The stumbling block of television for years has been that, while its storytelling is serialized by nature, the inevitability of missing episodes and not being able to keep all viewers on the same page limited its application. Detailed, multilayered, call-back heavy storytelling wasn’t an option due to this harsh reality, and shows that dared to push towards “you-have-to-see-every-episode” territory (Twin Peaks) ended up losing a lot of their potential audience and getting cancelled before their complexity had time to pay off.
Thankfully, this has changed in recent years. DVR recordings, DVD collections, and streaming services have changed the face of how we consume television. Instead of a myriad of disconnected nuggets for light entertainment, larger stories are now broken into manageable chunks. The possibilities for targeting niche markets, expanding character or story arcs, and creating a more in-depth world are all being taken advantage of already.
It was inevitable that this revolution in television would expand into other mediums, but one of the most unsure was the arena of film. Films, perhaps more than any other artistic format, are expected to be self-contained, especially in the producer-driven summer blockbuster scene where most audiences just buy a ticket because they need something to do for 120 minutes and don’t care about pre-established continuity. What large crowd could possibly be interested in seeing a bunch of interconnected stories with reoccurring characters, setups and mythos?
The comic book crowd, of course. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has often been called a daring experiment, and it is, but it wasn’t a nonsensical leap of faith. For decades, comic books have provided the vibrant connectivity and large-scale storytelling that television and movies have lacked, so to have the groundbreakers of this type of franchising be superhero movies makes perfect sense. When Marvel started producing content with fellow serialization pioneer Netflix, everything fell into place even more nicely.
So, to celebrate the arrival of season 2 of Netflix’s Daredevil (which I should probably be watching instead of writing this), I’m going to rank Marvel’s output from my personal least favorite to my personal favorite. This is all opinion, blah blah blah. All the movies, season one of Daredevil, and season one of Jessica Jones will be included, but not Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. or Agent Carter because I’m not familiar with them. This list is spoiler free, so you don’t need to hide your children or anything. So let’s get avenging!