Every Marvel TV show in the Cinematic Universe, ranked

The core of the Marvel Cinematic Universe story happens on the cinema. The interconnected movie series that began with 2008’s Iron Guy has actually made more than $20 billion worldwide, enticing in devoted audiences by using them unforgettable characters and a single huge, grand drama running over the course of more than a years. MCU films run on a relatively foreseeable design template at this moment — there’s space for variation, however the offerings of each installation are still a relatively recognized amount for fans.

The MCU TELEVISION series are no such thing. Produced a range of networks with differing budget plans, covering a range of tones, and frequently having undecided connections to the huge MCU overplot at finest, they’re an unforeseeable grab bag. They run the range from single-season miniseries occasion to network pillars. And they tend to inform lumpier, less structured stories — or a minimum of, they did till 2021, when Disney Plus began reversing its own miniseries-length programs, which feel more like hyper-extended MCU films than previous MCU TELEVISION ever did. The brand-new crop of programs is more incorporated into the MCU than ever, however are they in fact much better? We took a seat with every MCU-integrated TELEVISION series to date, to rank them and discover.

[Ed. note: Not consisted of on this list are pre-MCU Marvel programs like Blade, or non-MCU-canon Marvel programs like the outstanding mindgame Legion or the X-Men spinoff The Talented. We’ll include Loki to the list as soon as that series finishes up and we can much better evaluate what it’s out to do, and how well it does it.

14. Helstrom (2020)

A dark force creates a melee forcing Hastings and Ana to work together. Daimon and Gabriella discover the events of the Blood Hotel are connected. The demon’s identity is revealed, shaking Ana and Daimon to their core. Yen gets the upper hand. Daimon Helstrom (Tom Austen) and Ana Helstrom (Sydney Lemmon), shown. 

Picture: Katie Yu/Hulu

2020’s Helstrom was the last of the live-action MCU reveals launched on Hulu prior to the launch of Disney Plus, and it was canceled after one almost generally panned season. The program is borderline unwatchable, an ugly procession of exorcist and paranormal tropes with just the loosest connection to the comics characters it’s based upon. Following a set of brother or sisters with demonic blood that provides superpowers, it does not have pleasant characters, significant stakes, nuanced efficiencies, or perhaps outstanding unique results. If you’re trying to find a scary supernatural story about combating satanic forces, have a look at Evil on Paramount Plus. If you desire superheroics, you’re much better off seeing anything else on this list.

13. Inhumans (2018)

A big dog and an inhuman stand in the middle of a busy city street

Picture: ABC

Initially prepared as an MCU motion picture and its own MCU sub-franchise, Inhumans suffered in part from the exact same thing that offered it a lot capacity: It’s constructed around a whole society concealed from the remainder of the world, where separatist superpowered folk live according to their own laws. Issue is, a series about actual inhumans that aren’t connected to human society has practically none of the relatable elements that make MCU characters intriguing. And the story, about a coup because secret society, has no stakes for the typical individual. (It appears like a quite dreadful, overbearing oligarchy to start with.) ABC’s series ended up feeling more like the the SyFy Superman spinoff Krypton than an MCU story: It’s technically within the connection longtime MCU fans appreciate, however it feels entirely eliminated whatever that occurs in the MCU. To top it off, the performing is stiff, the writing is cumbersome, bad person Maximus (Iwan Rheon, Video Game of Thrones sadist Ramsay Bolton) is extremely apparent in his awkward evil, and even as soon as the action moves from the Moon to Earth, the story never ever seems like it’s about real individuals. Technically, it’s all there in the series title, so we can’t state we weren’t alerted.

12. Runaways (2017-2019)

The remaining PRIDE members unite with the kids to foil Morgan�s plans, but as a battle rages in the Hostel, one of the Runaways pays the ultimate price to defeat her. Karolina (Virginia Gardner), Molly (Allegra Acosta), Alex (Rhenzy Feliz), Nico (Lyrica Okano), Gert (Ariela Barer) and Chase (Gregg Sulkin), shown.

