10 Best MCU Moments Of 2021, Ranked
Let the Marvel countdown begin!
Warning: SPOILERS are ahead for all the MCU movies and TV shows released in 2021.
After going through 2020 without any Marvel Cinematic Universe content (unless you count Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s final season, but its placement in MCU continuity is sketchy at best), 2021 marked the biggest year for the superhero franchise yet. That’s not an exaggeration, because in addition to getting four movies, we were also treated to five MCU TV shows on Disney+. We’ve come a long way from being thankful that just one or two MCU installments would arrive per year.
With so much Marvel content to enjoy in 2021, that meant that there were plenty of great moments within each of these projects, whether they were character-building or had major ramifications for the wider MCU. But which among them were the greatest? That’s what we’re here to go over.
10. Meeting Contessa Valentina Allegra De Fontaine
After his time as as the second Captain America ended unceremoniously, John Walker was approached by the mysterious Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Thanks to her, John now has a bright future ahead of him as U.S. Agent. Following her debut in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Valentina resurfaced in Black Widow, where she assigned Yelena Belova to hunt down Clint Barton, whom she claimed was responsible for Natasha Romanoff’s death.
Much like Nick Fury in the MCU’s Phase 1, Valentina appears to be assembling a team for some yet-to-be-revealed purpose, with many fans believing this is how we get The Thunderbolts or Dark Avengers in the superhero franchise. This mysterious woman is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
9. Taskmaster’s Identity Being Revealed
Although Marvel Comics’ version of Taskmaster is a mercenary named Tony Masters, the MCU opted to give the identity and photographic reflexes to someone else for Black Widow. For years, fans speculated about who was under the mask, and now we finally know: it’s Antonia Dreykov, daughter of the Russian general who ran the Red Room.
Originally thought to have been by Natasha Romanoff, both Dreykov and Antonia survived, though unfortunately for the latter, she was badly injured, leading her father to insert a chip into her head that relieved her of the pain, but also gave him complete control over her. For years, Taskmaster Antonia served as leader of the Black Widows and assassin extraordinaire, but now she’s free from her father’s influence, allowing her to chart her own destiny.
8. Shang-Chi Inheriting The Ten Rings From Wenwu
To say that Shang-Chi and his father Wenwu didn’t get along in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is an understatement. The former wanted nothing to do with his father’s criminal enterprise, and the latter would do anything to get his wife back (believing she was being held captive somewhere rather than dead), no matter who was hurt along the way.
But once the Dweller-in-Darkness and its minions were freed from imprisonment in Ta Lo, the father and son were eventually able to overcome their differences and fight their shared adversaries, and in his final moments, Wenwu passed on the powerful rings that had kept him alive for centuries to Shang-Chi. It was a touching sacrificial moment from an antagonistic character, and now it’s up to Shang-Chi to solve the mystery his father never delved into: the rings’ origins.
7. Ultron Vs. The Watcher
For most of What If… ? Season 1’s run, like the viewers, Uatu the Watcher was simply a spectator, never interfering in the events of that unfolded across the multiverse no matter how bad things got. However, when a version of Ultron empowered by the Infinity Stones learned of Uatu’s existence, he wasted no time attacking the being who narrated the animated Disney+ series.
Uatu put up a valiant fight, but he was no match for this godlike Ultron and was forced to flee. From there, The Watcher was forced to break his vow of nonintervention and assemble a team of heroes and villains to help him prevent Ultron from destroying the multiverse, and thankfully, they succeeded.
6. The Eternals Preventing The Birth Of A Celestial
It was revealed in Eternals that for millions of years, the Celestials have planted seeds on populated planets to bring forth new Celestials. Following the reversal of the Blip and nearly all of the Deviants being eradicated, the time had come for the Emergence, i.e. the Celestial known as Tiamut being born, which would lead to Earth being destroyed.
After the starring Eternals characters learned the truth, a split emerged in the group, with some wanting to let Tiamut’s birth go as planned and others wanting to prevent it so that Earth would be saved. The latter group ultimately emerged triumphant, with the partially emerged Tiamut being turned to marble by the Uni-Mind. Consequently, Sersi, Phastos and Kingo were later captured by Arimesh so he could study their memories and determine if humanity is worthy of living.
