With “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” over and weeks until “Loki” begins on June 11, Marvel fans may be looking to get their fix of cosmic powers, supersoldier serum and colorful alter-egos. While most of the MCU is streaming on Disney Plus, those who have already watched and rewatched the current Universe 199999 content may find themselves needing to branch out.
Luckily there are options. From the legacy animation projects to blockbusters of yesteryear, the core mythology created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Chris Claremont and others over the last sixty years has seen its fair share of adaption. Here are some of the best offerings streaming online right now and where to watch them.
News broke this month that the Tom Holland Spiderman franchise was coming to Disney Plus. When they arrive they’ll fill in a few of that service’s gaps in MCU content. Of course, the friendly neighborhood web-slinger is arguably the most famous superhero in history and the IP has been around the block a few times. Whether you’re partial to Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield, both previous blockbuster Spider-man franchises are streaming right now on Starz.
Now might be a great time to bone up on Sam Raimi’s version in particular as the director is moving into the MCU with “Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.” There are rumors that this year’s “Spider-man: No Way Home” – featuring Alfred Molina’s return as Doc Oc – will feature a multiverse bent, similar to the wonderful animated “Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse.” That film is off of Netflix but there are more than a couple of Spider cartoons streaming on Disney Plus at the moment, including 1981’s “Spider-man” and “Spider-man and his Amazing Friends.” Between the two series, you get a surprisingly wide breadth of Marvel content, including Dr. Doom, the X-men, and even Namor.
2008’s “The Incredible Hulk” may end up being the last canonic MCU film not available on Disney Plus. It is sometimes easy to forget that film – starring Ed Norton, as opposed to the Mark Ruffalo the MCU has grown used to since 2012’s “The Avengers” – is canon and continues to have implications in the universe. It is even easier to forget that just a few years earlier Tawainese auteur Ang Lee had taken a swing at his version of the famous character. Featuring Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliot and Nick Nolte, 2003’s “Hulk” represented some of the melancholy and introspection of the comics. The film is streaming on Starz right now.
There’s no shortage of Hulk animated content streaming right now either. “The Incredible Hulk” (1997) (featuring Lou Ferrigno!) and “Hulk and the Agents of Smash” (2013) are both on Disney Plus and comic fans can catch “Planet Hulk” on Netflix. The latter is a darker, more adult adaptation of the comics that partially inspired “Thor: Ragnarok”.”
It is a bummer that the classic 1970s TV show “The Incredible Hulk” has gone missing from its previous home on NBC.com, but fans can still catch “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” on Amazon Prime. The 1989 made-for-TV movie features Bill Bixby and Ferrigno reprising their iconic roles from the series but also Rex Smith as Daredevil and Jonathan Rhys-Davies blithely refusing to shave anything for his version of the Kingpin.
The Marvel Rising franchise is an endearing and interesting take on the Marvel Universe with its eye on youth and diversity. The series features a version of the Secret Warriors, focusing on Squirrel Girl, Quake, Ms. Marvel, Ghost-Spider, Patriot, and America Chavez. For old heads looking to catch up on new characters from the comics or the YA crowd just getting into the wider world of the Marvel Universe, Marvel Rising delivers some fun moments and all of its shorts and films are available on Disney Plus. With Patriot showing up as a subtle cameo in “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and America Chavez slated to appear in the upcoming “Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness,” there are worse ways to introduce yourself to some characters who may matter in the MCU very soon. Or maybe you just need another Shuri story in the meantime. Either way, Marvel Rising is worth checking out.
The Fox Kids “Silver Surfer” is an oft-overlooked Marvel serial from 1998 that deserves more love. Its innovative use of early CGI mixed with traditional animation works surprisingly well and attempts to approach the general trippiness of the classic Kirby Surfer. You get an ominous Galactus, plenty of Kirby crackle, and one episode is even written by Harlan Ellison! The whole thing is streaming on Disney Plus and is a strange trip through the outer reaches of the Universe with some classic cosmic Marvel characters. In addition to most of the (current, famous) Guardians of the Galaxy showing up you can check out animated versions of Pip the Troll, Adam Warlock, and Beta Ray Bill.
Speaking of trippy, the FX series “Legion” does a marvelous job of dancing around its X-men source material. It follows a character who in the comics is Prof X’s son through his struggles with mental health and who serves as a textbook unreliable narrator. All three seasons of the show are currently on Hulu and offer fans a surprisingly faithful onscreen version of the Shadow King in all his psychic glory.
Fans of the Fox franchises will be glad that most of the films are streaming right now on Disney Plus. The service is also the digital home currently to some legacy X-men animation, especially all five seasons of the Fox Kids Network’s classic “X-men” cartoon. The series doesn’t shy away from some deep dives into X-lore and introduced tons of 90s kids to Mr. Sinister, Omega Red, Apocalypse, and even a version of the famous Dark Phoenix saga. It was so influential they ended up bringing the continuity of the show back in the comics during the “Secret Wars” of 2015.
The half-vampire vampire-hunter is coming to the MCU in his own film, but people still remember the trilogy of films starring Wesley Snipes. All three are currently streaming on HBO Max, and while people’s mileage for them varies, the films offer some iconic moments. If you can’t get enough blood or techno, but prefer deeper depths of obscurity, the TV series from the franchise – featuring Sticky Fingaz of Onyx as the titular hero – is currently streaming on Tubi.
Maybe he ends up joining the MCU, but for now the Merc With a Mouth played by Ryan Reynolds remains an outlier. Luckily both of the Deadpool films are streaming right now on Hulu, as is “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” where you can watch the same actor originally tackle the same character but quite off-brand.
For those looking for a more academic bent, there are good options for documentary material online right now devoted to funny books. One of the newest is this “Marvel’s Behind the Mask.” A solid introduction to the history of the comic company and the creators who populated its pages, the documentary lacks the specificity of last year’s “Marvel’s 616.” That series looked at far-flung niches of the Marvel Universe, from the Japanese Spiderman series of the 70s to creator Dan Slott fulminating on the Marvel Method – the old-school workflow utilized by Kirby and Lee in the Silver Age of comics.
But not every Marvel adaption has been a masterpiece. “Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four” is streaming on Hoopla, Vudu and Tubi right now. The film tells the real-life tragicomedy of the trailblazer of independent film’s unreleased version of the Fantastic Four from 1994.
Lastly, the PBS 2013 “Superheroes” documentary is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. This doc is among the best introductions to the subject matter at large, if a bit dated.