Entertainment

The Results Are In: ‘Iron Man’ Ranks as Marvel Fans’ Favorite MCU Movie

“Iron Man,” released in 2008, has the highest net favorability rating of all Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, but the Avenger himself isn’t as popular as his protege

Early films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe generally had higher ratings than the franchise's newer movies, according to new Morning Consult data. (Getty Images / Morning Consult artwork by Sara Wickersham)

MARVEL'S NEXT PHASE

This story is part of a nine-part series considering the business future of Disney’s crown jewel, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of the most lucrative properties in the history of entertainment, the MCU is suddenly threatened from multiple fronts: Several of its beloved heroes have been retired, the theatrical model is in peril and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated massive shifts in the media consumption habits of superhero fans. Marvel’s future success is not necessarily guaranteed. In order to continue its dominance of global culture over the course of its next phase, the Disney-owned brand will have to adapt.

After 26 films across more than 13 years, Marvel fans and the general public alike still hold “Iron Man” — the movie that launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe — in the highest esteem.

The 2008 film has a net favorability rating of 61 percentage points among all U.S. adults and 78 points among Marvel fans, the highest scores of all 26 MCU films, according to new Morning Consult data. “Iron Man 2,” which was released two years later to lukewarm reviews, somewhat surprisingly finished second among adults, tied with 2012’s “The Avengers.”

All 26 Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies Ranked by Net Favorability

Shares who said they have favorable views of the following films minus shares who said they have unfavorable views:

Poll conducted Nov. 19-22, 2021, among 2,200 U.S. adults, including 1,526 Marvel fans, with margins of error of +/-2% and +/-3%, respectively.

What the numbers say

  • Early MCU films generally had higher ratings than the newer entrants to the universe, which are also not quite as well-known as the longtime favorites, according to the survey. 
  • For instance, “Thor” (2011) rounded out the top four MCU movies among all adults, following “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2” and “The Avengers.” “The Incredible Hulk” (2008) and “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) tied for fifth.
  • For Marvel fans, “Thor,” “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Guardians” were among the most favorable movies in the MCU. All introduced new main characters to the universe. 
  • There was not much correlation between favorability rating and box-office performance. The early Marvel movies did not perform as well at the box office as many of the more recent ones, with the exception of “The Avengers” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” The four major crossover films in the MCU thus far — “The Avengers,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” — are the highest grossing in the franchise. 
  • Fan favorites, including “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” “Thor,” “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “The Incredible Hulk,” are all in the bottom 10 Marvel movies in terms of global box-office revenue.
Spider-Man Webs His Way to Favorite MCU Character

Shares who said they have favorable views of the following characters minus shares who said they have unfavorable views:

Poll conducted Nov. 19-22, 2021, among 2,200 U.S. adults, including 1,526 Marvel fans, with margins of error of +/-2% and +/-3%, respectively.

What the numbers say

  • Spider-Man, who officially entered the MCU in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” webbed his way past his mentor to become the most loved character in the film franchise. Spider-Man’s net favorability rating came in at 66 points among all adults, compared to Iron Man’s 62 points.
  • The two characters tied for first alongside Thor among self-identified Marvel fans. All three had net favorability ratings of 78 points. Original Avengers the Incredible Hulk and Captain America ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, among Marvel fans.
  • Those two characters also rounded out the top five most favorable MCU characters among all adults. Black Widow and Hawkeye, also founding members of the Avengers, ranked much lower than their teammates with both demographics. 
  • Black Widow, who was first introduced in “Iron Man 2” in 2010, was the eighth most favorable character among both all adults and Marvel fans, ranking lower than newer title characters Black Panther and Captain Marvel. She didn’t get a solo film until this summer.
  • Hawkeye, the title character of a new Marvel series currently streaming on Disney+, tied with trickster god Loki for 13th place among both all adults and Marvel fans.

The survey was conducted Nov. 19-22, 2021, among 2,200 U.S. adults, including 1,526 Marvel fans, with margins of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points and plus or minus 3 points, respectively.

Morning Consult