Although they’re what everyone is talking about these days, 2021 was not the first time that the MCU entered the world of television. Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Cloak & Dagger, Agent Carter, and the various Netflix series were all technically part of the universe but the issue was that they rarely connected to anything.
Movie characters almost never appeared and events from the films had little to no impact on the shows. So, when Disney+ announced it was debuting shows as part of Phase Four, some fans had doubts. Thankfully, these big-budget series have already proven to be important to the MCU’s past, present, and future.
Updated on October 24th, 2022, by Kevin Pantoja: When you consider the history of the MCU to this point, a show that is a legal comedy doesn’t sound like it would be that important to the rest of the franchise on paper. However, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law proved to mean a fair amount to the MCU thanks to the introduction of new characters, the return of others, and cameos from notable names in Marvel Comics history. Where it stands compared to the rest of the Disney+ MCU shows though is another thing.
8/8 Moon Knight
It’s pretty clear that Moon Knight is the least connected of any new Disney+ series. It’s basically a standalone story that so far, hasn’t been mentioned in any other property of the franchise. Although the tale had a lot of lore on Egyptian gods, they weren’t even seen in passing with other gods in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Of course, that doesn’t make the show less impactful as the look at Marc Spector’s tragic history and the fights involving the actual Moon Knight persona were great to see unfold. For now though, it still just feels like the only thing in the MCU that can be skipped without the viewer really missing anything connected to the rest of the franchise.
7/8 What If…?
On paper, it didn’t seem like What If…? would matter all that much. It is the MCU’s first animated series and features versions of beloved characters from alternate universes. However, the events of various Phase Four stories have made it so the multiverse has been introduced, allowing this series to actually be somewhat relevant.
While audiences may never see party Thor, Thanos as something of a hero, or Hank Pym as a murderer outside of the show, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a different story. That film featured the incredibly powerful version of Strange who debuted in What If…? as well as Captain Carter. It proved that the show matters at least a little bit and the upcoming Marvel Zombies series may add to that.
6/8 The Falcon And The Winter Soldier
In a lot of ways, the entire point of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was to set up and establish the new Captain America. Sam Wilson finished the series by officially taking over and with news that a fourth Captain America film centering on him is on the horizon, that makes this show a vital one to complete.
The show also managed to introduce some pivotal characters like John Walker and Isaiah Bradley, as well as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine who seems to have major plans for villains going forward including Walker, in Thunderbolts. There’s also Eli Bradley, who could be part of the Young Avengers if that happens. Add in Sharon Carter as the Power Broker, the strengthened connection between Bucky and the Wakandans, and more from Baron Zemo and this certainly matters.
The delightful Hawkeye might not seem like it’ll have huge implications since it’s a much smaller story focusing on street-level crime rather than having a plot that will change the world going forward. Despite that, Hawkeye has done some huge things.
For starters, it has added to the importance of what Clint Barton’s time as Ronin meant and how the Blip and loss of Natasha impacted him. Most notably, this show marked the debut of Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop, who is already a fan favorite and if the Young Avengers do happen, she will likely be a member. There’s also the deeper exploration into another fan favorite in Yelena Belova and of course, the appearance of Kingpin, who was a vicious villain in Daredevil, which is returning to the MCU.
Wanda Maximoff seemed like a character who got shafted in her film appearances but WandaVision helped fix that. Elizabeth Olsen gave a powerful performance that really shined a light on the grief that she was feeling after losing her brother, Vision, and by the end of this story, her children as well. Establishing her as the Scarlet Witch is massive and played a huge role going forward, including in the Doctor Strange sequel.
It sets her up as the strongest character in the franchise. Many fans expect the return of Billy and Tommy at some point, while this series also brought back old supporting characters (Darcy and Jimmy Woo) and made viewers love Monica Rambeau, who will be in The Marvels. Even Agatha Harkness is getting her own show because of WandaVision.
3/8 Ms. Marvel
Similar to Hawkeye, it didn’t seem like Ms. Marvel would impact the greater MCU all that much thanks to the relatively small scale of it all. The main connection was the introduction of the incredibly likable Kamala Khan, who is indeed already slated for an appearance in The Marvels. The post-credits scene even saw the return of Carol Danvers for a quick clip.
The biggest thing that Ms. Marvel did came a little before that scene though. As Bruno revealed that there was a mutation in Kamala’s genes, a familiar musical cue hit, clearly indicating that Kamala is a mutant. This is meant to give the first true hint at the X-Men joining the franchise at some point.
2/8 She-Hulk: Attorney At Law
For starters, introducing Jennifer Walters to the MCU was a pivotal move and Tatiana Maslany’s charismatic portrayal should lead to her being a welcome addition to future films and TV shows. Thankfully, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law refused to stop there and had more tricks up its sleeve.
The inclusion of beloved existing characters like Wong gave it a connection to other projects but things really took off when Daredevil showed up. This fully connects him to the MCU and establishes his relationship with Walters. Plus viewers got the chance to see Hulk show up on Earth with his son Skaar, setting up his future storylines.
As soon as the heroes started messing with time in Avengers: Endgame, it changed everything. That film saw Loki steal the Tessaract and basically branch off into his own timeline, which is where Loki picks up. It really hammers home that the multiverse is a real thing and sets the tone for just how wild things can get going forward.
The events of most episodes don’t impact the greater MCU the way that some other shows did. That being said, the finale did an incredible amount to affect it. The episode debuted Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains, though fans know him better as Kang the Conqueror. He seems to be on the way to being the MCU’s next big, overarching villain. Sylvie’s actions also broke things open in the multiverse, helping to open the door for things like Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.