Summary

  • Marvel Studios has created the most successful shared superhero universe ever, and the highest-grossing film franchise of all time.
  • Chris Evans has defended Marvel Studios in the wake of recent criticism, suggesting that many MCU movies are
    “objectively phenomenal.”
  • Movies such as
    Iron Man, Black Panther, Spider-Man: No Way Home,
    and
    Avengers: Infinity War
    and
    Endgame
    prove Chris Evans right.

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Following recent criticisms, Chris Evans has defended Marvel Studios, and there are several great movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that prove him right. Since the release of 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel Studios has created the most expansive, successful and complex shared universe, adapting dozens of characters from the pages of Marvel Comics. Consequently, the MCU has become the highest-grossing film franchise of all time, and has one of the most dedicated and vocal fanbases of any similar franchise, but that hasn’t stopped Marvel Studios from receiving its fair share of criticism, particularly during the development of the Multiverse Saga.

Following the conclusion of the Infinity Saga in 2019, Marvel Studios expanded the MCU with a number of TV shows on Disney+ and an increase in the number of feature films releasing each year. Unfortunately, this meant that crews were stretched too thin, so the quality of recent MCU content has perhaps been lacking, and this expansion has contributed to so-called “superhero fatigue”. However, Marvel Studios alum Chris Evans has fought back against criticism, stressing the difficulties of producing these projects, and suggesting that some MCU movies are “objectively phenomenal” (via Variety), and many past MCU projects prove this point.

Comic book movies in general, for whatever reason, don’t always get the credit I think they deserve. They are these big, giant movies. There’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen. But the empirical evidence is in: They are not easy to make. If it was easier, there would be a lot more good ones. I’m not throwing shade! I’ve been a part of a few that missed. It happens. Making a movie is tough. More cooks in the kitchen doesn’t make it easier. I don’t want to highlight specific films in the Marvel catalog, but some of them are phenomenal. Like independently, objectively great movies, and I think they deserve a little more credit.

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10 Captain America: The Winter Soldier Is Chris Evans’ Favorite Marvel Movie

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Rotten Tomatoes Scores

Critics Score: 90%

Audience Score: 92%

Chris Evans spoke about Marvel Studios’ movies at Emerald City Con 2024, and during this same event, noted that 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier is his personal favorite MCU movie. The Winter Soldier marked Evans’ fourth appearance as Steve Rogers’ Captain America, following appearances in Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers and a cameo in Thor: The Dark World, and the actor praised the Russo brothers’ direction, and felt as though Rogers was more fleshed-out in his second solo movie. The Winter Soldier is regarded as one of the MCU’s strongest movies, so it certainly proves Evans right.

9 Iron Man Began A New Era For Superhero Movies

Iron Man (2008)

Tony Stark suiting up as Iron Man for the first time in the MCU

Iron Man (2008) Rotten Tomatoes Scores

Critics Score: 94%

Audience Score: 91%

Regarded as one of the strongest comic book movies of all time, 2008’s Iron Man kick-started the MCU perfectly by introducing the world to Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, the genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist, who became the superhero Iron Man. In 2022, Iron Man became the only MCU movie selected for preservation in the National Film Registry, deemed culturally and historically significant. Iron Man not only marked a huge step forward for Marvel, but changed the landscape of superhero cinema as a whole. Marking the birth of the MCU, Iron Man was an incredibly strong start for the franchise.

Iron Man

Release Date
May 2, 2008

Runtime
126 minutes

8 Black Panther Was The First Superhero Film Nominated For Best Picture

Black Panther (2018)

Killmonger and T'Challa in Wakanda's throne room in Black Panther

Black Panther (2018) Rotten Tomatoes Scores

Critics Score: 96%

Audience Score: 79%

Similarly to Iron Man, 2018’s Black Panther set a new standard for the MCU, and has been marked as one of the most culturally significant movies in the franchise. Starring the late Chadwick Boseman as the Wakandan King and Black Panther, T’Challa, Black Panther expanded the MCU in some beautiful ways, and broke several records for the franchise. Black Panther became the highest-grossing movie for a Black director, racking up over $1.3 billion, and became the first superhero film ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, and the first MCU project to win Oscars in several categories.

Black Panther Theatrical Poster depicting the primary cast

Black Panther

Director
Ryan Coogler

Release Date
February 16, 2018

Runtime
134 Minutes

7 Thor: Ragnarok Set A New Standard For The MCU

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor powered up with lightning in Thor Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) Rotten Tomatoes Scores

Critics Score: 93%

Audience Score: 87%

After 2011’s Thor and 2013’s Thor: The Dark World failed to harness Chris Hemsworth’s full potential as the titular God of Thunder, 2017’s Taika Waititi-directed Thor: Ragnarok changed the game completely. Unlike Thor: Love and Thunder, Ragnarok’s comedic tones were celebrated, and many praised the new direction for Thor in the MCU, which contributed to Ragnarok becoming the highest-grossing project in the Thor franchise. Thor: Ragnarok leaned more into the cosmic side of Thor and the Asgardians, rather than tying him specifically to Earth, which allowed more color, vibrancy and energy to be integrated into the story, to its benefit.

