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The Definitive Marvel TV Show Ranking

Ranking every TV series in the Marvel canon: from the ones you've heard of to the ones you probably haven't.

By Evan Romano, Milan Polk and Joshua St. Clair
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A decade ago, Marvel Studios was just starting to really figure out its universe on the big screen side. The Avengers was released in May 2012, and went on to gross more than $1.5 billion at the box office. Later that year, Marvel Television launched a spin-off series on ABC, Agents of SHIELD, which promised to pick up the pieces and prove vital to the big screen adventures that audiences were becoming so invested in. A couple years later, Netflix also launched its own small-screen universe that promised to intertwine with Tony, Steve, and Friends. None of this ever really happened, and by 2021, Marvel Television had gone bye bye.

In its place, Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige took over, launching a number of series on new streaming platform Disney+ that promised to be different; these shows would star big screen talent and truly, meaningfully, impact what happens in the movies. While WandaVision did lead into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the real impact has still yet to be seen. Without question, though, we've seen the level of small-screen star go up; Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, and Oscar Isaac have graced Disney's silver screen in just the last two years.

The latest entry in the MCU's TV canon is She-Hulk, which takes a rather unique approach. It's not like Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, or The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which largely served as, essentially, movies told in six parts. Instead, it comes as 9 highly-comedic, 30-minute episodes of legal dramedy with Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany) as the central figure. Marvel played with format previously in WandaVision (which created a reality where Wanda Maximoff and Vision could exist in a different sitcom style almost every episode)and What If...? (which took a quasi-anthology format for its animated tales), but She-Hulk is its first real attempt at either a procedural or a out-and-out comedy. But that's a good thing: Marvel is often at its best when looking at a very specific genre. Think the political thriller nature of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

2023 will see Marvel revert to old form on the TV side, albeit in a star-studded and quite promising way. We don't know what will come out when just yet, but Secret Invasion—based on the wonderful comic arc of the same name—looks to take a spy thriller-style approach, with Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury and Ben Mendelsohn's Talos the Skrull lead the way. And that's not to mention the fact that acclaimed, big-name actors like Emilia Clarke and Olivia Colman will also be part of the cast. The first half of 2023 also promises second season's for a few of the MCU's established hits—What If...? will continue its hypotheticals deeper into the ever-expansive universe, and Loki will continue to fly through time with Season 2, likely dealing with the fallout of the whole Kang the Conqueror situation.

But while Marvel is still promising a mix of changing the game and running back old favorites on the TV side, it's worth noting that other shows have done their jobs and done them well in the years before, even if the universal synthesis never quite happened. Some of these shows were great, and others, well, not so much. But that's why we're here.

So, without further ado, we give you every Marvel show, ranked from the bad—something called Helstrom—to the OK, to the very, very good.


Inhumans (ABC)


Nope! —Evan Romano

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Helstrom (Hulu)


You probably haven’t heard of this show. There’s a good reason why.

Helstrom was one of the final holdovers from the previously-existing regime of Marvel Television, which set up for tangential kinds of shows—like Helstrom here—to air on different channels. (Think of Hulu’s short-lived MODOK show.) The show had an abysmal 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, and seemed to just generally be a lame duck that never really had much of a chance to go anywhere. Doesn’t seem like we were missing all that much. —Evan Romano

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Iron Fist (Netflix/Disney+)

netflix iron fist tom pelphrey

I’m not quite sure whose idea it was to create a live-action version of an already controversial character, but Iron Fist exists as an unfortunate stain on the (tangential, Netflix-produced wing of the) MCU. One has to wonder if a higher up assumed the overwhelming love for, say, The Karate Kid, would transfer over to this white savior narrative. Centered around a white, wealthy New Yorker who becomes a Buddhist Monk and learns martial arts, Iron Fist suffers from a dragging plot, disappointing acting, and only succeeds in bringing to light superhero comics’ greatest weakness: historically appalling racial representation.

The series premiered not long after Tilda Swinton’s portrayal of the Ancient One in Doctor Strange, which drew similar ire for its questionable casting and lack of Asian representation. The show is just one example of the MCU struggling to find its footing as its brings to screen characters most casual Marvel fans have never heard of before (and for good reason). Danny Rand (played by Finn Jones) offers little intrigue for viewers, and is merely a bland and predictable vigilante. And although the show’s fight scenes are fun to watch, viewers have to wade through a dull plot to get to them. Iron Fist was an unforgettable mistake on Marvel’s part, one they hopefully won’t revive with a reboot or revival unless serious changes are made. —Milan Polk

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The Defenders (Netflix/Disney+)

the defenders

In an alternate universe, Netflix, much like the CW with its DC shows, would have its very own corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with four of their characters (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist) joined together in a superhero group called The Defenders, and likely other lesser-known characters brought to screen later. The Defenders was Netflix’s bold attempt to create their own team-up. But the show suffered from a lackluster villain, slow pacing, and a weak storyline.

