If it wasn't already abundantly clear by this point: it's Marvel's world, we're just living in it.
Currently, Netflix has five Marvel properties, including the just-debuted The Defenders, with a sixth series centered on the Punisher in the works. ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return for its fifth season at midseason, while FX's Legion was beloved and embraced by critics earlier this year for being unlike anything else on TV.
This fall, three new series based on Marvel properties will officially debut and give the people on the internet even more to celebrate/nitpick. Marvel's Runaways, based on the popular comics run of the same name, will mark Hulu's first foray into Marvel territory, while The Gifted, which is set within the world of the X-Men, will debut on Fox. Bringing up the rear is Marvel's Inhumans on ABC, which will explore the super-powered Inhuman royal family.
We can't properly judge where the three new series will slot into the current roster of Marvel programming until they've had a chance to tell their stories, but that certainly won't stop us from ranking the rest of the series. Here's how the seven current Marvel series rank as we head into the fall season.
[Note: We left off Agent Carter, as it's not currently airing. We love you, Agent Carter.]
7. Marvel's Iron Fist
The fourth series produced as part of Netflix and Marvel's partnership, Iron Fist was a conundrum for critics who'd gotten used to the streaming service knocking it out of the park with their gritty take on Marvel's mini-heroes. It didn't have the witty repartee or likability of Jessica Jones, the show stopping performances of Luke Cage, or the broad appeal of Daredevil. It mostly felt like a more violent version of The CW's Arrow, only with a less interesting cast of characters.
Now, Danny Rand (Finn Jones) was cute enough as a male lead, but he also reeked of white privilege and immaturity. He was only made likable by his sidekick and romantic interest Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick); but even her stellar charisma couldn't make up for the fact that the show just wasn't very good. Loyal fans soldiered their way through the season, though, because they figured they'd need the background information for The Defenders. Ultimately, even though the plot was vitally important for the latter series, it arguably wasn't worth the 13 hours of their lives they'll never get back.
6. Marvel's The Defenders
In order to be successful, The Defenders needed to balance the weight of four leading characters with tortured emotional states and the storylines that carried over from their individual series. When you add in various side characters from each property, it was certainly a tall order. The good news, is that it mostly worked.
We got a few good laughs and some awesome fight scenes, and we even wrapped up a lot of dangling plot threads regarding The Hand. But the throughline of the series felt less like four characters coming together to kick some butt and more like Daredevil Season 3 starring That Girl You Liked Way More Than Anyone Else, White Privilege Jr., and Luke I-Should-Have-Been-the-Focus-of-This-Franchise Cage.
By making Elektra (Elodie Yung) the major villain of this eight-episode series, it ensured that Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) would dominate the main narrative. So while everyone certainly got their due in terms of screentime and one-liners, The Defenders wasn't the best of all four worlds, and therefore it falls near the bottom of the list.
5. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Despite its placement in the bottom half of the list, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is not a bad show. Coming off what was its best season to date, it seems almost unfair to place the series in such close proximity to the mess that is Iron Fist. But the series hasn't been a consistent performer over its four seasons on air, and unfortunately, when you're battling against shows that primarily have only had to deliver one, short successful season, this is just part of the package.
The four shows above Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on this list haven't had the same opportunity to fail as the Clark Gregg and Chloe Bennet-led series has since it debuted in 2013. And as much as we've enjoyed the periods of compelling action and drama the show has delivered since then, there have also been several troubling periods that aren't forgotten just because the end of the first season was truly great or because the series finally learned from its mistakes this past season, and has become the series it's always wanted to be.
4. Marvel's Luke Cage
The character of Luke Cage (Mike Colter) was first introduced during Jessica Jones' first season, but he really came into his own in his own series. Thanks to showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker's insane music connections, the first season arrived with a sound and style that set it apart from everything we'd seen up until that point, while also revolutionizing the meaning of a modern black hero.
However, like most of Netflix's Marvel properties, the first season had too many episodes, which ultimately caused pacing issues; Luke's story dragged at the outset before the action took off in the second half, which puts it firmly in the middle of the pack.
3. Marvel's Daredevil
Despite the shaky second half of Daredevil's second season, which somehow managed to make ninjas boring and turned Elektra into a plot device to be used in The Defenders, the series still comes in at No. 3 because it's altogether an enjoyable way to spend your time. The first season — the first of Netflix's Marvel series — was impressive with its slick and stylized violence and choreographed fight scenes, despite sometimes crumbling under the overwhelming presence of Vincent D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk.
The Punisher arc that kicked off the second season started strong before the narrative threads holding up the back half ultimately began to fray. Still, there's more to like about Daredevil than dislike about it, and that's why it ends up so high in the rankings.
We won't pretend to always understand everything that happened during the first season of FX's Legion, but that is hardly a detractor. A mind-bending trip exploring mental illness from inside the mind of someone who may or may not be mentally ill, Legion was a truly ambitious series anchored by incredible performances from Dan Stevens and Aubrey Plaza.
Retro aesthetics gave the comic book series a unique look, while the creative indulgences series creator Noah Hawley inserted throughout David's (Stevens) story made it the definition of "not for everyone." Still, it was Hawley's singular perspective that ultimately allowed the series to thrive narratively and creatively and stand out in a landscape full of comic book adaptations.
1. Marvel's Jessica Jones
While Jessica Jones' greatest strength may be that it doesn't feel like a Marvel or superhero property at all, it doesn't change the fact that the series remains firmly at the top of the rankings. Exploring the lasting effects of rape and PTSD as a result of Kilgrave's (a charismatic David Tennant, giving one hell of a performance) control over her, Jessica's (Krysten Ritter) traumatic story was sometimes difficult to watch. But by depicting her as a survivor and following her journey toward regaining her agency after having it violently ripped away, the series gave voice to the frequently voiceless. In the end, Jessica Jones was more than just a superhero series, and its first season was nothing short of spectacular.