With Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Marvel Studios has reached a satisfying 30 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Along with the official trailer came the official poster for the Black Panther sequel - the 30th official Marvel Studios poster.
With a nice and even number like that, it is time to do what the internet does best and rank the MCU.
Movie posters are an essential part of the marketing campaign for blockbuster movies. One of the most storied arts in all of Hollywood, a poster is often the face of a film during its release outside the theaters and for all time pinned up on walls worldwide.
Marvel Studios has many common practices for movie posters. Floating heads, villains in the back, and more floating heads. While design, style, and creativity should be priorities for these posters, there is also a goal of capturing the essence of the film. Some MCU posters do that very well… others don’t seem to attempt it at all.
So, without further ado, here is the official ranking of all 30 Marvel Studios movie posters.
Honorable Mentions: Spider-Man Teasers
It is known that the MCU posters for the Spider-Man franchise have left much to be desired. The puzzling thing is how great the teaser posters for Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home have been. The former captures this movie's high school spirit, and the latter makes everyone sing “Action” by The Go-Gos.
Honorable Mentions: Ant-Man Teasers
Creativity is not always about being as bold and colorful as possible. Sometimes the most creative decision is minimal design, and nothing shows creativity more than the Ant-Man and Ant-Man and The Wasp teaser posters. The white background makes the shrunken version of the heroes seem bigger than ever.
Honorable Mentions: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 Teaser
Babe Ruth pointing to left field before hitting a home run.
Steph Curry turning around while his eventual swish is only halfway to the basket.
James Gunn putting “You’re Welcome” on a poster for characters 98% of comic book fans have never heard of.
No one expected Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 to become the revelation it became, except Gunn. Called his shot and hit a home run, which started with featuring this quintet on their first poster.
30. Spider-Man: Homecoming
There is a theme amongst this list of MCU posters - the Spider-Man: Homecoming trilogy sets the bar lower than other franchises. Homecoming delivers a poster showing minimum levels of creativity and underutilizes the movie's iconic characters.
There is one aspect of the movie that this poster brings to light. The poorly produced school news is supposed to authenticate the high school setting, and this poster continues that effort. At least Homecoming and other MCU Spider-Man posters have elite-tier teaser posters.
29. Spider-Man: Far From Home
The biggest improvement the Spider-Man: Far From Home made after its predecessor is that it is far less busy. Beyond that, there is little excitement in a poster that features three simple same-sized cutouts and generic stock footage of two of the movie's many locations.
Spotlighting the new Spider-Man suit introduced in the movie is a good decision, but it is negated by the lack of Mysterio’s iconic snow globe helmet. Designers will notice a flaw similar to a painting being a degree off-straight. Nick Fury is front facing with his body cut in half by the spider logo holder.
There is nothing egregious, but it is another non-spectacular entry from the Sony design team.
28. Thor: The Dark World
The Marvel Cinematic Universe attracts some of the biggest and most star-studded casts in movie history. This means that a guideline given to many poster designers is to get as many characters on the poster at once. One cheap design trick for that guideline is to make the size and scale of those characters more dynamic.
Thor: The Dark World’s official poster did not have much fun. With the two main characters front and center, the eight supporting cast members get lost in the shuffle. This poster captures the dark and rainy tone of the movie and all of its incredible heads of hair.
27. Iron Man 2
The Iron Man 2 poster has similar vibes to the Spider-Man: Homecoming and Far From Home posters despite being made more than seven years prior. Simple cutouts of the film's top characters accompanied by the suit-up versions of Tony Stark and James Rhodes.
The element of Whiplash holding the bottom third of the poster is another classic MCU poster move. With this movie's very loose adaptation of the classic Iron Man story Demon in a Bottle, there is a lost opportunity to focus on Tony Shark’s struggle between his life as Tony and as Iron Man.
Instead, a rather straightforward movie poster layout.
26. Spider-Man: No Way Home
While it is infinitely more engaging than the first and second of the Homecoming trilogy, Spider-Man: No Way Home still fails to capture the spirit of the movie it promotes. However, the use of the city-bending Doctor Strange visuals and the iconic Doc Ock arms bring new life to the franchise's poster presence.
Where this one falls short is the copy-and-paste nature of the character cutouts. Spider-Man stands out while remaining very reserved while the big-name supporting actors, Zendaya and Cumberbatch, fill in the dead space. A safe play for one of the biggest movies of all time.
An improvement for the Sony team that remains is in the bottom third of this list.
25. Iron Man 3
It is easy to tell that Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World were released back-to-back based solely on the design of the posters. The main character and love interest are up front, with supporting characters and villains filling out the background.
There is a dramatization behind the photo selection that does capture the intensity the movie provides. It is tough to get away from straightforward non-emotional poses when trying to sell a movie. Iron Man 3’s poster finds energy in a more standard layout.
The Ant-Man poster puts one of Marvel’s more unique characters front and center. This is the first solo film debuting a new hero since the first Avengers movie. They had to eat people bought in on Ant-Man, and putting this new in the spotlight drives at that goal.
