It takes years of toil to create a universe, and it is astonishing to think of what an empire as expansive as Marvel has done over the course of 11 years from ‘Iron Man’ to ‘Avengers: Endgame’. They are surely reaping the benefits of long term strategizing, and most of all patience. A part of that strategizing and enterprising would be Marvel’s and its universe’s planned expansion onto television, spread across a number of networks, most popular and sizeable among them being Netflix that houses the ever expanding universe’s ‘Daredevil’, ‘Jessica Jones’, ‘Luke Cage’, ‘Iron Fist’, ‘The Defenders’ and ‘The Punisher’, some of the biggest and most successful shows the universe has put out, although all of them stand cancelled as of now.
Hulu too isn’t far behind, having a slate of popular shows available for streaming, and a number of them upcoming. What that states for certain is that even though ‘The Infinity Saga’ may have ended with ‘Avengers: Endgame’, the continuity in these shows hasn’t. However, there is only a certain time until re-watches can hold up. Out of the 13 shows announced, only 2 currently remain on air, while the rest of them have either completed their limited run or have been cancelled following lacklustre reception. This could also be a planned move by the MCU and Marvel, since they now wish to concentrate most of their audience on the newly announced Disney+ streaming service, due later this year. So with all that said, here’s the list of really good Marvel shows on Hulu that are available to stream right now:
5. Ghost Rider (2020)
I was looking for milder ways to say this, but I have decided against it. Ghost Rider is badass, one of the best Marvel properties that I have come to adore and respect. However, the films starring Nicholas Cage aren’t. They lack the necessary treatment and flair that are required for a movie about a skull on fire riding a spiked motorcycle. The first one was still silly fun, but the second one was plain silly. Thankfully, Ghost Rider is up for a renewed TV treatment, after having the character debut in the fourth season premiere that in and of itself established a very different tone for the season altogether.
‘Ghost Rider’, the series, is going to be a Hulu original and will have Robbie Reyes from ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ being reprised by Gabriel Luna in the role. Ghost Rider will see a marked departure from its Johnny Blaze incarnation, and will focus on Reyes’ incarnation of it, just as the origin story remains mostly the same. The story is set around the Texas-Mexico border and will begin with Reyes unleashing the demonic Ghost Rider spirit and embodying it, avenging the innocent who have been wronged. The setting also unmistakably makes room for a bit of a Southern vibe, and that should be a good addition. Talking of that, one of the best among the few good things about the first film was that they got Sam Elliott to play the Caretaker and the first Ghost Rider. While the show definitely wouldn’t have that of which I am sure, I am still ready to give it a chance when it comes out next year, well, mostly because it’s Ghost Rider.
4. Helstrom (2020)
Well, as I said earlier, if a skeleton on fire riding a fiery automobile can avenge the innocent, certainly the son of Satan can be up in the running for that as well. One of the few occult Marvel properties that received a favourable audience and critical responses after ‘Ghost Rider’ and ‘Dracula’, and was deservedly given his own series of comics to star in shorty after its debut in 1973 in Ghost Rider. Now that can be a very lucrative way for the shows to introduce Helstrom as well: introduce the character in the ‘Ghost Rider’ TV series (also to premiere on Hulu) and have him branch off into his own separate series while sharing the same universe. Well, even ‘Arrow’ and ‘The Flash’ did the same and even though they were relatively better known characters, both of these shows enjoyed a long fruitful run, with the eventual crossover episode and team-ups adding a bit of shared universe credibility.
Now that we have the outline of the show out of the way, which is also what will most probably happen, let me tell you what Helstrom is. The son of Satan, as I wrote earlier, is later revealed to be a demon, Marduk Kurios, posing as Satan. The dilemma of separating from his father’s evil roots is what mostly sums up the core of this character. He will in all probability be joined by his sister, the other half-human daughter of Kurios, Satana as the two embark on their occult adventures. While Helstrom is mostly seen as a hero, even affiliating with the Defenders at one point, Satana is mostly true to her demonic roots. The series is due for airing sometime in the second half of 2020.
