The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is vast and ever-expanding. Despite having a stranglehold on the culture since the release of Iron Man in 2008, there have been a number of films that audiences unanimously agree have missed the mark. These are the worst Marvel films in the MCU, according to detractors and enthusiasts.
1. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
The sequel to Thor sees the God of Thunder teaming up with his mischievous brother, Loki, to save the Nine Realms from an ancient enemy. Despite its impressive visuals, Thor: The Dark World was criticized for its dull storyline, lack of character development, and failure to fully explore the potential of Thor mythology.
Fans of the original Thor movie found this addition to be an unforgettable movie outside of one interesting scene. Most Marvel fans agree it's arguably the worst film in the MCU because it's so profoundly bland. One viewer describes it as a movie that felt like a “direct-to-DVD sequel that somehow got the original actors.”
2. Captain Marvel (2019)
Set in the 1990s, the film follows Carol Danvers, a former U.S. Air Force pilot who becomes the superhero Captain Marvel. The movie faced criticism for its inconsistent pacing, unimpressive character development, and a storyline that didn't fully explore the potential of its cosmic setting.
The film faced backlash for its choice to cast Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, whom many fans found to be uncharismatic and delivered a lot of cringe dialogue that was chalked up as a shallow force-fed take on feminism.
3. Eternals (2021)
Eternals introduces a new group of immortal superheroes who have secretly shaped human history. Despite its star-studded cast and visually stunning sequences, the film received mixed reviews. Critics pointed out its sluggish pacing, incoherent storyline, and difficulty in juggling a large ensemble of characters.
Audiences unanimously found the film to be a dull and lifeless addition to the MCU, ultimately forgettable and lacking any heart.
4. Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)
In Thor: Love and Thunder, Thor sets out on a personal quest for inner peace, only to have his retirement interrupted by Gorr, the God Butcher. Gorr is a dangerous killer who aims to wipe out all gods. Thor joins forces with King Valkyrie, Korg, and his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster, who unexpectedly possesses his magical hammer. Together, they embark on a cosmic adventure to unravel the secrets behind Gorr's thirst for vengeance.
Characters felt put to waste with terrible humor that made the entire film feel like a big joke. Hemsworth himself even admitted that the criticism the film received was valid and that the movie was “a bit too silly.”
It wasn't just Marvel haters giving Love and Thunder flack, either. Fans on online Marvel forums expressed their hatred of the movie, with one MCU fan saying, “I never had the urge to stop watching a Marvel movie before I watched Love and Thunder.”
5. X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)
This X-Men film revolves around Jean Grey's transformation into the powerful and unstable Dark Phoenix. Despite a talented cast, Dark Phoenix received negative reviews for its weak script, underdeveloped characters, and an anticlimactic conclusion to the X-Men franchise.
I'm pretty sure this film killed whatever momentum Sophie Turner's career was riding on post-Game of Thrones. The movie struggled to find its footing, resulting in a disjointed narrative and missed opportunities to explore the emotional depths of Jean Grey's transformation.
6. Fantastic Four (2005)
The 2005 adaptation of Marvel's First Family follows four astronauts who gain superhuman abilities after exposure to cosmic rays. The 2005 iteration of Fantastic Four was torn apart for its incredibly weak storytelling, campy dialogue, and underwhelming special effects.
Fans were disappointed it failed to capture the essence of the beloved comic book characters — that was until the 2015 version came out, and they realized just how bad things could really get.
7. Morbius (2022)
Morbius is determined to find a cure for the disease that has afflicted him since birth. To achieve this, he performs a risky and radical experiment. However, the outcome of the experiment brings about unexpected and unforeseen consequences.
The movie is like a caricature of a superhero, and audiences hated it so much that they gave it a 5.2 rating on IMDb and created countless memes parodying lines in the movie or lines that are so ridiculous they could be in the movie.
Despite being based on a Marvel Comic, it's unclear what universe Morbius is supposed to be set in, especially considering Morbius jokingly refers to himself as Venom and the misleading trailer teased a Spider-Man reveal which never occurred. The entire movie seemed like a jumbled mess, with even the filmmakers unsure of what was going on. A clip in the trailer suggested that Morbius took place in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man universe, showing Morbius walking past Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man mural, which was vandalized with the word “murderer.”
When it was time to explain why this teaser never popped up in the movie, director Daniel Espinosa said he had no idea why it ended up in the trailer. He added that the universe supposedly has a Spider-Man, but it's unclear which Spider-Man this is, and he has yet to appear.
Besides this misleading marketing, the film includes a generic, uninspired villain, an incoherent script, an overall lack of structure, and a goofy performance from Jared Leto.
8. Blade: Trinity (2004)
This film centers around the half-vampire, half-human hero Blade, who fights against a powerful group of vampires. Blade: Trinity suffered from a weak plot, poorly developed characters, and a lack of the gritty atmosphere that made its predecessors successful. Fans of the first two films felt disappointed with this third installment which felt like a bad imitation of the franchise.