The unfortunate aspect of this poster is a generic layout without any sort of signal of what makes Ant-Man work. The only sign of Scott Lang’s shrinking ability is hidden above the logo and would be missed by anyone not looking for it.
When pushing a new hero with such a visually interesting skill, leaving it off the poster is an interesting decision.
23. Avengers: Age of Ultron
The first Avengers poster on the list is Avengers: Age of Ultron. The challenge with Avengers posters is laying out the six-plus characters on the poster in an interesting way. Age of Ultron has a mild approach to that challenge, leaving much to be desired.
On the flip side, the poster captures the chaos of this movie's final act with the floating Earth aesthetic. The surrounding Ultron bots and a vague image of Vision in the upper fourth almost make up for the fact that Ultron is nowhere to be found.
22. Captain Marvel
Much like Ant-Man, the Captain Marvel poster has the primary goal of putting a new character front and center. Brie Larson glows through this artwork with incredibly vibrant and powerful colors. The background brings the color scheme to life and has a few touches of the movie's calls to air and space.
The lack of supporting characters is a fresh take out of the Marvel Studios poster so far on this list, but it does feel like something is missing. With the Carol Danvers character being a polarizing MCU roster member, there is no guaranteed wall-hanging factor for this poster.
21. Iron Man
Classics are classics for a reason, and Iron Man is a classic from poster to post-credit.
Yes, this is the same simple layout of character cutouts floating in a generic textured background that so many other movies lower on this list possess. But something about the arch reactor and glowing gold mask brings out the best of this movie.
Nostalgia plays a bigger part in this poster than any other, and much like every other rankings list, Iron Man gets a pass. Let legends remain legends, and don’t ask too many questions.
20. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a poster of highs and lows. The highs are how well it captures this groundbreaking movie's father/son relationship. The lows are the throw everything at the all mentality the designers adopted.
Too much happening in the negative spaces, but the highlights are Shang-Chi, Wenwu, and the Ten Rings. Not only does this promote the new MCU character, but also the new weapon fans will eventually fall in love with. The only request from the peanut gallery is not to spoil the split rings in the final act.
19. Black Widow
This is the point on the list where these posters start to take away the bumpers and have fun with the floating head technique. Black Widow uses bright red throughout the movie, and the poster takes advantage of that.
The interesting layout of the supporting cast does not take away from Scarlett Johansson being the focal point. This is her movie and making sure Natasha Romanoff dominates the poster was the right move.
18. The Incredible Hulk
Some of these posters get points for design creativity. Others get points for the use of color and negative space. The Incredible Hulk makes its money with a simple concept.
Having Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner walking bashfully in front of the Hulk giant is a comic book cover brought to life. This is the last Hulk movie poster Marvel Studios has made, and it holds up for the character.
Is it the most exciting? No. But this poster does exactly what it is supposed to do.
17. Ant-Man and The Wasp
It feels like the Ant-Man, and The Wasp poster does everything right that the Ant-Man poster does wrong. Color and an engaging layout dominate the poster, but the use of negative space brings this poster up a level.
Having both Ant-Man and The Wasp shrunken down in the title treatment steals the show. A risk that designers maybe been worried to take in the first film, they nailed it in the sequel.
16. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Creativity is hard to come by when there are rules to ensure certain actors get their faces on posters to sell tickets. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness found a way to have an engaging character layout mixed with some of the best flares on the list so far.
The broken glass reflecting the different universes traveled in this movie is exactly the kind of thing that sells a concept. It also made for an incredible amount of nerd content, with bloggers, YouTubers, and social media sloths looking closely into every piece of glass.
And people say fandom content spends too much time on inconsequential topics.
Eternals is a movie that is often simple when it needs to be bold and complex when it needs to be clearer. The poster embraces simplicity in a way that brings the film behind it to life.
One of, if not the biggest bright spots of Eternals is the costume design and star-studded cast. This poster highlights these incredible costumes while telling you exactly what this movie is about - family.
And when push comes to shove, ALWAYS put Angelina Jolie in the front of the picture.
14. Captain America: The First Avenger
The star-spangled franchise arrives on the list with Captain America: The First Avenger. Many posters try to highlight the hero's suit, but few do as well as First Avenger.
Another standard layout and a villain floating in the background are aided by a vibe that reflects the period piece of the movie. Bright colors and painted textures give the war movie aesthetic. Five of the characters on the poster have MAYBE a combined 4 minutes of screen time, but regardless, this poster just works.
13. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The movie that put the MCU on the radar of an entirely new audience, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, brings the spy vibe to the red brand. This poster reflects that depth with the staggered character layout putting the villains of the movie in the shadows of the poster.
While comic book movie readers will roll their eyes, those who embraced Marvel through the MCU will notice there is no actor name for the fifth character on the poster. That is because Marvel Studios wanted to keep the secret of Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) being The Winter Soldier.
