So, before I get started, I need to clarify a few things. There’s a lot of Marvel content out there these days, but what I will be talking about in this particular post are the movies and TV shows that are considered canon part of the MCU. This excludes property such as Marvel’s Hit-Monkey and M.O.D.O.K., which is no judgment on their quality, it just falls outside of the MCU and therefore what I want this list to be. All of the titles must have been released in 2021 to qualify for the ranking. But now comes the really important part:
This list is entirely subjective! It’s my opinion alone and if you feel differently, that is perfectly alright too!
(Also, there’s potential spoilers for everything, so beware if you haven’t watched the properties.)
Thinking about all the Marvel characters, I’ve always had a soft spot for Loki, but the show didn’t really deliver on what I had hoped it would be. It may have been the least satisfying season finale, which left a huge part of the fanbase not just confused but also angry.
My enthusiasm for the seasons went down the more I thought about it. For me personally, Sylvie wasn’t the huge problem everyone made her out to be. I found her to be a captivating character and am excited to see where they’ll go with her moving forward, even if I’m not into the romance. Seriously, I’d much rather have liked to see them have a sibling-esque bond, her becoming a mirror of Thor to him and him becoming the first permanent family member in her life since the TVA interfered. I digress, but what I wanted to get at was that we were promised a bisexual (fine, that was mentioned) or even pansexual genderfluid Loki and that was not done at all. In fact, when we meet the different variants, they are shocked that a female version exists altogether. Why?
Also, I just still don’t know the ramifications of what they did, even after watching everything that was released this year.
Jonathan Majors was a revelation though, not gonna lie.
- Episode 1 “Glorious Purpose”
- Episode 2 “The Variant”
- Episode 3 “Lamentis”
- Episode 4 “The Nexus Event”
- Episode 5 “Journey Into Mystery”
- Episode 6 “For All Time. Always.”
MORE TOM HIDDLESTON CONTENT FROM ME
8. What If …?
Admittedly, while watching, I was probably the most critical of What If …? out of all the shows. I’m still not a fan of the animation and think the episodes needed much more time to not feel so utterly rushed. Many ended on unpleasant cliffhangers we might never get an answer to, but ultimately a lot of it came together in the final episodes. Having seen the trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, I also think that having watched it will be an advantage when the movie comes out (which I think tries to mislead us with the trailer).
REVIEWS: WHAT IF …
- Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?
- T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?
- The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?
- Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?
- Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
- Thor Were an Only Child?
- Ultron Won?
- The Watcher Broke His Oath?
7. Black Widow
This movie, while not bad at all, came entirely too late for me. Why was it not done five years earlier? Yes, it does have beautiful cinematography and a certain kind of humor I can appreciate, but I feel like it’s retconning some stuff from Endgame (which I dislike with a passion as is), which now makes even less sense to me, while also honoring a character only after she has already died. It just feels off.
I’m very glad we now have Yelena though. She is fantastic and such a great addition to the MCU.
Click here for the review as part of a “What I’ve Been Watching”-post.
Possibly, maybe, this movie should have been ranked lower than Black Widow if we’re looking at the quality of storytelling, but I got sucked into the movie by the characters and I could not put Makkarai, Druig, Kingo, Phastos, Thena, Gilgamesh and Dane any lower … I actually went to see this movie in theaters twice, which is huge considering that I went to cinemas all of five times in total during the entirety of 2021. I literally cried when the movie started, because it was so beautiful.
All the fangirling aside, they truly focused on the most bland characters with Sersei and Icaris. I wasn’t getting the emotional impact I had hoped for, but I’m still very much intrigued where we’re going with this new crew of misfits. Also, I still haven’t figured out where exactly this fits into the MCU timeline and narrative other than it being post-Thanos.
Click here for a Spoiler-filled breakdown of the movie.
The show surprised me! I really, really enjoyed it, especially because it gave a character some depth that people have disliked or not cared about for years, even though he has been part of the original Avengers since day one. Then there’s Kate Bishop and the many parallels they were able to draw to comic panels, because of the sheer likeness of Hailee Steinfeld with the character – it was amazing.
