Ranking the Supers 2016

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We did it last year and we’re back again this year to rank the past season’s superhero shows.  There were more than ever this year with a second Netflix Marvel show, a third CW show and the debut of Supergirl on CBS.  See how we rank them below and, just a brief note before we start, Gotham is not ranked because it’s a steaming pile of garbage. (There might be some spoilers below, so reader beware)

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Daredevil (Netflix): The champ for the second year in a row, Daredevil upped everything that was great about the first season as Hell’s Kitchen got more dangerous, the fight scenes got bigger and better but the thing that puts Daredevil Season 2 over the top is that finally we got The Punisher we’ve wanted and deserve in Jon Bernthal.  The Punisher was perfectly realized and his showdowns with Daredevil to kick off the season were ripped from the comics and his prison fight was the highlight of the season.  Elektra was arguably not as great but it was an interesting take on the character and her story allowed The Hand to be fully introduced into the MCU and setup more of the weird Asian mystical side of the universe that will probably blow up when Iron Fist arrives.

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Jessica Jones (Netflix): The second addition to the Netflix Marvel universe was just slightly below Daredevil but continued the gritty darkness but with a murder mystery/noir feel as Krysten Ritter’s superpowerd PI Jessica had to track down and try to stop David Tennant’s incredibly creepy, mind controlling villain Killgrave.  Ritter did an excellent job of balancing Jessica’s dark humor and tragic past and held her own in the superpowered fights that broke out.  We also got our introduction to Mike Colter’s Luke Cage, who will helm his own series later this year.  The only thing holding Jessica Jones back a bit is that it felt like it was kind of spinning it’s wheels slightly before the final confrontation with Killgrave and there was maybe one too many chances to take out Killgrave earlier that weren’t taken for plot reasons.

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The Flash (CW): The Flash is still the best CW superhero show and there were tons of highlights this season like the return of Mark Hamill’s Trickster at Christmas, the perfect translation of King Shark to the screen, the trip to Earth 2 that was full of great character trait swaps and easter eggs and everything with Zoom in the first half of the season, when he was a mysterious and dangerous new foe.  This might be the year though that the 23 episode structure, and the padding required for that, really started to hurt both Flash and Arrow.  The second half of Flash was pretty messy and Zoom lost some of his edge when he was revealed to be Teddy Sears’ Jay Garrick aka Hunter Zolomon and his final plan was a little lackluster considering everything leading up to it.  Barry was also a little too dour and Oliveresque for a lot of the season but the positives still out weight the negetives for the Scarlet Speedster.

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Supergirl (CBS): Speaking of The Flash, his visit to National City on Supergirl was the single most delightful thing to happen on any of the superhero shows and hopefully we’ll get much more of that when Kara arrives on The CW next season.  As for the rest of the show, Supergirl started out a little rough, with some blunt and heavy handed girl power speeches from Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant but it put that stuff on the back burner fairly quickly and turned into just a fun superhero show that felt a lot like Flash season 1.  Melissa Benoist is unbelievably charming and fun as Supergirl and there was plenty of things for comics fans to enjoy, not the least of which was the addition of Martian Manhunter, along with comics villains like Red Tornado, Toymaker and a great, sleazy Maxwell Lord played by Peter Facinelli.

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Agent Carter (ABC): The dearly departed Peggy Carter’s final solo adventure was still a lot of fun but didn’t feel as important or substantial as season 1.  Heading to Hollywood after a mysterious murder involving a frozen body comes to the SSR’s attention, Peggy gets drawn into a case involving Zero Matter, which has infected actress Whitney Frost and scientist Jason Wilkes.  The first season felt like it was a more important moment in the MCU’s history, as it revolved around Howard Stark’s inventions and their impact on the recently heating up Cold War and the Black Widow program.  Season 2 was just a fizzy, fun diversion that included a big Broadway style musical number and more focus on a love triangle involving Peggy, Dr. Wilkes and Agent Sousa from Season 1 and more comedic bits from Edwin Jarvis (although Peggy and Jarvis’ friendship is still one of the highlights of the show).  It wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination but it just felt a little weak for what is probably going to be the last time we see the MCU’s first lady of ass kicking.

