As 2021 comes to a close, I’ve decided to take a look back at all of the incredible content Marvel has given us this year. Whether it was big theatrical experiences, attention-grabbing series on Disney+ or hilarious animated series on Hulu, Marvel gave us a lot to love in 2021.
But what was the best? We got 14 (15 counting Spidey and His Amazing Friends, but that will be left off of this list as I haven’t gotten a chance to watch it yet) Marvel projects this year and I’m going to do my best to rank them.
14 – Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Probably not a huge surprise here. Sony’s Spider-Verse has unsurprisingly failed to live up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe to this point (at least the live-action portion of it), and Venom: Let There Be Carnage followed that trend. There were some things about this movie to enjoy. Woody Harrelson as Cletus Kasady was a great choice and he was very enjoyable in the role. Overall though, the movie just felt like a rushed attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the characters. It did manage to leave fans excited as they left the theater though with a very exciting post-credits scene that tied a lot of things together.
13 – Behind the Mask
Marvel also brought us some documentary content in 2021 and Behind the Mask promised to take a deep dive on the concept of characters who kept their secret identities hidden. Unfortunately, it didn’t completely deliver on that promise. Still, it was an interesting watch and a beautiful look at the diverse and ever-growing tapestry that is the Marvel Universe. You can check out my review of the original documentary here.
12 – Hit Monkey
Believe it or not, we’re already getting into the really good stuff. Of all the things on this list, I think Hit Monkey is the one that surprised me the most. I enjoyed this animated Hulu original series much more than I expected to. The series wildly entertaining and hilarious, but it’s also gruesome and a big departure from what fans typically expect from Marvel. Jason Sudeikis steals the show and this is a great choice if you’re just looking for something fun and you’re not sensitive to some adult humor and animated gore. You can check out my review of the original series here.
11 – What If…?
Our first Disney+ original series on the list What If…? was another pleasant surprise. We weren’t quite sure what to expect here but what we got was an exciting, original story that introduced some very interesting concepts and unique versions of the characters we love. The anthology series even went as far as to shock us all by connecting its episodes in the end, giving us a very exciting couple of weeks. You can check out Ben’s review of the animated series here.
10 – Assembled
For a long time fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe would watch these incredible movies and maybe get some behind-the-scenes bonus features on the DVDs or Blu-rays when they hit stores. Now, thanks to this new documentary series, we can get so much more. These documentaries put an exclamation point on all of the new Disney+ series and Marvel’s films by letting us see how they were made. It also lets us get to know the actors who bring our favorite characters to life and see just how much work everyone puts into these incredible projects. You can find all of our reviews for these documentaries here.
9 – Black Widow
The first MCU film since Spider-Man: Far From Home, fans were waiting very impatiently for Black Widow for quite a long time. When it finally debuted on Disney+ in July, it delivered on just about everything we expected to be and in some cases, even more. Unfortunately, one of the things we expected was a prequel of sorts that was locked into the middle of a story. That meant we had a pretty good idea where this would end, which added some predictability to the film. Still, there was fare more good than there was bad, including a memorable twist to the villain and the introduction of Yelena Belova to the MCU. You can check out Ben’s review of the film here.
8 – M.O.D.O.K.
This is the first one on the list that actually surprises me in regards to how high it is on the list. The Hulu original animated series was one of the funniest things to hit TV this year, Marvel or not. Patton Oswalt delivers a M.O.D.O.K. you never knew you needed and the incredibly funny, star-studded cast around him takes it to the next level. On top of the hilarity, it is also loaded with Marvel Easter eggs and delivers a very well thought out story/ You can check out my review of the Hulu original series here.
7 – The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Admittedly, this Disney+ original series is actually a bit lower on the lest than what I had initially expected, as it was the series I was most looking forward to. The show was action-packed and a lot of fun. It showcased that trademark balanca of action, drama and humor that we’ve come to expect from Marvel. The only downside to the series is when you look back on the year, all of the others just seem to stand out a little bit more. Aside from John Walker’s murderous scene and Zemo’s nightclub dance moves, there aren’t too many moments that push this series higher up this list. You can check out my review of the Disney+ series here.
After Black Widow broke the long drought of MCU films, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings can really be credited with ushering in the next generation of heroes. Simu Liu proved that he can be the next big Marvel star as this film brought us some incredible, unique action and a great original story. This beautiful film showed us that, even with the long list of movies they’ve already given us, Marvel can still give us something we’ve never seen before. You can check out my review of the film here.
5 – Eternals
I know this is the unpopular choice, but I am placing Eternals one spot ahead of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Both were great but Eternals seems to have a bigger impact on the entirety of the MCU. The introduction of celestials, the Black Knight and Eros lay out a lot of future stories for Marvel. On top of that, the star-studded cast delivered some incredible performances and gave some brand new characters to love. You can check out my review of the film here.
4 – WandaVision
A lot of people may have this higher on their list, and to be honest, these top 3 Disney+ series are more or less interchangeable as they were all amazing. WandaVision kicked off 2021 in a big way, giving us something unlike anything we had ever seen before. The journey through television history was stunning to watch week in and week out and it still managed to give us a quintessential Marvel story, setting up some exciting things for the Scarlet Witch. It also gave us one of the biggest moments of the year, with the introduction Evan Peters as Pietro (even if he didn’t end up really being Pietro). Check out my review of the series here.
3 – Hawkeye
Recency bias might play a bit of a factor here with this one as Hawkeye just wrapped up last week, but that doesn’t change the face that this series was just a whole lot of fun. Kate Bishop is everyone’s new favorite character and Hailee Steinfeld brought the character to life perfectly. A Marvel series with a holiday twist was nice to see and the continuation of Clint Barton’s story was something a lot of fans probably didn’t know they even wanted. It also set up the future Echo story and gave us some other very interesting Marvel characters, even if we didn’t necessarily see everything we wanted out of them. Check out Ben’s review of the series here.
2 – Loki
The tiebreaker here is the impact this series will have on the MCU. The time travel element not only made this series a whole lot of fun, but it also opened up some big possibilities for future stories. The introduction of “He Who Remains” was one of the most exciting moments of the year and made for probably the best season finale of the bunch. Tom Hiddleston reprising his role as this beloved character made this series an instant fan favorite and the talented cast they put around him took it to the next level. Check out my review of the series here.
1 – Spider-Man: No Way Home
No surprise here. If this list had been made at the start of the year, Spider-Man: No Way Home probably would have been in this spot. There were a lot of expectations for this movie, many of them seemingly unrealistic, and it still delivered on all of them. This was a theatrical experience unlike anything we’ve seen since Avengers: Endgame and it may have even surpassed that. This is one of those movies that people will remember when they saw it and almost everyone will have a story to share from their experience. No question this was the biggest splash Marvel made this year, as box office numbers will reflect. Check out Ben’s review of the film here.
2021 was a huge year for Marvel and 2022 is set up to be just as big. You can watch most of these Marvel projects on Disney+ or Hulu now.
Mack is the Editorial Director for Marvel and ESPN content and he has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.”