Since the beginning of last year, Marvel has already released six shows on parent company Disney’s streaming platform Disney+. With two more dropping this summer, now is the time to pause and take stock of what’s come already before looking ahead to “Ms. Marvel” and “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.”
- ‘What If…?’
Despite taking the bottom spot, I still enjoyed this animated entry into the MCU canon. The anthology format allows for skipping some of the weaker episodes, while still taking in the best the series has to offer. One of the few on this list renewed for a second season, “What If…?” has the most room for growth to turn an interesting premise into a successful series.
- ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’
What drags down an otherwise engaging series is too much focus on antagonists with a generally annoying presence. Terrorists that blow up buildings full of innocent people shouldn’t be painted as misunderstood by society. Plus, one of the emotional cores of the show – Bucky’s trauma from spending decades as a brainwashed killing machine – is undermined by putting his codename in the title. The saving grace for “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” however, is by far the cast.
In a word, wow. While Owen Wilson did not say his de-facto catchphrase, he was certainly the highlight of this enjoyably complex and brain-melting series as the grounded mustache-wearing Mobius. On the other hand, the romantic plot line between the titular God of Mischief and his somehow even more stab-happy variant Sylvie was certainly an off-putting interpretation of self love, considering how other Marvel properties have considered multiversal variants to be siblings. I’m just saying, Marvel wouldn’t have made two Tom Hiddlestons make out.
As one of the few people who seemed to look forward to this show, I was happy to see the world’s greatest archer get the spotlight he deserved. Years in the background deprived Clint Barton of a personality, which his show was more than happy to put on display. Hailee Steinfeld is a welcome addition to the MCU, injecting youthful optimism in contrast to Jeremy Renner’s grizzled veteran role. As an added bonus, the show took direct inspiration from Matt Fraction and David Aja’s comic book run, leading to some fun nods and references such as the inclusion of Barton’s hearing aid.
- ‘Moon Knight’
Amidst all the superhero action spectacle and exploration into dissociative identity disorder, perhaps the greatest feat the most recent series on this list pulls off is popularizing a song recorded over fifty years ago by some British crooner named Engelbert Humperdinck. In addition to Oscar Isaac pulling double duty as two distinct leading personalities, supporting cast members May Calamawy and Ethan Hawke hold their own in scene-stealing performances. Combining the lack of connection to the larger shared universe and character-driven story harkens back to Marvel’s Netflix offerings while telling a self-contained treasure hunt.
Promising “a love like you’ve never seen” for the titular couple, the first Marvel show for Disney+ delivers quality unseen by the others on this list. The show presents an acting tour de force from Elizabeth Olsen, as she effortlessly transitions from one era of television to the next and displays Wanda’s complex and wide-ranging emotional state in every episode. The entire production team crafts a moving love letter to the history of television, replicating sets, costumes and catchy intro music with care. The eight-episode format allows the show to examine the grief and loss that pervades the superhero genre with depth that popcorn blockbusters lack.
It’s no surprise that “WandaVision” takes the top spot — that is, until the inevitable gritty prestige “Squirrel Girl” series comes out and blows everything else out of the water.