Disney+ Marvel Cinematic Universe Shows Ranked

The various Marvel Studios properties that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been major profit generators for Disney ever since "Iron Man" first hit theaters. In recent years, the rise of Disney+ has allowed the Marvel and the House of Mouse to expand their worlds through the integration of a number of in-universe series that star the same heroes, villains, and performers as their mega-hit films. It's an incredible world-building experiment that has thus far produced a number of high profile, innovative, creative series that take the MCU into new and novel directions. 

Despite ranging so widely in aesthetics, tone, scale, and impact, it's fairly clear which shows sit towards the top of the Marvel mountain and which didn't hit the target so squarely in the center. From the magical tour of sitcom history in "WandaVision" to our morning box of Oops, All Loki's in "Loki," from the passing of the shield in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" to shooting arrows in a winter wonderland via "Hawkeye," here is our ranking of the Disney+ series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

When it's time to party, Thor will party hard in What If...?

It was actually a little hard to decide whether to include Marvel's animated experiment, given that its experimental Elseworlds nature raises some serious questions about the canonical events in the MCU (although head writer A.C. Bradley has confirmed to IGN that it is canon and takes place in the "MCU multiverse"). At the same time, it's a largely entertaining endeavor, and it introduces Strange Supreme (a Doctor Strange variant who ate cosmic forces like too much cake in his efforts to save a doomed Christine). Strange Supreme suspiciously resembles the other Strange in the trailer for "Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness," so it's ultimately worth adding to the list. "What If...?" is a lot of fun, setting up a number of multiversal scenarios and drawing out their universe-altering implications. What if T'Challa became Star Lord instead of Peter Quill? What if Doctor Strange lost his love and went... well, wrong? What if Ultron discovered the multiverse AND got the Infinity Gauntlet?

The biggest issue with "What If...?" is that its execution and logic are both woefully uneven. Some episodes, like T'Challa's, are absolutely fantastic and moving endeavors. A number of others, like the odd entry that has Captain Marvel act like an angry parent to Party Thor for some reason, are largely ill-conceived. If Space Andrew W.K. wants to teach Earth to Party Hard, what's wrong with that? The most glaring of its flaws, however, are its logical shortcomings. If Vision's body can easily slice Thanos in two, why didn't he do that when it mattered? And didn't we just establish that Infinity Stones don't work outside their respective realities? It's a fun entry with some individual episodes that are moving, clever, and action-packed, but it definitely falls at the bottom of the pile of shows launched thus far.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a fun but low stakes spy thriller

You gotta feel a little bad for Sam Wilson (played by the excellent Anthony Mackie). He's the widely beloved Captain America's hand-chosen successor, but he has a hard time accepting the mantle ... so the U.S. government appoints a new Captain America in Wyatt Russell's you-love-to-hate-him John Walker. Honestly, it's rude. In the middle of all this, Sam and The Winter Solder/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) have to buddy cop their way through an anti-patriotic organization called the Flag Smashers who have been using an underground recreation of the Super Soldier Serum. There are a lot of balls in the air, and Sam has to handle, you know, all of them. The biggest issue keeping "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" from being great is that it lacks the feeling of necessity that some of the other MCU shows have, while a few misguided choices sit uneasily beside its greater elements. 

On the plus side, it handles the complex topic of race and its impact on the Marvel world far better than expected, anchored by a stunning performance from Anthony Mackie. It shows how Falcon came to accept taking up the well-earned mantle, and it's loaded with great moments of heroics. At the same time, its villainous plotlines are messy, between maligning an organization that packs some interesting points and having a surprising antagonist reveal that makes less sense the longer you think about it. It also fails to make sense in the context of why Sam wouldn't want to take the serum that made Captain America so formidable (seriously, why limit yourself?), and the subsequent comments that Sam will have to earn the mantle of Captain America in the series' fourth film suggests that Marvel doesn't understand the point of this series. I mean, if that wasn't the point of all this, then why did we watch it? In short, it's the messiest entry of all four live-action series despite its considerable merits. Sam deserves better.