Although the four Netflix-verse leads played well off of each other, it wasn’t enough to secure Netflix’s status as a second home for Marvel content. The show is only as strong as the sum of its parts, and using the disappointing Iron Fist villain The Hand as a central villain only brings down the best parts of the eight-episode series. It's a solid crossover, but in comparison to say, Daredevil or Jessica Jones, The Defenders isn’t nearly as enjoyable. —Milan Polk

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Runaways (Hulu)

runaways hulu

Hulu's Runaways was an earnest attempt to merge Marvel superheroes with coming-of-age teen drama. And while the comic its based on—with Vol. 1 written by Saga and Paper Girls scribe Brian K. Vaughan—is a stone cold classic, the show felt just a bit underwhelming.

The show has a fun concept—six teenagers simultaneously discover their own superpowers and discover that their parents are supervillains, becoming the titular Runaways. While it was technically set within the MCU, the connections were minimal—though there was a quick crossover with Cloak and Dagger, which we'll talk about some more in just a bit. —Evan Romano

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Luke Cage (Netflix/Disney+)

luke cage

Viewers and critics alike loved both seasons of Luke Cage. First introduced in Jessica Jones, Luke Cage possesses superhero strength and fights crime, mainly in Harlem. The show deserves praise for its strong cast (including Mike Colter, Rosario Dawson, and Mahershala Ali), plus its smart use of music in a show which handles race more than most MCU content.

Cage is a strong show on its own, but doesn't have quite the same intrigue as some of the newer entries on this list. —Milan Polk

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What If...? (Disney+)

marvel's what if
Marvel Studios

Fans of animated shows will find an easy watch with What If…?. But in terms of MCU importance... casual fans can take or leave What If…?

Voiced by most of the live-action Marvel cast (with a few notable exceptions, like Lake Bell from Harley Quinn moonlighting as Black Widow), What If…? is a fun alternative look at our favorite characters, like T’Challa as Star-Lord or how the Avengers and other heroes would deal with a zombie apocalypse. Most of the episodes resolve themselves within their 30 minute runtimes, although there’s an intriguing overarching plot throughout the series. The show’s lower ranking isn’t for its poor quality, but rather that it’s upstaged by more ambitious shows. We’re still rooting for What If…? and plan to tune into Season 2. Plus, it’s getting its own spin-off: Marvel: Zombies. How could you not be excited for that? —Milan Polk

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Cloak and Dagger (Freeform)

cloak and dagger

Freeform’s entry into the world of the MCU turned out better than you’d probably expect. Within the Marvel Comics, Cloak and Dagger—a teen duo with powers of dimensional travel/teleportation and a light sapping of sorts—tend to show up most often as utility players, useful members of the team that can help the Avengers or whoever out in a pinch. But their show on Freeform instead focused on the pair (played by Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt) gaining powers and discovering a kinship in one another.

The show featured exciting faceoffs with villains and fellow teens, and was probably the best coming-of-age type of youth hero-focused show yet. It only ran for two seasons and probably never got the following that Marvel bosses were looking for—but for now, and until we get whatever Young Avengers show or movie the MCU has been building towards, Cloak and Dagger is the standard for this sort of young hero story within the Marvel world. —Evan Romano

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)

agents of shield

Between the Darkhold showing up in WandaVision and Doctor Strange in the Muliverse of Madness, and a certain nickname-based twist in Hawkeye, ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may have officially become non-canon to the MCU. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fun ride while it lasted, right?

It’s hard to forget the excitement from summer 2012, when fans got the idea that maybe, just maybe Phil Coulson wasn’t gone for good. And it’s also hard to forget that the impact of his death—and what it meant for Tony Stark and the five other original Avengers—was numbed a bit when he wasn’t so dead after all. Still, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ran for seven seasons and those who stuck with the show didn’t regret that decision. —Evan Romano

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+)

sam wilson and bucky barnes sit opposite each other in a dark interview room as a woman sits behind a metal table watching them
Disney+//Marvel Studios

What we loved most from the Captain America franchise—along with its sincere good guy heart—were the fights. And we did get some of that. (The opening flight battle sequence is one of the coolest in any of Marvel’s shows, and the scene with the bloody shield—you know what we’re talking about—was like something out of The Boys.) But a couple of good fights does not a good show make. It needs that sincere heart.