Picture: Michael Desmond/Hulu

Honestly, Runaways would most likely be a number of notches higher on this list if the titular runaways had actually escaped previously. Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s initial comics series, which released in 2003, let the young lead characters discover early that their moms and dads were effective supervillains, and run together out of worry and aggravation, causing a lot of plots about the problems dealing with homeless kids pertaining to terms with their powers and combating bad guys without adult support. However the 2017 TELEVISION adjustment invests its whole very first season with the kids wheel-spinning about what to do after they see proof their moms and dads are killers. As they dither in uninteresting ways, the series dilutes the focus on their characters further by giving equal screen time to their parents’ soap-operatic power struggles and relationship dramas. Subsequent seasons finally put a little more focus on the young heroes, but the show really never overcomes the problem of its overcrowded cast, or its baffling attempt to make the parents personable and sympathetic, even as they’re systematically exploiting and murdering young people. And its focus on short-term, quickly resolved subplots, like a trying-to-be-current plot about mind control spread through cell phones, prevented the show from building up series stakes or meaningful energy.

11. Cloak & Dagger (2018-2019)

Dagger (Olivia Holt) holds her superpowered healing hand to Tyrone Johnson, aka Cloak (Aubrey Joseph)

Image: Freeform

The Freeform show Cloak & Dagger started off strong, driven by the powerful chemistry between Tandy Bowen, aka Dagger (Olivia Holt) and Tyrone Johnson, aka Cloak (Aubrey Joseph), teenagers trying to understand their new powers and the nature of the accident that sparked them. Because the writers were focusing on extremely minor Marvel characters, they didn’t need to adhere to comics canon, and instead were free to deliver a mix of heady wonder and romance, combined with sharp examinations of police brutality, addiction, and corporate malfeasance. Yet that early charm wore away as the show’s stakes increased and the comic book tropes piled up. A twist on fridging meant to be edgy still came off as unnecessarily brutal, the writers tried to make the show’s least interesting character work by giving her an evil personality, and both seasons ended in near-apocalyptic conflicts. It isn’t a terrible YA adventure, but it’s a textbook case of diminishing returns.

10. Iron Fist (2017-2018)

iron fist season 2 fight scene

Linda Kallerus/Netflix

The first season of Iron Fist was rightly maligned for its rich, white manchild hero Danny Rand (Finn Jones) using his Chosen One powers to show up the people of color who are meant to be his loyal friends. But when Raven Metzner took over as showrunner for season 2, he oversaw a remarkable course-correction by shifting the focus away from Danny and building up the supporting cast. Sacha Dhawan does a remarkable job as Danny’s brother-in-arm turned bitter rival Davos, and Luke Cage cop Misty Knight (Simone Missick) is just as dismissive of Danny’s abilities as a vigilante as she works to come up with better solutions to Chinatown’s problems. The writers still didn’t seem to know what to do with some of the supporting cast, and the show continued to suffer from having too many subplots and villains, but it ended in a strange and surprising place, compared to where it began. It’s almost sad that there wasn’t a third season or spinoff that could have really embraced the potential to explore the MCU’s deep well of mystic kung-fu weirdness.

9. Agents of SHIELD (2013-2020)

chloe benett and clark gregg in the agents of shield finale

Photo: Mitch Haaseth/ABC

ABC’s Agents of SHIELD was the show most closely tied to the MCU before Disney Plus came along. It stars recurring MCU film character Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), who is mysteriously resurrected after being killed by Loki in The Avengers, then tasked with leading a group of agents investigating everything from rogue Asgardians to cyborgs. The show’s first season was written to compliment the Captain America: The Winter Soldier revelation that SHIELD had been infiltrated by Hydra, which gives the story an excellent twist, as several main characters show their true loyalties. But that connective tissue wore thin over time, and later seasons saw the characters sent to space or entirely different timelines so they could avoid intersecting with the MCU films. When the show is firing on all cylinders, Agents of SHIELD is among the top Marvel series, embracing the genre-bending sensibilities of comic book stories and a heavy dose of meta humor. Unfortunately, it spend a lot of time foundering, taking several seasons to become a true ensemble show, and even then, struggling with separated characters and a rotating cast of varying quality.