6 Shang-Chi & The Legend Of The Ten Rings Was A Huge Step Forward For Representation

Shang-Chi & The Legend Of The Ten Rings (2021)

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

Critics Score: 91%

Audience Score: 98%

Released among several divisive Multiverse Saga projects, 2021’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings stood out from the crowd as being one of the most praised MCU projects in recent years. Most prominently, Destin Daniel Cretton’s MCU directorial debut was celebrated for its representation of Asian cultures, acting as a departure from the typical MCU movie, though mirroring the success of Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther franchise. Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi is one of the most exciting new additions to the MCU, and while he hasn’t reappeared yet, he is expected to have a major role in the MCU’s future.

5 Spider-Man: No Way Home Is The Only Multiverse Saga Movie To Gross $1 Billion

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland as Spider-Man in the final battle of Spider-Man No Way Home

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) Rotten Tomatoes Scores

Critics Score: 93%

Audience Score: 98%

MCU movies clocking in over $1 billion at the global box office was commonplace during the Infinity Saga, but in the Multiverse Saga, only 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home has been able to achieve this level of success. The excitement of seeing returning Spider-Men Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield certainly contributed to this, and No Way Home took some huge risks in the story of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, which certainly paid off. Spider-Man: No Way Home became Sony Pictures’ highest-grossing movie, and broke numerous records for both Sony and Marvel Studios, and is still the most successful Multiverse Saga movie.

4 Guardians Of The Galaxy Made Lesser-Known Heroes Household Names

Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)

Star-Lord, Groot, Rocket, Drax and Gamora as the Guardians of the Galaxy in the Kyln

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) Rotten Tomatoes Scores

Critics Score: 92%

Audience Score: 92%

Since Marvel sold off many of its biggest properties in the 1990s, the MCU was built on Marvel Comics’ B-list characters, but in 2014, director James Gunn made history by making some of the comics’ most obscure characters household names. Guardians of the Galaxy introduced audiences to Peter Quill’s Star-Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Groot and Rocket, in a project infused with comedy, heart, excellent visual effects and a nostalgic soundtrack. Guardians of the Galaxy put James Gunn on the map as an acclaimed comic book movie director, and has been celebrated as one of the MCU’s most entertaining installments.

3 Captain America: Civil War Was An Intimate Spectacle

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Captain America and Iron Man fighting over the Winter Soldier in Captain America Civil War

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Rotten Tomatoes Scores

Critics Score: 91%

Audience Score: 89%

While The Winter Soldier is Chris Evans’ favorite MCU movie, many consider 2016’s Captain America: Civil War to be the strongest in the MCU’s Captain America franchise. Acting as a pseudo-Avengers movie, Civil War adapted one of Marvel Comics’ biggest events, and featured most of Marvel Studios’ superheroes, along with new additions Spider-Man and the Black Panther. Captain America: Civil War became the highest-grossing movie of 2016, and changed the status quo of the MCU, marking the Avengers’ first big loss at the hands of Daniel Brühl’s scheming Zemo, and beginning the MCU’s Phase 3 in a very strong place.

2 Avengers: Infinity War Marked A Major Cultural Event

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Rotten Tomatoes Scores

Critics Score: 85%

Audience Score: 92%

The Russo brothers returned from The Winter Soldier and Civil War to direct 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, the culmination of a decade of storytelling in the MCU. Infinity War became the fourth film ever, and the first superhero film ever, to gross over $2 billion at the global box office, becoming one of the most successful movies of all time. Featuring most of the MCU’s superheroes in a battle across the universe against Josh Brolin’s Thanos, Infinity War brought together all the storylines of the Infinity Saga, and ended on a heartbreaking cliffhanger, one of the greatest cinematic events ever.

1 Avengers: Endgame Became The Highest-Grossing Film Ever

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Rotten Tomatoes Scores

Critics Score: 94%

Audience Score: 90%

Avengers: Infinity War’s massive success was beaten only a year later with the release of Avengers: Endgame, the penultimate movie in the MCU’s Infinity Saga, though many consider Endgame to be the conclusion. Only eleven days after its premiere, Endgame surpassed Infinity War’s box office total, becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time from July 2019 to March 2021, prior to Avatar’s re-release. Marking the end of the line for several members of the original Avengers, Endgame wrapped up the first era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe perfectly, becoming perhaps the most “objectively phenomenal” project that proves Chris Evans right.

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