While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has popularized a slew of blockbuster theatrical movies and shows on Disney+, there are a few other productions worth looking into. That’s even outside critically acclaimed shows like Daredevil that have been absorbed into Marvel Studios’ catalog on Disney’s streaming service.
A few of these shows range from both in and out of mainline MCU canon. Meanwhile, though not on the scale of other animated superhero movies, Marvel Animated Features produced a solid adaptation of an iconic storyline from The Incredible Hulk comic book series.
Perhaps the best of Marvel’s out-of-MCU-continuity shows is the FX-produced X-Men spinoff Legion. Helmed by praised Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley, this TV series is set within a specific and interesting space in the wider Marvel universe. It’s neither part of the MCU nor Fox’s theatrical X-Men movies pre-Disney acquisition, and it follows the dangerously powerful mutant son of Charles Xavier.
Legion still stands as Marvel’s most ambitious show, with David Haller providing a captivating and unique perspective for this inventive “superhero” story. Its combination of striking cinematography, use of musical numbers, and engrossing character arcs make for one of the greatest explorations of mental health in the genre.
FX’s Legion is available to stream now on Hulu.
Aside from Daredevil, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s Agent Carter is another of the best MCU-set shows to get an unfortunate cancellation. The show’s two seasons expand upon the canon established theatrically, namely from Steve Rodgers’ corner of the world in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger.
Set against the backdrop of the United States in the 1940s, Peggy Carter secretly works for Howard Stark in an exciting spin on the comic book genre on TV. Agent Carter features plenty of espionage-themed drama that does justice to Peggy by fleshing her out as a well-rounded character outside of Captain America’s circle. Just as well, this period-piece approach was a creative use of worldbuilding.
ABC’s Agent Carter is available to stream now on Disney+.
While it doesn’t hit the same highs as the genre-bending Legion, Matt Nix’s The Gifted is another worthy shoutout for fans wanting more X-Men content. Especially so considering it will be some time before their MCU debut. Set in another spin-off timeline from Fox’s main X-Men productions, this TV series is set in a continuity where Charles Xavier’s iconic mutant team is gone.
Though it was canceled after two seasons, the stories that The Gifted told were a refreshing and grounded approach to these kinds of characters. It also allows for some intimate character development and social commentary on the persecution of the perceived “other.” It’s both poignant and keeping in the spirit of X-Men’s most popular themes.
Fox’s The Gifted is available to stream now on Hulu.
Long-time fans are still waiting for the Hulk to get his deserved shot at the spotlight in another solo movie. Thor: Ragnarok felt like a wasted opportunity in that regard and, so far, rumblings of the rumored World War Hulk movie haven’t come to fruition. Many veteran comic book readers will likely be hoping for some adaptation of Greg Pak and Carlo Pagulayan’s lauded Planet Hulk story arc.
The source material will likely always be the preferred version of this saga, but Marvel Animated Features’ movie adaptation is an admirable alternative. Planet Hulk centers around the titular hero — after being banished by the Avengers — being sent to a warrior-driven planet ruled by a despotic king, enslaved, and hellbent on making his way back to Earth to exact his revenge.
Marvel Animated Features’ Planet Hulk is available to purchase in Blu-ray and DVD format on Amazon.
Released around the time of the MCU Netflix original TV shows (with some vague shared continuity between them), Cloak & Dagger is the live-action debut of the Marvel Comics characters of the same name. Created by showrunner Joe Posaki for Freeform, the series follows the titular heroes-in-the-making as they gain superpowers from dramatic events and run away from home.
And while these two heroes aren’t especially prolific characters in the source material, it’s arguably part of Cloak & Dagger‘s strength. It doesn’t revolutionize how stories in this genre are told on TV, but it offers a resonating coming-of-age-themed story of two characters coming together from two troubled, yet distinct backgrounds.
Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger is available to stream now on Hulu.
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