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The best Marvel shows aren’t on Disney+

The best Marvel shows aren’t on Disney+

The history of Marvel on TV is much messier than their work in cinema. Before Marvel TV was integrated into the MCU and landed on Disney+, there was a whole host of other things going on that were either loosely or closely tied to the movies that regularly premiered in theaters. In general, TV has only become more important to Marvel’s overall stories.

For a while, Netflix had its own staple of Marvel shows that were designed as their own cinematic universe and were often loosely tied to the MCU (those shows have now migrated over to Disney+). Some of these shows were successful and others were not, but they were the first attempt at telling high-quality, interconnected Marvel stories on a smaller scale.

Even since many of the Marvel shows started airing on Disney+, other, stranger things have also debuted on platforms like Hulu. These shows have almost no close connection to the MCU, but many of them are worth considering anyway. Marvel has become one of the most sprawling universes out there, and that would ideally mean that the studio could tell a wide range of different types of stories. While that’s not always the reality, there’s a lot of great Marvel content to be found, even when you look past the stuff most directly tied to the MCU.

A show that Runaways is a slam dunk in the world of superhero fiction. Following six teenagers who deal with having superpowers while figuring out who they really are, the series is a coming-of-age drama that has superpowers in the background.

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Things only get more interesting when the kids realize that their parents are up to no good and decide to team up to take them on. The show only lasted three seasons, but each of those seasons has a lot of good things in it, and the show is all the better for its rather limited connections to the rest of the MCU.

An animated show that was originally supposed to be crossed over with MODOK, Hit-Monkey follows a Japanese monkey who decides to take on the Japanese criminal underworld with the help of the ghost of an American assassin. This quirky premise provides plenty of good laughs, but also a good deal of pathos. The show features a variety of vocal performers including Jason Sudeikis, Olivia Munn and George Takei. It’s a deeply bizarre show, but it’s all the better for its willingness to go to some truly strange places.

Generally speaking, Marvel plays by a fairly standard rulebook. They use a specific joking tone, and they rarely deviate very much from that rulebook. With MODOKthough, Marvel took a pretty big turn. Of course, it helps that this show was pretty low-budget, and it has almost no connection to the wider cinematic universe.

Following a low-level villain in a stop-motion, animated format, the show doesn’t feature the kind of massive battles that have come to define the wider Marvel universe. It’s a straight-up comedy with the voice of Patton Oswalt, and it’s all the better for its deviations from the broader Marvel template.

Easily the weirdest Marvel-adjacent show, Legion was the three-season brainchild of Noah Hawley and had virtually no connection to the wider MCU. The show followed David, a mentally unbalanced man who also possesses a large amount of telekinetic power. The show spends a lot of its time asking you to doubt whether David even has powers, but what does Legion so overwhelming is its commitment to making deeply unusual creative choices, even as David evolves from a likable character to an outright villain. Thanks to strong work from Dan Stevens, Legion became unmissable, even when it was completely bizarre.

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Another Marvel show focused explicitly on teenagers, Cloak and dagger is something closer to a youth romance. The show follows two young people on the run who come from vastly different backgrounds and find they have more in common than they expected, including some budding superpowers.

Even though it’s only two seasons, there’s a lot of fun to be had Cloak and dagger from the very first moments, including an appealing pair of key performances from the two leads. If you’re looking for a charming teen romance that has some sci-fi flair, you could do a lot worse than Cloak and daggerwhich originally aired on Freeform before moving to Hulu.

Another show focused heavily on teenagers, The gifted follows an American suburban family who find that their children develop superpowers. While the show certainly exists in a world where powers are possible, this show is set in a world of mutants and is a holdover from Fox’s version of the X-Men universe.

While The gifted was never designed to be part of the MCU, the show is plenty compelling on its own. After discovering they have powers, the family is forced to join an underground network of mutants as they face a government hostile to those in power. During its two seasons that aired on Fox, The gifted earned many fans, although there were also those who found the show a bit unfocused.

Even though it was canceled after just a single season, it’s a good reason to check out Full power out if you’re someone who wishes Marvel properties could be a little more terrifying at times. Full power is not an out-and-out horror show, but it has more elements of it than any other series that has ever had the Marvel brand attached to it.

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Following the son and daughter of a serial killer who appear to have immense powers, the series explores their dynamic as they work to take down the worst humanity has to offer. The show got pretty negative reviews when it premiered, but if you’re curious about a more horrific approach to Marvel’s world, then Full power might be a good place to start.

The editors’ recommendations

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