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Arrow (CW): Arrow was a massive improvement over last year’s mess of a season, mostly because of Neil McDonough’s reliably great scenery chewing as the villainous Damien Darhk but there are some massive problems that threaten to cripple the show once and for all.  The first is that the flashbacks are basically unbearable at this point, Season 4’s on Island story could have told in 1 or 2 episode based flashbacks but it got dragged out to an excruciating 20+ segments.  The other issue is the soap opera drama of Olicity.  I’m not anti-Felicity but there was way too much focus on their on and off again relationship and there’s even a conspiracy theory that Laurel was killed this year so she wouldn’t be a threat to that relationship.  Oh, and the less said about Oliver’s secret love child, the better.  They also pulled a 24 Season 6 and made the detonation of a nuclear weapon on American soil a sort of afterthought when it should probably change the entire dynamic of the universe.  The action was probably never better this season though and there were some scenes were all of Team Arrow are battling Darhk’s Ghost mercenaries that almost rival what we saw on Daredevil.

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. - "Absolution/"Ascension" - It's a showdown a season in the making as S.H.I.E.L.D. takes on Hive, and when his master plan is finally revealed, the team must spring into action. Who will live, and who will die? Things heat up in the exciting two-hour season finale of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," TUESDAY, MAY 17 (9:00-11:00 p.m. EDT) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Richard Cartwright) LUKE MITCHELL, NATALIA CORDOVA BUCKLEY, HENRY SIMMONS, JOHN HANNAH, MING-NA WEN

Agents of SHIELD (ABC): Agents of SHIELD is a show that is fine when it’s on, but it’s hard to remember anything about the episode after you watch it.  It just never seems to have any big “WTF?!” moments like most of the other superhero shows.  This past season continued to flesh out and grow the ranks of Inhumans in the MCU, despite the fact that the movie is probably not going to come out for years, and introduced Inhuman villain Hive, which let Brett Dalton dig deeper into what the show discovered in Season 1: he’s so much better as a scenery chewing villain.  They also introduced the concept of the Secret Warriors, led by Chloe Bennett’s Daisy aka Quake and there was some fun cosmic stuff as multiple members of the SHIELD team went to another planet.  The tie-in to Civil War was also not as great as the tie in to Winter Soldier in Season 1, which is still probably the best Agents of Shield has ever been, or even the Age of Ultron setup from last season, which directly led to the opening of that movie.  There was still some solid action set pieces and fun turns from guest stars like Adrian Pasdar and John Hannah but it just never distinguishes itself beyond being OK.

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Legends of Tomorrow (CW): Legends of Tomorrow was a great concept with a hugely messy execution.  Taking the best of the Arrow/Flash supporting cast on a time traveling adventure seemed like a fantastic idea but Legends’ time travel was always ill defined and every episode seemed to contradict a rule that was brought up in an earlier season or there would be an idea or concept that would exist only for the purposes of a single episode.  The best time travel media has set rules and the fun is seeing how the characters work within those rules, here, there were no rules and thus, no reason to care.  The main plot was also incredibly weak, focusing on easily the weakest characters on the team, the Hawkpeople Kendra and Carter and an increasingly lame villain in Vandal Savage.  Despite a short season than Flash or Arrow, it still felt massively padded and Savage constantly escapes for reasons that only exist to keep the plot going.  There were some cool moments, like some action sequences featuring the entire team using their powers in the TV equivalent of a comic splash page and characters like Sarah Lance and Leonard Snart really got a chance to shine.  The one intriguing thing though about next season is that they setup the Justice Society of America, which could potentially be awesome, so we’ll probably be back to see exactly how the JSA works in the CW DCverse.

 

 

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