It's easy to forget that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always had a smaller TV universe. The ABC had Agents of S.H.I.E.LD for seven awesome seasons and Netflix had a handful of smaller shows that put the spotlight on the likes of Daredevil and Luke Cage, among several others. However, 2021 was the first time that Disney and Marvel Studios started releasing shows that have either already impacted or will impact the rest of the MCU.
So far, Marvel Studios has released five shows on Disney+. Although all five came with the usual fanfare, fans did not love them all the same.
Below, we've decided to round up the MCU TV shows on Disney+ and ranked them based on how they lived up to their potential, where and how they did well, as well as what else Marvel Studios could have done.
One of the biggest knocks on What If...? was time. Each episode of the anthology had a juicy premise, even the one that primarily revolved around how much more of a douchebag Thor could have been. However, thirty minutes is far too short for any show to explore what should have been enough content to span a standard movie. Not to mention, What If...? suffered from pandemic-related production troubles, proven by the missing Gamora episode that won't premiere until the second season arrives.
Listen, we're not saying What If...? was bad. It had more than its fair share of moments. We'll forever love the series that gave us Star-Lord T'Challa and a good-hearted Thanos who just wouldn't give up on his dream of wiping out half the universe.
Unfortunately, What If...? tried to do too much in too little time to accomplish what feels like something inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
Who knows? Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness might change this. But, even if we see Supreme Strange appear in Benedict Cumberbatch's next MCU solo outing, the point remains that What If...? just wasn't as good as its peers.
If What If...? lacked the time to live up to its ambition, Hawkeye felt like it tried harder than it should have to introduce a new potential sidekick to the MCU. Make no mistake, we loved how Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye finally got a shot at his solo outing. The only problem is that Hawkeye felt like it borrowed too much from one of Black Widow's and Daredevil's highlights while forcing Hailee Steinfield's Kate Bishop down every viewer's throats.
If nothing else, Hawkeye deserves kudos for its faithful adaptation of its source material. It's just that we were hoping for something more grand and unique for the most underrated Avenger.
If Marvel Studios ordered a few more episodes of Loki for its first season, we'd be inclined to rank it a few spots higher. As it stands, Loki felt a lot like it was concerned with setting up the next phase of the MCU movies as opposed to exploring who Loki was and what kind of part he is going to have in the MCU going forward.
Make no mistake, Loki is the most creative, colorful, and fun MCU show, with a standout performance from Tom Hiddleston. It's just unfortunate that Loki's story is half-complete, at best, leaving audiences hanging without really giving the show enough time to take audiences to a more in-depth exploration of Loki as a character.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the perfect example of exploring deeply flawed characters trying to live up to the reputation of a universally revered hero. The show sees Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson, also known as The Falcon, trying to pick up the pieces of his normal life after spending years either on the run or blipped. The same goes for Sebastian Stan's Winter Soldier, who must now try and live with the guilt of his crimes while also soldiering on knowing that his best friend in the whole world is never going to be there anymore.
Marvel Studios was gunning for a buddy cop movie with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Instead, what audiences got was the rare thoughtful and resonant MCU show.
Of course, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is far from perfect. The series peaks whenever all the action and bromance tie everything so neatly together. On the other hand, it's frustrating to see the show squander its narrative potential by failing to dig deeper into important plot points and issues that are relevant in the MCU and society, in general.
Amazingly, Marvel Studios created an entire series centered around the five stages of grief. Perhaps this is what happens when someone as powerful as Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff feels such a strong emotion. The series does a great job of setting up the future of the MCU while giving audiences a glimpse of how important Wanda's role is going to be. It probably doesn't hurt that the series creator's overflowing passion, creativity, and love for the series was evident based on the show's design, direction, and style.
Overall, WandaVision was the standout show of MCU's initial slate on Disney+. It did its job of setting the tone for the rest of the year. The only gripe we have with WandaVision is how it desperately tried to wrap things up in a way that prevented the show from telling a self-contained story.
What’s next for the MCU on Disney+?
Marvel Studios is never one to miss an opportunity. After five largely successful shows on Disney+, we should see Kevin Feige double down on its investment in the streaming platform. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait for a while to find out just how much more MCU shows are going to be released this year. So far, Marvel Studios has only confirmed Moon Knight, which is set to stream from March 30 to May 4.
Hopefully, by then, we'll find out more about Marvel Studios' other plans for Disney+ this year.
For now, fans can look forward to watching Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 6, 2022. You can also check out our round-up of all the upcoming MCU shows on Disney+. We keep it updated to make it easier for you to keep up with Marvel Studios' latest announcements.