Based on their dynamic presentation at this year’s Comic-Con, the MCU will continue to be the cornerstone of franchise entertainment. They confirmed the upcoming Multiverse Saga all the way through its end in 2025 with Avengers: Secret Wars – though there are still some empty slots they’ve yet to announce.
While Marvel has become a household name because of the MCU, its slate of animated films is relatively ignored. They’ve definitely found more success in animation on the TV side of it, but there are still some fun and interesting movies, and here are the best as rated by IMDb users.
10 The Invincible Iron Man (2007) – 5.8
A year before the MCU began its stranglehold on superhero entertainment Iron Man had his own animated film, The Invincible Iron Man. Unfortunately for it, Iron Man still retains a rating more than two points higher. This film follows Tony Stark as he becomes Iron Man and goes up against one of his greatest enemies, the Mandarin – seen most recently in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Overall, it’s still an enjoyable watch with a compelling artistic style and character designs, but it is a product of its time. Before the MCU, Iron Man wasn’t Marvel’s most popular character, thus the film never gained the recognition it could’ve earned. It would be interesting to see how a new Iron Man animated film would perform now – whether or not it could break free of the giant impression Robert Downey Jr. left on audiences.
9 Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (2008) – 6.2
The Avengers have had plenty of different iterations in animation, yet Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow might be the most unique Instead of focusing on the classic team members this film centers on their kids. Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, Hawkeye, and Ant-Man’s children must team up and protect the world from Ultron and his robotic army. The choice in following these characters is what makes this film unique still to this day.
Of course, the downside of gearing the movie to younger audiences is that it will be looked down on, hence the lower rating. Nevertheless, it’s still impressive compared to all of Marvel’s animated films, ranking in the top ten.
8 Thor: Tales of Asgard (2011) – 6.2
As was the case for Iron Man, Thor also got his own animated movie around the same time as his MCU debut. In this case, Thor: Tales of Asgard was only released 11 days after Thor. In fact, the animated film was actually delayed to coincide with Thor’s debut. They do both tell interesting stories and focus on an immature and young Thor – though Thor: Tales of Asgard specifically follows a teenage Thor before he was ever granted Mjølnir.
The film featured classic Thor allies like Sif and the Warriors Three, but also Amora the Enchantress, a powerful Asgardian sorceress the MCU has yet to introduce. It shares a distinct and heartwarming perspective on Thor and Loki’s intricate relationship which can make it quite a special watch.
7 Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther (2006) – 6.5
Ultimate Avengers: The Movie was the first in a series of animated films – called Marvel Animated Features – ending with Thor: Tales of Asgard. It came out in early 2006 when the idea of a live-action Avengers film was just ruminating and was shortly followed by its sequel Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther. As its name implies, it focused on the introduction of Black Panther into the team.
Unfortunately, while there are many great Avengers villains, the team is fighting the same enemy as in the first film so it doesn’t really succeed well as a sequel. Nevertheless, the story and animation were still particularly well-liked by audiences. In fact, some reviews even hoped for a continuation of the series, which was of course, completely overshadowed when the MCU came into fruition.
6 Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme (2007) – 6.6
The prospects for a Doctor Strange animated film are quite extensive as his stories, powers, and enemies lend themselves to cartoons and animations very well. Though it didn’t get a particularly high rating, 2007’s Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme proves this point. MCU’s Doctor Strange follows nearly the same plot structure, though there’s a big difference in that Mordo is actually presented as an antagonist.
It’s really an animated film fit for most audiences as it does have a darker and more mature tone than other movies, and it can be a fun way to introduce Doctor Strange to audiences unfamiliar with him from the comics. It’s actually strange Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme has a relatively lower rating when it was nominated for an Annie Award.
5 Ultimate Avengers: The Movie (2006) – 6.6
Just like in The Avengers, Ultimate Avengers: The Movie features a team consisting of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow – and Hawkeye swapped for Giant-Man and Wasp – all fighting against the invading Chitauri army. It follows a pretty standard structure and at the time was definitely something quite special. It got some great reviews from audiences with some praising it as a fantastic feat in animation.
That isn’t the consensus, however, as there are several other reviews claiming that Ultimate Avengers: The Movie is just quite generic – still entertaining for the right audience, but nothing groundbreaking. Still many agree it’s a better movie than many of the live-action Marvel films of the early 2000s like Daredevil and Elektra.
4 Planet Hulk (2010) – 6.7
Hulk has been the protagonist for several animated movies and shows, and of the mainline avengers, he tends to be the most successful. The 2010 animated film Planet Hulk is one of his best and adapts the popular 2006 storyline of the same name. In it Hulk finds himself exiled to a distant planet and forced to fight as a gladiator for onlooker’s entertainment.
That might sound familiar to MCU fans since Thor: Ragnarok adapted the foundation of the storyline in it. The action in Planet Hulk is quite exciting and it gives some good attention to Hulk as a protagonist and leader. It could’ve honestly been followed by a sequel film like in the comics following the World War Hulk, but obviously that never happened – perhaps it can in the MCU.
3 Hulk Vs. (2009) – 6.9
Hulk Vs. is actually a collection of two separate short films, Hulk Vs. Thor and Hulk Vs. Wolverine. The stories are actually far more complex than the titles lead audiences to believe. Of course, the films entail Hulk fighting his sometimes allies, Thor and Wolverine, but it’s not really his choice. Specifically, Wolverine learns that the Weapon X program wanted to use Hulk as a weapon and they end up teaming up together.
In Hulk Vs. Thor, Loki and Amora the Enchantress effectively separate Bruce Banner from Hulk, which ends up threatening Asgard as the Hulk is then just a remorseless and uncontrollable force of destruction. That in particular is a story element the MCU could still adapt in the future – or perhaps apply to their newest hero, She-Hulk.
2 Big Hero 6 (2014) – 7.8
It might come as a surprise to most to learn that Disney’s Big Hero 6 is a Marvel movie. The comic series Big Hero 6 is obviously not as well-known as the Avengers or X-Men, but they’ve been around since 1998. There have been some prominent members of the team such as Silver Samurai – a longtime Wolverine villain – and Sunfire. However, now the team is best recognized by its robot mascot, Baymax.
Big Hero 6 sports a fun cast of voice actors – possibly rivaling the MCU’s best – with Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., and Alan Tudyk. There’s already been two spin-offs with Big Hero 6: The Series and Baymax! Due to the tonal shift and character redesigns, fans really expect to see Big Hero 6 anywhere close to the MCU.
1 Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018) – 8.4
If asked in general what the best superhero film of all time could be, many people would put forth Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as their answer. Therefore, it’s not unexpected that it is then Marvel’s best and highest-rated animated film. Fans are already in for a fun sequel with the recent reveals of Spider-Man 2099 and the Spot appearing in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. They aren’t alone as there are still other great Spider-Man characters and variants who could find their place in this series.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse became an instant hit not only due to its selection of fan-favorite Mile Morales as the protagonist but also its beautifully complex artistic styling, music, and characterizations. Thankfully, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is less than a year away as it is set to premiere on June 2nd, 2023.