And sure, it’s easy to make out what Marvel was going for here: they needed to pass the shield to Sam Wilson, while having him question the Captain’s historic identity as a white American. But while the series raises insightful questions of identity in the superhero genre, in the end, these themes felt more like performative gestures than hard truth pills. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier never felt bold enough to really go down those thematic roads, and instead, like other shows on this list, struggled to keep steam in its middle episodes as its heroes faced off against some pretty uninspiring foes. This one probably should have just been a movie. —Josh St. Clair

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Moon Knight (Disney+)

moon knight disney
Marvel Studios

With leads like Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke, Marvel probably thought they scored a True Detective Season 1 bombshell here (Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson kinda made movie actors turning to limited TV a thing). But even two stars couldn’t elevate this tonally confused series, which remained mired in middle episode quicksand and overly reliant on trippy sequences to reveal important character moments. (While it’s never a great filmic convention, WandaVision did do it much better).

Still, the series introduced some neurodiversity to the MCU (Isaac’s Steven/Marc has some form of Dissociative Identity Disorder), a new Arab superhero (Layla’s Scarlet Scarab), and some pretty inventive cut-to-black fight sequences. While it wasn’t quite the violent and dark entry we expected (and wanted!) from its comic origin, it’s still a solid series. Best for: a rainy day on a layover in London. —Josh St. Clair

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Agent Carter (ABC)

agent carter

Captain America catapulted Hayley Atwell and her character Peggy Carter to newfound fame with Marvel fans. The future S.H.I.E.L.D leader became a somewhat pseudo-superhero from her presence in the film, and as strong female representation which Marvel lacked in its first slate of MCU heroes beyond love interests and Black Widow.

Agent Carter expands upon the great MCU and S.H.I.E.L.D lore, with details like featuring James D’Arcy as Edwin Jarvis before he was commemorated as Tony Stark’s AI. Fans flocked to the first season, which, much like Netflix’s Marvel shows, deals with smaller New York-based conflicts that don’t have any major impact on the overall MCU canon. Season 2 took bigger risks, moving Peggy to Los Angeles, and even introducing a new love interest. The second season wasn’t nearly as solid as the first, and while it may have still been enjoyable television, the show wasn’t able to snag a renewal to redeem itself in Season 3. Agent Carter also had to compete with the more popular Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so we’ll never know where it may have gone next. Watch if you want to see more Peggy, but be prepared to say goodbye earlier than you'd like. —Milan Polk

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The Punisher (Netflix/Disney+)

punisher netflix trailer

Whereas the above Disney-helmed series struggle to fully commit to the dark tone of their comic source material, Netflix’s The Punisher never once held its punches. Maybe the most tonally real of any MCU or Marvel-adjacent property (Daredevil aside), the series actually gives an anti-hero center stage (which also makes it somewhat unique among Marvel adaptations.) Jon Bernthal puts in possibly the best comic-inspired performance of recent years as a traumatized Frank Castle. While the story drags a bit in places, it remains perhaps the most consistent multi-season Marvel property—and, therefore, one of the best shows to date. —Josh St. Clair

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Ms. Marvel (Disney+)

ms marvel, iman vellani as kamala khan
Marvel Studios

We're eagerly waiting to see more of Kang the Conqueror as the MCU's next main supervillain, but in the meantime, Marvel has already introduced us to a number of new superheroes, one of the most refreshing being Kamala Khan, AKA Ms. Marvel. The only teenage Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero outside of Spider-Man, Kamala’s origins touch on the fundamentals of what we love about many of the vigilante crime-fighters we’ve seen before: being an outsider (she’s a Pakistani-American muslim from Jersey City, rather than the white New York-based superheroes we already know), and fighting for what’s right even when it’s the harder choice to make.

The show has light-hearted moments and a bubbly, contemporary tone for much of the beginning of the six-episode season (see: the fun texting sequence between Kamala and her best friend Bruno). And while the middle episodes fall into more predictable action sequences and run-of-the-mill MCU fare, it’s the season 1 finale that really makes Ms. Marvel a must-see for any true Marvel fan, and why we’re excited to see more of Kamala in The Marvels. —Milan Polk

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Legion (FX)

legion fx

Legion is probably the most underrated Marvel show out there. It’s far and away the most prestige-y, mind-bendy, one-of-a-kind show on the list. Writer Noah Hawley (who runs FX’s crown jewel Fargo franchise) helms this show, which will make you re-evaluate everything you’ve seen on screen over and over and over again.

Not set within the MCU but within its own sort of alternate X-Men universe—main character David Haller (Dan Stevens) is technically a mutant—Legion also boasts a phenomenal cast of actors who we love to see in just about everything they’re in. That includes Stevens, along with everyone’s current Hacks favorite Jean Smart, Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement, Prey star Amber Midthunder, Fargo and Tokyo Vice’s Rachel Keller, Midnight Mass star Hamish Linklater, and a really fantastic turn from Aubrey Plaza. If there’s a show that you want to watch in a vacuum and really, really sink your teeth into, let it be Legion. —Evan Romano

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Hawkeye (Disney+)

hawkeye deaf hearing loss
Marvel Studios

Perhaps the least believable thing about Hawkeye is that anyone, with all the superheroes proven to exist in the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, would be a die-hard fan of Clint Barton. Nothing against being a cool spy with a special skill, but why would anyone stan so hard for a master archer when you’ve got guys in billion-dollar weaponized suits, a literal super soldier, and a giant green beast running around? Hawkeye’s greatest feat is making us not care about all that.

