I mentioned in my previous Top Ten Tuesday list that I really had Marvel on the mind at the moment. While this is mostly because of the recent Doctor Strange movie, a lot of it also has to do with the recent finale of the Moon Knight television show on Disney+. This, and other brilliant television additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), have been incredibly fun, and served as an excellent compliment to the continued movies. As such, I thought I would do a double Marvel feature this Top Ten Tuesday and have a go at ranking the MCU television shows from my least favourite to most. I will be excluding some previous shows like Agents of Shield, various Netflix series, and other shows like Runaways from this list, as they aren’t considered canon, and I will instead focus my efforts on the shows released on Disney+, which tie directly into the films. This proved to be another fun listing exercise for me, and it was interesting to see how some of these shows compared to each other. Just like with the movie MCU list, all entries on this list, even those on the bottom, are leaps and bounds above some other television shows out there and are all really worth checking out.
Spoiler warning below
List (Ranked – Reverse Order):
6. What If…?
The first entry on this list is the animated series What If…? Based on a classic Marvel comic that envisions unique scenarios within the universe if key details were changed. This concept is unleashed upon the MCU with dramatic results, with nine unique stories coming to light. The awesome and unique stories include one where Peggy Carter becoming Captain Britain, Black Panther become Star Lord instead of Peter Quill, an alternate history for Killmonger, Party Thor, Marvel Zombies and more, resulting in amazing episodes, and there is even a compelling ongoing storyline contained throughout the series. Featuring most of the key MCU actors returning to their roles (as well as a few stand-ins), and introducing Jeffrey Wright as the Watcher, this is a brilliantly voiced series with some impressive animation. I deeply enjoyed some of the great stories contained within, especially as they range between horror and humour from week to week. All bring something different to the table, such as a poignant final performance by Chadwick Boseman, a terrifying zombie tale, and the incredibly tragic Doctor Strange episode that sees a corrupted Doctor Strange trapped in a broken universe by himself. All nine episodes were really good, and elements from them were recently featured in the new Doctor Strange movie, and will no doubt be referenced again in the future. A second season is on its way this year, and I am looking forward to more unique stories, as well as a conclusion to some of the existing tales.
5. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
The first live-action entry on this list is the exciting spy thriller story, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which sees Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan return to their iconic MCU roles. With Captain America gone, these two characters, and more, try to step into his shadow while dealing with the threat of the anarchist Flagsmashers. I had a lot of fun with the high-concept action scenes, the great chemistry between its leads, the return of Baron Zemo, and the final reveal of Mackie’s new Captain America persona. However, despite all the potential going in, this show fell short in several places. It was far shorter than it needed to be (an annoying trend with the Disney+ shows), and the final episodes felt extremely rushed as a result. This series needed two or three additional episodes to tell this story properly, and the hurried finale ended the series on a poor note, doing away much of the good of the preceding five episodes. In addition, I really didn’t care about the return of Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter, and the reveal about her being the Power Broker was pretty weak. Despite this, Erin Kellyman does serve as a great antagonist, and Wyatt Russell’s John Walker was a brilliant addition, especially as you see his slow slip into darkness. Daniel Brühl was finally able to do Baron Zemo some justice in this show, potentially leading to some fun appearances in the future. However, they really need to scrap Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s character now, as her two appearances don’t seem to be leading anywhere fast. While this was a good show, I ended up being a little disappointed with how it turned out, as it could have been so much better.
The witty and compelling Hawkeye finally puts a spotlight on the only original Avenger not to have their own movie. Jeremy Renner returns as a beat-up and mostly retired Hawkeye, who is forced to deal with the fallout of his Ronin persona from Endgame when Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop discovers his old costume. Chased by the mob and several dangerous killers, Barton and Bishop need to work together while Bishop begins her training to become the new Hawkeye. Strongly based on one of the better recent Hawkeye comic series, this was an incredibly fun show that was played for humour, while also featuring plenty of action, epic trick-arrow scenes, and some great emotional moments. Renner is his usual excellent self here, and it was great to see Hawkeye living in regret for his various mistakes in Endgame. Steinfeld is easily the star of the show, though, serving as a Hawkeye fan who meets her hero and becomes his protégé. Steinfeld brings some fantastic energy to the role, and her excellent introduction and great humour ensures she’ll be a welcome fixture in the MCU for several years. Her scenes with Florence Pugh’s Yelena are easily some of the highlights of the show, with the two playing off each other perfectly, and I demand that these two characters get their own show or movie as soon as possible. Pugh also has some deep moments with Renner, and I loved the scene where the two characters confront each other over the dead Black Widow. The rest of the cast is pretty good as well, with Alaqua Cox, Vera Farmiga and Fra Fee all having great moments within the series. However, I have to say that they absolutely wasted Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin in this show. While the hints about his appearance were great, he ended up being substantially underutilised, and it seems a shame that he went down so easily in the one episode he appeared in. Hawkeye also felt a little rushed towards the end (less than The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but still noticeable), and it really needed at least one additional episode to tell a much more complete story.
