Disney+ MCU live-action shows ranked

Every Live-Action MCU Disney+ Episode So Far, Ranked

January 15 marks the one-year anniversary of the first two episodes of WandaVision, which was the first Marvel Studios Disney+ series. Since then, four more shows set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been released onto the platform, and while the studio released a record number of movies in 2021, it was the Disney+ side of things that was really holding down the fort for the franchise.

The four live-action shows all had some excellent character work and epic moments that served as game-changers for the MCU’s scope and storytelling. Here’s our ranking of every WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, and Hawkeye episode that came out in the MCU’s first year of Disney+ programming.

27. ‘Hide and Seek’ (Hawkeye Episode 2)

MORE: Hawkeye Season 1 Episode 2 Recap & Analysis: ‘Hide and Seek’

The six-episode standard of Marvel’s Disney+ series has been a mixed bag. Sometimes a show would feel like it needed more episodes to properly tell the story it wanted to, while others, like Hawkeye, felt like they could have just been regular two-hour MCU movies. The show’s padding is most prominent in this episode, which feels like it could have just been condensed into a single premiere along with the previous installment.

26. ‘Never Meet Your Heroes’ (Hawkeye Episode 1)

MORE: Hawkeye Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Analysis: ‘Never Meet Your Heroes’

While we needed a decent chunk of time to get to know Kate Bishop before seeing her meet up with Clint Barton, this felt a little long and drawn out, with not much interesting happening. Again, the events of this episode should have been pared down and combined with “Hide and Seek.”

25. ‘Power Broker’ (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 3)

MORE: The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Ep. 3: Clues, Takeaways & Predictions

Out of all the shows on this list, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier tried to cram the most into its limited run. After an introductory episode and one setting up the main focus of the story, the show took a detour into Madripoor as the plot thickened. While it was very cool to see this city added to the MCU, throwing Zemo and Sharon Carter into the show didn’t add too much and ultimately ended up taking away from the main storyline even if it is setting up things for the future.

24. ‘Filmed in Front of a Live Studio Audience’ (WandaVision Episode 1)

MORE: WandaVision Episodes 1 & 2: Clues, Predictions & Takeaways

This episode’s staggering ambition (look up behind-the-scenes material from it) makes it troubling to put it so low on the list, but it’s hard to view it the way Marvel probably wanted people to when the whole thing was practically spoiled via promotional material from before the show even came out. The surprise had been more or less spoiled back in January and that déjà vu isn’t easy to shake upon rewatching. 

23. ‘New World Order’ (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 1)

MCU episodes ranked

MORE: The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Ep. 1 Clues, Takeaways & Predictions

Getting to check in on Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes and get more of a glimpse of how the world is doing after the Blip than we did in WandaVision is nice, but looking at The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as a whole, this episode definitely contributes to the show’s pacing issues. Most of the main plot doesn’t truly get started until the next episode, and with so many additions as the series later on this episode is left feeling like it’s wasting time that could have been spent on some of the many story threads that are rushed later on.

22. ‘One World, One People’ (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 6)

If the premiere of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was too meandering and slow-paced, the finale was too overstuffed and rushed. Some of the storylines being wrapped up didn’t get enough focus to evoke any powerful emotions, while ones that should have taken up the bulk of the show were sidelined in this finale (including that of the Winter Soldier, one of the show’s title characters). All in all, this final episode felt more like a piece designed to set up the future of the MCU than provide meaningful closure and wrap up the story at hand.

21. ‘Now in Color’ (WandaVision Episode 3)

RELATED: WandaVision Episode 3: Clues, Predictions & Takeaways

Of all the sitcom-focused episodes of WandaVision, this one was the least rooted in the spirit of its given decade, seeing as television in the 1970s was geared more towards workplace stories and shows based on families with older kids rather than babies. Still, the end of this episode is a true game-changer for the series, as we get our first confirmation of Wanda’s control over Westview as well as a glimpse of what lies outside.

20. ‘Breaking the Fourth Wall’ (WandaVision Episode 7)

MORE: WandaVision Episode 7: Clues, Predictions & Takeaways

This is probably the most forgettable episode of WandaVision, though the Darcy and Vision dynamic and Monica’s confrontation with Wanda are both excellent. It also does a good job emulating the docuseries style of 2010’s sitcoms. The clear standout here, though, is “Agatha All Along,” one of the most iconic moments of the entire series.

19. ‘The Series Finale’ (WandaVision Episode 9)

MORE: WandaVision Episode 9: Clues, Takeaways & Predictions

This episode is the definition of “whelming.” It hits all the beats you expect it to and doesn’t really give you any more or less. It’s a satisfying, if not particularly exciting conclusion to the show, though Marvel really shot itself in the foot by doing another Iron Man 3 Mandarin-style reveal on purpose.

18. ‘So This Is Christmas?’ (Hawkeye Episode 6)

MORE: Hawkeye Season 1 Episode 6 Recap & Analysis: ‘So This Is Christmas?’

