Loki, WandaVision & FAWS: A Disney+ Live-Action MCU Series Report Card

With three Marvel Cinematic Universe series completing their initial runs on Disney+ with only Loki confirmed to have a second season, it's a good opportunity to see how they rank. Where their respective positions are is by means necessarily defined by quality or lack thereof. How I define how they place is based on if the series really enhances the characters featured and its place of importance in the greater MCU. There are some spoilers of course in regards to each series. Without further adieu, let's look at WandaVision, Falcon and Winter Soldier, and Loki.

WandaVision, Falcon & Winter Solder, Loki Stars on Transitioning to TV
Images courtesy of Marvel Studios, Middle Photo credit: Chuck Zlotnick.

3 – The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Make no mistake, I enjoyed The Falcon and Winter Soldier for what it did to enhance the stories of Sam Wilson aka Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and Bucky Barnes aka Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). That being said, if one were to watch Avengers: Endgame (2019) and follow up with Captain America 4, they likely won't be missing out on much. So let's retrace the steps of the conclusion of the 2019 film. After Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) didn't jump back forward in time, he decided to "enjoy" his natural time on earth catching up on the years he lost out on being frozen from in time for the past 60 years at the conclusion of Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). Old Steve then bequeathed his vibranium shield to Sam.

the falcon and the winter soldier
Image courtesy of Marvel Studios

When we're caught up to Sam and Buck at the beginning of the series, Sam refused the responsibility and attempted to donate it to the Smithsonian as part of the exhibit to celebrate his best friend. Unbeknownst to him, the US government had other ideas by giving the shield and the title of Captain America to John Walker (Wyatt Russell). As the events play out in the series, we find that John can't handle the responsibility and Sam ultimately embraces it. Meanwhile, Buck is still trying to make amends for his past life as the Winter Soldier by seeing a therapist and following her directions the best way he can. While his H.Y.D.R.A. programming is completely reversed, he still carries the burdens of his guilt while trying to live a normal life when he's not partnered with Sam on the Flag Smashers.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier E02 Review: Lots of Banter and Plot
Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

So what we see is what amounts to a side adventure to where Sam ultimately accepts what Steve gives him as he understands the responsibility of being Captain America. When we see the duo back together again presumably in the fourth film of the franchise, would most audiences even remember what happened in their previous adventure? Because I can honestly say, it doesn't seem to matter unless you're really invested in the two characters. John Walker as US Agent is still a Captain America-knock off. Reintroducing him in the next film still won't make the series required viewing as is why Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) is now evil as the Power Broker. Neither Sam nor Buck know the identity of the Power Broker and if she returns, it will need to be explained to them, which is again another reason why The Falcon and the Winter Soldier becomes inconsequential. Even Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) begins in jail and ends up back in a different jail.

2 – WandaVision

It's hard to pick which is better because both Loki and WandaVision make their series more required viewing going into the next arc of their stories. For WandaVision, it gets the best marks for its original take even if it's an homage to American sitcom television. For the duration of the series, we're treated to Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and she decided escapism turning a town of Westview into her own personal sitcom theme park nightmare where the residents are mind-controlled from the Avenger's own grief after losing her betrothed Vision (Paul Bettany).

WandaVision Review: Sugar, Spice, and Everything That Sufficed
Image courtesy of Marvel Studios/Disney+

As the series starts unraveling, it gives tons of Greek tragedy and Shakespearean vibes as we discover how far gone The Scarlet Witch has in her trauma trying to recreate her happy place through her favorite TV shows. Once you get past the novelty of the recreations, you do eventually get treated to more the meat of the story as we see more past MCU favorites getting a chance to shine like Randall Park's Jimmy Woo from the Ant-Man franchise to Kat Denning's Darcy Lewis, Ph.D. from the Thor franchise coming into her own. We were also treated to another superhero origin story in Teyonah Parris' Monica Rambeau. So we get the luxury of seeing it branch into two MCU films by the series end with The Marvels with Parris & Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with Olsen.

WandaVision Characters We Want To See As Funko Pops (SPOILERS)
Darcy Lewis and Jimmy Woo. Credit: Marvel Studios

There are a few nitpicks on the series that keep it from being the best series with the initial pacing. It does start a little slower and the plot doesn't pick up more until a few episodes in. It takes a little more patience. Obviously, there's the moral issue of how neither the series nor its later Scarlet Witch-related canon will likely ever get her to really face her crimes for enslaving an entire town against their will and how anti-climactic fight with her "evil self" in the case of Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn). Rather than presumably leave her a vegetable as far as magic powers are concerned, it would have been better just to at least let her fight another day. Of course, there are also no allusions on where the all-white Vision is doing after flying off after his fight with Wanda's conjured version.

1 – Loki

I'll admit a little bias towards Loki the character, but if there was ever an MCU character that's made a complete 180 redemption, it would be the character played by Tom Hiddleston with his indelible charm. Obviously, the God of Trickery is evil in his 2011 debut and was the featured villain in 2012's The Avengers. Each subsequent appearance, Loki's help was always something that he had to be coerced into giving from his brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth). He was asked to help against the frost giants in The Dark World (2013) and he also tagged along and crossed paths again in the 2017 sequel Ragnarok finding himself in a situation when he needs his brother's help to escape the grasp of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and ultimately return to Asgard to fight against Hela (Cate Blanchett).

Loki Episode 3 Review: Talking About Feelings
Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Following Loki's valiant last stand in Avengers: Infinity War (2018), he found himself in the predicament of the Disney+ series when his 2011-past self stole the Tesseract and landed in the custody of the Time Variance Authority for violating the "sacred" timeline. Unable to scheme his way out and seeing his ultimate "future" crushed at the hands of Thanos (Josh Brolin), the defeated god finally accepted his fate for something more. It's there where we see a completely changed figure no longer seeking shortcuts and burying himself in distrust. We see a person actually seeking purpose and trusting those around him starting with his unlikely best friend Mobius, who couldn't be played any better than Owen Wilson. Who wouldn't want to change because of him? I mean every character in fiction should strive to be best friends with whatever Wilson plays. Of course, there's also Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), who unwittingly becomes Loki's North Star and sets him on his new journey for her revolution to usurp to the TVA. What sets Loki apart from the other shows is that every featured character is completely fleshed out and has a place to go. For the most part, each character feels like they're going someplace and by the end, they're changed.

Loki E4 Review: Sews The Seed of Doubt For Nearly Everyone Involved
Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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