These forgotten Marvel TV shows are 100% worth your time to watch
Believe it or not, there was a time not too long ago when Marvel TV shows were not too connected to the MCU. That seems like an odd notion in these times of WandaVision being born out of Avengers: Endgame and leading into Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness . . . but once upon a time, there were Marvel TV shows that kind of stood on their own. Some didn’t even reference the Marvel Cinematic Universe at all.
It may sound like an overreaction to label these Marvel TV shows as “forgotten”, but let’s be real: at the rate the MCU is taking over television, it won’t be long before the shows listed below are considered relics of a less interconnected past. So let’s pour one out for Peggy Carter, David Haller, and the rest of the gang. Let’s celebrate these Marvel TV shows from a bygone era!
Peggy Carter’s adventures in 1940s America were actually fairly connected to MCU lore, though never in an overpowering way. The series used Peggy’s introduction in Captain America: The First Avenger as a springboard to explore her struggles as a secret agent who also happens to be a single woman in the 40s. However, from there, Agent Carter went on to carve its own path in a specific corner of the MCU.
Consisting of only eighteen episodes spread across two short seasons, the consensus seems to be that Agent Carter was taken from us too soon. The show was a period piece with a kick-@ss female protagonist exploring the early days of the Marvel universe. There hadn’t been anything like that before, and there hasn’t been anything like it since. But at least we got to see Peggy get a happy ending thanks to Avengers: Endgame.
Now this is as far from the Agent Carter situation as you could get. Legion is not part of the MCU, but it’s still a Marvel property – a complicated one. Protagonist David Haller’s origin can be traced back to the X-Men comic books, where he was introduced as the super-powerful schizophrenic son of Professor X.
The show was created long before Disney acquired Fox – who held the rights to the X-Men franchise at the time – which is why Legion has zero connections to the MCU. However, David’s trippy adventures barely reference the X-Men movies either. Sure, there are mutants in David Haller’s world, and the main baddy is the classic X-Men villain Shadow King, but Legion is more interested in being its own thing.
Legion lasted three seasons and it used its twenty-seven episodes to depict David’s struggles with mental health in a compelling, visually unique way. The result was a superhero show that stood apart from everything else, regardless of its ties to X-Men mythology.
Speaking of X-Men shows that aren’t exactly X-Men shows, The Gifted was another attempt from Fox to have a mutant-centric TV series. The story takes place in a future where the X-Men have disappeared and any remaining mutants are hunted down by society. While set in a more recognizably X-Men-ish world than Legion, The Gifted didn’t feature any major connections to the movie franchise.
That doesn’t mean The Gifted didn’t get to have fun with classic Marvel X-Men elements, such as the mutant-hunting Sentinels and the overall theme of minority groups being persecuted – an X-Men staple. The show also featured some characters who would be familiar to comic book fans, such as teleporting mutant Blink, Apache mutant Thunderbird, and Magneto’s daughter Polaris.
Back to the MCU proper – or rather, shows that are theoretically set on the MCU but do their best to stay away from the movies – we have Runaways. Based on a beloved Marvel comic book with a bit of a cult following, the show followed the adventures of a group of teenagers who discovered their parents are supervillains. The kids’ response, of course, was to become an unofficial superteam to battle their elders.
As Runaways went deeper into its three-season run, its tie-ins to the MCU became a little more noticeable – particularly during a story featuring the Dark Dimension and the Darkhold from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, the show always seemed to relish the freedom afforded to it by the fact that its protagonists were too young to care about all the grown-up stuff MCU heroes like the Avengers were taking care of.
The formula worked, with each season of Runaways getting a better critical reception and the series’ finale being considered a triumph among Marvel TV shows.
Cloak & Dagger
Unlike the characters in Runaways, Cloak & Dagger have been around Marvel comics for decades. And yet, like the characters in Runaways, Cloak & Dagger don’t really have any sort of massive mythology or connections to other characters that a TV adaptation would need to honor. That’s why, like the other Marvel TV shows on this list, Cloak & Dagger mostly works on its own.
The show follows the vigilante exploits of two teenagers – the titular Cloak & Dagger – whose superpowers work better when they’re together. Cloak has dark teleportation powers, Dagger shoots light daggers, and the contrast between their abilities enhances each other’s performance.
Even though Cloak & Dagger was cancelled after two seasons, the two heroes made one final appearance during the third season of Runaways. It’s almost as if even when Marvel TV shows were not connected to the greater tapestry of the MCU, they couldn’t help but connect among themselves.
Do you have any other Marvel TV shows you think of fondly? Let us know in the comments!