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The 10 shortest movies in the MCU, ranked

A guide to the most Ant-Man-sized Marvel films.

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Photo via Marvel Studios

The MCU isn’t really known for its restraint. In a franchise that now officially includes a total of 30 movies and an ever-increasing number of TV series, Marvel Studios is clearly a believer in the old adage that “bigger is better,” something the Hulk would probably approve of, too.

That’s why the vast majority of Marvel films clock in at comfortably more than two hours in length, as each installment in the never-ending saga often has so many plates to spin, from originating or sequelizing its heroes to setting up other corners of the MCU.

That said, there are a handful of entries in the cinematic universe that are a little on the trimmer side and are perfect for a revisit if you’re in the mood for some MCU action but only have about 120 minutes of free time. Forget about the Marvel movies with the longest runtimes, here are those with the shortest.

The Incredible Hulk (2010) — 1 hour, 52 minutes

It’s not surprising that many of the films we’re about to discuss hail from Phase One, as things got more complex and cumbersome as the franchise went on. Case in point, The Incredible Hulk is a relatively straightforward movie detailing Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner battle against Tim Roth’s Abomination (back when he wasn’t She-Hulk’s buddy), so it didn’t need a bloated runtime to tell its tale.

Thor: The Dark World (2013) — 1 hour, 52 minutes

Clocking in with the exact same number of minutes is Thor: The Dark World, which showcases Thor’s fight with Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith and the Dark Elves. Interestingly, a trend you’ll notice with this list is that many of the least-liked MCU movies are those on the shorter side of things, and that’s definitely the case with the oft-criticized second chapter in the God of Thunder’s film series

Thor (2011) — 1 hour, 55 minutes

Just three minutes longer than The Dark World is its predecessor, 2011’s Thor origins story. You’d expect all the world-building this one had to do — introducing a literal mythology full of alien gods into the mix as well as telling a “fish out of water” story — would knock it past the two-hour mark, but actually director Kenneth Branagh managed to keep things as neatly trimmed as Chris Hemsworth’s designer stubble.

Doctor Strange (2016) — 1 hour, 55 minutes

The same goes for 2016’s Doctor Strange, as that’s another film with a lot of heavy-lifting to do in terms of bringing magic and mysticism into the MCU for the first time. And yet director Scott Derrickson ensured his only Marvel offering to date didn’t overstay its welcome, unlike the much lengthier Multiverse of Madness from Sam Raimi, which sadly didn’t live up to expectations.

Ant-Man (2015) — 1 hour, 57 minutes

Given the short stature of its protagonist, it’s no surprise that Ant-Man finds a place among the shortest Marvel films. The joy of Paul Rudd’s first outing in the MCU is that it feels like a welcome break from the lore-heavy films that were released around it, instead delivering a light-hearted superhero heist comedy, so naturally it didn’t need to be a 180-minute epic.

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) — 1 hour, 58 minutes

Ant-Man 2 might’ve expanded its title to include Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne, but even that didn’t ensure the runtime went up too much as Scott Lang’s second astonishing adventure still kept things nice and tight at under two hours. Something tells us, though, that Peyton Reed’s incoming final chapter in his trilogy, next March’s Quantumania, will be a significantly chunkier affair.

Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) — 1 hour, 59 minutes

Yes, every Thor movie barring Ragnarok is among the shortest Marvel films ever made. Surprising, right? Love and Thunder is also notable for being the only Phase Four movie to finish up under 120 minutes. While most would agree Eternals could’ve done with shaving off several minutes, in this case Thor 4‘s shorter runtime may have contributed to its poor reputation.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) — 2 hours, 2 minutes

With The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special landing on Disney Plus, now is the perfect time to revisit where it all began for Star-Lord and his crew. And, you’re in luck, 2014’s ensemble cosmic caper is only just over two hours long. Leave it to James Gunn to introduce us to this wild new team of heroes — changing the MCU forever in the process — and bow out before the energy dissipates.

Iron Man 2 (2010) — 2 hours, 4 minutes

While Guardians‘ lean runtime worked in its favor, that’s not the case with Iron Man 2. Wildly agreed to be an early stumble for the then-nascent franchise, this Robert Downey Jr. sequel is a bit of a mess, jamming together the threat of Justin Hammer (a great Sam Rockwell) and Whiplash (a not-so-great Mickey Rourke) with awkward Avengers set-up involving Nick Fury and Black Widow.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) — 2 hours, 4 minutes

Once the Russo brothers took over Steve Rogers’ storyline, every one of his outings started becoming giant-sized, but Joe Johnston started Captain America’s adventures out as skinny as a pre-serum Steve with The First Avenger. Thanks to its trim runtime, this homage to war movies and pulp fiction storytelling, with lashes of Indiana Jones, charges forward at a brisk, zippy pace.

Captain Marvel (2019) — 2 hours, 4 minutes

From The First Avenger, we come to the real first “Avenger,” as was her call sign, Carol Danvers. Captain Marvel harked back to Phase One with its more straightforward origins story for a new hero, so fittingly it sported a very Phase One-style runtime. Unfortunately, this is another instance of a short length resulting in fans with a short fuse as Brie Larson’s MCU debut is one of the most divisive of the lot.

About the author

Christian Bone

Christian Bone is a Staff Writer/Editor at We Got This Covered and has been cluttering up the internet with his thoughts on movies and TV for a full decade, ever since graduating with a Creative Writing degree from the University of Winchester. He can usually be found writing about anything Marvel or DC. And yet, if you asked him, he'd probably say his favorite superhero film is 'The Incredibles'.