010. Downey Jr., Paltrow, and Jackson reprise their roles. Don Cheadle takes over as Rhodes, Scarlett Johansson is introduced as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow while Sam Rockwell is cast as Justin Hammer, and Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko/Whiplash.
The next Avenger to be introduced was Thor in 2011. Chris Hemsworth shows again that this new franchise is, for the most part, spot on with the casting as he does a great job of playing a Norse god with a borderline frat boy attitude in need of some humbling. His co-stars are Natalie Portman as Dr. Jane Foster, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Stellan Skarsgard as Erik Selvig, Idris Elba as Heimdall, and Anthony Hopkins as Odin while numerous other stars are cast in other supporting roles. While Hemsworth’s initial film didn’t do as well as Iron Man, it cemented him and Hilddeston as mainstays in the MCU.
Not only did Chris Hemsworth get thrust into stardom this year, but Captain America: the First Avenger redeemed Chris Evans’ Fantastic Four flop by turning him into the country’s boy scout, Captain America. He stars alongside Tommy Lee Jones as Chester Phillips, Hugo Weaving as Red Skull, and Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter. It did pretty well with critics and became a fan favorite.
Before Joss Whedon’s fall from grace in nerdom, it was a huge deal for him to direct and write 2012’s The Avengers. The film brought back Downey, Johansson, Evans, Hemsworth, Hiddleston, Skarsgard, and Jackson in their respective roles while replacing Norton with Mark Ruffalo and introducing Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, and Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill. Its post-credits scene introduces Thanos who would later become the main villain for several Marvel films. At its release, the Avengers was the third highest grossing film of all time. It is beloved by fans and critics alike.
- 2008 Iron Man | The Incredible Hulk
- 2010 Iron Man 2
- 2011 Thor | Captain America: The First Avenger
- 2012 The Avengers
The start of Phase Two of the MCU in 2013 was a bit shaky with Iron Man 3 not being as well received as the first two films and Thor: the Dark World being one of the least liked films in the franchise. Both films brought back their main cast with IM3 bringing in Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian and Dark World bringing in Christopher Eccleston as Malekith.
Luckily, their next two releases in 2014 were universally loved. Captain America: the Winter Soldier brought back some of its cast and some from other films while introducing Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (an instant fan favorite) and Anthony Mackie as Sam Fisk/Falcon.
2014 also brought us Guardians of the Galaxy which marked Marvel’s third actor named Chris becoming an international superstar, Chris Pratt. Previously known mostly for his role on Parks and Recreation and in the Lego Movie, Pratt later became a frequent action film star due to his role in the Guardians films. He plays Peter Quill/Star Lord along with co-stars Zoe Saldaña as Gamara, Dave Bautista as Drax, Vin Diesel as Groot, and Bradley Cooper as Rocket as the Guardians of the Galaxy as they square off against Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser and Karen Gillan as Nebula. Josh Brolin appears in a post-credits sequence teasing Thanos even more. The film was loved and ranks among the top ten highest rated MCU films. It received lots of praise for its humor (now a staple of most Marvel films), its visual style and cinematography from director James Gunn, and its killer soundtrack.
2015 saw the release of the second and least liked Avengers film: Avengers: Age of Ultron. The original crew returns alongside some of the newer ensemble cast members and introduces Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Pietro Maximoff, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, Paul Bettany who had previously voiced Iron Man’s AI J.A.R.V.I.S. as Vision, and James Spader as Ultron. It was largely well received, but criticized for not being as good as the first one and for having what was perceived by many fans as a forced romance plot between Johansson and Ruffalo’s characters. In a scene mid-credits, it pushes the Thanos plot along a bit more while teasing the importance of the infinity stones.