We believe why Kate Bishop (played wonderfully by Hailee Steinfeld) would be such a fan of Clint (Jeremy Renner), and the two have a natural chemistry that totally lives up to that in Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye comic run that inspired this series. The stakes are there, the action is smartly done, and making Clint hard-of-hearing (another big part of Fraction’s run) is a nice touch that makes the on-screen MCU more inclusive and also comic-accurate. Will we get Season 2? That much we don’t know. But right now, this may just be the most fun MCU-set TV series. —Evan Romano

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She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (Disney+)

daredevil and she hulk
Marvel Studios

We could call She-Hulk: Attorney at Law and Hawkeye it's own little mini-tier of "very good Disney+ Marvel series," with She-Hulk getting the ever-so-slight edge just thanks to the fact that it—in a rarity for a lot of TV these days—seems to remember that it is a TV show. That means that while there is an overarching story to the season, the show first and foremost is centered on establishing its characters through a series of episodes with standalone stories at their core. She-Hulk is Marvel's first real sitcom, and while it still sticks with many of those core Marvel values—action, cameos, teases, mystery—it's far more concerned with making sure we get to know the people who are most effected. And it doesn't hurt that the show can be pretty damn funny, too.

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Loki (Disney+)

loki sylvie jonathan majors
Marvel Studios

It was looking pretty grim for Loki for a minute there. After he died in the opening minutes of Avengers: Infinity War for what was the third—and presumably, final, for real for real—time, it seemed like that may have been an MCU wrap on ole Tom Hiddleston. But everyone was wrong! Some time-travel shenanigans in Avengers: Endgame opened the door for Hiddleston to lead his own standalone series on Disney+, and we're glad it happened: so far, it's the only live-action Disney+ original to have locked in a Season 2.

Loki delivered on just about every level. We knew what we were getting in Hiddleston's performance, but supporting turns from the likes of Sophia Di Martino and Owen Wilson (!) made this thing special, and special guest appearances from Richard E. Grant and Jonathan Majors made it magical. Between the time-travel, the action, the high stakes, and the aesthetic, this is one of the best things that Feige and company have done post-Endgame. —Evan Romano

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Daredevil (Netflix/Disney+)


Talk about brutal. Daredevil was the first entry in Netflix’s Marvel-verse, and established right from the start that this Marvel universe (theoretically related to the other one, yes, but I suppose we’ll find out more about that in the coming years) will go to dark places that we don’t see on the big screen. For one example, let’s remember Kingpin, played terrifyingly by Vincent D’Onofrio, decapitating a man with his car door just for a bit of perceived disrespect.

Let’s say it again: brutal. The fans love Netflix’s (and now Disney+’s) Daredevil, and that specifically goes for the main performances: Charlie Cox (who plays Matt Murdock/Daredevil and made his MCU return in Spider-Man: No Way Home) and D’Onofrio are returning for 2024’s Daredevil: Born Again because, well, let’s be honest—there would probably be a fan uprising if they didn’t. —Evan Romano

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Jessica Jones (Netflix/Disney+)

krysten ritter
David Giesbrecht/Netflix

The best Netflix Marvel series by far is Jessica Jones. Netflix’s adaptations shined in their gritty, mature tones and Jessica Jones embraced that mood completely—consider the disturbing, unhinged villain Kilgrave (expertly played by David Tennant), or the slow reveal of Jessica’s dark and twisted past. Kirsten Ritter stars as the moody and traumatized Jessica, who–no matter how far she runs from it–reluctantly plays the part of superhero each season.

The show constantly questions what it means to be a benevolent vigilante, and Jessica has to face the guilt that cultivates with every difficult decision she has to make, both as a superhero and detective. There’s also little to nothing family-friendly about the show, from its raunchy sex scenes to the superpowered violence, but Marvel and Disney would be foolish not to bring back one of its best-adapted characters after her wrongful cancellation, even if it’s just to appear in the upcoming Echo or any of the other New York-based MCU tales. —Milan Polk

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Headshot of Evan Romano
Evan Romano

Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn’t.

Headshot of Milan Polk
Milan Polk is an Editorial Assistant for Men's Health who specializes in entertainment and lifestyle reporting, and has worked for New York Magazine's Vulture and Chicago Tribune.
Headshot of Joshua St. Clair
Assistant Editor

Joshua St Clair is an Assistant Editor at Men's Health Magazine. 

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