"Never take off the mask."
"Never take off the mask."

Top 5: Series in MCU

For a long time I’ve been wondering why this section of the blog remained so empty (having started with high hopes after reading my previous ranking, here I am 5 years later, still with only this post in the column) and how I couldn’t come up with a specific type, genre or whatever else you can think of for which to make my own personal ranking. Well, people have said it’s better late than never so it was time for me to realize that (let’s not kid ourselves) in the end, I’m a solid fan of comics, comic book movies, comic book games, comic book events and … well, you get the idea, which automatically means I can comfortably enrich the “Top 5” section with similar topics.

And what better way, particularly for a Marvel fan like me, than to do it with a few upcoming rankings related to my favourite universe, especially when, for better or for worse, we’ve seen so much stuff being written and projected on the subject in the last few years. Well, we’re nearing the middle of the year already, no more similar themed projects are expected at least until next year (you will probably read about the last one in a few weeks, I hope) which makes it the perfect time to give my assessment of what has emerged in the past few months/years on the subject. It’s important to mention that for the quantity-quality ratio we won’t talk much about the ten or so Marvel productions released in these two years as obviously opinions there are at both poles. What I can say is that a break might really do the universe good and I’m glad that this year we’ll only see “Deadpool & Wolverine” (which based on its current details seems to be more than enough) and some series here and there (hopefully of sufficient quality for a future Top 5).

But enough about that topic, let’s get to the point. Below, you’ll be able to read a little more about my personal top 5 Marvel series released so far. It’s important to clarify that this ranking only covers the series that are an official part of the universe (i.e., MCU canon) and will be influenced more or less by the things that have happened in the larger narrative events or in other words, those in the movies. What I would like is to hear your opinion (and why not your own personal ranking on the subject, if you have one) down in the comments and discuss together everything related to the MCU and the like.

5. „Hawkeye

I don’t know why but the biggest difficulty in deciding how to arrange this ranking wasn’t so much about who my favourite is but rather who else deserves to enter the top five and who has been at least slightly better so I can place them in the respective positions by some criteria. Right from the start I want to address the topic with the main characters because if Marvel’s top films usually feature an ensemble cast (of course, I’m referring to “The Avengers” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”) then in these mini-series the emphasis is more on specific familiar or unfamiliar characters which logically leads to the main differences between the different productions coming exactly from the actor/actress who played the lead role. I say this because the next spots you’ll see in this post are occupied by productions in which I saw much more than just the main characters and although at times they lacked effects, plotlines or something else, their presence on screen alone was strong enough to impress me.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like Hailee Steinfeld as well as Jeremy Renner and I’ve always thought their characters are quite underrated. In fact, that’s the reason why the series made it into my personal ranking at all. “Hawkeye” is a wonderful series and a solid retirement plan for Clint Barton and a good introduction for Kate Bishop as well as a more reliable starting point for Yelena than what “Black Widow” proved to be. Christmas has already passed but it coincides with the theme of the series so it will still be a good distraction for those of you who missed it last year. What mainly concerns me as a Marvel fan is that in both new heroines, I still don’t clearly see a leading figure among the emerging young avengers and because of this I have my reservations about the forming team of superheroines.

4. „Ms. Marvel

And if Hailee has already appeared with established MCU characters behind her, then Iman Vellani single-handedly carries her series without exaggeration. In fact, this is my main motivation behind this fourth position. Realistically speaking, “Ms. Marvel” is nothing special – the story is relatively mediocre, the other characters are relatively forgettable and the lack of a bigger picture (at least in the context of the series) is also relatively noticeable.

But, the big But comes right here – Vellani is definitely born for this role. In every movement, manner, line, you can see how happy she is to be in this role and how much she invests in it. Ms. Marvel represents the dreams of every avid fan who has wanted to be a part of the great adventure and has managed to do so. The fact that the actress’s own character is exactly like that makes performing the role child’s play. Although relatively new as a character from a purely comic book perspective, the first Muslim superheroine definitely manages to win the fans’ sympathies and I’m personally quite interested to see how Kamala Khan will develop in the MCU and from what I’ve seen of her in “Captain Marvel 2”, if I had any positives for this movie, they were definitely focused on her. Whatever happens, one thing is clear to me – I definitely see Iman as the core of the new Avengers and it wouldn’t be surprising if she becomes their leader in the coming years and, in my opinion, the series can only benefit from her enthusiasm and acting.

3. „Moon Knight”

I must admit that even for me the main character wasn’t among the most familiar comic book faces that Marvel has ever created. However, after watching “Moon Knight” I can say that he’s among the most interesting ones and I hope the hint at the end of the season won’t be in vain and we’ll see the Moon Knight again on screen, in one form or another.

With all the other physical, chemical and cosmic superpowers it was time to see some mythology. At times, the series reminded me a lot of Neil Gaiman’s work (both in the books and on the big screen) but it definitely has its own shape, making it unique in the context of Marvel series. Moreover, let’s be honest, Oscar Isaac is fantastic in the role of Marc/Steven/Jake. At times, I completely forgot that it’s the same actor and if it weren’t for the appearance, I could easily say that these are two completely different characters, which actually speaks volumes about Isaac’s qualities. May Calamawy and Ethan Hawke also have quite solid supporting roles and the representation of the Egyptian gods catches the eye at times, although the fact that they may not be so familiar to the wider audience leaves them a bit on the side compared to the main action which consequently has a somewhat of a negative impact on the series and its potential future. I still hope though that the end of the second season of “Loki” is actually a hint for something related to “Moon Knight.”