2015’s Ant-Man saw the end of phase 2. It starred Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne, Corey Stoll as Yellowjacket, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Michael Peña as Luis, and some other returning ensemble characters. It continued the same trend of newer movies in the MCU being fast-paced action films with lots of comedy and heart like GotG. It was loved by audiences and critics alike largely as a distraction from the big, overarching Marvel story as well as due to the performances of the cast (Rudd and Peña in particular).
- 2013 Iron Man 3 | Thor: The Dark World
- 2014 Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Guardians Of The Galaxy
- 2015 Avengers: Age Of Ultron | Ant-Man
Phase Three is marked by conflict between team members, Marvel solidifying their comedy/action style more and more while still producing some films with a serious tone, new faces joining the old crew, and ends with what many consider one of the most impressive achievements for long running action franchises with Endgame.
Starting Phase Three off, 2016 brings us Captain America: Civil War where the Avengers face off against each other over disagreements regarding international oversight of their actions and the collateral damage caused by their fights. It introduces both Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther and Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. It was an instant Marvel classic and is the highest rated of the Cap films in the MCU so far.
Doctor Strange was introduced in 2016 in his titular film. It starred Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange and the voice of Dormammu, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo, Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, Benedict Wong as Wong, Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, and Madds Mikkelsen as Kaecillius. It was reviewed well, although some criticized having a white woman play a character who is portrayed as an Asian man in the comics.
2017 marked Marvel releasing more movies at once starting with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It starred the original cast including Michael Rooker as Yondu, who was briefly in the original film, and introduced Kurt Russel as Ego and Pom Klementieff as Mantis. Seth Green showed up briefly as the voice of Howard the Duck (remember him? From the top of the list?) While not quite as highly rated as the first film, Vol. 2 was still loved and praised once again for its visuals and soundtrack.
Up next that year was the first MCU Spidey film: Spider-Man: Homecoming. It featured Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, Zendaya as Michelle, Jacob Batalon as Ned, and Michael Keaton as Vulture; it also featured Downey Jr. and Paltrow in their respective roles. It’s the #6 mostly highly rated of the Marvel films on Rotten Tomatoes with fans loving it as well.
The last 2017 release was Thor: Ragnarok which bid farewell to Natalie Portman’s character for the film and brought on Taika Waititi as the director. It brought back Hemsworth, Hiddleston, Hopkins, Ruffalo, and Elba while introducing Cate Blanchett as Hela, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, Taika Waititi as Korg, and Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster. It’s the 4th highest rated MCU installment with high praise for switching Thor from a somewhat overly serious set of films into a Guardians-esque action/comedy with Waititi’s own twist. Ragnarok ends with the film setting up the start of Avengers: Infinity War.
In 2018, Marvel continued the trend of three films a year starting with Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman returned, and fans were introduced to Michael B. Jordan (remember him from earlier on the list, too?) as N’Jadaka/Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Martin Freeman as Everett Ross, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Winston Duke as M’Baku, and many others. It is the highest scoring MCU entry among critics and was another instant classic with fans alike. It was the first MCU movie to feature an African-American actor and an African superhero as the main characters and introduced the world to Wakanda.
The next film in 2018 was Avengers: Infinity War. It brought back almost every main character and numerous side characters from the films since 2008 and led to the payoff of a plot line that had been building since Thanos first appeared in the post-credits of the first Avengers. It featured a high stakes storyline that resulted in major changes to the MCU. It was enjoyed by most critics and audience members alike, although the gigantic cast received some criticism for being a little hard to follow.
The last film of 2018 was Ant-Man and the Wasp. It brought back most of the original film’s cast and turned Evangeline Lilly’s character into superhero Wasp. It also introduced Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster, Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet van Dyne, Hannah John-Kamen as Ava Starr/Ghost, and Randall Park as FBI agent Jimmy Woo. Like most of Marvel’s cinema at this point, it was loved by critics and fans alike. It was praised for giving both a break to audiences from the heavy storyline taking place in Infinity War while still setting up the plot to the fourth Avengers’ film.