While Echo’s Hawkeye storyline probably should have concluded the week before (she’ll have plenty of time to shine in her own Disney+ series) the rest of this finale is pretty solid, especially that emotional confrontation between Clint and Yelena. Black Widow fans may have had to wait two and a half years after her death in Avengers: Endgame to get the true closure and catharsis they were waiting for, but they finally got it here.

17. ‘Echoes’ (Hawkeye Episode 3)

MORE: Hawkeye Season 1 Episode 3 Recap & Analysis: ‘Echoes’

After many viewers were ready to quit upon seeing Hawkeye’s dull first two episodes, this huge jump in quality was a welcome surprise. Highlights include Echo’s backstory, the car chase featuring some awesome trick arrows, and the emotional phone call between Clint and his son Nathaniel with translations from Kate.

16. ‘Partners, Am I Right?’ (Hawkeye Episode 4)

Hawkeye Season 1 Episode 4 Recap & Analysis: ‘Partners, Am I Right?’

MORE: Hawkeye Season 1 Episode 4 Recap & Analysis: ‘Partners, Am I Right?’

It was nice to see the Disney+ series that had been touted as a Christmas show finally start to feel like one, and it was even more awesome to see Yelena make her highly anticipated return here, even though it wasn’t until the next week that we really got to catch up with her.

15. ‘For All Time, Always’ (Loki Episode 6)

MORE: Loki Season 1 Episode 6 Recap & Analysis: ‘For All Time. Always.’

Even the best of this year’s MCU show finales had its issues, namely that a lot of the focus is taken off the main characters in favor of introducing Kang variant He Who Remains and explaining how the multiverse works. It’s great that Marvel gave this character the time he needed, but the episode could have used a few more scenes focused on the characters we’d come to know and love by this point. That said, what little we do see of them, particularly Loki and Sylvie, does a fantastic job showing how far they’ve come, and how much farther they have to go.

14. ‘Lamentis’ (Loki Episode 3)

MORE: Loki Season 1 Episode 3 Recap & Analysis: ‘Lamentis’

Loki was the most well-paced MCU series of the lot this year, but this episode admittedly does feel a little slower than the rest. It serves its purpose of allowing Loki and Sylvie to bond, but the lack of TVA drama and shenanigans make it feel as though it’s missing something.

13. ‘We Interrupt This Program…’ (WandaVision Episode 4)

RELATED: WandaVision Episode 4: Clues, Predictions & Takeaways

After three episodes heavy on old-school sitcom shenanigans and light on the building drama, WandaVision takes a sharp turn in its fourth episode by starting off with Monica Rambeau’s return from the Blip and discovery her mother has died and proceeding to show the events of the previous three episodes from the point of view of those investigating what’s been going on in Westview. The grand returns of Randall Park’s Jimmy Woo and Kat Dennings’ Darcy Lewis brought some good laughs to this opposite point-of-view episode that set the stage for the remainder of the series.

12. ‘Ronin’ (Hawkeye Episode 5)

MORE: Hawkeye Season 1 Episode 5 Recap & Analysis: ‘Ronin’

Yelena Belova is the clear star of this episode; her return from the Blip gave us an even better perspective on what that was like for the snapped than WandaVision did with Monica, and her dinner with Kate was a lot of fun. Basically, any time with this character is a good time, and she’s sure to be a standout once again wherever she shows up next.

11. ‘The Whole World is Watching’ (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 4)

MORE: The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Ep. 4: Clues, Takeaways & Predictions

The incorporation of Bucky’s time in Wakanda into the story was one of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s most underrated aspects. This episode allows us to see the moment in which he discovered he was finally free of his trigger words, as well as a fast-paced fight scene with the Dora Milaje battling John Walker and Lamar Hoskins, culminating in the removal of Bucky’s arm for invalidating the Wakandans’ trust in him. Of course, this is also the episode known for that infamous scene in which Hoskins is killed and Walker subsequently beats one of the Flag Smashers to death with the Captain America shield, forever adding a level of darkness to its legacy.

10. ‘Journey Into Mystery’ (Loki Episode 5)

MORE: Loki Season 1 Episode 5 Recap & Analysis: ‘Journey Into Mystery’

This adventure in the Void demonstrates just what it means to be a Loki Variant, gives us insight to Sylvie’s side of her budding relationship with Loki, and features that wonderful hug between Loki and Mobius. We also get to find out what would have happened had Loki survived Thanos’ attack in Infinity War courtesy of Richard E. Grant’s Classic Loki, and it’s not exactly the happy ending many fans felt “robbed” of at the time. Not bad for an episode with a setting inspired by the Teletubbies.

9. ‘All-New Halloween Spooktacular!’ (WandaVision Episode 6)

MORE: WandaVision Episode 6: Clues, Predictions & Takeaways

The Hex expands in this spooky episode of WandaVision, in which we get to know the “Pietro” who showed up on the doorstep the previous week, see Wanda and Vision in their classic comic costumes, and get a look at each of the twins’ power sets. But the scariest moment of all comes during the “commercial break” when it’s time to get snacking on “Yo-Magic” (a double meaning indeed).

