Warning for spoilers for the respective movies and shows named. Read at your own risk.
While fully aware that the year end roundup is a great way to phone in an article during the time when one would rather be stuffing one’s face with Chinese Food and arguing over which is the superior Sesame Street Christmas special (it’s Christmas Eve on Sesame Street and I will FIGHT YOU), on the other hand a friend of mine did ask me if WandaVision improved when knowing about Wanda’s arc in Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. And honestly it does for that and other reasons besides, which I always meant to get into but could never figure out a good segue to do it.
Likewise there were movies and shows that either aged better or poorly with time and I feel like it’s valid to talk about that too.
I could stick to just a year but since this is the first time we’re doing it - and also the entire point is to include WandaVision - I’m doing all the pop culture things I’ve covered on the site since its inception. For each one I’ve either linked to the review (in the case of movies) or the first article in the series (in the case of WandaVision which was even before we were doing regular analysis on this site! Were we ever so young? Gosh.)
I’m making the obvious exception for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse because obviously that only gets better with time and we all know it.
So! That being said, let’s talk about the last couple of years in the TV and movies that we talked about here on ol’ TBQ Talks (or I talked and y’all listened and that was quite spiffy of you, thanks!). Which ones of these aged like fine wine, aged like milk, or pretty much stayed the same?
Let’s begin with the best. And note everything under each category is in reverse chronological order, it’s not a ranking in any way.
Movies and Shows That Got Better With Age
I realize it’s still early days but honestly everything I’ve seen with AMC’s Interview With the Vampire, except for the annoyingly long name, proves it’s one of the quality shows of the year. I don’t want to pull up the “I can excuse racism…” meme because no, I in no way excuse the racist aspects of the show. But one of the things we do on this site is respect all levels of production (shameless plug alert!). So when I call out the racism that goes to the producer and to the writing that put it into the show. It doesn’t go to cast, crew, props, set design, and of course costumes. Everything there was firing on all cylinders, and the more I look into what was going on in there the more it’s clear a lot of high quality work was done.
So yes, gets better with age even though there is a very sternly written “See me after class” on the top of this particular report because no, seriously, get better on the racial stuff. A good start would be getting more people of color in the director’s chair and writers room. Just saying.
Poor Moon Knight. The fans of the comic character are basically edgelords who fall over themselves to condemn the show because it’s not like the comics omg! And in the meanwhile none of them can even name a particular comic run they’d like it to be because guess what? Moon Knight in the comics is all over the damn place! It’s not like Martha Wayne and her freaking pearls. There’s no way to do the Moon Knight story for the MCU because there isn’t a Moon Knight story in the 616!
(I refuse to say the MCU is 616, refuse.)
Meanwhile people are sleeping on one of the best shows in the MCU Disney+ slate and I stand by that. I keep rewatching, looking at pictures of the costumes up close, learning about how it was made, and the thing I keep saying over and over is “Did nobody tell them they were a Disney+ show? Because this is a lot of work for a Disney+ show.”
The directing, the costumes, the props, the layers upon layers in the story - seriously I’ve yet to do a rewatch or look at a screencap and not find some new level of detail that has me muttering “Oh you assholes” at how much work was put in. Everything from the choices of books on Steven’s shelves, the locations listed on the postcards by the fishtank (which clue you in as to who was actually sending those postcards if you pay attention to other times locations are mentioned), the hieroglyphics on the costumes that basically only Oscar Isaac would see during filming but they’re still there - GAH. All that and more. Seriously. You were a Disney+ show. How did you get away with this?
(My legit guess is that since Moon Knight isn’t as popular a character they managed to fly under the radar and put in a good show without too many studio notes getting in their way.)
Sure I still wish Oscar Isaac had been a teensy bit better at differentiating Steven and Marc in his physicality but on the other hand, counterpoint: a giant talking hippo is canon. It’s a fair exchange.
So yeah, stand by my review, stand by my belief that it’s one of the best MCU Disney+ shows, would not cry at all if we get a second season in my Christmas stocking.
The one for whom this article was created. When I wrote the review of the finale there were a few things that I hated. First up was Monica’s line about how they wouldn’t know what Wanda gave up and that line continues to belong right in the shitter. No question, no change in opinion there.
But the other two things were how rushed the finale was and also the issue that the show didn’t seem to have a point of view on if Wanda was the hero or the villain. As I wrote, far as I could see Agatha was the hero since she’s the one who ultimately got Wanda to set Westview free.
With time we had two things that helped out my feelings about the show. The first was finding out, both in interviews after the show aired and from some helpful industry birdies whispering in my ear, that the finale got screwed hardcore by Covid. It was meant to be two episodes and instead it was one, and it was meant to have more time to work on it and wooo boy did that not happen.
