The verdict is in: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania stinks! That’s according to critics, who collectively gave it a rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and fans, who slapped the 31st MCU movie with a modest B rating via Cinemascore (Marvel movies typically get ratings in the “A” range). “, so a B for them is very bad).
But how much third Ant-Man movie? There aren’t many truly awful Marvel movies out there, but after 15 years, it’s impossible for a studio not to go bad every once in a while. Using rotten tomatoes as a guide, I rank the worst MCU movies to determine where Quantumania will end and answer the question many moviegoers have been asking since the film’s premiere: is this the worst MCU movie of all time?
Note: Sony’s Spider-Man spinoffs don’t count because they were made without creative input from Marvel President Kevin Feige. Otherwise, this list would be nothing but Sony movies like Venom and Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
5. The Incredible Hulk (68%)
It says a lot about the high quality of Marvel’s output that the fifth worst MCU movie isn’t bad at all. In fact, that’s perfectly OK, and there’s nothing wrong with that. This second attempt at a Hulk movie after Ang Lee’s underrated 2003 film Pontoon sees a new Bruce Banner (Edward Norton, still better than Marc Ruffalo and Eric Bana) trying to find a cure for his Hulk rages. Along the way, he encounters a new threat, The Abomination (Tim Roth, so good at playing villain), whose similar gamma-fueled abilities may hold the key to a cure.
Although he does not innovate, The Incredible Hulk makes for an entertaining ride thanks to Norton’s charismatic performance and his, uh, amazing chemistry with Liv Tyler, who plays Betty Banner. Yes the CGI is a bit wonkyand the climactic battle is like any other final duel in a comic book movie, but The Incredible Hulk is a better film than its initial critical reception suggests.
4. Thor: The Dark World (66%)
Thor: The Dark World doesn’t have such a bad reputation that it has almost none. It’s the curse was that it was forgettable, and I can’t really disagree. Following the events of the first Thor, which relied heavily on its fish-out-of-water premise and Hemsworth’s charisma, the sequel sees the God of Thunder face off against an ancient race of elves in both Asgard and London. Instead of fighting notable foes like the Enchantress or the Absorbing Man, Thor is tasked with defeating… Malekith, who looks like every other villain in every other comic book movie (seriously, he could be siblings to Steppenwolf from Justice League, and that’s not a good thing).
I held The dark world in low esteem for years, but on a second rewatch I found it to be surprisingly not terrible. It’s a low bar, and maybe Sony Spinoffs of Spider-Man as Morbius gave me a taste of the stench of a superhero movie, but The dark world has her charms, the chief of which is Portman’s Jane Foster, who is smarter and wiser than the average damsel in distress; Rene Russo’s Freya, which gives the film dramatic weight; and Jamie Alexander’s Sif, which seriously kicks ass. The women of The dark world prevent it from becoming completely inaccessible, which makes it better than most DCEU movies.
3. Thor: Love and Thunder (63%)
Wait, another one Thor movie? I Thought Taika Waititi Solved Thunder God Franchise Problems With Ragnarok, who killed most of Asgard, gave Thor an awesome haircut, and didn’t take himself too seriously? Well, he did, but that created another problem: directorial excess. The problems of Love and Thunder are representative of the central problem of Phase Four: the directors had too much power to do what they wanted.
With love and thunderWaititi made not just one decent follow-up film, but three mediocre ones: Guardians of the Galaxy 2.5 with Thor as the leader of fact0, a goofy romantic comedy that pulled off the offbeat humor seen in the director’s earlier work, and a cancer story with Jane getting caught very seriously. The result is a tonal mish-mash that doesn’t work at all. What is unforgivable love and thunder is that if Waititi had just calmed down and picked one thing to focus on, it could have been a great MCU movie. Instead, Portman’s Jane Foster hero’s journey is wasted, and Christian Bale’s irresistible villain, Gorr the God Butcher is completely wasted.
2. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (48%)
Whether love and thunderThe cardinal sin of was that he had too many ideas and not enough discipline to see any of them through, so QuantumaniaThe main flaw of is that it tried to do too much with the wrong property. Forgoing the funky, low-stakes vibe of the first two Ant-Man movies, Quantumania plunges the ordinary hero and his family into a high-stakes plot that seems pulled from an old Star Wars script that George Lucas dumped in the Marin County trashcan years ago.
I have written at length about the faults of Quantumania, so I’ll just say that the movie shows how world-building and franchise expansion can come at the expense of audience enjoyment. It’s like Marvel forgot to tell a story with the third Ant-man movie, or even why people liked the character in the first place. Instead, the focus is entirely on building Kang up as a big Thanos-level villain, and that doesn’t even go down well. How can someone be intimidated by someone getting beat up by a horde of ants? Thanos would have booed Kang’s ass in the blink of an eye.
1. Marvel’s Eternals (47%)
Why the hell was Eternals even done? The characters were never popular, even with comic book fans. Most of them were forgettable copies of other better heroes and villains, and their history was convoluted at best. Those who have followed Marvel Studios since its inception know that Feige originally wanted to do Inhumans as a feature filmbut that property was taken and turned into a fun and gruesome miniseries, and so he decided to make Eternals instead.
Big mistake? Well, it’s complicated. Even if Eternals received the most lackluster critical reception of any MCU movie, it’s not the worst. It’s just the most boring Marvel movie never made. It’s too long, the energy is barely there and the characters all seem disconnected from themselves, from each other and from their adopted world. Director Chloe Zhao knows how to compose a gripping shot, but she takes the material too seriously. How many persistent snapshots of the cosmos can an audience take? The result is a Marvel movie that looks pretty, but feels empty. It’s a crime that such a talented cast (Barry Keoghan! Angelina Jolie! Brian Tyree Henry!) is wasted.