If the footage from the Avengers: Endgame trailers is to be believed, the original Avengers will be reunited to avenge the loss of their friends, and well, half of the universe. To do this, they’ll need a clean shave (lookin’ at you Cap), new haircuts (Hello Hawkeye), and superheroes from every Phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to help them. We don’t know what will happen after the dust settles (or reforms into our favorite superheroes), but we do know it will be a colossal conclusion to the successful 10-film third phase of the MCU.
In honor of the grand finale to Phase 3, and in preparation for a new wave of heroes taking over, we’ve done a Tomatometer deep dive into the 21 films that make up the three phases of the MCU so far. The result? Eighteen fascinating – we hope! – stats about the MCU, covering every one of the Marvel Studios films released since 2008. Dig in below, and let us know in the comments whether you agree or disagree with the Tomatometer’s findings.
Average Audience Score: 82.1% | Average Tomatometer Score: 83.8%
The average Audience Score for every film in the MCU is 82.1%, while the average Tomatometer score is 83.8% — so much for pretentious critics! A 1.7% split is almost unheard of with single films at Rotten Tomatoes, let alone when averaging out scores across 21 movies. Critics and fans: Assemble!
It’s fitting that franchises featuring playboy billionaires, Asgardian gods, and a clean-cut super soldier would have Tomatometer trajectories as distinct as their titular heroes. The Iron Man trilogy started super Fresh (93%) and its sequels couldn’t recapture the first installment’s glory, whereas Thor and Captain America finished very strong (91%, 92%) with the highest Tomatometer-rated movies in their trilogies. Only Captain America avoided a sophomore slump with Captain America: Winter Soldier (90%), while Thor: Ragnarok (92%) totally redeemed its franchise by making a 25% improvement after the near-Rotten Thor: The Dark World (67%).
When looking at the Tomatometer averages for superheroes who have been in at least three MCU movies, they don’t get any better than T’Challa’s 91% Tomatometer average. He has appeared in Captain America: Civil War (91%), Black Panther (97%), and Avengers: Infinity War (85%). Also, the 97% Tomatometer score for Black Panther is the best in the MCU.
Talk about strong beginnings: 2008’s Iron Man comes out on top when you average out each film’s Tomatometer and Audience Score. The Tomatometer score for Iron Man is 93% and the Audience Score is 91%, making for an average between the two of 92%. We know a certain “genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist” who would be very happy to hear this.
Phase 3’s Spider-Man: Homecoming (92%), Thor: Ragnarok (92%), Black Panther (97%), Avengers: Infinity War (85%), and Ant-Man and the Wasp (88%) all have above-average Tomatometer scores for the MCU (the MCU average being 83.8%) and average a stellar 90.8% on the Tomatometer. It’s a Pixar-level run that was capped off by Black Panther receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.
Nowadays, after all of the Tomatometer success the MCU has enjoyed, it’s hard to believe that The Incredible Hulk (67%), Iron Man 2 (73%), and Thor (77%) couldn’t muster Tomatometer scores above 80%. Those scores aren’t bad at all, but by modern MCU standards, they’re a little lacking. We can’t be too rough on these films though, because the MCU was still in Phase 1, and the next films released were Captain American at 80% and the 92% Tomatometer-rated The Avengers.
Other brands — heroes with one sequel or more — still don’t fare too badly: Captain America (85%), Ant-Man (81%), Iron Man (80%), and Thor (79.6%).
Turns out people love A-holes who save the galaxy while listening to awesome music. The James Gunn-directed movies have a totally different vibe to their MCU counterparts (OK, Thor: Ragnarok gives us some GOTG feels), and audiences have latched onto it. You have to admire how Gunn, the maestro behind Super and Slither, has managed to bring some of his trademark oddness — a severed toe, Jackson Pollock paintings, and a villain who named himself “Taserface” — into the mainstream superhero movie domain.
It is the only series in the MCU (and among other superhero trilogies) to see this trend.
The Captain America series reigns over all MCU trilogies (Iron Man, Thor) when it comes to Tomatometer scores — its three-film average of 87% bests the rest. Also, it is the only superhero trilogy ever to start Fresh and get better with each installment. This is something Thor, Iron Man, Batman, Spider-Man, Blade, Wolverine, and the X-Men can’t claim.
Joss Whedon (Marvel’s The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron), James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Iron Man 2), Peyton Reed (Ant-Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp), and the Russo Brothers (Captain America: Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War) have directed 11 of the 21 released MCU films. The average for their first features is an excellent 89%; however, the average for the second or third films is 82.5%. All of their follow-up films were Fresh, mind you. And we’re excited to see if Black Panther director Ryan Coogler can give the 82.5% average a boost when he returns to direct the sequel.
