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Ranking the Disney Plus Live-Action MCU and Star Wars Series


I have failed this site when it comes to smothering it with reviews. My ambitious goal was to review each of the big Star Wars and MCU Disney Plus exclusive series, because each was promoted like major events. In the case of MCU, they now have a direct impact on the entire universe leading to major events in the movies. As for Star Wars, there isn't even an announced release date for the next movie, so this appears to be the future of how to enjoy that galaxy for now.

While I dropped the ball on reviewing each series outside a few episodes of The Book of Boba Fett, I have seen each series and I even vaguely remember a few too! It should be noted that I found something to like in each of them, even if quite a few of them felt like the story may have been better with some editing and pruning into a focused feature-length film instead.

Some were much stronger than others, but they are proving to be strong draws for Disney Plus, so they will keep being crafted. I decided that I would rank each of the original live-action Disney Plus Star Wars and MCU series, along with a few thoughts on each. Why just the MCU and Star Wars series, because that is all I've seen. So, you will need to go elsewhere to find out where the High School Musical series lands.

I am well-aware my rankings will probably be very different than where most other readers landed with stuff. That is the fun of discussing movies, because we have different opinions. I did enjoy a lot from each of these series, so even the lower ranked shows had something to offer. I ranked it from my least favourite to the absolute best series.

9. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: I enjoyed the arc of Falcon (Anthony Mackie) passing on taking on the role of Captain America, then finally coming to terms that he must become him. The chemistry between Mackie and Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier) was electric, and they really felt like a throwback to the two guys who were thrown together and need to put up with each other but slowly bond and respect each other. There were some interesting themes explored like how being in the spotlight brings different responsibilities based off race. We also have an intriguing character in Isaiah Bradley, the African American super soldier, who was mistreated by the government unlike Steve Rogers who got to be a hero. There were complicated characters who rode the line of villains at times and sympathetic at other moments with Wyatt Russell's Captain America who couldn't deal with the pressure of being a hero, the Flag Smashers first appear to be villain but have strong motives, and Emily Van Camp's Sharon Carter who felt forced into becoming a crime boss. There were so many aspects here that were engaging, but I kept feeling it would have all landed better if they went into the editing room and trimmed things down into a focused movie. There just felt like so much filler to justify it as a series. My theory is many of them are series so they could justify a TV budget rather than a MCU tentpole budget.

8. Moon Knight: I love Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke, and most reader know I love trippy and bizarre movies, so I had assumed I'd adore this series. Isaac is really great as Marc Spector and his various other personalities. and he really nails making each of his characters feel like different people. I do enjoy that a superhero series dares to weave in an exploration of mental health into the storytelling. Hawke's character is underwritten and felt like a generic cult villain type. The crazy stuff like the hippo guide was fun, and the delving into a twisted version of Egyptian mythology and gods was fascinating, but I never got hooked into the story. It has lots of colourful moments and intriguing creatures, but despite the good performance, I never cared about Specter or those in his life. It was a series of intriguing scenes that never quite found a journey that immersed me. But the boldness and willingness to try unique ideas is what kept me watching it. I feel like Everything Everywhere All at Once demonstrates how you go trippy while packing it with real emotion.

7. Hawkeye: I can already hear a few listeners screaming that even at seven that I went too high with this series, because my impression is that not many liked this one. I thought Hailee Steinfeld was great as the excitable and adventurous fangirl Kate Bishop. She had an incredible rapport with Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye, and it captured the buddy action-comedy vibe perfectly. The downside is the villains were generic, and the return of Kingpin fell flat. Plus, the late in the series twist was something I called in the first episode, so it felt dragged out to take so many episodes to get to that reveal. I enjoyed spending time with the two leads, and so that allowed me to look past the weaker elements. Of course, we had the return of Florence Pugh's Yelena with a payoff to what was set-up in the Black Widow stinger, and we can always use more Pugh.


6.The 
Book of Boba Fett: I really dug the stuff with Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) rescuing himself from the sarlacc, then becoming a part of the Tusken Raiders tribe. The relationship with Fett and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) was fantastic, and I liked that it was built on respect and it was great to see it grow over the series. But the Fett rising as a crime lord was muddled with the constant hopping around in timelines, and the evil corporation just wasn't a very engaging villain. Also, I love The Mandalorian, but the two entire episodes devoted to him would have been better served in his own series, since it was a payoff to that show's story, and poor Boba had to take a two-episode vacation from his own show that often didn't feel like it was about him. The odd decision added to feeling disconnected to his arc and the bigger storyline. This is another example of a series that would have benefited from being tightened up and turned into a big budget movie. It has some interesting ideas, but it lacked a solid focus. It did cap off with a high-octane finale that established the Boba Fett that I wanted to see for most of the series and was good enough to elevate the whole thing on the list.