Which means that as far as quality is concerned we had people who were very qualified - and we can see that from how amazing the costumes, sets, and much of the writing and directing was - who were put into an impossible to win situation. And I always, always, always give a fair shake when bad situations happen to good people. So as far as I’m concerned the slate is wiped clean on the rushed nature of the finale, all is forgiven.
Not Monica’s line, but the rushed parts that made the finale so bad.
As for Wanda, the answer is yes: Multiverse of Madness shows that we weren’t supposed to come out of this thinking Wanda was one of the good guys. Now Multiverse of Madness had its own issues up to and including that the director didn’t bother to watch the show to understand Wanda’s motivations. But that’d be for a review on Multiverse of Madness. We’re just focusing on WandaVision here. That Wanda’s next step was to evolve into the big bad of a film means that her crimes in Westview are being treated as crimes. That’s all I wanted.
So yes, WandaVision got better with age, goes up there as one of the best MCU Disney+ shows.
Insert your own Bruno joke here but this movie was one of the best of the year last year and it gets better with every watch. I know it’s disheartening whenever Disney wins another Oscar but damn did this movie deserve it. Much like with Moon Knight, the level of detail put into the animation, the costumes, the characters, the music, the songs, the story - GAH. So good. Only gets better with multiple rewatches so you can pick up how much work was put in. Love it.
Movies and Shows That Stayed the Same
I feel like Hawkeye should take the first position here, in spite of my reverse chronological order, because its the standard of solid quality for the MCU Disney+ shows. Ms Marvel certainly stepped up to that plate. It was a show with a lot of heart and love for the character, which is exactly what you need for a show starring Kamala Khan. Sure some set pieces weren’t as good as they could be (the chase sequence) but they aimed high and get credit for trying. It was a solid effort and remains solid.
As I said, the standard bearer of a good MCU Disney+ show. Not a great one, but you need a touchstone for good as well. It wasn’t trying to be groundbreaking, it wasn’t trying to do anything complicated, and honestly that’s okay. I’m not damning with faint praise here or anything! There’s something to be said for taking in everything you have in terms of time and resources and figuring out how to do a consistent B effort rather than overshoot, maybe hit an A+, but tumble and get F the rest of the time, you know? It’s not a show I’d personally feel called upon to rewatch but I don’t regret the time I spent with it at all.
Speaking of up and down effort. Though some episodes of What If…? did better than others, I think on the whole we can say the show was what it intended to be, which is to say a cute idea for a cartoon series that is otherwise meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
Which is okay! It’s what I thought the show was going to be going into it! And I suspect people who are bitter about the show and Phase Four of the MCU are in part bitter because they had unreasonable expectations of what Phase Four was supposed to be. When the trailers for Multiverse of Madness came out there were people losing their minds because omg Captain Carter! Strange Supreme! And I sat there sipping my soda and going nope. Not the same ones. I can tell you that for free right now.
And sure enough: not the same Captain Carter! Not actually any form of Strange Supreme! Because you can’t make movies that way. You can’t hinge what you’re hoping to make millions in dollars in profit on whether or not people have watched forty minutes worth of cartoons on a streaming service that’s not even available in all countries! Even all the people who could watch the show still didn’t care enough to do it!
So yeah. Fun little idea but that’s all it is. Which is fine! I’ll still watch season two. I’m torn on if I’ll analyze it but the quality of season one remains the same as far as I’m concerned.
I suspect Falcon and the Winter Soldier would’ve been the B effort standard bearer instead of Hawkeye if not for covid. It might’ve even been up in WandaVision and Moon Knight territory.
I know I’m one of the few people who consider this one of the good MCU Disney+ shows, but I still stand by it. Again, the key is that I don’t hold bad events against good people. Falcon and the Winter Soldier was screwed hard by covid shutdown. They basically had to throw a solid chunk of their plans for the show right into the trash, and the majority of those plans involved scenes with the Flag Smashers. So yeah, they ended up with an enemy who lacked motivation and depth and had to do their best with it.
But it was a good show. They clearly had people working on it who cared about things above and beyond the normal (compare the costumes and color story on Hawkeye, which were okay and non-existent respectively, with Falcon and the Winter Soldier which went above and beyond with both). It’s a shame we won’t get to see the version of the show they wanted to make, but I keep a fond spot in my heart for the show we got. Sue me.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut was and remains a solid effort. Though there were some moments you could tell were first-timer nerves (it’s okay to keep the camera still! I promise!) it continues to be a perfect matchup of director and story.
I continue not to be a fan of Jonathan Larson in real or fictional form, but damn if Andrew Garfield didn’t knock it out of the park. I rewatch the songs, not the movie, and feel pretty good about that decision.
