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Home > 2023 Marvel Media Ranked from Marvelous to Mediocre

2023 Marvel Media Ranked from Marvelous to Mediocre

Tom Hiddleston as Loki Credit: Marvel Studios/Disney

A Look Back at 2023's Marvel Projects

The fifth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe roll-out hasn’t been the most clean-cut industry box office annihilation it had been for the previous phases. With budget cuts, numerous firing and rehiring situations, and an overall oversaturated genre, Marvel’s 2023 media projects have been hit hard. That being said, out of the six projects released as of December 21st, 2023, four of them have been decent to amazing pieces of media. From Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania starting the year to The Marvels closing it out, the superhero genre produced by Marvel has gone on a rocky journey. It’s suffered a lot, with some of its recent projects feeling like cash grabs and unnecessary additions to the universe. Despite its over-saturation in 2023, a majority of these projects still manage to present the viewers with a love of comics and superheroes. They expertly explore dynamics between family, both chosen and blood, and give voices to those often pushed to the wayside.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania directed by Peyton Reed and written by Jeff Loveness, Stan Lee, and Larry Lieber, was released in theaters on February 17, 2023. Currently standing with 46% from critics and an 82% audience score, the film proved that the year 2023 would be rough for Marvel. Paul Rudd cements himself as the perfect casting for Scott Lang with Kathryn Newton being a great addition as Cassie Lang. Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror was an equally standout performance, balancing genuine compassion and ruthlessness. Other than these three casting decisions, the film kind of felt as if it was just being done to set up Kang as the villain for the future phase of Marvel. The humor in the film was too prevalent, especially for the villain they were going up against. There were no stakes whatsoever in the film and it just made the entire viewing experience feel pointless – especially when one of the characters dying – Scott Lang – would’ve been an amazing ending to their arc while also setting up Cassie’s determination to fight for her father. Seeing as how Kang is no longer the villain of Phase 5, this movie instead of being a jumping point is just a short one-and-done film.

Paul Rudd as Scott Lang Marvel Studios Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Marvel Studios

Secret Invasion

Secret Invasion directed by Ali Selim and written by a variety of writers with five total, was released to Disney+ at an episodic rate on June 21, 2023, ending on July 26th. Currently standing with 52% from critics and a 46% audience score, the television series continued the streak of flops from Marvel. The only thing that boosts this piece above Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the acting. Genuine powerhouses like Samuel L. Jackson, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman, and Kingsley Ben-Adir in the cast, made watching these episodes bearable. There are two big issues with this show, the first one is that it is truly boring for a lot of the runtime. This show revolves around the invasion of the world from the Kree population and a lot of it is just people talking with battles taking place intermittently. It feels as if it was attempting to replicate the spy aspects of Black Widow and it does seem like it’d be interesting, but the way it was written just makes viewing it feel extremely dull. The second issue and one that will cause future issues in Phase 5 is the Harvest that Gravik and subsequently G’iah took in order to become stronger. During their battle, G’iah utilizes the abilities of Drax the Destroyer, Thanos, Hulk, Cull Obsidian, Korg, Abomination, Thor, Captain America, and Captain Marvel. Genuinely this ruins everything for Marvel up to this point, what is the genuine reason for her to become this powerful? Props must be given though, Secret Invasion was incredibly big on taking big swings, killing Maria Hill who has been with Marvel since The Avengers in 2012, as well as revealing Rhodes (War Machine) as a Krull.

Emilia Clarke as G’iah Courtesy of: Marvel Studios Emilia Clarke as G’iah/
Courtesy of: Marvel Studios

What If

What If Season Two was created by A. C. Bradley and written by various writers, was released to Disney+ at an episodic rate on December 22, 2023, ending on December 30th. Currently standing with 89% from critics and a 66% audience score, this television series seemed to bring Marvel back up from its previous pitfalls. That being said, What If Season Two feels just ingenuine. The show produces numerous interesting ideas, like what if Peter Quill was raised by Ego, Kahhori reshaping the world, and finally Hela finding the Ten Rings? These three episodes stand out as highlights for the season, and the show in general becoming highly talked about. If the show continued with this type of storytelling, the show would’ve ranked higher on the list. The biggest thing that holds it back from being great is one character – Captain Carter. Appearing in 4 out of 9 episodes and leading three of them, Captain Carter just takes away all attention that could be given to new characters like Kahhori. Hayley Atwell does fine in her portrayal but she just doesn’t feel necessary at all to the story and honestly only hinders any success this show could’ve had. The show is best when it introduces genuinely new ideas and storylines fulfilling the question What If?

Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, and Annette Bening as Dr. Wendy Lawson Marvel Studios Animation Courtesy of Marvel Studios Animation

Loki

Loki Season Two, created by Michael Waldron, was released to Disney+ at an episodic rate on October 5, 2023, ending on November 9th. Currently standing with 82% from critics and an 82% audience score, the season Loki managed to exceed expectations of Marvel projects from 2023 and gave a glimpse of hope for what was to come. The visuals of Loki are stunning and never feel half-baked which was a huge issue in previous projects. With the returning actors such as Tom Hiddleston, Sophia Di Martino, and Owen Wilson, joined by Oscar award winner Ke Huy Quan, the show is excellently portrayed. Each actor develops their characters naturally and each actor seems to get lost in the role creating an overall better viewing experience.  Tom Hiddleston, the central character proves time and time again why Loki is a standout in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as he manages to give Loki depths no one knew was possible. Compared to the first season, this storyline isn’t as engaging but with the actors heading the narrative, there will never be a dull moment. The only reason this isn’t higher on the list is because its previous entry beats it out.

Tom Hiddleston as Loki Marvel Studios Tom Hiddleston as Loki/ Marvel Studios

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 directed and written by James Gunn with collaboration from writers Stan Lee and Jim Starlin was released on May 5, 2023. With a score of 82% from critics and 94% from the audience, the third film in the Guardians trilogy proved to be a humongous success. The movie in question is a lot grittier in its depiction of the universe, the characters feel real and the villain is one that isn’t a caricature or one that you will simply forget. With actors such as Dave Batista, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Chukwudi Iwuji, and so many more, this film more than any other was able to stand not just as a great Marvel movie but a great movie in general. Gunn as a director knows exactly what he is great at making and sticks to all of those strengths when adapting this movie. The story is a great continuation of the one from Avengers: Endgame and the ending truly feels like a complete arc for the characters – Starlord in particular.

Will Poulter as Adam Warlock Marvel Studios Will Poulter as Adam Warlock/Marvel Studios

The Marvels

The Marvels directed by Nia DaCosta was also written by her in collaboragtion with Megan McDonnell and Elissa Karasik. The film was released on November 10, 2023. The ratings don’t do the film the justice it deserves, with a 62% critic score and a 82% audience score. The film is a bit clunky in terms of its overall idea and message it attempts to get across to the audience. The villain, though not the best does bring in new ideas of what defines a hero and how other people view the traditional hero. It’s truly just a fun time watching this movie, with Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Iman Vellani, Zenobia Shroff, and Teyonah Parris all bringing outstanding comedic affects to their roles. A big highlight of this film is the relations between the charatcers – seeing Kamala and Carol, Carol and Monica, as well as Kamala and Monica, we are given three dystinc female characters who all have their own personalities. A big push for this film is Kamala portrayed by Iman Vellani – spawning from her series that was released in 2022, Kamala and her family offer a new sense of freshness to Marvel and the superhero genre in general. 

Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan, Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, and Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau Marvel Studios Marvel Studios

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

In first place is obviously Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson, and written by numerous writers. The film was released to theaters on June 2, 2023 and received 95% from the critics and 94% from the audience. The film is a masterclass in how to create a superhero story with several different characters. From Shameik Moore, to Hailee Steinfeld and Oscar Isaac, the film was an amazing line of voice actors who don’t feel like they’ve been chosen for their names but their raw genuine talent. Miles proves to be an amazing main character as we follow the narrative arc he’s given in the movie. With a genuinely interesting and threatening villain played by Jason Schwartzman as well as Isaac the movie had stakes. Miles was no longer some kid in New York but a superhero placed into a multi-verse where he had to defy the expectations and save his father from meeting the fate of Uncle Ben.

Shameik Moore as Miles Morales and Jason Schwartzman as The Spot Columbia Pictures Marvel Entertainment Sony Pictures Animation Pascal Pictures Lord Miller Productions Arad Productions Columbia Pictures/Marvel Entertainment/Sony Pictures Animation/Pascal Pictures/Lord Miller Productions/Arad Productions

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Trailer

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