12. Doctor Strange
This is how you introduce a new character to moviegoers walking into the theater. Bright, powerful, and dynamic backgrounds highlight the central character without distracting them from each other.
Using the city folding elements on the poster intrigue audiences and tells them that there are visuals in this movie worth paying for. Boy, were they right.
The only crime of this poster is that it isn’t impossible for Spider-Man: No Way Home to use this template, which is sad.
It is unbelievable that a simple glowing divider between floating heads can take the most used concept in movie posters and bring it back to life. With Thor, four supporting characters with four different eye colors surrounding the hero has never looked so good.
This is also the first real use of the environment in the foreground of a Marvel Studios poster. Bringing that dynamic feature along with an electric highlight of Thor’s red cape, this poster brings more energy than most of the 2nd act of the movie.
10. Black Panther
Like Thor, finding engaging and new ways to do the floating face thing makes a poster stand out on this list. Black Panther brought one of the better character layouts and merged it with stunning Wakandan visual elements.
Another example of the poster designer understanding that the movie's production design is a major player. That veteran decision and some great use of geometric design bring this poster to life.
9. Thor: Love and Thunder
A glance at the Thor: Love and Thunder poster tells audiences everything they need to know about this movie. Colorful, magnetic, and so incredibly '80s.
This takes the classic character layout concept and brings it into the 2020s while dropping back into the vibrant glory of yesteryear. Tessa Thompson is holding a square to the moon while riding a Pegasus. Truly difficult to dislike this poster.
8. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Color is so important to the cosmic branch of the MCU. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 puts every color in the rainbow on their poster while capturing the retro sci-vibe aesthetic this movie nods to.
Usually, inconsequential scenes being highlighted in a poster are negative toward the overall design. This poster making it work might be a clue that this movie has a higher floor than people give it credit for.
You can almost hear the soundtrack through the poster, and that is something everyone can get behind.
7. The Avengers
Another classic is an absolute classic. Anyone who went to college in the early 2010s is hyper-familiar with this poster. The Avengers was a phenomenon, and the poster quickly became iconic.
Displaying the team down the depth of the poster with the city of New York crumbling in the back captures everything this movie brings to the table. Think about how the poster essentially confirms The Avengers assemble during the battle of New York, and it is still one of the greatest scenes in comic book movie history.
6. Avengers: Endgame
There is nothing about Avengers: Endgame that isn’t looked upon with incredibly rose-tinted glasses. And rightfully so.
This poster feels like a part two of Avengers: Infinity War, and the two pair together beautifully. A powerful display of the remaining heroes of the MCU somehow evokes the emotion this movie brings to the table.
It also features arguably the best hair Downy, Evans, Johansson, and Renner have ever had in this franchise.
5. Thor: Ragnarok
Getting eight characters, six aircraft, and an action scene on a poster is a tough task. Playing it safe results in a poster that blends in with the rest on the back of this list. Taking a big risk with color, layout, and scale leads to Thor: Ragnarok
This poster does EXACTLY what the marketing team wanted it to do. Tell the audience that this is a new Thor movie they have never seen before. The color, engaging poses, and interactive use of depth put this poster on a different level.
4. Avengers: Infinity War
24 characters in one poster. A challenge hitherto undreamt of.
Avengers: Infinity War is a floating head masterclass. Every character fans have loved for over a decade and the promise of the biggest comic book story ever told.
Every detail of this poster puts a smile on the face of Marvel fans. Spider-Man front and center, another Hulk fakeout, and the presence of Thanos looming over it all. This is his movie, after all.
3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
The reason for the season. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will become one of the most impactful promotional runs in blockbuster movie history. This poster is the cherry on top with its stunning use of layout and concept.
This movie’s plot will be the land vs. the sea, and this poster brings that to life incredibly intensely. The characters up top stand powerful, mourning the loss of their king while the threat below waits to attack.
The Dora Milaje reflected with the soldiers of Talocan might be the best foreground element on this list.
2. Captain America: Civil War
Another poster that sparked one of the best marketing campaigns in MCU history. Team Cap or Team Iron Man. A real debate that drove one of the greatest comic book movies of all time.
What this poster does is show the conflict between both sides. When that conflict came to life in the movie, it was one of the best-written yin and yangs in comic book movie history.
Truly difficult to find something wrong with this poster. It even has the common courtesy to save one of the best reveals ever for the… second trailer. (eye roll)
1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1
The number one poster in the MCU is just a bunch of cosmic idiots DOMINATING the page. The space opera. The cosmic comedy. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1. This has hints of every sci-fi movie that came before it with a classic sense of Marvel Studios production.
One of Marvel's most ambitious projects ever had to get people bought into the blue girl from Avatar, but she is green now, Batista painted red and grey, Andy from Parks and Rec, a talking tree, and a smartass raccoon.
The movie did the heavy lifting but looked at this group in action, and you cannot resist but get excited. The biggest underdog story in comic book history takes home the title of best MCU poster.