Disney+ isn’t just for kids. With Star Wars and Marvel, the streaming service has plenty of grown-up shows to compete with Netflix and Amazon.
And we’re not just talking movies. Disney is using the name recognition of Star Wars and Marvel to launch scores of TV shows, from The Mandalorian to Loki. In the list below, we’ve collected the ones we think are the best to watch, from those franchises and beyond.
Andor is something of a miracle. Created by Tony Gilroy, the filmmaker brought in to save Rogue One, it’s the origin story of one of that movie’s most beloved characters: Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). Set in the early years of the Rebellion it charts Andor’s path to becoming one of the most integral of the Rebels. With a supporting cast that includes Fiona Shaw and Stellan Skarsgård, it also features a fantastic score from Nicholas Britell (Moonlight, Succession). After spending so much time with Mandalorians and Jedis, it’s a welcome reprieve and perhaps the closest thing to prestige TV the Star Wars universe has released yet.
Ewan McGregor has not always had the kindest words for the Star Wars prequels in which he first played the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi—a role he inherited from Alec Guinness, who also had plenty of less-than-favorable things to say about the franchise. So it was somewhat surprising when Lucasfilm announced McGregor would be redonning his Jedi gear to star in a standalone Star Wars series for Disney+. In many ways, however, it allowed McGregor and former costar Hayden Christensen to course-correct some of their earlier work, as it follows a downtrodden Obi-Wan attempting to process both his personal and professional disappointments with losing Anakin Skywalker (Christensen) to the Dark Side.
The Beatles: Get Back
In January 1969, just over a year before they announced they were breaking up, The Beatles allowed a film crew unprecedented access to the creative process and recording of Let It Be, which would be their final studio album. 50 years later, Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson was presented with the nearly 60 hours of film footage and more than 150 hours of audio that resulted from this project, which he remastered and turned into a three-part docuseries. Whether or not you’re already a Beatles fan, the documentary is a fascinating look at the creative process of one of the music world’s most influential bands as they work against the clock to finish recording an album, decide to put on a free concert on the rooftop of their label, and occasionally butt heads. Knowing what the subjects do not know—that this will be the last time they perform live together, or record an album—only adds to the project’s intimacy. The miniseries won all five Emmys it was nominated for, including Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series.
Oscar Isaac brings yet another marquee name to Marvel’s growing roster of all-star talents with Moon Night. Here, Isaac plays a man with dissociative identity disorder, giving us not one but three distinct characters: mercenary Mark Spector, British gift shop employee Steven Grant, and the mysterious—and seemingly ominous—Jake Lockley. Ultimately, Isaac finds him facing off against himself to get the answers he’s seeking out. For Moon Knight, Isaac told Empire that he was thrilled to be able to do something “really fucking nutty on a major stage”—and he delivers.
The Book of Boba Fett
Like The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau is also at the helm of this Disney series, which sees the criminally unsung bounty hunter of the Star Wars movies finally get his day in the sun. The series is technically a spinoff of The Mandalorian and takes place in the same time frame, after the events of Return of the Jedi. That explains why Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and his partner Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) are attempting to take over the underworld previously controlled by Jabba the Hutt.
The Muppet Show
While the original The Muppet Show, which ran for five seasons between 1976 and 1981, is considered a piece of classic television today, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for creator Jim Henson. Henson produced two one-off Muppet specials that were intended to take the show into prime time, but neither came to fruition. Fortunately, the Muppets did have a recurring gig in “The Land of Gorch” sketches that aired during Saturday Night Live’s first season, which—when that became a hit—gave Henson the proof he needed that there was a potentially massive audience for an adult-oriented Muppet show (not to mention the celebrity connections to entice plenty of A-list names to host). The rest is Muppet history.
Before Disney+ became the home for all of Marvel’s TV content, Netflix was the place to find it—beginning with Daredevil, which sees blind attorney Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) spending his days seeking justice and his nights looking for revenge as a masked vigilante attempting to rid his Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of its criminal element. While the series ended in 2018, Cox has reprised the role and is currently at work on a new series, Daredevil: Born Again, which will be a Disney+ exclusive when it arrives in 2024.
The Punisher is yet another Netflix-turned-Disney+ Marvel series that also happens to be a spinoff of Daredevil. Like Daredevil, The Punisher (real name: Frank Castle, played by Jon Bernthal) is a vigilante who seems to relish exacting revenge, regardless of the results. He and Daredevil operate within the same universe, and while The Punisher sort of admires Daredevil’s quest for true justice, Daredevil can’t abide by The Punisher’s by-any-means-necessary mantra. Bernthal brings an intensity to the role that, while undoubtedly violent, also has a sense of humor about it.
If you’re looking to recapture the magic of the original DuckTales, in which rich old Uncle Scrooge McDuck looks after his nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, the original cartoon (which ran from 1987 to 1990) is here. But so is the newfangled version, which features the same fun adventures and an all-star voice cast that includes David Tennant, Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz, and Bobby Moynihan as Scrooge, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, respectively.
