Now that Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse has officially won an academy award for the best animated feature of 2018, it has successfully legitimized animated comic book adaptations. Or at the very least, legitimized one of them. Along with an academy award comes a certain sense that the bar has been raised for any subsequent animated films diving into Marvel’s colorful and vast landscape. So without beating around the bush too much, let’s look into some of the best animated films Marvel has put out for fans around the world. Maybe, with a better understanding of the films they’ve already made, we’ll have a better shot at gleaming the intent they have for the future of their animated multiverse.
10 Ultimate Avenger 2
Long before Wakanda was attacked by Thanos and his Chitauri forces, the Chitauri attacked Wakanda in search of what the Wakandians called “the heart of Wakanda”. While T’Challa, son of the King and Black Panther, T’Chaka, may have witnessed his father’s death due to a bomb in the MCU, in the early animated version of things, T’Chaka is taken out by the Chitauri leader, disguised as a Nazi (because of course he is) Herr Kleiser. With a dead father to bury and a mantle to pick up, King T’Challa, along with the rest of the Avengers, fights of the invading Chitauri forces in order to save the earth. Again.
9 Avenger Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher
While The Punisher and Black Widow may not be the most recognizable members of the Avengers (and for good reason), they are the Avengers with the least qualms putting people down for the long sleep. This venture into the Marvel landscape is made by Studio Madhouse, which anime fans may recognize as the animators of series like Black Lagoon and One Punch Man as well as films like Paprika, the anime Christopher Nolan noted as having inspired Inception. The film follows Black Widow & Frank Castle as they rush to stop an evil organization after Frank interferes with a SHIELD mission. Pretty standard stuff as far as the story goes, but the animation and brilliant action sequences are the real winner here.
8 Hulk Vs.
Just like the abominable green brute himself, the title of this film is simple and to the point. If you want to see a large green man go absolutely bananas and have his superhero friends try to stop him before he does too much damage, then this is the film for you. Hulk Vs. follows two separate storylines. One follows Logan as he hunts down the Hulk who has allegedly destroyed a town. There are some twists involving Deadpool and the Weapon X Program, but that’s better left to the film. The second storyline follows Thor's attempts at stopping a brainwashed Hulk (wonder who did that…) from rampaging throughout Asgard and bringing about a premature Ragnarok.
7 Ultimate Avengers
Sixty years after falling into the Atlantic ocean and freezing, Captain America is thawed out and asked to help save the world from the nazis and the aliens helping them, the Chitauri, once again. This time, however, Captain America’s backup has really taken things to the next level. With the likes of the Hulk, Iron Man, and Nick Fury by his side, maybe Cap doesn’t end this film as a life-sized Cap-sicle again. However it ends though, you can be sure that the Nazis and the Chitauri are going to have a difficult time standing up to the newly-formed Avengers. Cue the music.
6 Iron Man: Rise Of The Technovore
Iron Man: Rise Of The Technovore is another one in a series on anime-inspired Marvel adaptations by Studio Madhouse. After being attacked while out for a joy ride in their suits, Rhodey is seemingly killed, leaving Tony Stark to begin the quest for righteous vengeance. After discovering that A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) has been experimenting with a techno-organic virus, Tony is joined by Punisher, Black Widow, and Hawkeye who also happen to be working the case, only from a more SHIELD-oriented perspective. Needless to say, with the four Avengers all together some serious butt-kicking ensues.
5 The Invincible Iron Man
After traveling to China in order to raise a forgotten city from beneath the earth, Tony Stark unleashed some truly frightening ancient powers (typical). This animated film serves as Iron Man's origin story and sees Tony Stark building his iconic armor after unleashing the Mandarin and his otherworldly forces. In typical Stark fashion, Tony believes that the only way to solve the problem of the mystic warriors terrorizing the locals is to build his way out.
As you can probably imagine due to the fact that it’s an origin story, Tony Stark and his newly created alter ego, Iron Man, is too much for the Mandarin. Showing once and for all that science rules and magic, does, in fact, drool.
4 Dr. Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme
While Dr. Stephen Strange and Tony Stark actually have quite a lot in common; a love of science, awesome facial hair, and a know-it-all vibe that really does get old surprisingly fast, but all those similarities end when it comes to the use of magic. Much like in the MCU, after Dr. Stephen Strange ends up crushing his hands in a fateful car accident, he decided to search the globe over for any chance at healing, any chance to be useful as a surgeon again. After finding the Ancient One, Dr. Strange begins learning the mystic arts and realizes that his responsibilities lie outside of the operating room.
3 Big Hero 6
Big Hero 6 was a great way for Disney to dip their toes into a Marvel property and experiment with the source material that had laid the groundwork for the film. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine that we’d have ever received a film like Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse without the steps taken by a film like Big Hero 6. The film follows robotics prodigy, Hiro, and his robot pal Baymax, a robot designed by Tadashi, Hiro’s deceased brother, as they struggle to find out exactly what happened to Tadashi and how Hiro’s seemingly destroyed nano-bots are involved.
2 Planet Hulk
While Thor: Ragnarok managed to pull off a semi-comics-accurate version of Bruce Banner’s time spent on the planet Sakaar, they did change a few things around. For example, the real reason the Hulk was jettisoned out to the war-torn planet, why he gets involved in the battle for the fate of the planet, and they leave out Hulk’s girlfriend. Yep.
Apparently, once he’s away from earth, the Hulk is capable of being a real charmer. So if you’re looking to see the sweeter side of the Hulk in between clips of the Hulk destroying a planet other than Earth, then Planet Hulk is the Marvel animated film for you.
1 Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
If you’re ever required to rank a series of animated films, it’s usually a pretty safe bet to put the only film with an academy award and multiple other awards for the best animated feature at the top of the list. While the academy award for the best animated has often snubbed more deserving movies (cough cough years and years of anime films cough cough), somehow they managed to get it right this year. Even if Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse hadn’t won a single award, it still would’ve been the greatest of Marvel’s animated films. The love and adoration the artists have for the source material and the artists that have come before them bleeds through every second of the film. There are very few flawless films, but Into The Spider-Verse certainly comes close.