The Marvel Cinematic Universe is expanding more and more every day. The introduction of Disney + has been a game-changing tool for Marvel Studios to tell a completely different kind of story. In year one, five different series were introduced as vital pieces of the MCU puzzle. And they have shown no signs of slowing down, with Moon Knight having kicked off Marvel’s Disney + offerings in 2022.
We have collected over a dozen different writers from TheDirect.com to rank the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s series. This is a mixed bag of die-hard MCU fans and third-party fans of the fantastic. Nonetheless, these are professional fans who have immersed their lives in the universes you love.
Many writers who have voted on this list will not agree with the order, just like many of you reading. The range of opinions on virtually every project is vast. But, this is the only consensus comic book movie writer rankings list of its kind.
Let’s dive into it.
6. What If …?
With the venture into Disney + and the streaming wars, Marvel Studios was willing to test the waters as much as they could in year one. After smash hits like WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, spirit Loki, they decide to stray from the norm and try something new. What If …? was the first taste of Marvel Studios animation and it was a ride.
After establishing the Multiverse as a foundational piece of Phase Four, What If …? was a way to engage the audience with the idea of multiple universes and establish how crazy they could be. A new story every week made it tough for fans to view this on the same level as the other live-action series of 2021, but the animation style kept most people interested as it was a beautiful work of color and motion.
Storytelling for this series is where people seem to agree it falls apart. It plays as an anthology to start that leads to a culmination at the end of Season 1 that feels largely unearned. Mix that with the polarizing use of animation in a live-action universe and it falls to the bottom of the list. What If …? fans are now experiencing the struggles Clone Wars fans have been dealing with for over a decade.
5. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
The return of the Captain America franchise takes place in a series that plays more like a tie-in comic than anything Marvel Studios has ever produced. Fans last saw Sam Wilson at the end of Endgame receiving the shield from Steve Rogers. If Sam were to appear in Captain America 4 as a full-strength Captain America, fans would have been okay with that leap. Instead, they decided to dedicate a 6-episode series showing that decision being made.
This was a classic Captain America project laced with more in-depth commentary on social issues than any MCU project before it. It is the villainous side of this story that pushes it out of a top-tier MCU series for many. There were rumors and reports that major storylines were cut out of this series due to COVID-19 complications, and it is felt.
Another negative toward Falcon and the Winter Soldier that has nothing to do with the show is how quickly it was released after WandaVision. With how new, unique, and interesting the story for WandaVision was, the standard MCU vibe of Sam and Bucky’s show may have slowed momentum for Phase Four and MCU streaming.
This series is not without its flaws, but external factors also bring it down more than it might deserve.
4. Moon Knight
The first origin story told on Disney + for Marvel Studios features Oscar Isaac playing a split personality. It is universally agreed that Isaac’s performance playing both Steven Grant and Marc Spector is the highlight of this show and one of the best features of Disney + streaming so far. Much like many other projects in Phase Four, Moon Knight puts an elite-level player on the field for the MCU.
The high concept of this show has left people on one side or the other. The idea of dissociative identity disorder being represented in this show was well-executed and fleshed out. The Egyptian lore behind the rest of the series including the antagonist, supporting characters, and plot were not as developed. The show threw out a lot of interesting and fun things in the first few episodes, but only focused on a few for Season 1.
This is the type of project that is built for improvement in rankings the more Moon Knight is in the MCU. World-building projects and MCU installments focusing mostly on characters are prime to get better and better as payoffs come and characters continue to evolve. Moon Knight is the top streaming candidate for that treatment.
No movie or show has put more emphasis on passing the mantle than Hawkeye, which was not only able to accomplish what Black Widow did by paying tribute to an MCU Hall of Famer but also introduced the next generation of Marvel sharpshooters. For many fans, watching Jeremy Renner get his time to shine in a solo project after over a decade in the game was a sense of satisfaction.
At the end of the day, Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop is the standout of this show. Winner of The Direct Podcast 2021 Rookie of the Year Award, Bishop instantly became a fan favorite as a throwback Marvel delight. Bringing charisma and charm both similar to MCU legends past and also unique to her, she is the future. Steinfeld reached a point where there were some saying she has the potential to be the next Robert Downey Jr. of the MCU.
An adaptation of one of the most beloved comic books of all time, Hawkeye embraced everything fun and exciting about the character and IP. Set during the holidays and an extended time in New York City, this series has a vibe that few other MCU projects can match. With a couple of characters that maybe did not capture audiences as much as the leads, it is not at the top of this list. But you will be hard-pressed to find many people who did not have a good time with Hawkeye.
Revered as one of the greatest villains in the history of comic book movies, Loki shot to the top of everyone’s list the moment it was announced. Being able to see Tom Hiddleston in this role for an extended appearance on his own journey with no sign of Thor was a dream most MCU fans never knew they wanted. Throw in the aspect of explaining the MCU Multiverse and the incredibly consequential meanings behind it, this becomes a top-tier show.
Episodes throughout Season 1 ebbed and flowed for a while but once this show got to where it was going, it had everyone hooked. It was a mysterious and eerie time-crime drama that slowly built to one of the most terrifying monologues in the league. The way Loki was able to slowly build emotion and stakes while keeping a pins and needles tone was must-watch television.
The first project in the new era of the MCU was an instant hit. Week after week, fans were enamored with the long-form storytelling Marvel Studios is now able to use. WandaVision was a character study wrapped in a mystery, the likes of which no comic book movie fan had ever seen before.
The legacy of WandaVision will be forever remembered as the long-shot trailblazer who changed the way comic book stories are told on screen and arguably the biggest example yet of Marvel Studios taking a huge swing. This one was not just a home run, it was a grand slam.