Diary of a Future President
Though it was canceled after just two seasons, Diary of a Future President is a nice antidote to many of the vapid teen sitcoms out there. This series follows Elena Cañero-Reed (Tess Romero), a 13-year-old Cuban American who dreams of one day becoming president. While she waits until she’s old enough to get there, this series tells the story of what Elena goes through as a typical teen while regularly flash-forwarding to her presidency.
Boy Meets World
If ABC’s TGIF lineup wasn’t a part of your night as a kid, you clearly didn’t grow up in the ’90s. But Disney+ is happy to right that wrong by housing all seven seasons of the teen sitcom in its library. Corey Matthews (Ben Savage) deals with the ups and downs of growing up and ever-evolving relationships with friends and family—plus that one teacher, Mr. Feeny (William Daniels)—who always has the right answer for all your problems, whether you like it or not. As the show progressed and the kids grew up, more serious issues like drugs and sex were thrown into the mix, which didn’t necessarily please the network. When the show aired on the OG Disney Channel, a few episodes weren’t included in the lineup because of the more mature subject matter. You can also check out all three seasons of Girl Meets World, the series reboot (which features Corey as the parent and Mr. Feeny) when you’re done.
Just about six months after Daredevil arrived on the scene, Netflix took another chance on a Marvel property with Jessica Jones. Yet another darker dive into the world of superheroes, Krysten Ritter plays a perfectly put-on private investigator who has given up her days as a superhero because of a major catastrophe. But you can’t always deny who you are, as Jessica soon comes to discover when it seems like every case that comes her way forces her to confront her past—and the supervillain Kilgrave (David Tennant), who turned her into a shell of her former self.
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers
Your favorite youth hockey team has morphed from lovable underdogs into ultra-competitive powerhouse in this belated spin-off of the beloved 1992 movie starring Emilio Estevez, who reprises his role. After 12-year-old Evan Morrow (Brady Noon) is cut from the team, he and his mother set out to build their own group of plucky underdogs to challenge their now true-to-their-name Mighty Ducks. The second season arrives September 28.
Yet another in an ever-growing string of spinoff TV shows from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hawkeye gives some long overdue attention to Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton, who in many ways has often seemed like the forgotten Avenger. The supernaturally skilled archer is in most of the ensemble Avengers movies, but this Disney+ series marks his first solo outing. The show sees Hawkeye teaming up with Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), a precocious twentysomething who shares his skills for slinging arrows but lacks his eye for danger. It’s set during the holidays, and there are shades of Die Hard as the eponymous character tries to save the day, and make it home in time for Christmas. Let the arguments begin about whether or not it’s a Christmas TV show.
The MCU is exhaustingly huge. Yet while Loki is undoubtedly part of it, the series could just as easily work as a stand-alone, and is all the more fun and surprising as a result. There are enough plot twists, silly one-liners, time-travel antics, and even a wisecracking alligator to keep everyone entertained. If that doesn’t do it, then Loki has a visual effects budget that would put most Hollywood blockbusters to shame. Sure, it’s not the most intellectually stimulating show out there, but Tom Hiddleston does a great job at turning Loki into a more complex, interesting character.
Monsters at Work
Monsters at Work is the Monsters, Inc. spinoff you didn’t know you needed. It picks up the action six months after the end of the iconic Pixar movie—after Sully and his friend and colleague Mike (a giant green eyeball) have reworked the Monstropolis energy grid to run on laughter instead of children’s screams. The show, which includes elements of a workplace comedy, premiered in the summer of 2021 and has a second season coming in 2023.
The Bad Batch
Yes, Disney really is milking its Star Wars properties for all they’re worth. The Bad Batch is an animated spinoff series set in the aftermath of The Clone Wars, between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy in the overarching timeline. It follows a group of clone soldiers with genetic defects that give them individual traits and personalities, making them well suited to taking on daring mercenary missions. There are 16 episodes in the first season, which premiered in May 2021, with a second season set to premiere in January 2023.
This slow-burning sitcom parody is unexpectedly compelling. For the first couple of episodes, even hardened Marvel fans will have very little idea what’s going on, as Avengers Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) live out an idyllic family life in black-and-white 1950s suburbia. Quickly, it becomes clear that something is wrong in the quiet town of Westview, as the world of the show ties into the wider MCU. Olsen reprises her role in Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which picks up right after the events of WandaVision. Though there will not be a second season, fan-favorite Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) is getting a spinoff.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
After the surreal sitcom stylings of WandaVision, the second Marvel show to land on Disney+ covers more familiar ground. It’s an action-packed thriller that follows Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) as they try to fill the void left by Captain America in the months after the events of Avengers: Endgame.
The Right Stuff
The early days of space flight are the stuff of legend, full of larger-than-life characters who risked themselves to push the boundaries of human knowledge. The Right Stuff, a dramatization of the iconic Tom Wolfe book (which was previously adapted into an Oscar-winning movie in 1984), delves into the recruitment process leading up to the Apollo program, as brash macho pilots vied for position and prominence. Gripping stuff.
