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The best MCU sequels, ranked

Some say the sequels aren’t as good as the original, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe has successfully produced many noteworthy sequels over the years.

Some of these follow-ups have even been labeled far superior to their predecessors due to how they expanded upon their characters, their conflicts, and overall story themes. Since the MCU shows no signs of slowing down, and with The Marvels shaping up to be a financial disaster, the studio should take note of what made these sequels the best in the franchise.

Honorable Mention: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Rachel McAdams, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Xochitl Gomez look out a doorway i a scene from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In this film, Doctor Strange must travel through the Multiverse and face the all-powerful Scarlet Witch to protect America Chavez from her wrath. This sequel probably could have taken some more steps in exploring its cosmic concept.

But with acclaimed director Sam Raimi at the helm, Multiverse of Madness blends classic horror with mind-bending visuals to capture the frightening magic of this inter-dimensional adventure. It also established the Scarlet Witch as one of the MCU’s greatest villains with her relatable but misguided quest to reunite with her children.

10. Spider-Man: Far From Home

Sony / Sony

Following the Avengers’ victory over Thanos in Endgame, Peter Parker takes a break from crimefighting and travels to Europe with his high school friends. But as everyone knows, superheroes don’t get a day off so easily. Spidey finds himself the target of the villain Mysterio, who stages Avengers-level crises with his army of monstrous illusions.

Like Spider-Man 2, Far From Home poignantly shows Peter’s dual lives clash as he struggles to enjoy high school and live up to everyone’s expectations in a dizzying adventure across Europe. Through its villain, the film also addresses relevant issues regarding the rise of fake news and misinformation while satirizing the making of Marvel movies themselves.

9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Set just months after the first film, the Guardians’ second adventure shows them facing off against Star-Lord’s Celestial father, Ego the Living Planet, along with the Sovereign and the Ravagers.

Some people may think this sequel doesn’t rank as highly as its outstanding predecessor, but it is still one of the better additions to the MCU. While Vol. 2 is even wackier than the first film, it hits just the right amount of humor and sincerity as it shows the Guardians overcome their personal demons and grow closer to each other as a family.

8. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Marvel Studios

With the sudden passing of Chadwick Boseman, Marvel Studios made a daring move not to recast him for this highly-anticipated sequel. As a result, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever shows T’Challa’s loved ones as they fight to protect their nation from the Talokan King Namor and other world powers seeking to steal their vibranium.

Though many people had their doubts, Shuri excels as she goes from being a recluse and conflicted genius to Wakanda’s next Black Panther. At the same time, audiences can practically feel the people behind and in front of the camera mourn Boseman’s death as they continue the story he started without him, giving a cinematic goodbye to a true legend.

7. Thor: Ragnarok

The Hulk, Thor, Valkyrie, and Loki in Asgard in "Thor: Ragnarok."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Following the lackluster performance of Thor: The Dark World, director Taika Waititi and Marvel Studios revamped the God of Thunder and saved his franchise with this outstanding film. Teaming up with Hulk and Loki once more, Thor must battle against his sister Hela, the evil Goddess of Death, and try to save Asgard and the Nine Realms from destruction.

Basically a mix of Flash Gordon with classic buddy comedies, Ragnarok is an exciting and ludicrous adventure with vibrant imagery and a classic sci-fi feel.

6. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

The Guardians step into battle in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

As Rocket Raccoon lies on the brink of death, the other Guardians must go on one last adventure across the galaxy and battle the High Evolutionary and Adam Warlock to try and save him. With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 being his final film in the MCU, director James Gunn pours his heart and soul into giving the Guardians a beautiful and emotional last ride together. Due to how it reveals Rocket’s heartbreaking origins with the High Evolutionary, this film has come to be one of the saddest and darkest movies in the MCU.

5. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Three Spider-Men come in for a landing in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

In Spidey’s third solo film in the MCU, our hero must fight his deadliest adversaries from across the Multiverse after he fails to magically wipe the world’s memory of his true identity. Similar to The Avengers, No Way Home achieves what was once thought impossible by bringing together heroes and villains from outside the MCU. This story could’ve easily fallen into a pit of nostalgic fanservice, but the film never loses sight of its mission and delivers an exciting and poignant adventure that will make audiences laugh and cry.

4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America Winter Soldier 1
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This sequel shows Steve Rogers and his allies going off the grid as they discover a decades-long Hydra conspiracy to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. and achieve world domination. The Winter Soldier stands out in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for how it presents its story like a gritty, old-school spy thriller filled with mystery. It also features some of the most exhilarating action scenes ever seen in the MCU, notably the iconic elevator battle.

3. Captain America: Civil War

Captain America and his team standing together in an airport Captain America: Civil War.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

After one of their missions leaves behind several casualties and multiple protests, the Avengers fight over having their actions regulated by world leaders while a disgruntled villain seeks to get rid of the heroes altogether using the Winter Soldier.

Civil War fulfilled many fans’ dreams of seeing Marvel’s heroes battle each other on the big screen, including Black Panther and Spider-Man. The film proves that it is more than just a superhero mashup, as it explores many important questions about government security and individual freedoms in a melancholic chapter for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

2. Avengers: Endgame

Captain America standing next to the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Black Panther, and co. in "Avengers: Endgame."
Marvel Studios / Marvel Studios

Following the shocking ending to Infinity War, the Avengers go back in time to retrieve the Infinity Stones and revive everyone Thanos snapped out of existence. In this adventure through history, Endgame sends audiences down memory lane as they revisit some of the MCU’s greatest hits (and Thor: The Dark World).

Though much of the action doesn’t happen until the film’s explosive third act, Endgame shows the Avengers battling their sorrow over their greatest failure and battling history itself to save the universe in an emotionally fitting finale for the Infinity Saga.

1. Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers Infinity War
Image used with permission by copyright holder

After years of hype and buildup, the evil Thanos finally makes his move to retrieve all the Infinity Stones in a rampage across the cosmos in Avengers: Infinity War. Audiences can feel the weight of the world pressing down on the heroes as the Titan’s deadly shadow looms over the entire universe, forcing many of them to consider making some truly terrible sacrifices.

Once again proving themselves master filmmakers, the Russo Brothers give audiences one of the most emotional and boldest MCU stories to date, surpassing the first Avengers film and setting a high bar for the franchise as a whole. Similarly, Josh Brolin ushers in a new age for movie villains with his sympathetic portrayal of Thanos, who very much made this film his own hero’s journey.

Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando is a writer/director from Oradell, NJ. He spent four years at Lafayette College, graduating CUM LAUDE with a…
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