Which MCU movies and shows are most worth watching?
March 16, 2018 12:57 PM - Subscribe

With 200+ hours of footage in the MCU, not everyone has time to be a completist. Given that the MCU contains both hits (Black Panther, Jessica Jones) and stinkers (Incredible Hulk, Inhumans), which do you consider to be must-see vs. not worth it?
posted by Jacqueline to Marvel Cinematic Universe (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
SPOILER SCOPE: Since this is a recommendations post for people who haven't watched all the movies and shows yet, please avoid including major spoilers in your comments on this post. Thanks! :)
posted by Jacqueline at 1:23 PM on March 16, 2018

Helpful resource: MCU Viewing Order
posted by Jacqueline at 1:24 PM on March 16, 2018

If you gave up on Agents of SHIELD early on then I urge you to go back and watch it all from the beginning. It gets really good -- it's rated 95% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

It may have initially appeared to be a "monster of the week" show but it all builds up to something. There are also several tie-ins to the movies.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:02 PM on March 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

This is a complicated question! I feel like I'd have to have one list for the stuff I really like, and another of the "essentials" that lay groundwork for crossover shows/movies that are themselves worth watching.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:00 PM on March 16, 2018

As much as I enjoy Thor the character and bits of the canon, I can safely anti-rec any of it except maybe Ragnarok, but even then not for any particular completist reason.

That said I really should get into the TV side of MCU, I'm just not built to binge and I tend to forget to do appointment TV. Luke Cage is still the only one I've watched past the midpoint of s1.

If lore is important, however shaggy it is tho I love it too much as its own solo movie, then actually Iron Man 2.
posted by cendawanita at 7:58 PM on March 16, 2018

There's no relationship in any of the Marvel movies as interesting and entertaining as the one between Thor and Loki that runs through Thor 1, Avengers 1, and Thor 2 & 3. (Steve & Bucky exists almost entirely in the heads of the fans. Maybe Tony Stark and Peter Parker?) I wouldn't say the first two Thor movies are among the best of Marvel, but they are some of the most fun to watch. The climactic battle in Thor 2 is more inventive than most Marvel action climaxes. The Thor movies are the least afraid to really embrace their identity as comic book stories about people with awesome superpowers. And then of course Thor 3 is easily in the top 5 Marvel movies.
posted by straight at 8:39 PM on March 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

(My Top 5 in no particular order would be: Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Captain America: Winter Soldier, and Captain America: Civil War.)
posted by straight at 8:42 PM on March 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you gave up on Agents of SHIELD early on then I urge you to go back and watch it all from the beginning. It gets really good -- it's rated 95% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

I gave up about half-way through season 2. I guess that it wasn't terrible but it's so much more an ABC TV show than a Marvel show. After so many years of HBO, AMC, Netflix, etc, I just have so much trouble watching standard network TV shows, they just look so cheap and I hate the way that the narrative beats are designed around commercial breaks.
posted by octothorpe at 8:48 PM on March 16, 2018

I think I've watched everything except Inhumans. The only one I regret watching is Iron Fist.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:18 AM on March 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, Defenders is pretty skipable too.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:19 AM on March 17, 2018

I watched The Defenders because it was only 8 episodes and because Sigourney Weaver but it really wasn't worth the effect other than confirming my decision to bail on Iron Fist after the first episode of that series.
posted by octothorpe at 6:04 AM on March 17, 2018

Personal must sees if somebody is starting from zero and wants to catch up with the overall MCU story arc, chronologically arranged:

Iron Man (key character intro)
Thor (key character intro)
Captain America: The First Avenger (key character intro)
Avengers (first team up movie, intros baddie of Infinity War)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (possibly the best of the standalones, IMO)
Guardians of the Galaxy (key character intros)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (not as good as the first Avengers, but has crucial story threads)

Captain America: Civil War (sets up status quo going into Infinity War, soft intros for Black Panther and reboot Spider-man)
Thor: Ragnarok (lots of fun! Also explains where certain characters are during Civil War.)
Black Panther (key character intros, also a massive cultural milestone and really effing good.)

For me, the Captain America trilogy is the true throughline of the MCU franchise so far, with most of the other solo-character sequels being simple embellishments without that much forward motion on the overall meta-plot.

I don't regard any of the TV shows as being 100% essential, although Agents of SHIELD grows into its own fun thing that has varying levels of connection to the movies in the first few seasons, less so in later ones. Agent Carter (a spin-off of Captain America) is my sentimental fave and ties in wonderfully with the rest of the MCU in ways that even AoS doesn't -- it's well worth checking out if you have the time.

The individual Netflix series all suffer from pacing problems and could each probably afford to lose at least 3-4 episodes per season, but Jessica Jones and Luke Cage were both pretty enjoyable. I only recommend Daredevil if you have an appetite for maximum grimness. Iron Fist can be safely ignored.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:19 AM on March 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

Strange Interlude's list is actually pretty good, Iron Man 3 is a personal fave b/c Shane Black but it's inessential and lot of people hate it. Spiderman Homecoming is lots of fun, and has a good villain (which is an overall weakness for the series) but doesn't bear on the overall arc.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:55 PM on March 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

I think that the only two MCU films that I've missed were Incredible Hulk and Homecoming and I mostly agree with this list. The first Thor movie is pretty bad but I guess that it's necessary and it's at least better than the second one.

I still wish that we could have had more WWII era Captain America films. I loved the first one (and Agent Carter) and was annoyed that they pushed the fast forward button so quickly to move Steve Rogers into the present day. I know that they need him for the Avengers movies but I loved the 1940s setting.
posted by octothorpe at 7:36 AM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

After having seen A:IW over the weekend, I'm gonna go ahead and add Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spider-man: Homecoming to my Phase 3 list above (both following CA:Civil War), both of those provide some additional background for their respective characters that is important to their arcs in Infinity War.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:20 AM on April 30, 2018

Having seen Avengers: Infinity War, I can safely say that Civil War is non-essential if you saw Black Panther (and why in God's name wouldn't you?!). All I knew about it was the bare bones you'd get from a trailer (plus the detail of the ending that's also in BP) and didn't feel like I was missing anything.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:36 PM on May 21, 2018

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