Ranking Marvel’s Phase Four Disney+ Shows from Worst to Best
Liam Hoofe ranks Marvel’s Phase Four Disney+ series from worst to best…
Marvel’s Phase Four is finally in the history books. The phase was the biggest the MCU has delivered to date, with seven movies, eight TV series, two presentation specials and a miniseries in just under two years. It’s been quite a long time for the company, and many fans have felt some fatigue going in. But the release of The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special brings this race to a close and gives the crowd a chance to catch their breath before restarting with stage five.
Let’s take this time to look back at all the TV shows and specials that have aired on the Disney+ site WandaVision hit our screens in January 2021 and rank them all from worst to best…
11: The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
I love Guardians of the Galaxy. Both the original and the sequel are comfortably among my favorite MCU films. I also love pretty much everything else James Gunn has done outside of the MCU.
Unfortunately, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special felt like a big disappointment. It all felt lifeless, with forced laughs and a repetitive story. The attempts to inject some heart into things don’t really connect, and the extended sequence on Earth felt very simple. This was easily the worst MCU show of Phase Four.
10: I Am Groot
It seems unfair to judge five short episodes against the other shows released in phase four. These were shorts that didn’t really add anything to the overall MCU, but showcased some nice animation and no doubt drew some younger eyes to the product. Groot is the franchise’s de-facto cute character, and this kind of format serves him well.
9: Werewolf by Night
Werewolf at night was an attempt at something different by Marvel, and it’s fair to say the results were a bit mixed. It was the studio’s first special presentation feature, and it was far from anything they had done before.
Michael Giacchino, the award-winning composer, was put in the director’s seat for the first time in his career, and he proved that he is definitely a man of many talents in the role. The film was shot in beautiful black and white, and it paid homage to many of the great horror films of the past.
However, it all felt a bit thin on the ground from a narrative perspective, and even in the short run felt a bit repetitive and uninspired towards the end. Horror fans will no doubt have fun with this, but in the larger scheme of things, it ended up being one of the more forgettable offerings of Phase Four.
8: She-Hulk: Lawyer
It’s fair to say that Marvel She-Hulk: Lawyer has been a bit mixed. Your enjoyment of the show is really going to come down to how well you get along with the humor, with the show combining courtroom drama tropes with some fourth-wall-breaking antics.
There were definitely some very interesting decisions made throughout the series. Matt Murdock reappeared in the MCU, except for a brief appearance Spider-Man: No Way Home, and it was definitely not what fans expected. We found out about Captain America losing his virginity, saw She-Hulk twerking with Megan Thee Stallion, and discovered that Hulk has a son. This was all before a hugely meta performance from Kevin Feige as a robot controlling the show.
If there’s one thing the show can’t be accused of, it’s playing it safe, and it certainly got some mixed results. All in all, it makes for some exciting watches and is worth your time.
7: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Following hot on the heels of WandaVision our The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The series focused on Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Easily the most politically charged show in the MCU, this gave audiences an examination of exactly what Captain America represented in the United States, and how political forces can manipulate those ideals.
Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan have great on-screen chemistry, while Daniel Bruhl’s return also gave the show some of its best moments. This felt like one of the quieter entries in Phase Four, but it did what it needed to do – which was to establish Anthony Mackie as the new Captain America for the franchise.
6: Moon Knight
Moon Knight felt like one of the more experimental outings from the MCU in this phase, and the use of top-tier actors like Ethan Hawke and Oscar Isaac only added to its quality. The mythic elements of the MCU were something that hadn’t been explored before, and there’s a very good chance that the characters will return to the MCU if we meet Rama-Tut, one of Kang’s variants.
While there were elements of the show that felt a bit repetitive, overall this was one of the more interesting additions to the MCU in Phase Four. This phase spent a lot of time introducing us to new characters and worlds, and Moon Knight is definitely one of those with the most potential going forward.
Let’s not beat around the bush, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye has always been the least interesting of the original Avenger series. His character got more to do over the course of Final gamebut he felt like an afterthought when the end credits rolled.
It’s funny then that he also ends up being the least interesting thing in a show named after him. Hawkeye is a really fun show, and it’s one that introduced us to several new MCU characters.
First, there’s Kate Bishop, who is set to be the new Hawkeye going forward. There was also more screen time for Florence Pugh’s Yelena, and we also saw the return of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk. This is a lot to cram into a few episodes, but the show manages to juggle it all quite effectively, and it promises some interesting things for the future.
4: Ms. Marvel
Marvel has used the TV shows to introduce us to many more characters in phase four, and one of them was Kamala Khan’s Ms Marvel. This was definitely one of the more light-hearted additions to the MCU in this phase, and the show was one of the easiest watches. Sure, it was a pretty standard origin story, but it highlighted a different culture and injected a lot of humor into things as well. It felt like one of the most important culturally for the MCU.
Despite its breezy style, the show has many larger implications for the MCU, not least the reveal that Khan was a mutant, complete with X-men intro music, in the season finale. It also sits up The Marvels pretty good for next year.
3: What if…?
What if…? was the MCU’s first attempt at an animated show, and unsurprisingly, it was a huge success. The show told six alternate historical versions of the MCU as we know it. This included a fun Zombies episode, a new version of Captain America and a brilliant and tragic story based on Doctor Strange.
Jeffrey Wright also made his debut in the franchise as The Watcher and was an immediate stand-out; his commanding narrative held everything together well. Marvel has since ordered a second series and has also announced several other animated shows, including X-Men and Spider-Man spin-offs. If nothing else, this was also a brilliant showcase for just what Marvel could do with a multiverse at its disposal.
Loki has always been one of the MCU’s best characters, and his first solo season is one of the best TV outings for the franchise. The series also introduced us to the Time Variant Authority and the concept of the multiverse, making it essential viewing if you want to keep up with the MCU as a whole.
Of course, it also introduced us to Jonathan Major’s Kang the Conquerer, appearing as his “He Who Remains” variant. The ending of the show also had some pretty big implications for the MCU going forward.
Only six episodes long, Loki is zipping by at a fast pace and is easily one of the best shows the MCU has produced.
Marvel really hit the ground running with their first real TV show, WandaVision. The show was a crazy mix of genres and TV tropes that promised some bold storytelling and interesting narrative choices.
Unfortunately, the MCU never really lived up to this initial, bold statement, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that WandaVision was brilliant. The introduction of Agatha Harkness was so well received that Disney immediately started a spin-off, and it was also the first time we saw a crossover from one of the non-MCU owned Marvel universes. Of all the shows, it felt like the one we needed to tune into the following week to see what was coming. It was bold and unpredictable, something that can’t be said of many series or movies in phase four.
WandaVision set a benchmark for the MCU on TV that, at the time of writing, it has never quite been able to reach again.
SEE ALSO: Ranking Marvel’s Phase Four movies from worst to best