I used to be an Avenger like you, until I took an arrow to the knee

One strength of the MCU TV entries so far is that each has a very distinct feel to it. "WandaVision" is an imaginative and mind-bending journey into Wanda Maximoff's traumatized psyche. "Loki" is a tongue-in-cheek exploration of timelines, variants, and suspicious bureaucracies. "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" is an action-heavy spy thriller. "Hawkeye" is a Christmas-heavy passing of the torch, complete with a window into the heroic machinations of our favorite powerless Avenger and his new protégé Kate Bishop (an adeptly cast Hailee Steinfeld). It has nowhere near the obvious impact on the future of Marvel movies as some of its forebears, but it's loaded with charm and a Pizza Dog ... and sometimes that's enough.

"Hawkeye" packs a number of surprises and amusing moments, from the constant Christmas vibes to the return of a fan favorite villain, and we finally get a look at all the awesome elements of Hawkeye's arsenal we've never seen before. (It is a curiosity that we've never seen a number of those arrows before, because I can think of a ton of times when those Pym arrows would have been incredibly useful.) The series lacks the complex novelty of "WandaVision" and "Loki" and clearly exists just to bring in new additions to the MCU like Kate (and to give Yelena more to do), but it's continually engaging and a lot of fun despite its comparably low stakes. It's not changing the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but "Hawkeye" is a great send-off to parts of its prior era.

Loki is burdened with glorious purpose (and dozens of other Lokis)

Loki, the iconic God of Mischief himself, is a constant thorn in the side of the order of things. When that precarious order is a carefully managed pruning of rogue timelines, our most charismatic chaos agent makes timeline management more difficult than a parent managing a dozen caffeinated children in a Wal-Mart candy aisle. The result? Multiversal madness and the next stage of the MCU, all proficiently introduced by a wonderfully novel set up and loaded with surprises. In "Loki," the title character chases his own variant while combatting the Time Variance Authority (all a front for He Who Remains, the kindly granddad version of Kang the Conqueror who is happy to see you but just wants you to keep the volume down and hit your bedtime). We learn so much about the reality of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that we've never been privy to — and it's a blast.

Beyond another great multi-multifaceted performance from Tom Hiddleston, the series has so many hilarious elements to it. A host of Loki variants (Boastful Loki, Kid Loki, an awesome Classic Loki played by Richard E. Grant) showcase all the different versions of our master manipulator. Owen Wilson's Mobius M. Mobius is wonderful and well deserving of his jet ski. Sophia Di Martino's Sylvie is a great addition to the world and more than a match for the Loki we know. For such a clever and Universe-altering series, "Loki" is just so much fun that you can't help but enjoy the ride, easily securing it in the top half of our Marvel Studios TV entries thus far.

Who's that fixing up everything? It was WandaVision all along

Of all the new Marvel series, "Wandavision" was the first MCU series and among the most widely acclaimed (it was nominated for eight Primetime Emmy Awards and 15 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards). It also happens to be one of its most creative. Shifting through various sitcom formats from different eras as we watch Wanda Maximoff work through her considerable grief and trauma, the series dramatically changes the MCU in a number of ways in addition to being an excellent demonstration of the imaginative potential left in Marvel Studios.

It's the first Marvel-anything to actually get Wanda's powers right (she was embarrassingly underpowered in all prior projects), while also navigating complex emotions heightened by strong performances from Elizabeth Olson and Paul Bettany. It also moved the MCU along in a number of ways, showcasing the true reality-altering potential of the Scarlet Witch, introducing her powerful children, and giving new life to Vision (kind of). Certainly "WandaVision" isn't perfect, with a final showdown that lacks the high-end surprises of the rest of the series (as well as resolving rather quickly and easily, leaving on a dulled final note). At the same time, it's a show that boldly changed the game for Marvel in so many ways. It's excellent, and one of the most innovative works of entertainment Marvel has ever put out. Who's that fixing up everything? It was "WandaVision" all along.