Captain America: Civil War (91%), Thor: Ragnarok (92%), Iron Man 3 (79%), and Avengers: Infinity War (85%) have an excellent 86.75% Tomatometer average. On its own, the 86.75% average would be impressive, but when compared to the 85% and 79% averages for first and second franchise films in the MCU, it proves that the third time’s a charm — according to the Tomatometer.
More is more in the MCU: The 15 movies in the collection that run longer than 2 hours have a much higher Tomatometer average than their five under-120-minute counterparts (86.7% compared to 76.6%). It’s a coincidence, but it’s worth noting that The Incredible Hulk (67%) and Thor: The Dark World (67%) are the lowest Tomatometer-rated movies and both have 112-minute running times. Good omen: Avengers: Endgame is apparently 182 minutes.
Human Villains: 88.75% | Enhanced Humans: 80.8% | Non-Humans: 80.8%
Unlike MCU movies involving villainous gods or bad guys who turn themselves into wild creatures, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Black Panther all feature human villains who don’t have special powers (to begin with) and work on the fringes in order to implement their plans. Critics seem to like this approach. Perhaps these villains connect because of their relatable, human motivations — Erik Killmonger wants to right worldly wrongs, Zemo seeks revenge, Michael Keaton’s Vulture is after his version of the American Dream, and no one is getting in his way. Hela, on the other hand, wants to rule the universe — something only a couple of critics we know could relate to.
Of the 21 films in the MCU, only Spider-Man: Homecoming (92%) and Ant-Man and the Wasp (88%) feature fewer than 10 deaths perpetrated by the heroes or villains, and their Tomatometer average is 90%. On the flip side, the Tomatometer average for the six most carnage-heavy MCU movies – among them, Avengers: Infinity War, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Thor: The Dark World – is 84.8%. That’s dragged down by The Dark World, but still, maybe Thanos should’ve only killed an eighth of the population.
It’s kinda crazy that the first nine films of the eventual 10 films that will make up Phase Three of the MCU have an average Tomatometer score of 88.3%. The creative team at Marvel has been able to fine-tune its formula to the point where the lowest score of the Phase 3 movies belongs to the Certified Fresh Captain Marvel, at 78%. The highest score belongs to the wildly popular Black Panther (97%). Phase 1 has an average Tomatometer of 80.3%, and Phase 2’s average is 80.6%. If the pattern of phase-on-phase growth were to continue, look for Phase 4 to pull off the near-impossible and collect an average of close to 100%. (Unless they break the Tomatometer, it ain’t gonna happen).
The main reason we wanted to drop this statistic is so we could discuss the greatness of Luis in the Ant-Man franchise. Sure, we love Korg (Thor: Ragnarok), Ned (Spider-Man: Homecoming), and Mantis (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), but they don’t have the storytelling chops that Luis has. Michael Peña’s portrayal of the ex-con who becomes a security consultant is pitch perfect and we can’t get enough of his truth-serum arguments and one-punch knockouts. It won’t happen, but we hope Luis pops up in Avengers: Endgame and saves the day — or at least drops some funny one-liners.
Captain Marvel is the only female-led superhero film in the MCU and won’t have any company in that tier until Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow hits theaters in 2020. However, movies featuring Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), Okoye (Danai Gurira), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), and/or Gamora (Zoe Saldana) have higher Tomatometer and Audience Scores on average than their more male-dominated counterparts.
MCU movies that feature at least five superheroes teaming up to form a supergroup have a solid 87.3% Tomatometer average. These films include The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok (yep, we’re considering Heimdall in our count), and Avengers: Infinity War. It’s hardly a surprise these movies score so well. The best moments of the MCU often come from the camaraderie of super crews as they battle various hordes, or each other, and the universe’s big “wow” moments are usually big team-ups — think of the “gang’s all here” slow-motion shot at the beginning of Avengers: Age of Ultron, or seeing Ant-Man steal Captain America’s shield from Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War.
So, this isn’t a Tomatometer stat, but it’s damn impressive. The Iron Man trilogy may not have the highest Tomatometer average, but it is the highest grossing trilogy with a massive $2.7 billion worldwide haul (counting inflation). Seems that audiences love Robert Downey Jr.’s take on Tony Stark, and his appearances in non-Iron Man specific movies always guarantee success. He appears in five of the six highest-grossing Marvel movies (The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man 3, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War), and, with Avengers: Endgame coming up, his worldwide tally will easily pass $10 billion. If Avengers: Endgame is Robert Downey Jr.’s Marvel swan song, no one can say the team at the big M didn’t get their money’s worth from him.
Note: Calculations based on Tomatometer and Audience Scores as of April 17, 2019.
Avengers: Endgame is in theaters April 26. 2019.