The Marvel Cinematic Universe has expanded far beyond expectations. Multiple films and TV shows are released yearly, most of which tie into overarching narratives. But not all of them can claim to be entirely relevant, as individual stories are more standalone.
Catching up with the entire MCU plot is a task that takes a lot of time. This is why it’s best to skip the movies and shows that don’t further the story as much. That doesn’t mean the content is necessarily poor, but they can be classified as filler than anything else. With so much to go through, it’s best to look at the films and series that can be ignored.
11 The Incredible Hulk
MCU’s Hulk was strongest in his debut, but the story itself isn’t anything notable. The Incredible Hulk shows Bruce Banner on the run from Thunderbolt Ross, who is targeting The Hulk. Although Ross, Emil Blonsky, and Bruce reappear in later works, they are reintroduced with different characterizations.
Any points in The Incredible Hulk that resurface later are also quickly explained. This makes the movie immaterial in the grand scope of the MCU. Bruce also behaves very differently compared to his next appearance in The Avengers. The film never got an intended sequel, leaving it as a standalone effort.
10 Iron Man 3
More than anything else, the botched use of Iron Man’s greatest comic book enemy makes up this entry’s notoriety. Iron Man 3 swerves viewers by revealing that The Mandarin is just an actor posing as the villain, leaving this plot point for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to resolve.
Iron Man 3 is about Tony learning to live with PTSD over the Battle of New York. But he continues to carry these fears much later as well, which takes away all relevance from this film. Tony gives up the superhero life at the end of Iron Man 3, yet is still active in Avengers: Age of Ultron. As such, Iron Man 3 is very easy to skip.
9 Spider-Man: Homecoming
Spider-Man: Homecoming is the first solo movie of the titular hero, but the character was introduced earlier in Captain America: Civil War. This story is basically to show how his life functions, as his tussle with the Vulture isn’t anything that affects the larger MCU.
Spider-Man: Homecoming doesn’t have plot relevance like its sequels do – even the characterizations of people like MJ are different in this movie compared to the next. It’s an entertaining movie that has the Spider-Man spirit at heart, but viewers looking for material that ties into the overarching narrative don’t need to watch it.
8 Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 deals with the return of Star-Lord’s father, Ego. The team learns of his evil plans to consume Star-Lord, ultimately slaying Ego before he can threaten the universe. The only notable event in the film is the demise of Star-Lord’s adoptive father, Yondu.
Yondu’s death doesn’t have any bearing on any movies in the grand scheme of the MCU. His death, as well as Ego’s, is recapped by Star-Lord in Avengers: Infinity War, which is sufficient for viewers. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s events are heavily altered by the following Avengers movies, making them relatively irrelevant by now.
7 Black Widow
The timing of Black Widow’s release was such that the movie was skippable as soon as it arrived. It shows Natasha Romanoff on the run after Captain America: Civil War, where she frees Black Widows under mind control. While the story puts her demons to rest, it’s not important to other films.
Black Widow is part of Phase Four but takes place at the beginning of Phase Three. Because of this, the movie doesn’t make for essential viewing. Natasha’s sister Yelena is introduced, although she doesn’t have a starring role and will have a proper part to play in Thunderbolts.
Hawkeye is the smallest-scale MCU Disney+ series yet, focusing on the partnership between Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. They spend the Christmas season evading Kingpin’s forces while Hawkeye trains Kate as his successor. It’s a fun side venture but has nothing of substance in terms of the MCU’s plot.
Hawkeye has guest appearances from Yelena Belova and Kingpin, yet neither of their roles further their individual stories receive resolutions. Clint begins and ends the story pretty much the same, only with more confidence. All in all, Hawkeye is designed to be a filler series that fans can watch for a breezy experience.
5 Moon Knight
Moon Knight is about the titular superhero and his various personalities that inhabit the same body. It sees him drawn into a plot revolving around Egyptian gods while learning to coexist with all the identities. While the series is well-received, it has little to no connections with other MCU works.
The main characters are all exclusive to Moon Knight; they don’t have crossovers with any films and shows. Moon Knight can be seen independently of the entire MCU, and fans will have no issues. Conversely, it’s easily skippable since none of the events impact anything else in the series’ story.
4 She-Hulk: Attorney At Law
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a comedy show in the MCU, where everything in the franchise is satirized. There’s no story at all apart from Jennifer Walters’ many failures in the legal scene being played for laughs. She eventually comes to accept being She-Hulk, yet never actually becomes a superhero.
In fact, She-Hulk’s story is so irrelevant to the show itself that Jennifer breaks the fourth wall and changes the ending on her own. There are some guest appearances from MCU characters like Wong and Daredevil, but their stories are also filler material that doesn’t come up in other shows and films.
2 The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special
Unlike every other MCU film and show, this story has no villains. It’s all about comedy in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which sees Drax and Mantis abduct Kevin Bacon. Their attempt to raise Star-Lord’s spirits by kidnapping his favorite actor doesn’t pan out.
The special is mainly a feel-good story that ends with Kevin Bacon partying with the Guardians. It doesn’t even feature an appearance from Gamora, reconfirming its filler status. Viewers can watch it to feel the holiday spirit without worrying about plotlines.
Inhumans is the most panned series in the MCU, receiving negative reviews and no connections with the larger universe. It’s about the Inhuman Royal Family who help the world without revealing their involvement. The eight-episode show was quickly canceled without getting the chance to expand further.
Inhumans’ status has aged worse, as the MCU itself mostly ignores its existence. Being a non-Disney+ show, Inhumans didn’t get any tie-ins and was a filler upon arrival. The only takeaway from the series was Anson Mount’s portrayal of Black Bolt – the actor played an alternate version in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
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