If you’re missing your dose of Queer Eye, Disney+ has a show that’s just as feel-good with similar vibes. Though Kristen Bell is billed as the main attraction in Encore!, she doesn’t log a lot of screen time. Regardless, you’ll want to stay for the heart and nostalgia that comes with adults going back to their old high schools and performing the same musicals they put on as kids. Every episode features a new school, a new musical, and plenty of drama off the stage as ex-high school sweethearts reunite after years apart, once-shy teenagers show off how they blossomed as adults, and stay-at-home parents get to flaunt their performing prowess for their kids. The musicals range from The Sound of Music to High School Musical, with theater professionals to help upgrade them.
Is it possible to run a marathon in under two hours? We now know the answer is yes—at least if you’re Eliud Kipchoge. This one-off documentary from NatGeo charts the Kenyan runner’s first (failed) attempt at running 26 miles in under two hours. The attempt was organized by Nike, with the documentary showing behind-the-scenes access to Kipchoge’s training and the event’s preparation. It may be that without the lessons learned from this agonizingly close attempt, he wouldn’t have achieved the goal in late 2019.
The World According to Jeff Goldblum
Few things are more comforting than watching languid actor Jeff Goldblum (best known for playing Dr. Malcolm in the Jurassic Park movies) shrug his way through a series of short documentaries about different subcultures and industries. “I know nothing, that’s the premise,” the Oscar-nominated actor says in the trailer, which just about covers it. Expect lots of shots of Goldblum at trade shows, in factories, and saying “wow” as you learn fascinating new things alongside him.
The Mandalorian was, and is, exactly what the Star Wars franchise needed. Everything about this Jon Favreau series, which premiered in 2019, feels like classic TV—from the episodic adventures to the cameos—and that’s a great thing. Set in the outer reaches of the galaxy, it follows a moody, masked Mandalorian bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) and really delivers on the hype with its retro-futuristic robots, salty space Western vibes, lack of Skywalker baggage, and, of course, Grogu (a k a Baby Yoda). Season 3 will premiere in February 2023.
Star Wars Rebels
The Mandalorian may have been Disney’s big ticket for its streaming network launch, but Rebels might just be the best Star Wars TV on the service. Accessible for kids and adults alike, the animated series follows a group of rebels led by the former Jedi Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and featuring his force sensitive Padawan Ezra Bridger (Ezra Gray). Fan favorite Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) is another regular character across its four seasons, which does a neat job of fleshing out the time between the end of the prequel trilogy and the beginning of the original one.
Have you got some time on your hands? Well, the 32 seasons of The Simpsons currently streaming on Disney+ should keep you busy. What can be said about one of the longest-running—and arguably most famous —animated TV shows ever made? While the first season is a little patchy by today’s standards, and there are ongoing arguments about when the show went from essential viewing to neglected cash cow, whatever your view, there are literally weeks worth of entertainment here.
X-Men: The Animated Series
If you really want to nerd out, this critically acclaimed animated X-Men series from the ’90s is worth a watch. In fact, the first two movies in the live-action movie franchise drew heavily on this cartoon, which serves as a nice reminder of what can be done with rich source material.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
This seven-season series, which is for serious Marvel fans, revolves around S.H.I.E.L.D.’s less super agents, led by Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). The first season takes a while to warm up, but it really hits its stride in its second and especially third seasons, and eventually ramps up with a complex plot that ties into the movies.
Agent Carter is a better show than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but struggled to find an audience during its two seasons. Hayley Atwell reprises her role as Peggy Carter from several MCU movies in this 1940s-set series, where she doubles as an agent for the US government while also helping Howard Stark (Tony’s dad) out of more than one jam. The two seasons stretch to only 18 episodes, so it’s a quick watch, but one worth making the time for.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
This is another Star Wars animated show worth seeking out, though it’s not to be confused with the equally worthy 2003 animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars from legendary Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky. Both series deal with the same period between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, and chronicle the rise of Anakin Skywalker from arrogant Padawan to powerful Jedi Master.
There’s quite a lot of behind-the-scenes content on Disney+. These are short clips that, in another age, would have been confined to the DVD extras menu. But this series of 20-minute documentaries on different Pixar movies offers a fascinating insight into the animated hit machine.
Here’s an animated series all based around one simple question: What if? The Watcher, played by Jeffrey Wright, is an extraterrestrial being who observes the multiverse, occasionally making minor changes to influence events. This series looks at how events in the Marvel movies would have turned out differently if they had a Sliding Doors moment. The first episode follows an alternate timeline where Steve Rogers remains a scrawny sidekick, and Agent Carter becomes a Union Jack-draped super soldier. Actors from the movies reprise their roles, including Josh Brolin as Thanos, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, and Karen Gillan as Nebula.
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