2019 also had three films. The first was Captain Marvel, a prequel that takes place in 1995. It brings back some of the previous cast as younger versions of their characters like Jackson, Pace, and Gregg while introducing Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau, and many others. It was mostly liked by critics and audience members – its main praise was for Larson’s performance while its main criticism was its plot. It introduces Skrulls to the MCU – a group of aliens that will play a more important role down the line.
Avengers: Endgame also released in 2019. Without getting too into spoiler territory, it brought back most of the cast of Infinity War and wrapped up almost every storyline thread that had been left dangling since 2008. It’s the second highest rated Marvel movie and was seen as a feat for wrapping up so much of the main stories that had been told through the series since 2008.
The last film of Phase Three and 2019 was Spider-Man: Far From Home. A sequel to Homecoming, it brought back most of that film’s cast alongside some other returning faces from other movies, and it introduced J.B. Smoove as Julius Dell and Jake Gyllenhall as Quentin Beck/Mysterio. While technically the end of Phase Three, it’s largely seen as a goodbye to the previous phase and a start to Phase Four. It ranks as #10 on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of films from the MCU.
- 2016 Captain America: Civil War | Doctor Strange
- 2017 Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 | Spider-man: Homecoming | Thor: Ragnarok
- 2018 Black Panther | Avengers: Infinity War | Ant-Man and the Wasp
- 2019 Captain Marvel | Avengers: Endgame | Spider-man: Far From Home
MCU Phase Four Movies
We’re finally at the current phase: Phase Four. It’s been a wild ride, hasn’t it? Don’t think that Marvel isn’t out of ideas – they’re not. While some of these films are not as praised as highly as previous entries, they’ve largely still been well received and take the MCU into new territory, introducing new heroes and villains alike while setting up this phase’s overarching theme of multiple universes aka the Multiverse.
2020 saw a break in film releases due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While it was frustrating for many fans, it was a nice breather that made others eager to bite into the next phase of the MCU.
2021 broke the previous pattern of three films a year by bringing us four new MCU films. They finally even gave Black Widow her own film. Scarlett Johansson, of course, returns as the main character and stars alongside Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova/Black Widow, David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian, O- T Fagbenie as Rick Mason, and Olga Kurylenko as Antonia Dreykov/Taskmaster. While far from being considered one of the best films in the series, both Johansson and Pugh were praised for their respective performances. Due to the pandemic limiting theatrical releases, Disney released the film on Disney+ which led to a lawsuit by Johansson alleging her losing a large sum of money she would have otherwise gotten from a box office bonus in her contract. Since the lawsuit, it seems there is bad blood between Johansson and Disney.
The next film in 2021 to come out was Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It was the first Marvel film to feature an Asian actor in a titular role. It introduced fans to Simu Liu as Xu Shang-Chi/Shaun, Awkwafina as Katy, Meng’er Zhang as Xu Xialing, and Tony Leung as Xu Wenwu among others while bringing back Benedict Wong as Wong. It ranks #9 on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of scores for this film series, and a sequel is in the early stages of development.
2021 also brought the release of Eternals, the least liked MCU entry by critics and many fans alike partially due to its large cast. It starred Gemma Chan as Sersi, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lia McHugh as Sprite, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Barry Keoghan as Druig, Don Lee as Gilgamesh, Harish Patel as Karun, Kit Harington as Dane Whitman, Salma Hayek as Ajak, and Anelina Jolie as Thena. Despite its rocky reception, a sequel is still planned.
The last film of 2021 for Marvel was Spider-Man: No Way Home. It ranks #5 on Rotten Tomatoes for all of the MCU and was absolutely adored by fans as well. The bulk of the Spider-Man MCU cast returns along with Cumberbatch and Wong playing their own part. The rest of the cast will remain unlisted to avoid spoilers, but needless to say, minor spoiler: it helps establish the theme of the Multiverse for Phase Four.
