The Marvel Cinematic Universe has seen its fair share of highs and lows in the post-Avengers: Endgame era. The differences in quality extend to its ever-growing television slate, which has seen nine MCU Disney+ series as of 2023. These shows are an integral part of pop culture. They’ve sparked conversations and podcasts among die-hards and even inspired casual fans to dip their toes into the MCU’s waters.
From the mind-bending events of WandaVision to the action-packed adventures of Secret Invasion, we’re exploring the highs and lows of each show. Which shows were near-perfect? Which ones could have (and should have) been better? Find out as we delve into a world of androids, aliens, and wizards and definitively rank every MCU Disney+ series so far.
9. ‘Secret Invasion’
Secret Invasion, the first series of Phase Five, was marketed as a gritty espionage thriller set within the MCU. Starring Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Secret Invasion’s first two episodes succeeded in that regard. It delivered two tense hours that promised a series brimming with smart writing and pulse-pounding paranoia involving the Skrull presence on Earth.
Unfortunately, that’s not the show we ultimately got. Instead, the remainder of the series abandoned the paranoid spy thriller tone entirely. It elected for half-baked plots, gratuitous bombast, and twists that undermined the character-defining actions of longtime favorites. Add to that the criminal underuse of Emilia Clarke, and you have the most uneven MCU Disney+ series yet. One positive: Secret Invasion gave us the devious Sonya Falsworth (Olivia Colman), who I’d gladly watch chew up the scenery in a project worthy of her portrayer’s immense talent.
8. ‘What If…?’
What If…? wasn’t a bad series. It wasn’t great, but it certainly wasn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination. The animated anthology series set out to explore alternate scenarios featuring our favorite MCU heroes and villains. However, its events felt largely inconsequential through much of its first season. It was marketed as an MCU Disney+ series, yet the stories told felt largely detached from the larger MCU narrative.
Told through the eyes of The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright), the first season revealed itself to be a multiverse story in its penultimate episode. Each previous episode took place in a different universe. The season culminated with The Watcher assembling characters from each episode, including Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell), Natasha Romanoff (Lake Bell), and Doctor Strange Supreme (Benedict Cumberbatch), to take on a version of Ultron who wields the Infinity Stones. It’s a fun idea, but it took far too many episodes to get going, so much so that many fans had already checked out by the time the reveal happened.
7. ‘Ms. Marvel’
With Ike Perlmutter and his crusade against diversity in the MCU in the rearview mirror, Marvel Studios continued its focus on representation with Ms. Marvel. The MCU Disney+ series features a teenage Pakistani-American Muslim girl named Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani). Kamala gains light-based and stretchy powers after donning a mysterious bangle linked to her grandmother, the Kree, and the Ten Rings Organization.
Iman Vellani is an absolute delight throughout the series. The newly-discovered actress portrays Kamala’s wonder and excitement with a refreshing earnestness. Unfortunately, the series’ plot, strong through its impeccable first two episodes, falters in its third episode and craters in the fourth. A messy plot involving another dimension and an underwhelming villainous group called the Clandestines barely takes shape. The show cleverly incorporates bigotry against Muslims and ties the real-life Partition in 1947 with the Khan family’s history. Even with its issues, the wildly uneven series is still a blast to watch. It also brilliantly sets up Kamala’s return in The Marvels with a brief Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) cameo.
6. ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’
The second MCU Disney+ series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier sees Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) struggle to accept the mantle of Captain America as a Black man in America. While Sam grapples with this, he and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) square off against a radical group called the Flag Smashers. The show accurately portrays the very real challenges Black Americans face in everyday life, from casual, systemic racism to something as mundane as struggling to secure a loan from a bank. It also draws parallels to the challenges of refugees displaced by disasters and the plights of veterans.
The show’s pacing leaves a lot to be desired, and The Flag Smashers could have been better fleshed-out. Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), last seen in Captain America: Civil War, returns for a tacked-on arc that culminates in a frustrating plot twist. That said, TFATWS nails its emotional beats. One of the best — and most underrated — performances of Phase 4 comes courtesy of recurring guest star Carl Lumbly, who accurately portrays the anger, frustration, and militance of an elderly Black veteran who has spent decades being mistreated, ignored, and forgotten by the country he served.
It’s powerful and real, and reminiscent of real conversations had within Black communities. Could The Falcon and the Winter Soldier have been better? Absolutely. Was it still an emotional gut punch that made us equal parts angry and hopeful? You bet it was.
5. ‘Moon Knight’
Moon Knight was a fascinating but flawed addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU Disney+ series follows the Marvel Comics character, who suffers from dissociative identity disorder. The comics starring the character are dark, twisted, and grim, often making the reader wonder what’s real and what’s imaginary.
On paper, any series starring Oscar Isaac — one of the finest actors employed today — should work. And Moon Knight mostly works. The show is a refreshingly strange project that blends fantasy and hints of psychological horror. Its plot delves into mental health and abuse, as well as fanaticism and Ancient Egyptian mysticism. Isaac does a brilliant job playing Marc Spector and his two alters, the mousy Steven Grant and the violent sociopath Jake Lockley, giving each character their own accent, cadence, and physicality.