8. The Punisher (2017-2019)

Jon Bernthal as The Punisher standing in the middle of a New York street with a bloody t-shirt

Photo: Cara Howe/Netflix

Jon Bernthal’s gruff, fierce portrayal of Marine-turned-vigilante Frank Castle is the true highlight of Daredevil season 2, and the first season of The Punisher is among the best stories in the Netflix MCU. While the character’s legacy is highly problematic, showrunner Steve Lightfoot manages to keep the show from being just a brutal revenge fantasy by delivering plots that examine PTSD, the military-industrial complex, and ethical hacking. The show is also buoyed by a fantastic supporting cast, with Ben Barnes playing an all-too-charming villain, and Castle’s sidekick Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) giving the series some desperately needed levity. The second season fails to recapture that magic, though, with Micro’s absence keenly felt, and DHS agent Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) going from fierce foil to victim. That season’s plot also feels like a retread of the same conflicts presented in season 1, with little new to say. Most of the Netflix MCU shows experienced a quality dip after their first season, but The Punisher’s second and final outing was the worst offender.

7. The Defenders (2017)

Luke Cage, jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Colleen Wing stand in the hallway in The Defenders

Photo: Sarah Shatz/Netflix

Netflix’s single-season crossover series attempted to be a kind of miniature TELEVISION version of The Avengers, one-upping Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist by bringing all the heroes together in one big plotline. It lacks Avengers’ impact or scope, but it does share some of its strengths: Bringing these four heroes together in different combinations lets the writers explore their personalities and abilities in new contexts. As they banter and snark at each other, they highlight some of the individual faults that bugged fans of their solo shows. And as they learn to work together, the ways their abilities and personalities synergize injects some fresh energy into their individual stories. The overplot here is disappointing, but the characters themselves are generally both funnier and more thrilling than they were on their own.

6. Luke Cage (2016-2018)

Luke Cage throws a bad guy in the street

Photo: Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

The very first half of the first season of Luke Cage is nearly perfect, with Mike Colter’s titular hero with unbreakable skin still struggling to make a real difference when fighting against the formidable mix of criminal and political power wielded by Mahershala Ali’s Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. Yet the series takes a hard turn when Stokes is replaced by the generic psychopath Diamondback (Erik LaRay Harvey), and it becomes borderline unwatchable. Season 2 is more consistent, though it never really reaches the highs of season 1.

It’s too bad that the Netflix MCU ended before showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker could really develop the examination of moral compromises he was clearly setting up with Luke walking dangerously close to Stokes’ path by the end of season 2. But in spite of those flaws, Luke Cage is a vibrant portrait of Harlem, with an impeccable soundtrack and fantastic performances that call on the significant charisma of Colter, Ali, and Theo Rossi, who plays Stokes’ opportunistic underling Shades. While the other Netflix MCU shows largely concentrate on withdrawn, brooding heroes, Luke Cage revels in his powers and fame, which gives the show a uniquely bombastic quality.

5. Jessica Jones (2015-2019)

Jessica Jones finds a body on an operating table in a hospital

Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix

Jessica Jones had the mixed blessing of a stellar first season, with a near-unbeatable villain in Kilgrave (former Doctor Who star David Tennant), whose voice is inescapably mesmeric, to the point where people would kill each other or themselves at his casual verbal command. Krysten Ritter gives a consistently layered performance as the superhumanly powerful title character, a detective trying to ignore the deep traumas Kilgrave inflicted on her in the past, while dealing with his return. If the subsequent two seasons had been as targeted and intense as the first one, this series would probably top this list. Instead, Jessica Jones suffers a bit from the way its second and third seasons lose focus, tension, and personal stakes by comparison. Still, it’s well worth sitting down to that first season, a street-level superhero series, crime procedural, and personal story about abuse and recovery, all rolled into one.

4. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021)

Anthony Mackie in the new Captain America suit in Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Photo: Chuck Zlotnick / Marvel Studios

As a story about how former Winter Soldier Bucky Barnes deals with his many MCU traumas and how Sam Wilson decides to take up the Captain America mantle, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is pretty rushed, and in the end, clumsy. As a story about a network of secret super-soldiers who could be labeled terrorists or freedom fighters, depending on your perspective, it’s well-meaning, but often just clumsy. But as a story about two men trying to separately deal with losing their mentor and inspiration, each resenting the other for doing it wrong, until they lastly bond over what they learned from him, it’s resonant and thoughtful in a way MCU stories rarely can be. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, as the titular main characters, bring a vital combination of warmth and prickliness to their roles, which helps make their sometimes broadly drawn characters feel vulnerable, human, and engaging. At its absolute best, this action bromance is so good that it’s actively frustrating when it blows some of its narrative potential by zipping past important plot points with a hand-wave or a stuffy speech.

3. WandaVision (2021)

Wanda in her new Scarlet Witch costume stands in front of Vision and their two kids

Image: Marvel Studios

Disney Plus’ MCU shows have all been dealing with the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, and to some degree with how grief, loss, and self-reflection affect the characters who lost or gained the most. WandaVision takes quite a while to reveal that agenda, though — it starts with its central character, Wanda Maximoff, in complete denial, having created her own cheery sitcom reality with a re-creation of her dead love Vision. The series creators play around with that faux-reality, jumping through decades of sitcom styles and generally having more fun with design, direction, and overall style than any MCU show so far. That freedom to creatively explore her character while being outright weird is one of the two biggest things that makes WandaVision a standout. The other is the depth of the series’ emotions, as Wanda navigates her own rage, guilt, and selfishness on top of everything else. The series wraps up messily, with plenty of loose ends that it means to set up future movies, so it never feels like a fully self-contained story, but it certainly is a wild ride while it lasts.

2. Agent Carter (2015-2016)

Agent Carter holds up a shotgun in someone’s wood den

Photo: ABC

Where WandaVision explores what happens when an immensely powerful superhero loses the love of her life, Agent Carter flips the formula, by exploring the same kind of grief, but steeping it in powerlessness. After the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America’s “best girl” Peggy Carter is mourning his supposed death, but also trying to carry on as a hero in an environment that increasingly doesn’t want female heroes.

Mimicking the real-life societal shift that moved women into traditional men’s work during World War II, then sidelined them again when the soldiers came home, Agent Carter deals closely with the sexism and condescension Peggy (played fiercely by Hayley Atwell) faces on the job at the FBI-like Strategic Scientific Reserve. When her sexist fellow agents contemptuously treat her like a side-piece Captain America foolishly allowed a little bit equality, she’s forced to chase down America’s enemies on the sly, alongside Howard Stark’s butler Jarvis (James D’Arcy). The series is sharp, with meaningful conflict, a satisfying Marvel-movie overplot, and a noir-movie concept of both the gender wars and the job of a private investigator. Atwell and D’Arcy make a terrific team. And the show even looks spectacular, with a Technicolor-style sense for style. It’s unquestionably MCU-modern, rather than a period piece, however it takes all the most beloved ideas about costuming, cinematography, humor, and storytelling from the period it’s evoking.

1. Daredevil (2015-2018)

Daredevil in his black suit gripping a crucifix in front of the empire state building

Photo: Nicole Rivelli/Netflix

The first of the Netflix MCU shows, Daredevil established the darker, street-level tone of the venture while still feeling very much like a superhero story, complete with costumes, secret identities, and spectacular fights. The one-shot hallway fight scene proved that Marvel didn’t need a movie-sized budget to create epic setpieces, while the battle between Daredevil (Charlie Cox) and Bullseye (Wilson Bethel), which weaponizes every stray object found in a newsroom provides a strange mix of high stakes and whimsy.

But even more astounding than the combats are the performances. Cox is absolutely believable in his portrayal of a hero driven by a mix of rage and Catholic guilt as he tries to make the world better, both as a lawyer and as a vigilante. Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin is a study in how to make a compelling villain. The program is also a launchpad for The Punisher, with Frank Castle serving as a perfect cautionary tale of what Matt Murdock could become if his friends don’t keep him in check. Daredevil isn’t perfect: The back half of the second season descends into an endless onslaught of ninja to set up The Defenders, and the writers never ever seemed to know what to do with some of the supporting cast. But the program never ever failed to be creative and ambitious, and its finale provided a gratifying and confident conclusion to a significant chapter in superhero tv.

| Image: Marvel Studios

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.