8. ‘Don’t Touch That Dial…’ (WandaVision Episode 2)

MORE: WandaVision Episodes 1 & 2: Clues, Predictions & Takeaways

WandaVision is at its best when it’s utilizing the style and tropes of it’s era to enhance the story, and this Bewitched-inspired episode which sees Wanda and Vision performing in a magic show while the latter is malfunctioning does exactly that. We’d be remiss not to mention the big moment at the episode’s conclusion, when a simple “No” from Wanda rewinds time and changes the ending to what appears to be a happier one, complete with a mesmerizing change from black and white to color.

7. ‘Glorious Purpose’ (Loki Episode 1)

RELATED: Loki Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Analysis: ‘Glorious Purpose’

The stakes are raised for the MCU at large as the curtain is pulled back for us as audience members to reveal a place where Infinity Stones are nothing more than paperweights. Getting to explore the TVA and meet its staff is a lot of fun, and the dynamic between Loki and Mobius in the back half of the episode leads to a breakdown from the former which opens the door to a new beginning. This is the moment that elevates this episode beyond the typical exposition dump of a premiere and shows that if Loki can grow this much in the first hour of his series, he’s in for an unimaginable journey ahead.

6. ‘The Star-Spangled Man’ (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 2)

MORE: The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Ep. 2 Clues, Takeaways & Predictions

If “New World Order” feels like a prelude to the rest of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, this feels like the true first episode of the series. It wastes no time in reuniting our two leads, showing how John Walker is handling his new role as Captain America, and introducing the Flag Smashers as the main antagonists of the show. But there’s somehow still plenty of time for quieter moments like Sam and Bucky’s visit to Isaiah Bradley’s house and their dual therapy session with Dr. Raynor.

5. ‘Truth’ (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 5)

MORE: The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Ep. 5: Clues, Takeaways & Predictions

This episode is truly the heart of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Not only do we get to see more of Sam grappling with the shield and talking with Isaiah Bradley again as well as Bucky finally getting closure with Zemo, but we also see our two leads finally becoming a true team even if they still refuse to admit it.

4. ‘Previously On…’ (WandaVision Episode 8)

WandaVision Episode 8: Clues, Takeaways & Predictions

MORE: WandaVision Episode 8: Clues, Takeaways & Predictions

A journey through time to discover why Wanda Maximoff created the Hex provides us with a lot of context on why she is the way she is, from her love of sitcoms to the origin of her powers. There are also some great nods to previous projects (“I can’t feel you…”) and the comics (“And that makes you… the Scarlet Witch.”). The obvious highlight here, though, is the sequence in which Wanda discovers the decrepit town of Westview and turns it into an idyllic sitcom paradise via the pure power of her grief.

3. ‘The Variant’ (Loki Episode 3)

MORE: Loki Season 1 Episode 2 Recap & Analysis: ‘The Variant’

Loki was advertised as a crime thriller romp through time. While this episode is the only one that truly delivers on this premise, it provides more than enough of the goods to be extremely satisfying in that regard. Loki starts working for the TVA and gets to cause chaos in several different time periods, but there are also sections of the episode that make time for developing his growing relationship with Mobius. Of course, this makes it all the more difficult to watch him disappear through the Time Door at the finale, ending the installment on a massive cliffhanger.

2. ‘On a Very Special Episode…’ (WandaVision Episode 5)

MORE: WandaVision Episode 5: Clues, Predictions & Takeaways

More than any other episode, this lives up to the potential WandaVision’s premise of combining sitcom antics with superheroics held, and then some. Having this be the one to include the cheesy lesson about letting some things die matched perfectly with the heavy-handedness of public service announcements of the 1980s. But of course, Wanda can’t bring herself to live by her own morals, so we get a chilling scene in which she marches out of the Hex to throw a S.W.O.R.D. drone right back at the agents before turning them on their own leader.

The best scene of this episode comes towards the end when Vision is confronting Wanda and she rolls the credits on him to promptly end their argument. At the real end of the episode, we get the return of Evan Peters as “Pietro,” donned in an Uncle Jesse-style getup. This whole episode is just a masterclass in genre-bending.

1. ‘The Nexus Event’ (Loki Episode 4)

loki episode 4 recap and analysis

MORE: Loki Season 1 Episode 4 Recap & Analysis: ‘The Nexus Event’

Loki strikes a great balance between having an intriguing sci-fi plot with consequences for the MCU as a whole while never losing the characters and various relationships between Loki, Sylvie, and Mobius that are at the heart of the show. This episode does a wonderful job at combining these elements to create a gripping and emotional installment. The timeline nearly hits the point of no return because Loki and Sylvie begin to see the good in each other (similar to how Sylvie seeing her own potential for good is shown to cause her childhood Nexus event) and once they’re back in the TVA, Loki’s relationship with Mobius is ruptured at a time in which the former needs the latter to trust him more than ever.

The last 15 minutes of the episode are especially compelling; we get to witness multiple key steps in Loki’s growth as a character as well as in his relationships with both Mobius and Sylvie, as well as several bombshell moments that show there’s still so much more story to tell here. And topping it off with that final mid-credits scene shot with the swelling theme music makes for an absolute banger of an ending that leaves everyone wanting more.


Marvel and DC