Either way, the series comes and mainly wins with Oscar and all his different accents, manners, different costumes (the first one is top-notch, the second one is a bit Deadpool-style but in grey, yet it perfectly suits Steven) and everything is perfectly polished in the portrayal of the role so this should be reason enough for you to at least give it a chance.

2. „WandaVision

With new and winning initiatives in any direction, it often happens that the first production is among the most deserving and subsequently, the quality gradually diminishes but people continue to be interested and to use the service, the product, and whatever else you can think of, precisely because of this initial successful experience. For better or for worse, the case of MCU’s series is similar – the story of Wanda and Vision is definitely one of the best told in this format. Wanda Maximoff’s metamorphosis is truly amazing thanks to the best actress among the Olsen sisters and Elizabeth proves why she’s been entrusted with one of the strongest roles in the universe, both literally and figuratively.

The first few episodes might seem strange to some but for me they were something new, different and original, setting the atmosphere for the coming storm of events. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are a great duo ever since “The Avengers” days, the name of the series is original (definitely sounds better than “Vision and the Scarlet Witch” or something similar), the supporting actors also join in quite well and successfully develop their own stories which we even see on the big screen – not that much in “Captain Marvel 2,” which I already mentioned, but hopefully way more in the upcoming series about Agatha whose tune still occasionally gets stuck in my head. Not to mention that we finally saw Agatha Harkness in her true form which set the direction for “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” And although, looking back now, we didn’t see exactly what everyone expected from the unfolding of the multiverse in the mentioned film and the fate of Olsen’s character is unknown, the fact still remains that “WandaVision” certainly set a very high bar for all subsequent projects and it’s no coincidence that it finds its place as an almost unreachable peak in Marvel television productions to date.

1. „Loki”

And since I said almost unreachable, it was mainly because my personal favourite was undisputed even before I started writing this article. I can list many reasons, but here I’ll mention a few to give you an idea of why Thor’s brother and Odin’s son has officially become one of the best developed characters in the history of the MCU:

  • “Loki” is perhaps the only one or at worst one of the few series in the universe that have not been re-shot and everything was perfected the first time around.
  • This may partly be because the creators had a very clear idea of what story they wanted to tell and how to tell it and this is evident in the complete narrative cycle that unfolds and concludes within the two seasons.
  • The transformation of Loki, thanks to Tom Hiddleston, is remarkable and I can only take my hat off to how over the past 14 years he has turned the God of Mischief into the God of Stories, from the most memorable villain in “The Avengers” to the superhero who literally carries the multiverse on his shoulders. Or in a few words, into a hero who is beloved by everyone, no matter in what form or version he appears.
  • Another truly impressive thing for me was Owen Wilson’s transformation. I’m used to seeing him in careless comedies, and although he may be somewhat or even quite in a similar role here, Mobius is perhaps my favourite character among all the Marvel series and Wilson is the perfect embodiment of the character, managing to fully develop it in just a few episodes. The synchrony and connection between his character and Hiddleston’s is perhaps 80% of what makes the story so interesting.
  • The plot itself is different and not as dynamic compared to other Marvel productions but no less intriguing – in the first season we see Kang which sets the stage for all subsequent films and in the second we see more than a satisfying development of Loki’s story which can easily serve as the end of his saga, at least in this version. Supporting characters like Ravonna and Miss Minutes with their unique identities can only be a plus for any subsequent story that includes them and judging by the end of the season, I’m crossing my fingers for more to come.

P.S. There are certainly more things I could say but for this ranking I think this is enough information. However, it wouldn’t be my post if there weren’t any honorable mentions, so here’s the place to mention two or three more productions in the universe that you might want to add to your watchlists if you haven’t already. The reason some of them didn’t make it to the top is mainly because they feel more like one-off productions rather than full-fledged films or series:

– “What If” – the main (and perhaps the only significant) reason I have for not including this in the Top 5 is the fact that the plotlines in the individual episodes do not affect the main storyline in any way. However, this does not mean that all the individual episodes are not great in themselves and that they do not open the doors to many stories beloved by comic book fans which have not made it to the big screen (or at least not yet). Personally, I really enjoyed the second season as well and I’ll gladly watch them all over again, not only because of the art style but also because of those cool nods to the multiverse and the beautiful, even if short-lived, unveiling of the branches of the Marvel universe that are worth your attention.

– “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special” – I think I already mentioned the special Christmas episode of “Guardians of the Galaxy” in the review of the third instalment but I want to emphasize again that it’s almost a mandatory part of the series and not only is Christmas the perfect period for watching it, but it will also really help with your good holiday mood.

– “Werewolf By Night” – this is perhaps the most surprisingly high-quality production for me, partly because I wasn’t so familiar with the characters, but also because it not only made me more interested in them but also managed to show me that original and different productions can still find their place even in established formulas like that of the MCU. The black-and-white style and the slight horror elements of the special episode are a fresh breeze for comic book fans and the recently released colour version is just another reason to simply sit down and get to know more characters in the vast comic book world if the old-school feeling wasn’t your thing at the premiere.

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