Here's Which Marvel TV Shows Are The Most Important To Watch To Follow The Movies

You can skip some, but not all of them.

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Keeping up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is no easy feat. The massive superhero saga kicked off in 2008 with Iron Man, and in the decade and a half since then, over 30 interconnected movies have been released, pushing the limits of how huge a movie universe can be. It’s expanded past galaxies, past a singular dimension, and now, it’s busting down the borders of time and space itself. And to make things even bigger, the MCU has also jumped onto the small screen. While all of the new Marvel shows do have important connections to the MCU movies, there are some that aren’t as essential if you find yourself getting overwhelmed. Use this ranking of Marvel TV shows based on their importance within the MCU to help you decide which to watch and which to skip.

Marvel’s history with television has been a bit wonky. In the modern era, it technically began with ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in 2014, followed by fellow network shows Agent Carter and Inhumans. But, although those shows starred characters featured in the MCU movies, there’s been an ongoing debate about whether they’re actually canon to the films or not, given some inconsistencies between the shows and the movies’ timelines.

Then there’s the Hulu and Freeform YA shows, Runaways and Cloak & Dagger, neither of which connect to the MCU in any meaningful way. It wasn’t until Disney+ launched and began releasing shows very explicitly tied to (and even influencing) the events of the Marvel movies that Marvel TV became required viewing for keeping up with the important details.

But some of the shows aren’t such a big deal to skip. Let’s start with the ones you don’t really need to see to still understand the MCU movies, and work our way up to the shows that are imperative to the core story on the big screen.

9. The Defenders Collection


When Daredevil first dropped on Netflix and kicked off the Defenders sub-universe, it was quickly clear that these shows would remain completely separate from the Marvel movies. There was tons of fun crossover between Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Punisher — including a full The Defenders team-up series — but their stories never once overlapped with the MCU at large. These shows are a fun watch for completionists or diehard Marvel fans, but not essential at all to understanding overall MCU timeline.

8. What If...?


By the very nature of the show, What If...? has no real effect on the MCU. The animated series is simply a fun exercise in imagination, exploring alternate timelines. The show did sneak in some hints at important MCU events, like Dr. Strange’s evil doppelgänger who would go on to become the antagonist in Multiverse of Madness, but for the most part, What If...? is just a fun little flight of fancy that isn’t required MCU viewing.

7. Moon Knight


Moon Knight feels like a very unique entry into the MCU. With elements of psychological horror and fantastical Egyptian gods, the series doesn’t fit neatly into the usual Marvel mold. It also doesn’t concern itself with interacting with the core MCU world. Moon Knight will likey show up in some future MCU movie, but for the time being, movie fans don’t have to prioritize watching this series unless it calls to them.

6. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law


For the most part, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a self-contained legal sitcom with a few plotlines connecting it to the MCU movies. Most notably, the Hulk shows up to help train his cousin in mastering her new powers, Emil Blonsky (AKA Abomination) returns from the first Hulk movie, and Dr. Strange sorcerer Wong portals in to team up with She-Hulk. But in general, these cameos have no major effects on the MCU timeline.

5. Hawkeye


If that perennial “Die Hard is a Christmas movie” joke was turned into a TV show, it would be Hawkeye. The festive action series is all about one of the original Avengers, and introduces the important Marvel hero Kate Bishop into the MCU. With rumors of the MCU heading towards a Young Avengers formation (the team that Bishop leads in the comics), getting her origin story will be important for fans of the movies. Plus, the show also contains crucial development for Yelena Belova and Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, both of whom will be heavily featured in the upcoming Thunderbolts movie. The show also introduces the antihero Echo, who’s getting her own spinoff series.

4. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier


The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is an important changing of the guards for the MCU as a whole. Most pivotally, the series chronicles how Sam Wilson takes up the shield as the new Captain America following Steve Rogers’ retirement. It will be required viewing before going to see Captain America: New World Order in 2024.

3. Ms. Marvel


Not only is Ms. Marvel an incredibly fun coming-of-age series in the vein of Spider-Man, it also sets the stage for a large part of the MCU’s future. As the show’s final moment confirmed, Kamala Khan will be teaming up with Captain Marvel and Monica Rambeau in the next Phase 5 movie The Marvels. Since it already looks like Ms. Marvel will become a main hero in the MCU, it’s a good idea for fans to watch her origin story.

2. Loki


At first, it didn’t seem like Loki would be too big of a deal for people who are only interested in the Marvel movies. Sure, he’s been a major player on the big screen, but his timeline-hopping show initially seemed like it’d just be a fun standalone adventure for everyone’s favorite trickster god. But that all changed in the Season 1 finale when Kang showed up. Now that Thanos is out of the way, Kang is becoming the MCU’s main supervillain, so it was a surprise his first appearance wasn’t in a movie, but on Loki. The end credits of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania confirmed Loki’s connection to Kang will be pivotal in the future Marvel movies, so keeping up with Loki (which is coming back for a second season in the thick of Phase 5), is mandatory.

1. WandaVision


It’s already been made clear why the series that started Marvel’s Multiverse Saga is required viewing for anyone who wants to keep up with the MCU. Wanda’s reality-warping trauma has already turned her into a powerful supervillain in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and WandaVision’s importance doesn’t stop there. The series also introduced Agatha Harkness and Wanda’s sons Billy and Tommy, who will play bigger roles in the MCU’s future with Agatha’s upcoming spinoff Agatha: Coven of Chaos. In the comics, Billy and Tommy grow up to become the superheroes Wiccan and Speed, respectively, who are core member of the Young Avengers. If the MCU really is inching towards assembling the Young Avengers, as it seems to be, then WandaVision becomes all the more pivotal in understanding these core relationships and backstories.

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