A successful introduction of new characters and some much needed Asian representation in the MCU. I continue to like how they realized the core story should be about family with the required fight and CGI sequences built around that. It doesn’t redefine excellence the way that Black Panther did, but it’s a solid effort and much better than many of the movies starring white male protagonists, let’s be real now. Still think Awkwafina’s character stayed long past her welcome but it’s still a fun superhero intro movie all the same.
Considering the strangeness of putting a flashback movie into Phase Four in the first place, Black Widow was better than it had any right to be. If I was putting these in terms of quality and not reverse chronology this movie would definitely be higher on the list. There were a lot of details put in that most movies would skim past ( for example, I continue to love how Yelena’s white outfit didn’t fit her because it wasn’t hers). It was also much needed female representation with female characters actually having agency.
For me, much like all the movies in this section, there wasn’t anything that came with time that made me feel better about the movie than when I started, but the flip side is that Black Widow came out of the gate very good. So it being in this section is more about the solid quality from start to finish than anything else. No shame in this game at all.
I continue to be surprised that this movie didn’t do better than it did. The fact that it didn’t do great at the box office wasn’t a surprise. There was still a pandemic going on. Its success should never have hinged on getting butts in seats.
That being said it’s a good little movie! They improved on the stage show, in my not so humble opinion, and made a great musical film. Certainly a much better Latine rep film than other movies we’re going to mention, believe you me.
I wouldn’t say it had the same level of quality where you’re noticing amazing details every time you rewatch, but for me it does have a certain “Aw, really? That’s a shame.” feeling about it that Moon Knight does. People made advance judgements and let this one slip past them. Their loss.
Movies and Shows that Aged Like Milk
Quick: name your favorite line from She-Hulk!
Yeah, you can’t, can you?
Putting aside the giant what the actual FUCK that yes, I still have over how the supposedly sex positive show made its protagonist the victim of multiple sex crimes, we are still left with the problem that the show that was also supposed to be a sitcom wasn’t actually funny.
C’mon, name something! We all liked Madisynn but can you recall a line of hers other than that she called Wong “Wongers”? How about Jen? Anything she ever said that was funny - heck even memorable - other than that she banged Matt Murdock and confirming Captain America fucks?
Forget dialogue then, how about physical comedy? Boy we all sure remember the moment in the Daredevil hallway scene when Jen as Shulkie came in and… there was a thing, right? There had to be something funny that happened with Jen and smashing or something, right?
I hate so much that I hate this show because of course the same edgelord assholes who hate Moon Knight for not being all dark and gore and blood and murder came out of the gate as hating this because it was a female protagonist. I don’t want to share anything in common with these people! But oh sweet god was this show bad and only gets worse with time.
Because with time you realize things like oh yeah, nothing was particularly funny in the comedy show. And yeah, again, victim of sex crimes but sure the thing Jen’s going to worry about most when effectively talking to god is to ask when the X-Men are coming. Why the fuck not?
And then the longer you linger on it the more you realize how problematic the attempts at feminism in this show were, how problematic even the non-sex crime parts of Jen’s sex life were, the utter waste of Jameela Jamil and Renée Elise Goldsberry, and on and on and on.
I mean honestly the best thing to do about She-Hulk is to stop thinking about it. If you have any fond memories at all they’re only going to tarnish the more you give them air. Let’s dump this one in with the giant statue in the middle of the ocean and pretend we never saw it.
C’mon, you already know this one. The browns don’t even match. This show is the anti-Moon Knight and anti-Encanto in that the more you look at it the more you discover was completely and utterly awful. The disrespect shown to the audience (and, I’m guessing, the crew who wasn’t given what they need to do their best work) is badly sewn seams all the way down.
But beyond that the thing that is so absurd about Loki that I almost swing right back around to admiring is that the thing people like about the show doesn’t exist! That has only been proven with time!
Because come on, what was people’s big excitement about with Loki? Multiverse! Kang! MCU BLOWN WIDE OPEN!!!
Except… we’ve had three movies so far involving the multiverse and none of them mention Loki.
Not the show, not the TVA, not even a passing “Huh where’s all these multiverses coming from?”
And if you’re scratching your head and going wait, three? Yeah, three. Because Far From Home introduced the concept before Loki aired and nobody in the movie or the audience batted an eye. Because Loki isn’t needed to explain why multiverses exist! The MCU is a comic series! Nobody in this genre needs a reason for the multiverse to exist anymore than we need one for why there are flying people who shoot beams from their hands! We’re already on board! Move on!