3. Runaways (2017-)
Well, representation is important, and this show mostly scores on that. We are almost done with the first two decades of the 21st Century which have evidently seen the obvious swell of superhero cinema and shows, and the ones that have truly stood out within the large clutter of superhero property and also managed to stand the test of time are the ones that have merged much of the super-heroics, even put them on a back-burner in rare cases, to tell stories that are increasingly humane or relatable. Case in point: ‘Spiderman: Homecoming’. It was in equal parts a teenage high school drama and superhero film wrapped in one.
‘Runaways’ is what I would put closest in vein with. The show is about a group of teenagers who have to escape from their homes when they realise that their parents are part of a secret faction of supervillains. As they are on the run from the elders and the faction, they band together and needless to mention, they find unlikely allies in each other as they learn more about each other and become a family of their own.
While the premise is interesting, the show surely has some scope for improvement. Like I said, the superhero stuff herein is remarkably low, yet the series manages to be marginally entertaining by virtue of the sparks that fly when its increasingly diverse group finds their way out of increasingly difficult situations. They also try to discover their origins in the process, and show some genuine chemistry in parts. While I will still say it is still one of the better ones from the lot, I found not quite to my taste. Give it a try though. You might take a liking to it if teenage dramas are your preferred entertainment. Superheroes are definitely a bonus!
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2. Agent Carter (2015-16)
When it comes to films, I have no reservations in saying that the MCU was a bit late for a strong female representation, that too in ‘Captain Marvel’, one that I can’t completely side in myself, but television has been a relatively better story. Marvel’s ‘Agent Carter’ focused on who I would like to call the MCU’s first female superhero. The series is set in 1940s America where S.H.I.E.L.D must now deal with the nuclear threats in the wake of the end of the Second World War, and puts Peggy Carter at the centre of it all, trying to balance between her own personal life, working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) in New York, while at the same time secretly assisting Howard Stark, another welcome addition to the series, who is framed for supplying weapons to the enemies of the US.
Apart from that, ‘Agent Carter’ also manages to nicely tie up to, and detail the origins of some of the recurring and important MCU elements, including the Winter Soldier Program, the Black Widow program, Anton Vanko, Arnim Zola, Jarvis himself, and even Marcus Daniels from ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’. As for my verdict, this was a pretty consistently watchable show, and although I have never been a fan of shows based on comic books myself since they seem to stretch it quite a bit, ‘Agent Carter’ succeeded in my opinion because it was hardly that. The same corporate espionage thriller vibe that worked for ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ works here as well, and brownie points for the 1940s setting. The positives in this show far outweigh the negatives: Peggy’s and Jarvis’ chemistry and banter surely being the highlight of the series. It’s a shame then that the show was cancelled after two seasons owing to low viewership, despite most of the critics agreeing with what I have said here.
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1. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013-)
Currently one of the only two shows that remain on air from the originally introduced slate of 13 shows, ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ is also its longest running one, picking up from the events of ‘The Avengers’ in 2012, and following the same events of the current MCU well into the current one. The series has recently been renewed for a seventh season, and even as viewership continues to fall slowly but steadily, I must admit that the show’s quality has witnessed significant improvement with every season after the wildly oscillating first one.
Since ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ is also the only show that properly ties in with major events of the MCU, including the attack on New York, S.H.I.E.L.D’s infiltration by Hydra, the destruction of S.H.I.E.L.D, followed by its reinstating after the Sokovia Accords, the show manages to squeeze in some interesting bits with real consequences that nicely tie in or justify some happenings in the movies. The best part about it is that you get to see a resurrected Phil Coulson, as he assembles another team of agents to look into threats of an unusual nature. I can’t say for regular audiences, but fans of the MCU wouldn’t pass on this.
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