Just when you thought Marvel had done it all in their films, BAM! they go and add television shows to their wonderful canon. Some of these shows were not considered canon until recently, while others were created to be integrated right off the bat. And with upcoming releases like Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and Secret Wars, Marvel's television division shows no signs of slowing down. So with all this hype to lead up to, I thought it was time to take a look at all of the MCU's options on the small screen. Listed here is my personal ranking of all of the TV shows in the MCU!
17. Inhumans (ABC, 2017)
The Inhumans are a species of super power beings who, after a betrayal, are forced to abandon their city of Attilan and come to Earth in persecution. While this show gets terrible ratings, I didn't find it absolutely appalling. It is very cheesy and the CGI could use a lot of work, but there are so many great things about the show. I was specifically fond of the CGI put into Lockjaw, the teleporting dog. Anson Mount’s portrayal of Black Bolt, the all powerful but mute king of Attilan, is Hypersonin and Ken Leung wins me over as Karnak from episode one.
Fun fact: Funding via IMAX Entertainment led to a deal that allowed for the first two episodes of Inhumans to play for two weeks on the big screen prior to its debut on ABC.
16. Iron Fist (Netflix, 2017-2018)
Danny Rand (AKA Iron Fist), played by Finn Jones, is lost in a plane crash as a child and finally returns to New York after being missing (presumed dead) for over 15 years. He struggles to reconnect with old friends and discovers dark family secrets.While this show is definitely more watchable than most Netflix shows, it falls short of the other Marvel Netflix shows and seems to just be plain lazy writing. The action sequences don’t feel authentic and the graphics don’t hold up like the other Netflix Marvel shows. Season Two was an improvement, but it was too little too late.
15. What If...? (Disney+, 2021-?)
This show had such a strong foundation, but ultimately fell short to provide interesting enough characters. By the end I found myself wondering, why would the watcher choose any of these heroes? There were some pretty good episodes (What If... The World Lost it’s Mightiest Heroes? & What If... Doctor Strange Lost his Heart Instead of His Hands?), but they all seemed rushed. However, it was great to hear Chadwick Boseman's voice when he played a fun version of Starlord in What If… T’Challa was Starlord? and finally seeing Marvel zombies come to the screen was amazing. All in all it was still a fun show and I will definitely watch the coming second season. Hopefully it will have longer episode times, or at least some more interesting characters.
14. Runaways (Hulu, 2017-2019)
A group of friends (and family) suffer at the loss of one of their friends (and sister) in their own ways, but are soon brought back together when they make a dark discovery about their parents. It has a fascinating concept for a show. Brittany Ishibashi plays a terrifying mother and villain as she wields “The Staff of One” which can only be activated by her or her daughter Nico’s (Lyrica Okano) blood. The writing is done really well and it is able to balance the dark and light of Marvel. However, it somehow received poor graphics in some scenes which really takes away from the show.
13. Cloak & Dagger (Hulu, 2018-2019)
Two young kids from completely separate and very different lives are bound together by a mysterious accident. They find each other again when they are older and discover that they have special abilities that are strongest when they're together. I didn’t expect much going into this show, but was presently surprised by the story line. Olivia Holt’s (Dagger) acting is pretty good, but Aubrey Joseph (Cloak) is monotone and never believably emotional in any of his scenes.
12. Helstrom (Hulu, 2020)
Daimon Helstrom (Tom Austen) and his sister Ana (Sydney Lemmon) are plagued by their possessed mother and the past of their dead, serial killer father. Daimon (who is half demon) fights other demons and performs exorcisms, using his power for good. Ana (also a demon) embraces her darkness and uses her powers for evil, but when their father returns from the dead the Helstroms must work together. I was entertained and sometimes frightened with this show. Aside from poor graphics from Hulu (again), it was a great series. Sydney Lemmon was a convincing anarchist and Tom Austen was loveable, yet hateable. A second season has not yet been announced.
11. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC, 2013-2020)
While it is a really good show as a whole, the writing is predictable and sometimes cheesy. If you enjoy Agent Coleson (Clark Gregg) get ready for more of him as he leads a team of misfit agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division). Ming-Na Wen delivers a stellar performance as agent Melinda May, proving her skills to be on par with Black Widow. The show helps fill in a lot of mysteries about S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA. It has lots of fun appearances like Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in season one and a new, muscle car driving Ghost Rider, aka Robbie Reyes (Gabriel Luna), in the season 4 premiere. Not only that, but it linked background events between many of the films from Phases Two and Three.
10. Luke Cage (Netflix, 2016-2018)
Following a former falsely imprisoned convict returning to Harlem, Luke Cage must fight to make his city safe again. There could not have been a better pick than Mike Colter to play the infamous bullet proof hero. This show mixes Luke’s past and his present with a ton of visually stunning moments of Luke Cage through the years. I love Mahershala Ali’s portrayal of the villain Cottonmouth, but even with all these great components it still felt underwhelming at times.
