Just like the last few years, we’re going to take a look at the past year of superhero based TV shows and figure out which ones are worth watching and which ones you could probably skip and there was definitely some surprises and shake-up since the last list (Oh, just like last year, don’t expect to see Gotham on this list as that show is hot garbage and I don’t care what anyone else says about it)
- Agents of SHIELD: I’ve always thought Agents of SHIELD has been a solid, decent show, especially since Winter Soldier gave it some actual purpose after a very lackluster start but this past season was far and away their best. Hitting on the brilliant idea to divide the season into 3 comic book style arcs (Ghost Rider, LMD, Agents of Hydra) the show also had a pair of fantastic guest stars to bounce off the SHIELD crew. Diego Luna brought the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider to the MCU and, despite a much smaller budget, the effects were great all the way through and there was some great action beats from the Spirit of Vengeance while Mallory Jansen pretty much stole the show as at least half a dozen versions of the android Ada, who slowly evolves into the unhinged and homicidal villain by the end. All the SHIELD team also had some sort of dramatic arc or something interesting to do, especially in the alternate reality of “The Framework”, which is essentially The Matrix as created by Ada but features a world where Hydra won World War II and destroyed SHIELD.
- Arrow: After two lackluster seasons full of things like way too much relationship drama, agonizingly boring flashback stories and unfocused and way too ridiculous plots, Season 5 took things somewhat back to basics as Oliver and his new team of C-list DC characters (Mr. Terrific, Wild Dog, Ragman) took on the more street level evil archer Prometheus, who was looking for revenge and bringing back the sins of Oliver’s early years as The Hood. The flashback storyline was also actually interesting, focusing on Oliver’s time in the Russian Bratva, and featured none other than Dolph Lundgren as the big bad. Things culminated in a pretty great finale as well that pulls in a bunch of past characters for a five year culmination of the story thus far and sets things off in an unknown direction with an insane cliffhanger.
- Luke Cage: If Luke Cage hadn’t dropped the ball in the back half like most of the Netflix Marvel shows, it would have been number one easily as it started off on such a strong note. The world of the MCU’s Harlem was set up in a fantastic way and it looked and sounded different than the previously established Hell’s Kitchen and it had an incredible villain turn from Mahershala Ali as Cottonmouth but he’s inexplicably removed from the show and replaced with generic and terrible Diamondback and the show culminates in maybe the dumbest superhero battle ever. Mike Colter is great and Rosario Dawson had her best turn yet as the Netflix universe’s Nick Fury, Claire Temple but those last few episodes are rough. It’s still worth watching as the first half is very strong but it seemed like it had the potential to be best of the Netflix Marvel series so far or at least equal to Daredevil.
- Supergirl: Getting a new home on The CW after leaving CBS, Supergirl continued her solid adventures with her cousin actually showing up with the delightful Tyler Hoechlin playing the Man of Steel, a fantastic, scenery devouring performance from Teri Hatcher as the back half villain and a shift in focus to the DEO side of things and revealing National City is apparently chock a block full of aliens. Kara did seem to get lost in her own show however as stuff like the arrival of goofy bro Mon-El and Alex Danvers’ coming out storyline took the spotlight and Kara still doesn’t really have much of a civilian life. Oh, also Jimmy Olsen becomes a knock-off Arrow character called Guardian, which kind of felt weirdly shoe horned in and unnecessary when you have a goddess like woman as your main hero. Supergirl is firmly in the middle of The CW DCverse, not doing anything spectacular but also never getting into the depths of badness like some of it’s fellow shows.
- Legends of Tomorrow: Legends of Tomorrow did some major course correcting after the rough first season, excising characters that didn’t work and replacing the lameness of Vandal Savage with the catty, scenery chewing trio of Malcolm Merlyn, Damien Dahrk and Eobard Thawne as the Legion of Doom. The time travel is still wonky and seemingly made up as the episodes progress and the overall season plot was still kind of messy even though it was more focused than the first season as both groups hunted down the Spear of Destiny. There also might be too many characters, as most of them have fallen into stock archetypes as there’s no time in the episodes to give them actual depth but in general they are fine and have decent banter with each other. You could probably skip it and you wouldn’t lose much knowledge of the Arrowverse but if you like wackier, time travel nonsense, Legends is now watchable and fun more often than not.
- The Flash: Dear god, what happened? There were hints of The Flash getting too moody last season but this year is just unbearably miserable and stupid. Barry proved himself to be the ultimate villain against Team Flash by basically ruining everyone’s lives in the selfish desire to get his parents back, creating a Flashpoint alternate universe and then bringing horrible consequences to everyone but himself when he reverts things back. The villain Savitar also starts out fairly cool, voiced by Tobin Bell, but the reveal of his true nature is just terrible and makes everything that came before lamer in retrospect. The driving factor of saving Iris from being killed in the future is also driven into the ground and I lost track how many times they literally show the same shot of her getting stabbed. This show needs to get back to the fun, Golden Age goofiness of the first season, where Barry just fought random rogues every week.
- Iron Fist: The first brown spot on the apple of the MCU, Iron Fist is just an aimless, bland nothing of a show that exists only to get everyone familiar with Danny Rand before The Defenders. The setting is bland, with Manhattan having no character, unlike Hell’s Kitchen or Harlem, and most of the show takes place in generic offices or warehouses. The biggest issue though is that, in a show where the main character is supposed to be one of the greatest martial artists in the world, the fight choreography is unforgivably bad. It feels like a lot of it is the slow motion rehearsal before the full speed fight with very few, simply OK, action sequences throughout the 13 hours of the show and nothing even close to Daredevil or even Luke Cage. Danny Rand is also just a bizarre, stupid character constantly making the worst decisions and the show never gels around a single villain or idea, things just kind of happen at seemingly random until the weak finale. Hopefully Iron Fist comes into his own as part of The Defenders but, right now, I feel like we don’t need any more.