2022 marks the return to the three films a year format. So far, two have been released. The first one was Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness featuring Cumberbatch returning as Doctor Strange, Benedict Wong as Wong, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/the Scarlet Witch, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo, Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, and introduced Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez. It’s among the worst rated of the MCU series, but it still was generally liked by critics and audience members. It marked the return of Sam Raimi to making Marvel comic movies and featured cameos by frequent Raimi collaborators and friends Bruce Campbell and Scott Spiegel. While not as beloved as some of the other films in the franchise, it got praise for Raimi’s direction style and his infusion of horror. It featured other cameos from some fan favorites, but like No Way Home, it’s best to avoid listing them to avoid spoilers.
The most recent release as of writing this article is Thor: Love and Thunder. The majority of the cast from the first and third films returned alongside brief appearances by the Guardians of the Galaxy crew. It marked the return of Natalie Portman who becomes “a Thor” herself. It also introduces Christian Bale as Gorr and Russel Crowe as Zeus. It is the second lowest rated MCU entry after Eternals, although it has a 64% vs. Eternals’ 47%. Its main criticisms were being too much like Ragnarok in terms of frequent jokes while having to balance a serious villain and an even more serious storyline featuring Portman’s character’s struggle with cancer.
Later this year, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be released. Its production was marked by the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman who was going to be returning as T’Challa/Black Panther. The storyline will instead focus on the original cast and how they deal with the loss of their king as Disney/Marvel didn’t feel recasting Chadwick’s part would be respectful. The film will also introduce Dominique Thorn as Riri Williams/Ironheart and Tenoch Huerta as Namor.
2023 will bring three more Marvel movies. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will be about Ant-Man, Wasp, and Wasp’s parents Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne (the original Ant-Man and Wasp) exploring the Quantum Realm. Not much is known about Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 other than it will deal with Peter Quill’s reaction to the events of Endgame and having to save
- 2021 Black Widow | Shang-Chi and the Legend Of The Ten Rings | Eternals | Spider-man: No Way Home
- 2022 Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness | Thor: Love and Thunder | Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Upcoming)
MCU Phase Five Movies
Phase Five will begin in 2023 with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. It will be about Ant-Man, Wasp, and Wasp’s parents Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne (the original Ant-Man and Wasp) exploring the Quantum Realm.
Not much is known about Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 other than it will deal with Peter Quill’s reaction to the events of Endgame and having to save one of their crew members. The Marvels will feature Brie Larson as Captain Marvel and introduce Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel to the big screen as well as Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau; not much is known about the film other than whenever they use their powers, they switch places with each other and the movie will have them set out on a mission to find out why.
2024 will bring Captain America: New World Order in which, spoilers for Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the new Captain must reckon with his new role. The Thunderbolts has very little information other than it will star the Winter Soldier, the new Black Widow, Red Guardian, Ghost, and others from previous films. Little is known about Blade as well other than Mahershala Ali will star as the titular vampire slayer.
- 2023 Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (release date 15 Feb 2023) | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (release date 3rd May 2023) | The Marvels (release date 26 July 2023)
- 2024 Captain America: New World Order (release date May 2024) | Thunderbolts (July 2024) | Blade (release date 6 September 2024)
MCU Phase Six Movies
Almost nothing is known about Phase Six.
It will start in 2024 with Deadpool 3 that will see Ryan Reynolds return with Hugh Jackman possibly coming in as Wolverine.
2025 has two films listed so far for it. Fantastic Four which hasn’t had its cast announced yet. Little is known about the new Avengers other than it dealing with the implications of the Multiverse and, minor spoilers, the events from the Loki Disney+ series.
- 2024 Deadpool 3 (Release date 8 November 2024)
- 2025 Fantastic Four (Release date 14 February 2025) | Avengers: The Kang Dynasty (Release date 2 May 2025)
- 2026 Avengers: Secret Wars (Release date 1st May 2026)