09. The Defenders (Netflix, 2017)
Netflix shoots its shot trying to make its version of the Avengers with the rag tag group of misfit heroes, the Defenders. While it is great to see all of these characters on screen together, it felt like there could have been so much more done. I was very excited to see that Sigourney Weaver was joining Marvel with her portrayal of Alexandra, the leader of The Hand. She was the puppeteer behind every crime family in previous Marvel Netflix shows and while she lacks powers, she makes up for it with her intelligence and martial arts skills.
08. The Punisher (Netflix, 2017-2019)
Formerly in Daredevil, Jon Bernthal returns as Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, a war veteran who's family was grusomly murdered. After getting his revenge, Frank focuses on a city-wide conspiracy, killing anyone that stands in his path. It is violent, but tasteful. And the writers know we have seen the Punisher origin many times before. Ben Barnes plays a terrifying new version of Jigsaw, but I was surprised at how little scaring he had, especially with a TV MA rating. Overall, it can be slow and underwhelming at times and feels like a lot of filler, but when it is good it is great!
07. Jessica Jones (Netflix, 2015-2019)
This show brought a fairly unknown hero to the screen and Krysten Ritter killed it as Jessica Jones, a troubled young P.I. (Private Investigator) who is still learning to cope with her abilities and trauma of her past. But it's not all superhero antics. This show delved deep into mature territory such as PTSD and addiction. David Tennant brings Kilgrave to immaculate life with his sadistic, yet suave portrayal of the villain capable of controlling the minds and bodies of anyone, including Jessica Jones herself.
06. Agent Carter (ABC, 2015-2016)
After Steve’s accident, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) seems to be stuck doing “lady duties” when being marginalized by the men of her outfit. Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) and Peggy direct covert missions around the world. (Slowly founding S.H.I.E.L.D.) Hayley Atwell is stunning as Peggy Carter and proves that she could take any man in the room multiple times. I am a huge fan of Domic Cooper as young Howard Stark and it is nice to see Jarvis (James D’Arcy) when he is human. And the addition of Jarvis in the scene with Howard Stark in Avengers: Endgame pretty much solidifies this show as canon. Agent Carter was cancelled far too soon. I hope to one day see Peggy Carter as Captain America in more than just Marvel’s What If..?.
05. WandaVision (Disney+, 2021)
WandaVision was the first MCU show on Disney+ and it was also the first MCU project of 2021. Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) is subjected to even more trauma in this magical, loose, adaptation of the House of M comic book series. Paul Betteny returns as Vision, but it’s as complicated as you might think. Each episode is based on tv in another decade and its Emmy award nominations were well deserved. It was slow for the first two episodes, but is filled with enough mystery and comedy to get through it.
04. Hawkeye (Disney+, 2021)
This show touches on Hawkeye's past as the vigilante, Ronin, while showcasing Hawkeye's present (just after Natasha’s death in Avengers: Endgame). Here Clint trains his new, accidental, apprentice, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). The jumpsuit mafia from the comics is hysterically accurate to the idiocy that is comic book henchmen. They are seemingly led by Maya Lopez, aka Echo (Alaqua Cox), a disbaled (deaf) martial artist and niece of Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio). I really like that this show tied the Netflix shows into the Marvel universe like Spider-Man: No Way Home did.
03. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+, 2021)
Following Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky’s (Sebastian Stan) return from the blip, this unlikely duo will work together to get Captain America’s shield back from the imposter wielding it, John Walker (Wyatt Russell). This show has a dark tone to it and shows us the hidden life of the Marvel heroes; focusing on how life is for those returning from the blip and how they are treated as second class citizens after being wiped from all national databases. I really liked the filler as much as the intense action scenes. I was very excited to see Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) return as a fugitive, after the events of Captain America: Civil War.
02. Daredevil (Netflix, 2015-2018) (and MAYBE a future season on Disney+?)
Charlie Cox brings Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, to life after a failed attempt in 2003 by Ben Affleck. There are plenty of other amazing actors/characters that appear in this show, like Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin and Elodie Yung's Elektra. Daredevil was the beginning of a long lasting Marvel/Netflix TV MA partnership with The Defender’s story line, including Luke Cage and Punisher. It is witty, violent, thrilling, and contains a fair amount of mystery throughout. There have been rumblings of a revival on Disney+, but whether this is a proper fourth season or a reboot in currently unknown.
01. Loki (Disney+, 2021-?)
Picking up right after Loki’s (Tom Hiddleson) disappearance in Avengers: Endgame, Loki discovers he created a new timeline. The variant timeline leads to the TVA (Time Variant Authority) arresting Loki and using him to catch more variant Lokis. There are many variants of Loki in the show and they also introduce He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors), aka Kang the Conquerer. Loki has not only been my favorite villain on screen so far, but places in my Top 3 MCU characters of all time. Loki is charming, sarcastically funny, but witty all at the same time. I can’t wait to see more of him and his variants in season 2 (confirmed).