Disney+ Marvel Features: MCU 2022 Round Robin Reviews

Celebrating the Shows & Movies of MCU 2022

Falcon:A few months ago, billions of people reappeared after five years away, sending the world into turmoil. We need new heroes. Ones suited for the times we’re living in.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier “New World Order” (Season 1, Episode 1)

Disney+ has been busy promoting MCU 2022. Three shows, two movies, and a pair of hour-long specials were brought to the service this year. Many new characters were introduced to set up later appearances while the showrunners experimented with new styles and genres.

There’s been a lot of good and bad, so it’s time for some round-robin reviews! With so much to watch, what is worth your time? Let’s find out.

Moon Knight

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, May Calamawy, F. Murray Abraham

[Steven has woken up alone in a car chase with a dead man in the backseat]
Unseen Voice:Wake up, Marc! If he loses the Scarab, I’ll kill you both.”
Steven:I don’t understand what’s happening!

Moon Knight “The Goldfish Problem” (Season 1, Episode 1)

A previously established character has headlined every Marvel series on Disney+. That changed with one of Marvel’s strangest heroes: Moon Knight

Synopsis: A goofy museum worker named Steven Grant has been suffering hallucinations and blackouts. He wakes up on the run from a cult after stealing their scarab. Steven learns that he has an alter ego named Marc Spector, who is a superhero called Moon Knight and serves the god Khonshu. With help from Marc and his mercenary wife Layla, Steven must stop the cult.

Review: Moon Knight is like an Indiana Jones movie starring Jason Bourne. Oscar Isaac has a difficult job playing the constantly out-of-his-depth Steven and bitter mercenary Marc, but pulls it off well.

Ethan Hawke is excellent as cult leader Arthur Harrow, who is affable and polite while plotting genocide. Khonshu is a superb foil for the human characters, blending arrogance and smarm with just enough empathy to keep Moon Knight loyal. Layla rounds out the main cast, but doesn’t stand out from Steven’s DID, Harrow’s honeyed words, or Khonshu’s megalomania.

Verdict: 8/10

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olson, Xochitl Gomez, Benedict Wong

Doctor Strange: “Giant monsters I can clearly handle, but what bothers me is that last night, you were in my dream.”
America Chavez: That…wasn’t a dream. It was another universe.”

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Disney+ has slowly built up the multiverse as the MCU’s next big story arc. MCU 2022 was the time for the movies to dive in headfirst.

Synopsis: Doctor Strange is reeling after being demoted from Sorcerer Supreme and learning that his ex-fiance is getting married. A distraction comes when he saves young runaway America Chavez from a monster. Someone is trying to steal her multiverse-traveling superpowers. They flee to another universe and run afoul of the local heroes: The Illuminati.

Review: Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is Phase 4’s Age of Ultron. The plot of the movie is less important than setting up Avengers: Secret Wars via The Illuminati. That team features several fan favorites and cameos that diminish this movie. 

Dr. Strange is the weakest character, obsessing over his love interest from the first movie and enduring lectures about multiversal laws and constants. America Chavez doesn’t have much to do, but she turns in a good performance, and Wong is delightful as ever.

The villain is done a major disservice. They are portrayed as an unstoppable, godlike force, but the reason for their villainy is unclear unless you are familiar with their macguffin. The writing doesn’t help by making the villain very one-note and obsessive.

Verdict: 6/10

Ms. Marvel

Starring: Iman Vellani, Matt Lintz, Yasmeen Fletcher, Rish Shaw

Kamala: “There is no normal. There’s just us and what we do with what we’ve been given.”

Ms. Marvel “No Normal” (Season 1, Episode 6)

It’s weird to think that many people grew up with the MCU as their first exposure to superheroes. This Disney+ series is perfect for them.

Synopsis: Superhero fangirl Kamala Khan finds a bangle in a box sent by her aunt. The bangle gives her the ability to stretch her body and create hard light barriers. Kamala becomes Ms. Marvel, but is hunted by the government and a mysterious organization called Clandestine.

Review: Ms. Marvel is one of the most relatable Marvel heroes. Kamala is a massive Avengers fangirl who wants to be like her idol, Captain Marvel. She’ll often daydream while events happen, imagining goofy animated segments before snapping back to reality.

The show explores Ms. Marvel’s Pakistani and Muslim heritage, including the main characters attending services at a mosque and visiting Karachi on vacation. While learning about her powers, Kamala has to confront a family tragedy that occurred during The Partition of India.

The villains are hardly worth mentioning. Damage Control is mildly interesting as the lead agents argue over the optics of a government agency targeting a Muslim teenager, but their soldiers are laughably incompetent. Clandestine is painfully generic, and I struggle to remember any of their names.

Verdict: 7/10

Thor: Love and Thunder

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson

Thor: “Once we bring the children back, we shall feast! [everyone cheers] Not on them! [everyone shuts up] We don’t do that anymore. That is a dark part of our history.

Thor: Love and Thunder

Many of the original Avengers are gone. Iron Man and Black Widow are dead. Hawkeye and Hulk are semi-retired, and Captain America is retired. Luckily, the MCU 2022 crop has the next story of the last original Avenger.

