And just like that, with the airing of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s midseason finale, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe now have nothing left to look forward to in 2016. Across four television shows and two movies, it's been another big year for the ever-growing franchise, which remains a critical and financial success all over the world.
On the big screen, many of the heroes we've been meeting since the franchise launched in 2008 came into conflict with one another, while all-new faces like Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther got to make their debuts. On the small screen, we tagged along with Peggy Carter for an adventure in 1947 Hollywood, took to the streets of Harlem with Luke Cage, witnessed the Punisher come violently crashing into Daredevil's world, and continued to follow the exploits of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as they battled their most dangerous foe yet and crossed paths with the supernatural Ghost Rider.
Before we start looking ahead to what's to come in 2017, let's first take the opportunity to look back at all that went down this year in a spoiler-filled effort to sort out the best the MCU had to offer...
7. Agent Carter: Season 2
All the elements that made the first season of Agent Carter a joy to watch were all in place again this year for season two. Whether it's through Dominic Cooper's recurring Howard Stark, its cool period setting, the great dynamic between Peggy Carter and Edwin Jarvis, Bridget Regan's slippery Dottie Underwood, or, of course, Hayley Atwell's solid performance anchoring the show, the second season was still loaded with an abundance of charm, fun, and heart that kept it fun to watch.
On top of that, the season introduced a number of cool elements, like Jarvis' lovable wife Ana or the presence of Zero Matter in the MCU, all of which felt like welcome additions to both the show and the franchise at large, even if they were somewhat undermined by the season's weaker aspects. Whereas the first season's laser focus brought everything together in a satisfying way by its final episode, season two saw too many elements at play to deliver a comparable conclusion.
From Whitney Frost's descent into villainy ultimately leading nowhere to the mystery surrounding the Carter file dug up by Vernon Masters to the fact that Dottie - one of the show's most engaging characters - essentially disappears, nothing ever felt truly tied up by the end, made even worse by the fact the show ended on a cliffhanger that may never be resolved thanks to its cancellation. It was still fun, but in the end, the second season's endgame stumbles kept it from reaching the same heights of its predecessor.