3. Moon Knight
The latest MCU television offering is the exceedingly clever and distinctive Moon Knight. Featuring the impressive Oscar Isaac as the titular Moon Knight, this series follows a man with multiple personalities who becomes a champion of vengeance for an ancient Egyptian god. Containing a taut and impressive story that does a great job introducing new elements to the MCU, Moon Knight is a really cool series that proves to be quite addictive. With some awesome and clever elements, including a look at contemporary Egypt and its culture, this show has one of the more distinctive feels, especially with some of that cool Egyptian music that was played throughout the show. The real joy is easily the brilliant Oscar Isaac, who portrays various distinctive personalities as his character suffers from dissociative identity disorder. Isaac masterfully morphs between personas and voices as the show continues, and it is so much fun seeing him act against himself. The rest of the cast is pretty small, with May Calamawy serving as the female lead, playing second fiddle to three separate versions of Oscar Isaac (still she becomes the MCU’s resident Egyptian superhero). Ethan Hawke is a pretty sinister villain, while F Murray Abraham has an outstanding go at voicing the possessing Egyptian god. This show has so much going for it, it was a shame that the sixth episode was again rushed, with a chaotic battle thrown in for dramatic effect, which really altered the pacing of the whole series. While I liked some of the twists, especially in the post-credit scene, I really think this show could have benefitted from at least one more episode to really wrap the story up perfectly. Still, it sets up future Moon Knight appearances really well and I can’t wait for another season or a feature film soon.
Beating Moon Knight into second place by only a hair is Loki, and that is mainly because of the incredible performance from the titular character. Tom Hiddleston is back in the role he made his own, and this time he’s not alone. Captured by the Time Variance Authority (TVA) for crimes against the timeline, Loki is drafted into finding a rogue version of himself who is hunting down TVA agents. This eventually brings him into conflict with the being at the centre of the TVA, who is keeping time trapped for their own nefarious purposes. Hiddleston absolutely shines in this role again, and it was so much fun to have a Loki focused story, especially as you get some major and noticeable character growth from him. He is joined by outstanding actor Sophia Di Martino who plays a female, alternate version of Loki, known as Sylvie. These two Lokis play off each other extremely well, and the unique relationship that forms between them is awesome (although somewhat disturbing if you stop to think about it). Throw in an exceptional performance from Owen Wilson, several distinctive and utterly hilarious alternate versions of Loki, as well as your first look at the Phase’s big-bad villain, Jonathan Majors’ Kang/He Who Remains, and you have quite an excellent show. While this one did fit better into its six-episode spread, the introduction of Jonathan Majors’ character in the final episode was a tad rushed, but it leads into the upcoming second season really well, as well as heralding a ton of cool multiverse elements. I am deeply excited for the next season of Loki, and it is going to be pretty damn epic.
Easily taking out the top spot is the incredible and exceedingly entertaining WandaVision. I must admit, when they announced the initial slate for the MCU television shows, the one I was least interested in was WandaVision. Not only did the entire concept sound weird but Wanda and Vision had been two of the least impressive Avengers at that point and I was uncertain that a show around them would work. Well, boy was I wrong as WandaVision turned out to be one of the best pieces of media associated with the MCU. Starting off as a clever and fun homage to classic American sitcoms, the show slowly gets darker and darker as you begin to realise just how messed up the situation is. Watching the mental decline of Wanda and the Vision’s growing realisation that everything about his current life is a lie is so damn captivating, and the entire story comes together beautifully, especially as the creative team gave it a full nine-episode run that allowed them to tell a rich and powerful story. However, it’s the cast that really make this special, with leads Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany giving their best performances in the MCU with their complex and damaged characters. The rest of the cast is pretty exceptional, with Kat Dennings, Teyonan Parris, Randall Park and even a brilliantly returned Evan Peters doing an amazing job here. However, the star supporting character is the talented Kathryn Hahn as the delightfully sinister Agatha Harkness, an evil witch who turns out to be one of the most entertaining villains in the entire MCU (she definitely has the best theme song). This show was an incredible first entry into this phase of MCU television, and it not only perfectly followed up Wanda and Vision’s story from Avengers: Endgame but it also serves as a great lead into their future appearances, such as in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. An exceptional show that highlights just how awesome and exceptional a comic book television series can be.
Well, that’s the end of this list. As you can see, I’ve had a lot of fun with all the above television series, and I am really pleased with how the current slate of MCU shows have turned out, even if most of them could have used a couple of extra episodes each. I am pretty happy with how the above list turned out, and I think it is an accurate representation about my current rankings for the show. This will be another list I will probably come back to in a year or so, especially as there are multiple cool new shows coming out on Disney+ soon, as well as new seasons of Loki and What If…?. I am particularly keen for She-Hulk, which not only has a great cast, but will also have a full 10 episode run time. Secret Invasion, Ironheart, Echo, Agatha: House of Harkness, and Armor Wars all sound like they have a ton of potential and should turn out to be excellent shows that I will deeply enjoy. I am a tad less keen on the upcoming Ms. Marvel show, but I am willing to be pleasantly surprised by it. Let me know what you think of my rankings and let me know which one of the above shows are your favourites in the comments below.