5. Reuniting With Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin
Following the tease of Maya Lopez’s “uncle” in the Hawkeye episode “Echoes,” speculation was rampant that we’d not only see Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin, in the Disney+ series, but that Vincent D’Onofrio would reprise the role following his time as the character on Daredevil. Sure enough, at the end of “Ronin”, D’Onofrio’s Kingpin was revealed to be the “big guy” Clint Barton was worried about, who was not just leading the Tracksuit Mafia, but also in cahoots with Eleanor Bishop, Kate Bishop’s mother.
It was in “So This Is Christmas?” that we got to see D’Onofrio in his full Kingpin glory again, although the episode ended with him seemingly being shot. But with an Echo spinoff coming and Charlie Cox officially back as Matt Murdock/Daredevil as of Spider-Man: No Way Home, don’t count on this being the last we see of Kingpin in the MCU.
4. Sam Wilson Becoming Captain America
At the end of Avengers: Endgame, the elderly Steve Rogers gave his vibranium shield to Sam Wilson, who’s been his crimefighting partner since the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Nevertheless, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier saw Sam initially being unwilling to become the new Captain America, resulting in the U.S. government choosing John Walker to take on the mantle instead.
Following John’s fall from grace and Sam getting the shield back, the latter finally embraced carrying on Steve’s legacy, though he’s still Falconing around thanks to his new uniform’s wing pack. Sam hit the scene as Captain America to stop the Flag Smashers’ attack on the GRC, and following this explosive debut, he’s now primed to finally take the cinematic spotlight in Captain America 4.
3. It’s Been Agatha All Along
Ok, so this statement isn’t entirely accurate, as it wasn’t Agatha’s fault that Westview was turned into a sitcom prison. However, at the end of the WandaVision episode “Breaking the Fourth Wall,” we learned that Wanda Maximoff and Vision’s wacky neighbor Agnes was actually Agatha Harkness, a witch who snuck into Westview to study Wanda’s power and was responsible for killing Sparky the dog and sending “Pietro Maximoff” (later revealed as Ralph Bohner) to the Maximoff household.
The big reveal was accompanied by a catchy song that later scored the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics. If you became enamored with Kathryn Hahn’s character, you’re in luck, as she has her own spinoff on the way.
2. The Multiverse Being Unleashed
In the final episode of Loki Season 1, the eponymous protagonist and Sylvie finally met the person truly in charge of the Time Variance Authority: Jonathan Majors’ He Who Remains, a variant of Kang the Conqueror. Having grown tired with keeping the main MCU timeline in check, He Who Remains gave Loki and Sylvie two choices: take over his job of leading the TVA and keeping the timeline in check, or kill him, thus unleashing the multiverse.
Sylvie, enraged by what the TVA did to her, chose the latter option, resulting in the TVA now being ruled by the main Kang. We’ll be properly introduced to him in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, while the multiverse itself has since been explored more in the aforementioned What If… ? and the recently-released Spider-Man: No Way Home, and we’ll head back there in 2022 for the appropriately-titled Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
1. Spider-Man Meets Spider-Man And Spider-Man
As if seeing Tom Holland’s Spider-Man fight villains from the previous Spider-Man film series in Spider-Man: No Way Home wasn’t cool enough, it was rumored for a long time that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield would reprise their versions of Peter Parker in the movie. Well, that did indeed happen, with Ned (who has a knack for magic, it turns out), conjuring portals to these older Spider-Men in an effort to find his version of Peter.
It was nice to catch up with Maguire and Garfield’s Spider-Men and learn a little bit about what happened to them after their respective film series concluded. More importantly, it was amazing (pun intended) getting to see Peter 1, Peter 2 and Peter 3 join forces, a narrative prospect that was once the stuff of fan imaginations.
Now that we’ve gone over the 10 best MCU moments of 2021, we can look ahead to what this franchise has coming in 2022 and beyond. Our Marvel movies guide and Marvel TV shows guide have all the information you need on what’s in the works, and naturally we’ll continue to keep you apprised of any major MCU developments that come in.
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Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.