Synopsis: Thor is going through the motions. He occasionally performs heroics, but otherwise is looking for inner peace. He is pulled out of his funk when a deicidal serial killer called Gorr kidnaps children from New Asgard to use as bait. Thor forms a team to save the children, including his friends Korg, King Valkyrie, and Jane Foster, who has become a superhero called Mighty Thor.

Review: Thor: Love and Thunder needs to pick a tone and stick to it. The film shows somber events like Jane battling cancer and Gorr the God Butcher being driven to his mad quest by a cruel god, and other dramatic events. A blink later and you’ll see Thor fumbling through heroic speeches, the Asgardians turning their town into a tourist trap, and giant screaming goats. 

The shifting tone gives viewers emotional whiplash. Is this supposed to be a dark comedy? A drama with occasional levity? It ultimately comes off as a mess and wastes the best Thor villain that isn’t named Loki. At least it is still better than Thor: the Dark World.

Verdict: 5/10

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Starring: Tatiana Maslaney, Jameela Jamil, Ginger Gonzaga, Tim Roth, Mark Ruffalo

Jen:That’s what Hulks do. We smash things. Bruce smashes buildings, I smash fourth walls and bad endings. [smirks at the camera] And sometimes Matt Murdock.

She-Hulk “Whose Show Is This?” (Season 1, Episode 9)

Most Marvel series have bombastic plots dealing with planetary survival. But not every MCU 2022 show followed that script. This one isn’t afraid to be a low-stakes sitcom.

Synopsis: Jennifer Walters, Bruce Banner’s lawyer cousin, is exposed to his radioactive blood and transforms into her own Hulk form, the She-Hulk. Jen is hired by a law firm to represent superhumans in court. However, many take umbrage with a female Hulk and plan to kill her. Can she stop the bad guys, keep her job, and stay sane?

Review:  She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is what Ally McBeal would be like with superpowers. Jen struggles to earn respect as a woman lawyer even before having to manage her transformations. The new form complicates things as she is hired solely so the law firm can have a Hulk lawyer. She-Hulk uses comedy to deflect, but delivers several poignant speeches about her situation.

She-Hulk loves its crossovers. Each episode features cameos from heroes, villains, or celebrities. And the crossovers can get weird. Daredevil and Wong are popular and fit perfectly. Lesser-known characters like Mr. Immortal and The Fabulous Frog-Man? What throwbacks! But El Aguila? Man-Bull? Saracen?! Even I was asking “Who the hell are these guys?”

Verdict: 8/10

Werewolf By Night

Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Laura Donnelly, Harriet Sansom Harris, Carey Jones

Jack: Kill me as I am or there will be no mercy, I promise.

Werewolf By Night

Some stories don’t need a series or two hour movie. They show up, strut their stuff for an hour, then get outta Dodge. That’s how it worked for Disney+ and Marvel’s first “special presentation”, Werewolf by Night during the MCU 2022 season.

Synopsis: Monster hunters gather at Bloodstone Manor for a contest to determine who will win the titular necklace. They will enter a hedge maze to hunt a monster. To the killer goes the spoils. But two of the hunters are there for other reasons: Elsa Bloodstone, an irreverent family outcast who wants her birthright, and Jack Russell, a hunter with a connection to the monster.

Review: Werewolf By Night is a love letter to classic Universal horror movies like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Wolf Man. Before the Marvel logos have rolled, claws slash through the credits and the show turns black and white with a title card straight out of the 1940s. The creepy music and gothic aesthetic are present throughout. Make no mistake, this is primarily a horror movie.

Jack Russell is quiet and unassuming, which works to his benefit while he is surrounded by boisterous hunters. Elsa Bloodstone is snarky, rude, and opportunistic, but on the side of the angels. The other hunters are forgettable. The monster is much smarter than it appears and steals the show when on screen.

Verdict: 8/10

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Starring: Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Chris Pratt, Kevin Bacon

Drax:You’re coming with us. As a Christmas present.”

Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Hawkeye was the first Disney+ Marvel series to be a holiday special, but now it has competition. A six episode series vs. an hour long special presentation? Round One: FIGHT!

Synopsis: Star-Lord is depressed after Gamora’s death in Avengers: Infinity War. Mantis learns that it is Christmastime on Earth and convinces Drax to help her plan a big celebration. They travel to Earth to kidnap Star-Lord’s childhood hero: Kevin Bacon. Can they save Christmas or will Bacon escape to act another day?

Review: The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday special is gloriously goofy. Mantis steps into the spotlight to show her comedic skills while Drax continues being hilarious. Kevin Bacon easily slides into the cast, switching between being terrified of the kidnappers and snarking about the whole thing.

There’s more festive fun to be had between kidnapping attempts. Guardians ally Kraglin tries to compose Christmas carols despite not understanding the holiday. Rocket and Groot hang out with a psychic Soviet Golden Retriever named Cosmo. The movie also pays homage to The Star Wars Holiday Special by showing an animated feature where Star-Lord tried to celebrate Christmas only to be denied by Yondu.

Verdict: 9/10

Which of these shows or movies is your favorite? Tell us in the comments.

Image: (L-R): Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), and Cosmo (voiced by Maria Bakalova) in Marvel Studios’ The Guardians of the Galaxy: Holiday Special, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Jessica Miglio. © 2022 MARVEL.

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