How the MCU’s 2021 Releases Impacted Their Rotten Tomatoes Score


Collage created by C. Andrews.

Along with the four released Marvel Cinematic films in 2021, a range of Rotten Tomatoes scores has been revealed. These scores are not to be taken lightly, as each has dramatically impacted the MCU’s average scoring in different ways. 

Releasing films during a pandemic that demonstrates severe damage to theater attendance and box office makes them already unique, but this isn’t all. The reviews of Black Widow, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, and Spider-Man: No Way Home show some fantastic variations that drastically changed the MCU. 

Although Black Widow was initially reported to be released in 2020, the pandemic forced this into alteration. 2021 is now the first year at which four Marvel movies have been released, five even, if you count Venom: Let There Be Carnage as one of them. This wasn’t the only new thing for the MCU, as some negatives came along with the release of these movies. Until 2021, the MCU had a beautifully perfect track record with Rotten Tomatoes scoring, earning a “Fresh” score on every one of their 23 releases. 2021 changed this as the MCU received their first “Rotten” score with the movie Eternals. 

Why should this one “Rotten” score matter? First, the MCU already had many perfect Rotten Tomatoes scores, preventing a singularly bad one from being an extreme outlier in their average. Indeed, this one score doesn’t hurt Marvel too much, but the damage comes in further as there were still several alterations through 2021, seeing some averages increase and some deplete.  

Spider-Man: No Way Home movie poster (Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures )


Starting with the highest-scored movie for the MCU in 2021, Spider-Man: No Way Home proves to be a great release. The MCU Spider-Man movies have scored and performed well with Rotten Tomatoes and the Box Office, but the last MCU release of 2021 took things higher than ever. Spider-Man: No Way Home is the world’s second-highest opening weekend box office gross, trailing only Avengers: Endgame. 

With the sixth-highest Tomatometer score in the MCU and is 11 points higher than the post-Eternals 83 average, Spider-Man: No Way Home has saved the MCU’s 2021. The 88 percent Top Critic score is ranked tenth in the MCU, although it is one point higher than the 77 percent average. Finally, with 98 percent, Spider-Man: No Way Home outperforms the pre-No Way Home average of 82 percent by 17 points. The MCU’s average Tomatometer score went back up one point to 84 percent, and the average Top Critic score was unimpacted, but the average audience score increased one point to 83 percent.


Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Marvel Studios)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the first Asian-led movie and the first MCU Phase 4 movie containing events set after Avengers: Endgame. This movie performed better than the MCU’s pre-Black Widow average in every aspect, with its 91 percent Tomatometer score, 91 percent Top Critic score, and 93 percent audience score. These scores were higher than all MCU averages, with the Tomatometer score six points higher, the Top Critic score 13 points higher, and the audience score 12 points higher. The only MCU average to be adjusted was the Tomatometer score rising by one point, returning to 85 percent after Black Widow’s negative impact beforehand. 

Black Widow (Marvel Studios)




The MCU wanted to hit us with lots of firsts, seeing as another first for them came with the movie Black Widow. This movie is the first Marvel prequel set outside the main franchise timeline. Black Widow was also the first Marvel release simultaneously set out on stream and in theaters. Although the movie contained these impressive aspects, its Rotten Tomatoes scores aren’t to brag about. Black Widow’s score of 79 percent on the Tomatometer places six points below the MCU’s 85 percent average. The audience score is only one point below the MCU’s average, ranking 81 percent to 82. This movie brought Marvel’s average Tomatometer score down by one point, making it an 84 percent, and the Top Critic score dropped one point to 77 percent, but fans didn’t take this harshly. 


Eternals (Marvel Studios)

 Eternals has brought us our most shocking first, as the MCU has received its first-ever “Rotten” Tomatometer score on a movie. Before this movie’s release, the lowest MCU Rotten Tomatoes score would have still been considered “Fresh,” but now that Eternals has burdened us with its 47 percent score, this has changed. As you think this cannot worsen, the Top Critic score was even worse at 37 percent. Mildly better, the audience score is only the second-lowest in the MCU, trailing behind Captain Marvel’s 45  percent. Eternals have changed the MCU’s average Rotten Tomatoes scores more than any other 2021 movie, but luckily there are so many well-reviewed movies within Marvel that this wasn’t insanely noticeable. The average Tomatometer score fell two points to 83 percent, and the average Top Critic Score fell one point to 77 percent, but the audience score remained at 83 percent.



Thankfully, Spider-Man: No Way Home’s franchise-high audience score of 88 percent helped overcome the below-average crowd scores of Black Widow and Eternals, raising the MCU’s average Rotten Tomatoes audience score from 82 percent to 83 percent. Marvel Studios’ 2021 movies averaged 78 percent, down the franchise’s pre-2021 average Tomatometer score from 85 percent to 84 percent. In addition, the MCU’s average Top Critic score fell one point to 77 percent due to 2021’s 72 percent average Top Critic score. The overall change in the numbers isn’t significant, but watching the shifts with each movie shows how 2021 has played out for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially as we see the harsh consequences the franchise has faced with the release of Eternals.