Whether it was Jessica Biel's cringy EDM references, the terrible casting choice for Dracula, Ryan Reynold's annoying nonstop quippy one-liners, the fact that Wesley Snipes seemed like he'd rather be anywhere else, or the overall terrible acting, this movie fell flatter than my hair after I straightened it for two hours in high school.
9. Fantastic Four (2015)
In this reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise, four young individuals acquire extraordinary powers after a failed teleportation experiment. The film was heavily criticized for its disjointed storytelling and lack of chemistry between the cast, earning an abysmal 4.3 IMDb rating.
One of the writers later addressed what went wrong with the film in an interview, where he cited budget cuts, creative differences surrounding the tone of the script, on-set issues, and difficulties with the studio. Audiences criticized the flat characters who felt like they didn't care about each other, terrible CGI, and an overly dark tone that felt out of place.
Ultimately, writer Jeremy Slater chalked up the flop being attributed to creative clashes with the director. Slater was trying to write the movie like a Marvel film, which director Josh Trank didn't want. This resulted in a disjointed movie that felt like it had competing creative concepts, none of which worked out. It not only flopped at the box office but is considered one of the worst movies to come out in the past ten years.
10. Elektra (2005)
Elektra focuses on the titular character, a skilled assassin with supernatural abilities. This spin-off from Daredevil, starring Jennifer Garner, received negative reviews for its weak plot, unconvincing action sequences, and lack of depth in character development, resulting in a forgettable experience.
I remember loving this movie when it came out in 2005, but that's not much of a compliment, considering I was eight. What was an epic female assassin to me when I was eight now feels like a hilarious and unintentionally campy B-movie. Garner was an excellent choice for Elekra. She was done dirty because her performance was genuinely believable and interesting, but it was paired with a poor script and unimpressive filmmaking.
Justice for Jennifer Garner's Elektra!
11. Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness (2022)
In an epic adventure, Doctor Strange joins forces with an enigmatic teenage girl he encounters in his dreams. Possessing the unique ability to traverse different multiverses, they unite to confront a series of menacing dangers, including alternate versions of Doctor Strange, dead-set on eradicating countless lives throughout the multiverse.
Together, they strive to save millions from imminent destruction. Despite an engaging concept and a strong performance from Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch, it's packed with cringy Marvel humor, Doctor Strange's character feels incredibly static and underdeveloped, and the overall story feels like a child's idea of an intelligent story.
It felt like an elaborate exercise in CGI effects, and the entire concept of the multiverse seems too vast and expansive to be tackled by these writers. I'd describe this movie with one word: cartoonish.
12. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
This film serves as a reboot of the Hulk franchise, following Bruce Banner's transformation into the green behemoth. The Incredible Hulk struggled to captivate audiences, resulting in its classification as a box-office disappointment. Despite its cast's star power and the character's enduring popularity, the film failed to resonate with viewers for several reasons. Its disjointed narrative and pacing issues left audiences feeling disconnected and disengaged from the story.
The film's attempt to distance itself from its predecessor, Hulk (2003), added to the confusion and lack of continuity. The underdeveloped character arcs and lack of emotional depth also contributed to the film's lackluster reception.
Some of this resulted from creative differences between Edward Norton (who wanted more creative control) and the filmmakers, as well as needing more cohesive direction. The movie was unsure if it was attempting to be a reboot or a sequel.
13. Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania (2023)
In Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, our heroes venture into the enigmatic Quantum Realm, where they encounter peculiar beings and embark on a mind-bending journey that challenges their preconceived notions of reality. This is the lowest-grossing Ant-Man film of the franchise, and it's no wonder why.
They ripped out any and all charm that made the previous Ant-Man movies work and then attempted to force an irrelevant plot. This was especially disappointing because the trailers made it seem like this movie would play a much more significant role in the overall development of the MCU. There was far too much exposition, and the VFX and editing looked subpar.
14. Iron Man 3 (2013)
In the aftermath of the events in The Avengers, Tony Stark faces a new enemy known as the Mandarin. Iron Man 3 divided audiences due to its controversial twist involving the Mandarin character and a tonal shift that prioritized humor over the story's darker elements. These creative choices disappointed fans expecting a more faithful adaptation of the source material.
15. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
A lot of the issues that Captain America has might be due to how early in the saga it was released. As one of the first real Marvel movies, the film suffers from a lot of back and forth between the villains and the main character, making some powerful scenes feel lackluster. It's not a bad movie, it's just not as good as it could have been,
Jaimee Marshall is a culture writer, avid movie buff, and political junkie. She spends the bulk of her time watching and critiquing films, writing political op-eds, and dabbling in philosophy. She has a Communication Studies degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she flirted with several different majors before deciding to pursue writing. As a result, she has a diverse educational background, having studied economics, political science, psychology, business admin, rhetoric, and debate.
At Wealth of Geeks, Jaimee places an emphasis on film and television analysis, ranking the best [and worst] in media so you can find more diamonds in the rough and waste less time on box-office duds. You can find her articles on politics and culture in Evie Magazine, Katie Couric Media, Lotus Eaters, and Her Campus. You can also find her find her episode of Popcorned Planet, where she analyzes the Johnny Depp & Amber Heard trial. She has written extensively about due process, free speech, and pop culture.