MCU Phase 4 movies and shows were largely abysmal in 2021. Marvel brought us a ton of lazy and uninspired stories, but it did have a few gems as well. Here’s my ranking (and ratings) of all 9 MCU Movies & Shows of 2021!
9. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier | Too Atrocious to Grade
I’m blown away by how awful this series was. This was an utterly disgusting piece of filth. For some reason, the showrunners of this Captain America series decided to make a show about why the United States is the worst country in the history of the world and why terrorism is sometimes justified. Marvel is about bringing people — especially children — together with their colorful characters and exciting stories. This series shows me that Kevin Feige not only has no respect for the characters which made the MCU successful in the first place, but also that he has no respect for Stan Lee’s legacy. “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is likely the worst piece of superhero content I’ve ever seen. This series is poisonous, and the fact that a show glorifying terrorism and mass murder is on a streaming service for children frightens me.
8. Eternals | F
Before I saw this film, I intended on making an in-depth spoiler review/rant because of all the terrible buzz it was getting at its release, but once I saw it, I realized there were far too many plot holes, awful performances, poor direction, and baffling story choices to discuss in just one review. I’ll give a quick summary of the most significant issues I had with this film:
- Most of the runtime is spent introducing new, increasingly uninteresting/unlikeable characters, causing the story to drag.
- The CGI was laughably awful and the visuals were disappointing — Chloé Zhao is certainly talented, but some of her direction choices, such as the overuse of natural lighting, made it clear that she wasn’t the right choice to direct a superhero film. Other critics have already said this, but “Eternals” looks like “The Long Night” episode of “Game Of Thrones” Season 8.
- Every single character was unlikable. They were always crying or complaining. There’s only so much ranting about how terrible the human race is that I, a human, can take.
- The most glaring issue is that absolutely nothing in this film makes sense: Why does an overload of memories make Thena want to kill people? Why did the Eternals forget to search for Makkari, only to find her living on a ship underground for 500 years reading and eating 21st century chips? Why would the Celestials send a group of angsty beings to protect an entire planet against space monsters? Why didn’t any of the Eternals change their hairstyle for 7,000 years? Why was Dane Whitman/the Black Knight even in this movie?
Not only is “Eternals” the worst MCU movie (“Captain Marvel” has officially been dethroned). Not only is it one of the worst comic book movies ever made. Not only is it one of the worst movies of 2021. “Eternals” is, without exaggeration, one of the worst blockbusters in recent memory. One positive I will say, however, is that the film sometimes reaches “so bad, it’s good” territory.
7. What If…? | D
There’s not much to say about this unremarkable waste of potential. Of course, the Doctor Strange episode is amazing, but besides that, all the other episodes range from mediocre to some of the worst and most disrespectful MCU fluff yet.
6. Black Widow | D+
“Black Widow” is one of those movies you dislike more and more every time you think about it. It does have some redeeming qualities, such as the introduction of Florence Pugh’s Yelena and the awesome opening credits sequence, but overall it was massively disappointing. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow was one of the best MCU heroes, and it’s a shame that after waiting so many years for her to finally get her own solo film we’re given a formulaic, boring Marvel movie that’s needlessly large-scale. The fact that the script was written in only 11 days makes you wonder if the filmmakers ever even cared about the character in the first place.
5. WandaVision | C-
What’s frustrating about this show is that it has an exciting first half and an extremely boring second half. The show is at its best when you’re trying to figure out what exactly is happening in the sitcom world, as well as the scenes in which the tension between Vision and Wanda grows. But once the show shifts into action/CGI/soap opera territory, it plummeted. There were some outstanding performances and clever ideas, but it unfortunately ended up being a lackluster series due to MCU-isms and massive plot holes. It wasn’t a great start to MCU Phase 4.
4. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings | C-
Possibly the most overrated MCU movie of all time, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” was a waste of potential. The first 45 minutes of this film were actually terrific, especially because of the thrilling action sequences. But once the characters go to the villain’s base and then to the magical forest, the film lost me completely. It went from exciting action-thriller to boring, MCU fluff that used all of the MCU’s worst tropes. What makes this film watchable all the way through, however, is the villain Wenwu, played mastefully by Tony Leung. He was a relatable, intimidating, unstable, and imposing antagonist up there with some of the best MCU villains. If it weren’t for him, this film would be one spot lower on this list.
3. Hawkeye | C+
“Hawkeye” is fine. It’s just an average, forgettable series to me, but that’s high praise for something in MCU Phase 4. It has some memorable action sequences, charismatic leads (although Jeremy Renner clearly didn’t want to be there), and an incredible third episode, but it also has a messy tone, a boring story, and mostly uninteresting side characters (I can’t believe Echo of all people is getting her own series). Overall, it doesn’t do anything particularly amazing or terrible. On a side note, I wanted to address the upset among fans over the treatment of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin. While I love the Netflix “Daredevil” series, I don’t feel the same way as many other people since this version of Kingpin is clearly a drastically different interpretation of the character — the Netflix Kingpin could never live through an explosion! Just because the same actor played him doesn’t mean the two interpretations are the same; the Netflix version is (unfortunately) too mature of a character for Disney.
2. Spider-Man: No Way Home | B+
We’ve reached it: the first piece of quality entertainment on this list! In all seriousness, I really enjoyed this film. It has its fair share of plot holes and script issues, but overall it’s a satisfying and highly entertaining blockbuster which thankfully feels a lot more like a Sony film than an MCU Phase 4 film. If you want to read more of my thoughts on the film, here’s my review.
1. Loki | A
When Marvel first announced this series, I was disappointed. I thought Loki was given a satisfying ending with his death in “Avengers: Infinity War,” and I was tired of the MCU’s tendency of bringing back dead characters. But as soon as the first episode started, I was hooked. I absolutely loved “Loki,” and it’s easily the best of MCU Phase 4. It was a true diamond in the rough, as it felt completely different from everything else in the MCU. It was unique, original, and character-driven rather than spectacle-driven. The writers did a phenomenal job of deconstructing Loki; they explored the tragedy and psyche behind this deeply flawed character in a satisfying and fascinating way. Although he does go through a hero’s journey arc, he never becomes a true superhero like I was afraid he might become. The other characters were fantastic as well, especially Owen Wilson’s extremely charismatic Mobius M. Mobius, who had some terrific back-and-forth banter with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. But the 2 best aspects of the show were its dialogue and its shifting narrative. This show is at its best when characters are sitting in a room talking. For example, Episode 1 had that great interrogation scene between Mobious and Loki, and Episode 6 was almost entirely made up of (somehow) riveting expositional dialogue. I’m not saying this show’s dialogue was on the level of “Succession,” but it was exceptional nonetheless. As for the storytelling, what made it so interesting was that the plot changed every episode as new mysteries emerged, leading up to a mindblowing finale. Ultimately, while “Loki” did have a few plot conveniences here and there, it was still a dramatic, hilarious, entertaining, and well-written series that was some of the best MCU content yet.