2021 is coming to a close! This year has been heavenly for comic book fans. We started the year off with WandaVision, which was a great return for the MCU, then continued into March with Zack Snyder's Justice League, a fan-pleasing epic that made people not hate the DCEU as much. More shows, such as Loki and What If...? were fun. Sony's Marvel Universe got their entry with Let There Be Carnage. Eternals polarized the Marvel fanbase, but we all reconciled in December with Hawkeye and, of course, Spider-Man: No Way Home. It was a fun year, and 2022 looks to be that way, too. With that said, here is my ranking of every comic book movie and TV show in 2021.
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I love the MCU to death, but they just shot and missed with Eternals. It doesn't work as a comic book movie or a movie at all. In my analogy in my review, I said that this film is like if The Avengers came out without the build-up of all of Phase One. There are too many characters, too many plot lines, and too much CGI. As I said before, comic book movies should have big spectacle action but also have a good story and cool characters. Eternals has none of those. So, unfortunately, it's in last place.
11. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Yeah. Shang-Chi is not that good of a movie. The reason it's ahead of Eternals is because the Mandarin was a great villain. Otherwise, this movie is just kind of a dud. Once again, it suffers from OCS (Overuse of CGI Syndrome). The final battle is atrocious. I do think that Shang-Chi himself is a good character, but the story and the giant fantastical dragon monsters really don't do it for me. It's not a terrible movie, but I can't particularly say I enjoyed it.
10. Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Venom: Let There Be Carnage was a much better movie than Venom. The reason it was better is because it didn't take itself seriously...at all. And that was the right way to go. Cletus Kasady was a solid villain. Carnage wasn't my favorite, but he's a cool enough monster for Venom to go up against. The story was fast-paced and thrilling, and I really did enjoy the conflict between Eddie and Cletus as well as Carnage and Venom. Where this movie excels is that after-credits scene. Man, was it awesome.
9. What If...?
What If...? started off as a fun novelty show inside the MCU, but quickly developed into a really cool show. It shot up in quality with the Doctor Strange episode, but kind of dropped back down over the next few. Then it became super awesome with the Ultron episode, and the stage was set for a great finale. Sadly, the finale of What If...? left me incredibly unsatisfied. It didn't resolve anything the way I wanted it to, instead trading the breaking of the Watcher's oath for a big action sequence that was the animated equivalent of the OCS.
8. Black Widow
The most unnecessary movie in the MCU, Black Widow was fun enough. It should've been released five years ago, but better late than never. It's a strange way to begin the next phase of the MCU. But, like I said, comic book quality is what I'm measuring here. And this movie has a great batch of heroes. Yelena is the standout, even over Natasha, but Nat is still cool. Red Guardian and Iron Maiden are great add-ons. The action is pretty cool. The mature spy-thriller was a solid direction to take this movie. It's not great by any means. But it's a good enough addition to the MCU.
7. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was more divisive than I thought it'd be. This show had blockbuster-type action without being caked in special effects. Falcon was an incredible lead for the show, and Bucky was a great sidekick for him. I'm excited to see how the mantle of Captain America is continued in Captain America 4 and I really do want to see more of this story. The villains were not as strong, but the action and heroes and absence of CGI made this show really good.
6. The Suicide Squad
The Suicide Squad was a really fun movie that was a huge improvement over the 2016 film. James Gunn brought his dark humor into the DCEU with a gritty film that was reminiscent of old 70s war films. The production design and practical effects were amazing. In the age of CGI blockbusters, I love it when we actual get practical stuff. The characters were all memorable and fun in their own right. I was really surprised at how heartfelt some of the relationships were. It doesn't have huge implications on the DCEU. The villains aren't great. But the heroes and action are top-tier comic book filmmaking.
Hawkeye was a big surprise for me personally. Instead of feeling like another fun but flawed generic MCU project, this show balanced everything perfectly. It made sure it's character arcs and moments matched the entertainment value. It would add layers of complexity every episode. It paid off nicely in the finale. It wasn't afraid to have smaller stakes while also re-introducing a major MCU villain. Giving Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld the spotlight was awesome, because their chemistry was priceless. Hawkeye is the sleeper hit on this list, and I am so happy that this was the MCU show that we closed the year out with.
WandaVision was one of those strange things that felt like it happened a few years ago. I was still in virtual school when the first episode of this show premiered. But this was truly an amazing show. It took the comic book genre, the most popular genre in the film industry right now, and made an I Love Lucy-esc sitcom out of it. The MCU can be repetitive. It does use a lot of CGI and big action scenes. WandaVision is none of that. This is pure creativity. I don't think the finale was as good as the setup, which is why it isn't number one. But this was Marvel just flexing how good they can be at everything.
Speaking of Marvel flexing how good they can be at anything, Loki was great. It took me a little bit to get on board, but once we got into the swing of things, this was probably the most exciting show of the year. Every episode would end with a big plot twist or a big cliffhanger. That was really fun. And the finale was great. It introduced the multiverse and Kang the Conqueror in jaw-dropping fashion. There wasn't a ton of action or big CGI spectacle, and I think that's what makes this show great. It's character focused. It is written like a psychological thriller. I cannot wait for season two of this show, because season one was absolutely incredible.
2. Zack Snyder's Justice League
Just because this is above Loki doesn't necessarily mean I liked it better, because I do like Loki better than the Snyder Cut. But, as time has gone on, I've appreciated the Snyder Cut much more than I previously did. I respect Snyder's vision for the movie. He develops the characters and gives us two of the best superheroes we've seen in a while with Flash and Cyborg. The epic scale and world-ending stakes were awesome. The group dynamic between the Justice League was so cool. The villains were intimidating and felt like they posed an actual threat. I don't like Man of Steel. I don't like Batman v Superman. But I sure hope we get more of Snyder's vision for the DCEU. Because this was the definition of a comic book movie.
1. Spider-Man: No Way Home
But who are we kidding? No Way Home is one of the best superhero movies of the last ten years. It pays off twenty years of Spider-Man movies while also giving Tom Holland's Spider-Man the best arc I've seen in a long time. The fan service had me smiling from beginning to end, but it didn't rely on that. Yes, seeing Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield is one of the coolest moments of the year. But had they not been in the movie, No Way Home is still a fantastic film. The villains are all balanced. The story, while not perfect, is still poignant and sets up a great ending that completes Peter's arc in a fantastic way. I am very glad that this isn't the last Spider-Man movie, because that would upset me, but it was an awesome conclusion to the first chapter of Tom Holland's journey as Peter Parker.