5. Loki: This is the first where it really feels like the story and character arcs needed it to be a series to be told properly. It does a few bizarre twists that Marvel Studios would be nervous for a theatrical release, plus there is enough story to need multiple episodes to flesh it all out, The biggest issue with this one is the world-building of the MCU starts getting more convoluted with this series, as it leaves the viewer scratching their head in how the Time Variance Authority fits in with all the multiverses and parallel universes established in other movies and series. Also, the rather talky finale leads to an explosion of multiverses that never got followed up on in proceeding shows and movies. One of the biggest joys is the Loki variants with the most crucial one being Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), but you can't ignore the alligator Loki (that makes one wonder if that timeline is all populated with alligators or did Odin adopt an alligator for his son). The series has several colourful locales and fun settings, and time hopping is always a soft spot for me. There is a sweeping scope to this series, even if it at times it meanders like most of the other MCU series suffer from doing. The supporting cast shines with Gugu Mbatha-Raw leaning into complicated villain role, and Owen Wilson plays a fun partner to Loki as they try to solve the mystery.  


4. Obi-Wan Kenobi:
Like most series on this list, the story would have been stronger and have more impact if it were a movie, because there was some repetitiveness and feeling of dragging thing outs to reach 6 episodes. But there was also a lot to like, including a powerful performance from Ewan MacGregor as a broken-down Kenobi who has lost much hope and mostly abandoned his life as a Jedi. I loved the twist that it was about Kenobi trying to save and protect Leia, and Vivian Lyra Blair brings a great amount of charisma, attitude, and confidence to embody the legendary character. The reality is that despite what George Lucas claims, he didn't even know Darth Vader was Luke's father until deep into writing Empire Strikes Back, so he definitely had no clue how Leia fit in until they got to Return of the Jedi (Luke was to have a twin sister, but it wasn't likely planned to be Leia when Empire Strikes Back was released). This means poor Leia was done wrong in the original series because there was no attention to her force powers or much concern from Kenobi or Yoda. This series fixes that a bit with Kenobi being reminded Leia is just as important, and we discover why Leia would have trusted Kenobi with the plans in A New Hope. He has helped her before. Moses Ingram is a talented actor, but her character was disjointed with an overly complicated revenge plot, so she never really got a chance to properly shine. The big showdowns with Kenobi and Vader were epic, and it did a good job fleshing out their history and explaining why Kenobi lost hope in his former friend. There is a lot of drama and nuance along with some great action sequences, and even though it likely would have been tighter as a movie, since Leia did not need to be kidnapped twice to drag it out, it was a solid addition to the galaxy.

3. Ms. Marvel: This had potential to be my number one, and I adored the first half of the series. Iman Vellani is captivating in the lead role as Kamala Khan, as the superfan of Captain Marvel. It is fantastic to have a look into American Pakistani culture and a Muslim family as the focus of the series allowing for a fresh take in the superhero TV realm. Vellani plays off great with her family and it feels authentic and sincere. There are some fun supporting characters like her friends Bruno Carrelli (Matt Lintz) and Nakia Bahdir (Yasmeen Fletcher). I love the passion from Vellani and how living her dream can also be a challenge as she isn't perceived as a typical hero. There is so much love and joy in the series, and it is part character-driven coming-of-age high school dramedy with some big superhero moments tossed in. The biggest downside is the villains trying to capture her other superpowered friend Kamran (Rish Shah) are very generic and feel forced in order to add conflict. The final reveals in the post credits are intriguing with many possible story directions, and Ms. Marvel has potential of being one of the most interesting new characters in the MCU.

2. WandaVision: This set the bar of what a MCU series could be by being willing to feel more experimental and take chances that aren't in the big movies, but no other series really attempted to be as distinct as this one. I loved the first few episodes that did not hold the viewers' hands and were bizarre versions of classic sitcoms. It patiently built towards the reveals and then became a deep study into mental health and dealing with loss. Of course. there have been some criticisms that this series had to be seen to appreciate Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but it is also one of the best TV series of the year. Elizabeth Olsen displays her amazing range from being able to offer up comedy, deep emotional drama, and become a tough action star. It is one of the most complicated heroes as she both is the cause of great torment but the one to also try to save the town. It expertly manages several genres, and is one of the most unique shows that I've ever seen. I wish we could get more MCU entertainment like this daring series.

1. The Mandalorian: Of course, this would be my number one. This was a pure love letter to the original trilogy of Star Wars with one of the most adorable sidekicks ever in Grogu. It is also the series that was the most cinematic with great special effects, sweeping action sequences, a great collection of various characters, and many immersive worlds to explore. There was no sign of corners cut here compared to some of the other series, and it captured the atmosphere and vibe of what made the original trilogy so classic. It is a space Western with tones of mythmaking with a lone gunmen going on an actual journey that is also an emotional and internal one as he grows to develop a bond with Grogu. Pedro Pascal embodies the Mandalorian and finds a great balance of being an emotionally detached warrior who truly has a soul and heart. The first season is one of my favourite things done in the Star Wars universe, and while I did not find the second season as strong, I cared about the leads, and yes, I got teary eyed in the finale.

What is your favourite Disney Plus series?

Comments

  1. Anonymous7:26 pm

    I relly liked everything about Ms. Marvel except for every single baddy. Both the Jinn and the DODC really didnt feel believable or threatening in opposition. Otherwise it was super fun

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ms Marvel was terrific, and I loved how it explored characters and family in a very different way than other MCU series. I never read the comics, but the series has made me a Ms Marvel fan.

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