Julien Neaves, Editor
So you’ve finished Marvel Cinematic Universe series WandaVision and you want something to scratch that Marvel TV itch before The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premieres this Friday. Well here are six great shows that should remedy that situation (as well as two that you should avoid like the plague).
And just a couple caveats—I am only doing live action modern shows, so there will be no 1970s The Incredible Hulk nor X-Men the animated series. With that out of the way and a SPOILER ALERT for WandaVision let’s get to the list.
Avoid #2 Iron Fist
Let’s get the bad out of the way first. There are six different Netflix MCU series (well, the shows have mild references to the MCU films, but nothing significant) and a whopping 13 seasons so that is a lot of content for Marvel fans. But the series Iron Fist is easily the bottom of the barrel. Actor Finn Jones is horribly miscast as Danny Rand and delivers a wooden, somewhat whiny performance.
The first season is a terrible bore with lacklustre action that is just saved from abysmal by Jessica Henwick as the butt-kicking Colleen Wing and David Wenham as unhinged villain Harold Meacham. The second season is an improvement but the show still never reaches higher than mediocre. So I really can’t recommend this one for anyone other than Marvel completionists.
Avoid #1 The Inhumans
Iron Fist has major issues but it I would rewatch it a hundred times before subjecting myself to ABC’s Inhumans again. The Inhumans comic characters are some of the coolest in all of Marvel but this misguided series sucks all the life out of them. The acting is bland, the effects are laughable, the plotting is lazy, and the action is a steaming pot of weak sauce. Game of Thrones Iwan Rheon is the one redeeming factor as big bad Maximus but that’s about it. Do yourself a favour and skip this crapfest. With those two stinkers out of the way let’s get to the good stuff.
Binge Honourable Mention—Legion
I only watched the first episode of this quirky FX show about the titular telepath so I can’t recommend it outright. But WandaVision was a pretty unconventional superhero series and if you want more super powered weirdness then Legion definitely delivers.
Binge #6 Cloak and Dagger
WandaVision was a very character-centric series and the same can be said for Cloak and Dagger. Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt are pitch perfect in their roles as the titular characters and they carry the series well. And the special effects for their respective powers are very well done. This two-season Freeform series is a bit of a slow burn drama with a light action focus (also like WandaVision) but I found it a rewarding watch.
Binge #5 The Gifted
So with the revelation that Wanda was born with her Scarlet With abilities does that make her a mutant? Is she going to be the gateway for the X-Men and other mutants into the MCU? I really have no idea. But if you are looking for a fantastic X-Men spin-off do check out the under-the-radar Fox series The Gifted.
The show follows a family with two mutant children who are on the run from the government and join forces with a mutant underground. This one has some great performances, really awesome action, and some very cool versions of comic characters including Polaris and Blink. Sadly The Gifted was cancelled after two seasons (Fox does love to cancel genre shows) but I definitely recommend it for a mutant-powered good time.
Binge #4 Runaways
The comic book series Runaways is about a group of teenagers who realise their parents are supervillains and then go on the run. Most of the teens also have special abilities including a witch, one with light-based powers, and another with a pet dinosaur. It does not sound like it would translate easily into a TV series but Hulu truly delivered.
Runaways is just a blast with its awesome cast, clever writing, offbeat humour, fun action and strong character-driven storytelling. And if you want another witch heroine then goth girl Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano) will cast her spell on you. And did I mention they have a dinosaur? How cool is that?
Binge #3 Agent Carter
If you liked that WandaVision was an unconventional comic book series with a strong female lead then may I present Agent Carter. This post World War II period spy series focuses on MCU character Margaret “Peggy” Carter and is unlike anything else in the Marvel library. Hayley Atwell returned to play the character she originated in Captain America: The First Avenger and she is witty, powerful and simply brilliant. James Darcy is also hilarious as her assistant Jarvis.
There are no superpowers here but you do have some Sci Fi and comic book plot threads. The show ran for two seasons and while the first is superior the second is also a good time.
Binge #2 Daredevil
Okay, I couldn’t find a way to connect Daredevil to WandaVision other than to say that they are both fantastic Marvel shows. And if Iron Fist is the nadir of the Netflix MCU then Daredevil is the zenith. Charlie Cox is casting perfection as blind lawyer-by-day Matt Murdock, vigilante by night Daredevil. If the MCU Powers That Be ever decide to recast this role then that would be a crime.
And speaking of crime, criminal mastermind Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin is played by Vincent D’Onofrio and his layered and chilling performance is easily one of the best of the MCU, whether television or film. These two roles are the highlights but the cast are all very good here. The writing is also inspired, the visuals stunning, and the action mind-blowing, with the Season 1 hallway fight being one of the best fight sequences in TV history.
While Jessica Jones may seem like the more obvious choice for this list as another strong, female-led series, the overall quality is inconsistent and the second season is simply dreadful. Daredevil, however, maintains its stellar quality throughout and the third and final season is simply a masterwork of television. You want a quality Marvel show then you need to visit the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.
PS I was admonished for leaving out Luke Cage (hey Derrick), which is a very solid series as well with a super cool lead and a blazing soundtrack, and The Punisher, which is an excellent action extravaganza led by Jon Bernthal in the best live action version of Frank Castle to date.
Binge #1 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Now I’ve seen a lot of chatter of Facebook Marvel groups about whether or not the show is canon to the MCU and the confusion understandable. Firstly, the main character is Agent Phil Coulson (the affable Clark Gregg) who appeared in the Phase I MCU films. Secondly, other film characters appear and film events are both referenced and impact the show (mostly in the earlier seasons) to varying degrees. But the films never reference the series so you have an odd, one-way canon or “canon adjacent” as I’ve seen it called.
But my advice would be not to worry too much about canonicity and just enjoy this awesome show. I LOVE me some AOS. The series has one of the most likeable main casts I have ever seen and the inclusion of several other comic book heroes and villains just warmed my heart. The writing is just overflowing with charm and creativity and the humour is snappy.
And you want action? Well AOS delivers hand-to-hand, weapon fights, gunfights, Sci Fi fights, magic fights and super power fights. And sometimes all in one scene! If you want a superb Marvel show as a second course after devouring WandaVision then I invite you to dine on the seven seasons of AOS and have three seasons of Daredevil for dessert. And don’t forget to tip your waitress.
So that’s my list. Did I miss any Marvel shows to binge? Or any fans should avoid? For my review of the WandaVision finale you can click here. Or for my ranking of all 13 Netflix MCU Seasons you can click here.
Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. I can also be found posting about TV and movie memes, news and trailers on Facebook at Movieville. And to stay on top of all Redmangoreviews articles you can like and follow us on Facebook here.