It’s become abundantly clear that the superhero trend is here to stay. No longer just for dedicated comic-fans, they’ve invaded everyday pop culture. It’s not summer unless Marvel is putting out another superhero-themed blockbuster, am I right? And while they’re literally churning out movies left and right, there’s been an upswing in superhero TV in recent years as well. From streaming services to primetime TV, everyone’s trying to get in on it, and with a new superhero driven shows coming out the woodwork everyday, it’s easy for even the most dedicated fanboy (or girl) to feel a bit overwhelmed. Have no fear! I’ve singled out a few favorites to get you started.
Winter is coming. And because winter is coming, it’s completely acceptable to spend your weekend binge-watching Daredevil’s first season. While the rest of the Marvel-verse is out fighting the latest alien threat, Matt Murdoch is just trying to save Hell’s Kitchen.
The power of Daredevil as a show lies in its pacing, its tone and its characters. The first season’s big bad, Wilson Fisk, is as compelling a character as the shows leads. He electrifies the screen with his presence and Daredevil became just as much his origin story as Matt’s.
The show also benefits from being a Netflix series; the episodes seamlessly flow into one another, creating a compelling story arch that grows and stretches over the course of the season. Show-runners have managed to take a page out of Nolan’s playbook and create a superhero tale that is a lot grittier and more grounded in reality than most. You won’t regret the sleep you’ll lose getting up to speed before the 2nd season premieres in early 2016.
I’m a sucker for an angst-y origin story and Oliver Queen’s journey to becoming the Green Arrow is as good as it gets. Stephen Amell is beyond perfect in his role as billionaire playboy turned castaway turned Star City vigilante.
There have been some shifts with the cast and entire plot lines have been dropped because show runners realized where their strengths were, and, in my opinion, Arrow’s greatest strength lies in their willingness to step away from comic book canon and forge their own path.
Like any good superhero show, there are little nods and nudges to the comic canon, but overall, this is Oliver Queen for a new generation with his own story to tell. Heck, two of the shows most beloved characters either don’t exist in DC canon like John Diggle, or in Felicity Smoak’s case, are completely re-imagined from their role in the comics. Really, what keeps drawing me in is this character development and the time and obvious care the writers put into it evolving and transforming them, none more so the Oliver Queen. You’ve got four seasons to catch up on Netflix–there’s no reason not to dive in.
3. The Flash
The Flash started off as a spin-off to the aforementioned CW series Arrow, but it quickly established itself as a powerhouse on it’s own. Set in the fictional Central City, the Flash tells the story of young Barry Allen, struck by lightning during a crazy-ass explosion and imbued with the power of speed. Lead Grant Gustin brings the sometimes awkward, always charming and super smart Barry to life, and watching him grow into himself over the course of the show so far has been a treat.
What really makes The Flash stand out from the rest is how it delivers on all of your typical comic book elements — fringe science, supervillans, psychic gorillas, time travel and multiple dimensions — and manages to be, well, a fun show to watch.
The Flash has managed to perfectly toe the line between overly campy and delightfully wacky. They balance moments of seriousness, like discussing the death of Barry’s mother, with delightful “Scooby gang” moments with the S.T.A.R. Labs team. And, unlike other shows, the Flash actually benefits from the “villain of the week” style format, using each standalone episode to further explore the cast of characters and plug into the show’s larger themes. I can’t wait to see how the 2nd season turns out — if it’s anything like the first, it will be a fun ride.
Supergirl has only just started (2 episdoes in), so it’s hard to pass judgement just yet. I like what I’ve seen so far—an entertaining, charming and strong female lead, hints at a cute Jimmy Olsen/Kara Zor-El romance, and cool action scenes, but there was a lot going on in the first few episodes and some kinks that need to be worked out. The show could do with a bit of focus and it thrives in its more human moments where Kara’s personality shines through and when it takes a step away from Superman’s shadow–more of that, please.
2. Marvel’s Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
I have a love/hate relationship with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Hated the first season, loved the second and feeling pretty blasé about the third. AOS actually suffers from its close ties to the Marvel-verse, and at times, just feels like filler until the next big Marvel movie and not its own stand-alone show. That said, there have been some high points and I’m willing to stick it out through the season to see where they’re taking it. Even if its only purpose is just to set up Captain America: Civil War.
3. Agent Carter
I didn’t forget about Agent Carter, I just haven’t finished the first season (I know, I know!). From what I’ve seen so far, Agent Carter is on the right track. You’ve got a kick-ass heroine and a story that isn’t dependent on the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe because it takes place in the past. And really, the delightful Haley Atwell is reason enough for me to watch.
Ok, so that should be enough to keep you occupied for a while, or at least until the new series Jessica Jones premieres on Netflix. Clearly, television is the superhero’s new frontier.