There is fuck all Loki the show did for the MCU and even less that it did for the character. Oh, Loki had a sad life and does things that are good and bad morally speaking? Cool, we sure as heck didn’t establish that in all the movies he’s been in so far or anything.
Bisexual and gender rep? Okay small point of credit there except other than blink and you’ll miss it on a form and a single line it’s not actually there. The concept of a female Loki shouldn’t be considered weird by the other Lokis and we never see any of the Lokis show same sex attraction.
And as for Kang, I mean maybe the next Ant-Man movie will prove me wrong and suddenly needing to have seen Loki season one will be key buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut I’m not holding my breath here. Three movies, people. Three and we haven’t needed it yet. Highly doubt fourth time will be the charm.
Now maybe the new production team for Loki season two (which includes people from Moon Knight - not the best people from Moon Knight, but Moon Knight all the same) will up the quality and thus retroactively make season one better. Westworld season four managed to do it for Westworld season three so stranger things have happened. But right here and now? Big fat nope. It can sit in the shame corner with She-Hulk.
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA nobody besides me remembers this show even existed. End of discussion.
I’ve already set records on this site for how long I went on about how bad this movie was. So all I’m going to add for the many reasons why it continues to get worse with time is imagine you could have had Rachel Zelger singing Somewhere and you actively chose not to. Enough said.
Mitchells vs the Machines is probably the standard bearer here in the bad way in that I actually started out sort of liking the movie. But the longer I had to sit with it the more I realized it wasn’t a good film. The father/daughter relationship in particular is awful. The blame for the rift between them is placed far too much on the daughter’s shoulders with no acknowledgement that the father is the adult and the parent. It’s on him to keep reaching out to his kid, not her to assuage his sadness that she’s getting older.
If the movie had in any way acknowledged that he’s actually kind of an asshole - case in point making it a much bigger deal that he broke her computer and never replaced it - I might’ve been okay with it. I mean Encanto is entirely about adults having difficulty raising children without emotional problems on all generational levels. But no. We’re supposed to feel sorry for the dad and glad when he gets his “win” that deep down she’s still his little girl.
Meh. Started out liking it, with time kinda hated it. It’s a shame.
It’s never a good sign when what’s supposed to be a big tentpole movie is, in and of itself, the “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” of the MCU. Except part of the joke of “Bruno” is that they do talk about him. Eternals was the Avatar of the MCU: never made a blip culturally and even in the MCU the best gasp of life it had after the theaters was a blink and you’ll miss it Easter egg on She-Hulk. God help anything where She-Hulk is your post airing highlight.
The only kind thing we can say about Eternals is that it’s just there. At least it wasn’t offensive, it was boring. Unfortunate.
This is a little bit cheating since I covered these for paid members, but I do want to acknowledge the ups and downs of other things that got attention the past couple of years. So, to be fair to both the shows and to the people paying for the extras, I’m just going to quickly touch on them and that’s it.
Better With Age:
- Turning Red: especially in comparison to Mitchells vs the Machines
- Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey: music, story, and costumes continue to hold up
- The Harder They Fall: Costumes and acting remain top tier
- Marvel’s MODOK: especially in comparison to other attempts at animation and humor in the MCU
- Kevin Can F Himself: Season two helped ease narrative worries that arose in season one
- Arcane: Insanely good show with repeated viewings rewarding you with all the extra details
- Hip-Hop Nutcracker: I hate the reason why but as far as I know it’s the last thing Stephen “tWitch” Boss ever performed. Rest in peace, man.
Stayed The Same:
- Wendell and Wild: I have some issues with it but those are counterbalanced by how it handled some things better than other shows (Claudia on IWTV vs Kat on Wendell and Wild, for example) so arguably better with age but just weak enough on some things I’m leaving it in this section
- Westworld: Another one with up and down quality but season four improved season three and honestly it’s good to know we don’t have to worry about season five. So my review of it stands as is.
- Kids in the Hall: A resurrection of an old property that didn’t make me cringe! Still glad they did it and that I watched it
- The Sandman: Solid quality though with iffy handling of some things, so again I stand by my review
- The Legend of Vox Machina: I stand by my review and now I’m stepping away before fans find out I talked about it and try to kill me for blinking in its direction.
- With Love: Sadly one of the weakest entries but at least it didn’t get worse with time so I’m okay with leaving it here.
Aged Like Milk:
- Wonder Woman 84: A hot mess which gets worse the more you think about it.
- The Suicide Squad: The instant the spectacle is done you realize how badly put together it was. Assuming you didn’t figure that out while you were watching.
And that’s it! It’s nice to be able to revisit things and give them a fair shake one way or another. Thanks to all of you for joining for the Pop Culture ride so far. Let’s see what 2023 brings us!