The first television series to spin out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. follows the adventures of Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) after essentially returning from the dead in The Avengers (2012) to lead a team of agents in the new world spinning out of the Marvel films. As such, every film in the MCU is generally touched upon in the S.H.I.E.L.D. series as its characters react to it. In this, Coulson is joined by Daisy “Tremors” Johnson (Chloe Bennet), Melinda “Cavalry” May (Ming-Na Wen), Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse (Adrianne Palicki), Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie (Henry Simmons), Lincoln Campbell (Luke Mitchell), Joey Gutierrez (Juan Pablo Raba), Lance Hunter (Nick Blood), and the duo of Fitz-Simmons in Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). Generally, the series has dealt with combating the organization Hydra with former Coulson subordinate Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) having been a double agent in S.H.I.E.L.D. that became a reoccurring threat. The show’s second season also opened the door for the Inhumans, or humans genetically modified by aliens to bear super powers, which became an ongoing theme into the third season. The series, thus far, has been something of a mixed bag. The general consensus is a lack of consistency as it would produce a good episode then a few lackluster ones which appears to be an ongoing theme. Its been commented the show keeps trying to find its pace and would manage to do so for a while but then fall out of sync again. However, it seems ABC (and perhaps its parent company in Disney) is invested in the show (if not at least as something of an ongoing advertisement of the lucrative Marvel films) and keeps giving it opportunities to improve and certainly it seems each season becomes better. Thus far there have been three seasons with a fourth yet to be announced while a spin-off in Most Wanted featuring Mockingbird and Hunter has had a pilot ordered.


Agent Carter6. AGENT CARTER


In the wake of the success of Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), the MCU suffered from a unique problem in building a popular world based in World War II while its film franchise was moved forward into the modern day. A short film in 2013 called Agent Carter emerged which returned to WWII centered around Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) that would also be well-received prompting a television series by the same title two years later. For the TV series, Carter is joined by wealthy inventor Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) and his butler Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy) as she tangles with foes employing super-science for nefarious schemes while the SSR mostly gets in her way due largely to her gender (but also the incompetence of fellow agent Jack Thompson, played by Chad Michael Murray). For the first season, this meant combating the Soviet-organization Leviathan and for the second the US shadow government of the Council of Nine. Likely what really helps the series is its short seasons, the first with eight episodes and the second with ten. Its permits the ability to focus on a single arc with little need to pad the show with many subplots in order to stretch out its narrative. Also, the MCU has a reputation for its formula to blend action with humor which undoubtedly is felt in Agent Carter as the chemistry between Carter and Jarvis is extremely entertaining (so far as poking fun at the trope of featuring two characters of different genders developing a mutual attraction). The show also turns the trope of the damsel-in-distress on its ear as Carter generally weaves in and out of dangerous situations leaving Jarvis to simply lend a hand when necessary. It’s likely the current season will be the show’s last as the aforementioned Most Wanted was pitched last year but delayed in favor of a second season of Carter and Atwell has been contracted for a new television series from ABC.


Jessica Jones5. JESSICA JONES


The second series in the Defenders franchise on Netflix, Jessica Jones features Krysten Ritter as the eponymous character who had developed super powers following a car accident and was subsequently enslaved by the malicious Kilgrave (David Tennant). Eventually becoming free of her captor, Kilgrave would return to try and reclaim Jones years later who had went on to find work as a private investigator. As friends and allies like Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), and Malcolm Ducasse (Eka Darville) are pulled into Kilgrave’s game, Jones must find a way to bring the villain to justice to exonerate one of his victims in Hope Shlottman (Erin Moriarty). Airing on Netflix, Jessica Jones is given the freedom to express itself largely without fear of censorship as with most other comic book television programs. As such, the show is allowed to get dark and delve deeply into the trauma created by Kilgrave and the mental scars it leaves on his victims. It also helps that the entire season of thirteen episodes is released all at once which allows for slower paced episodes to build towards events as the overall series is rated at once rather than hinging its success on individual weekly increments. The combination of compelling characters, engaging stories, chapter-based narrative, and a noir atmosphere that pulses throughout the season, the show is one of the best comic shows in recent history (if not all time). A second season was recently announced to be in development.