I genuinely thought the Christmas element would put me off more, but it didn’t! It was one of the most well-rounded shows of the year with an ending that didn’t leave you in agony or spinning theories for what was to come next. The dynamic between the main characters worked and while we definitely need some more info on side characters, it gave us Daredevil and Yelena crossovers as well as heroes and villains with disabilities. More than just solid on all fronts!
- Episode 1 & 2
- Episode 3 “Echoes”
- Episode 4 “Partners, Am I Right?”
- Episode 5 “Ronin”
- Episode 6 “So This Is Christmas”
4. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
I feel like many people didn’t appreciate this show all that much, but I adored it. While it gave us some great exposition on Sam and Bucky that proved they were more than sidekicks, it also fleshed out the reality these characters live in. A lot of the time, the MCU deals with such overly dramatic and unimaginable threats that we forget the lives these people lead outside of playing hero. There is trauma, racism and just plain history that they’ve failed to show in that world before. It mattered that Sam was the first Black Captain America and it mattered why it wasn’t easy for him to accept that shield. But I love his character and he truly is my Captain.
Also, not to forget, we actually saw a heavily traumatized character seek therapy – that’s good!
THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER REVIEWS
- Episode 1 “New World Order”
- Episode 2 “The Star-Spangled Man”
- Episode 3 “Power Broker”
- Episode 4 “The Whole World Is Watching”
- Episode 5 “Truth”
- Episode 6 “One World, One People”
MORE SEBASTIAN STAN CONTENT FROM ME
It was the first MCU show Disney+ released and the world went insane with conspiracy theories. I theorized too, I’m not exempting myself from it. But even though I’m sure there will be many ramifications across the greater Marvel universe, I actually enjoyed the quiet character work the most. This was a show about grief and loss, they were the big bad and I was here for that!
Wanda has always been my favorite character ever since she showed up, so, obviously, I had to rank her very high here. Aside from the theme, I enjoyed so much more though. I was also majorly impressed with the detailed work that went into the aesthetics and visuals, the many references to classic TV shows and things I personally love and use as an escape as well. It was just relatable in the strangest of ways.
- Episode 1 & 2
- Episode 3 “Now in Color”
- Episode 4 “We Interrupt This Program”
- Episode 5 “On a Very Special Episode …”
- Episode 6 “All-New Halloween Spooktacular”
- Episode 7 “Breaking the Fourth Wall”
- Episode 8 “Previously On”
- Episode 9 “The Series Finale”
MORE WANDAVISION CONTENT FROM ME
2. Spider-Man: No Way Home
Watching this movie was pure joy! You cannot deny that it was hinging on nostalgia and fan service, but it was done right and that is the key!
I haven’t talked about the movie much on here yet, but I loved it. There are several inconsistencies in the storytelling that bug me even now (which is why it didn’t rank first), yet it wins you over with its charm and emotion every single time. To me, it felt like Marvel and Sony were tired of their constant fight over this property, so while they will be moving forward with more Spider-Man movies, they’ve created the perfect excuse for Peter to now show up or be mentioned in future (group) projects. Still, this movie opened a door and if its blatant success is anything to go by, I hope we get more crossovers like it in the future.
1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Shang-Chi was the first movie I watched in cinemas again after not having been to one since February 2020. I was excited, I was pumped, I could have easily been let down, but instead, I’ve now seen this movie so many times, I can ad-lip some of it.
Aside from the bomb soundtrack, it was one of the most stellar introductions of a new character in the universe for a while now. Yes, we’ve gotten some great new people in the MCU this year, but none had their own movie or show and rocked it. It was fun, action-packed, hilarious, emotional, beautifully choreographed, visually appealing and I can just keep going with the praise, you know? These characters are all going to be a great addition to the universe. I can’t wait to see what’s next!
Click here for a brief review!