But while the acting performances are superb, the writing is a bit uneven overall. Moon Knight takes some wild swings but is let down by dumbing down its Ennead (Egyptian Council of Gods). Its finale features some convenient plot developments and an unnecessary battle between two massive gods among the Pyramids of Giza. All in all, it’s good, but could have been better.
4. ‘She-Hulk: Attorney At Law’
A lot of commotion surrounded She-Hulk: Attorney at Law when Kevin Feige announced it in 2019. The MCU’s first sitcom, it would attempt to replicate the irreverence and comedic stylings of the She-Hulk comics. The MCU Disney+ show stars Emmy-winner Tatiana Maslany, who steals the show as Jennifer Walters, a cousin of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). Joining her are a delightful supporting cast, including Ginger Gonzaga, Josh Segarra, Tim Roth, Jameela Jamil, and Benedict Wong. In the series, Walters becomes a Hulk after some of her famous cousin’s blood gets into her bloodstream.
The series follows Jennifer as she adjusts to her new reality while trying to do normal, everyday things. It brilliantly takes swipes at angry, misogynistic men, accurately predicting the reactions that would slither up from the internet’s most toxic corners. Its main antagonist? Toxic, incel-like men. Its finale is both a wild swing and a stroke of genius. It sees Jen rewrite her story on her terms after visiting K.E.V.I.N. at Marvel Studios (and inquiring about upcoming projects like X-Men). Also, the world needs more Madisynn (Patty Guggenheim). Bring her back.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier was initially supposed to kick off Phase 4, but after that series underwent significant rewrites during the COVID-19 pandemic, WandaVision took its place as the phase’s inaugural outing. And it’s a good thing it did. WandaVision sees Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) create a utopian, sitcom-inspired reality where she can live happily with Vision (Paul Bettany) and their children. Not only is it a beautiful and poignant examination of grief, but it also felt like a true escapist event in the midst of a terrifying global health crisis.
Hardcore fans and casuals alike woke up after midnight every week to live-tweet the series. Over its nine-episode run, fans shared increasingly outlandish theories about everything from the Hex’s origins to the identity of the now-infamous aerospace engineer. Its CGI-heavy, magical slugfest of a finale was a bit of a letdown after the eight thoughtful episodes that preceded it, but even that couldn’t topple its final ranking. Also, the show gave us “Agatha All Along,” the best Disney villain anthem since “Be Prepared” in 1994’s The Lion King.
There’s no doubt about it, Loki is easily the strangest project the MCU has ever seen. Created by Michael Waldron, the existential series follows the Loki variant who escaped the Avengers in Avengers: Endgame. He’s promptly captured and brought to the bureaucratic Time Variance Authority. There, he gets swept up in a complex narrative linked to Phase 4’s presumed big bad, Kang the Conqueror.
Across 12 episodes, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) undergoes more character growth than many of the OG heroes of the MCU. The selfish, untrustworthy trickster evolves into a man who’s willing to sacrifice his wants to give everyone in every universe a chance at a peaceful existence free from the horrors of a multiversal war. The production design is unlike anything else in the MCU — retro yet futuristic. The TVA has a haunting and unsettling quality to it.
Natalie Holt’s eerie, impeccable score is among the best in the MCU. Hiddleston is practically flawless as the titular character, while embattled actor Jonathan Majors impresses as Kang variants He Who Remains and Victor Timely. Owen Wilson, Sophia Di Martino, and Ke Huy Quan also make memorable turns as instant fan-favorite characters.
In a way, it makes sense that the most underappreciated Avenger headlined the most underappreciated MCU Disney+ show. In Hawkeye, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) reckons with his vengeful turn as The Ronin and the loss of his best friend, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). Caught up in the mix is young archer Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), who Clint begrudgingly teams up with to protect after she steals The Ronin’s suit and attracts the attention of the goofy Tracksuit Mafia.
At its heart, it’s a show about a man who struggles to get home to his kids for Christmas. Hawkeye’s low stakes are its strong point. It reminds viewers that Clint is just a human guy with a family. Renner brings new life to an aging Clint, allowing him to flesh out the OG Avenger like never before.
Likewise, Steinfeld shines as Kate, especially in her scenes with Renner and Florence Pugh. In a franchise that features gods and witches, it’s nice to see two non-superpowered protagonists take the subway and tend to their wounds with alcohol and Band-Aids. Best of all, the MCU Disney+ series knew what it intended to be from the start. It didn’t make a wild tonal shift to a bombastic, CGI-heavy finale, and (mostly) stuck the landing in the end. Also, solo Kate Bishop project when?
What’s Your Favorite MCU Disney+ Series?
All of the MCU Disney+ series have something to offer fans, but these are our rankings of the MCU Disney+ series we’ve gotten so far. Each show boasts tremendous highs as well as head-scratching moments we wish had been better executed. Of course, everyone’s rankings will differ, so we throw the question out to you.
How would you rank each of the MCU Disney+ series? Which show would you put on top? Let us know in the comments below, and hit us up on the Agents of Fandom socials to join the conversation!