The Marvel Olympics: ‘Black Panther’ wins gold as the most critically acclaimed MCU movie by far – see how all 18 compare

Black Panther” opened on Friday, February 16, as the 18th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the interconnected superhero franchise began with “Iron Man” 10 years ago in 2008 — that averages out to 1.8 Marvel blockbusters every single year. Critics should be sick of it by now, shouldn’t they? Perhaps they are, which makes it even more impressive that this 18th entry in the MCU canon has scored 87 on MetaCritic and 98% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes. That makes it the most acclaimed Marvel movie yet. So if Marvel were the Olympics — and goodness knows they have enough heroes to populate an Olympic team — it just captured the gold.

“Black Panther” is co-written and directed by Ryan Coogler, who seems to be making a habit of resuscitating long-running franchises. In 2015 he brought Sylvester Stallone‘s Rocky Balboa back to the Oscars with his film “Creed.” This film follows the title character (Chadwick Boseman), a superhero who is also the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. The film is unique in the Marvel universe by devoting a whopping $200 million production budget to a story featuring predominantly black actors, also including Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o.

The only Marvel movie that comes close based on MetaCritic scores is the very first, “Iron Man,” which was rated 79 according to the review aggregator. The two films are much closer if you judge based on Rotten Tomatoes, where “Iron Man” was 94% fresh, but in this case MetaCritic is a more useful measure: RT uses a pass/fail metric, while MC is more nuanced in measuring the degrees of like and dislike. So while almost as many critics liked “Iron Man” at least somewhat, more appear to passionately love “Black Panther.”

It’s worth noting that of the 9 other films in Marvel’s MetaCritic top-10, 6 of them earned Oscar nominations, all in technical and craft categories: “Iron Man,” “The Avengers” (2012), “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014), “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014), “Doctor Strange” (2016) and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (2017). Will “Black Panther” follow in their footsteps? Could it even break new ground as the first Marvel movie nominated for Best Picture? Check out the complete list of Marvel movies ranked from best to worst according to MetaCritic.

1. “Black Panther” (2018) — 87
2. “Iron Man” (2008) — 79
3. “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) — 76
4. “Captain America: Civil War” (2016) — 75
5. “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017) — 74
6. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017) — 73
7. “Doctor Strange” (2016) — 72
8. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014) — 70
9. “The Avengers” (2012) — 69
10. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (2017) — 67
11. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015) — 66
11. “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011) — 66
13. “Ant-Man” (2015) — 64
14. “Iron Man 3” (2013) — 62
15. “The Incredible Hulk” (2008) — 61
16. “Iron Man 2” (2010) — 57
16. “Thor” (2011) — 57
18. “Thor: The Dark World” (2013) — 54

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