DC may dominate network television when it comes to live-action superhero series, but as good as shows like The Flash and Arrow are, it’s hard for them to compete with what Marvel has done thus far over at Netflix.
Beginning with Daredevil, Marvel and Netflix have been steadily building up an incredibly visceral world of street-level heroes – some with powers, some without, but all of them with their own unique style.
Given Disney’s decision to pull its Marvel content from Netflix when the studio launches its own digital streaming service in 2019, the odds of us getting a new show seems unlikely (although we will get new seasons of the current shows). That being said, now’s as good a time as any to provide our ranking of every Marvel/Netflix series from worst to first:
With all of the negative press leading into the premiere of Iron Fist, it’s no wonder this show faced far more scrutiny from critics than the previous Marvel/Netflix series. That being said, though, Iron Fist isn’t an inherently bad show. It has some very strong moments and it adds a dynamic new element to the already-established corner of the MCU that Marvel has been developing with Netflix since 2015.
Still, Iron Fist fails to live up to its predecessors, which is extremely unfortunate for the franchise. Finn Jones is a talented actor but lacks enough charisma to truly sell Danny Rand as a strong solo character – a problem that has plagued Iron Fist in the comics since the 1970s. Additionally, the fight choreography is surprisingly subpar for a show whose focal point is a master martial artist fighting to reclaim his family name. Factor in the extremely lackluster season finale and you’re left with a series that sadly earns its spot at the bottom of this list.Advertisement
Much like Danny Rand, Luke Cage is another character that never truly achieved much success on his own in the comics. Fortunately, Luke Cage still manages to outshine Iron Fist, but not by much.
The first half of season one starts off incredibly strong, highlighting Luke’s role as a reluctant hero to the people of Harlem. However, after the death of Cottonmouth – a compelling counterpart to the titular protagonist – the series begins to run off the rails. Diamondback feels more like a parody of a villain than an actual legitimate threat, and the pacing of the show becomes far more uneven as it progresses.
Nevertheless, Luke Cage is still worth your time if you’re heavily invested in the greater MCU.
After two and a half years, Marvel and Netflix had been steadily laying the framework for a shared universe of street-level heroes worthy enough to stand opposite their big-screen counterparts. Much like The Avengers did for the MCU back in 2012, The Defenders provided a massive payoff for those who had been eagerly following along since the beginning by bringing together Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, whose stories finally converged in the form of a battle to save New York from the clutches of the Hand.
The shorter season certainly makes the pacing feel swifter than the other shows, but it would have been nice to see the four heroes meet a little sooner than three episodes in to allow more time to shape the overall team dynamic. In fact, that’s probably the weakest aspect of the show, because as great as it is to see everyone interact with one another, Iron Fist is treated like the butt of the joke and never really feels like a valuable member of the group. That’s ironic, considering the entire plot essentially revolves around him.
In terms of villains, The Defenders may be the weakest of the bunch, with the Hand failing to impress, despite the star power Sigourney Weaver brings to the table. Still, the fight sequences look incredible, which is more than you can say for Iron Fist or Luke Cage.
What could have easily been turned into an overly gratuitous, 13-episode bloodbath surprisingly ended up being a deep and insightful look inside the damaged mind of a war-torn veteran with nothing to lose. It’s every bit as violent as it needs to be, though, staying true to the character’s gritty comic book roots and taking full advantage of Netflix’s lack of restrictions compared to cable or network TV.
Another surprising element of The Punisher is how well-developed the secondary characters are. Frank Castle isn’t someone known for having much of a supporting cast, so to see characters like Micro, Madani, and Billy get fleshed out as much as they are in the series comes as a welcome surprise. (Speaking of “fleshing out,” RIP Billy’s face.)
While a tighter season, maybe 10 episodes instead of 13, would have benefited the series overall, The Punisher is still an absolutely solid addition to Marvel’s Netflix slate.
After the bar was set to nigh unreachable heights by season one of Daredevil, many wondered how Marvel and Netflix’s sophomore series would fare. However, few can argue that Jessica Jones surpassed expectations, and it certainly lives up to its predecessor in terms of compelling antagonists.
David Tennant’s Kilgrave is chilling, yet eerily identifiable, eliciting backhanded feelings of sympathy that leave you questioning whether or not he’s really a bad person, before subsequently reassuring you that he absolutely is. Jessica, on the other hand, gives you an incredibly visceral take on a hard-nosed PI that uses alcohol to deal with PTSD. Not to mention, she also happens to have superpowers.
Jessica Jones might not be quite as good as season one of Daredevil, but nothing from Marvel and Netflix has come closer thus far.
Prior to 2015, the most comic-book-accurate live-action version of Daredevil fans had was the one played by Ben Affleck in the 2003 film that was detested by fans and critics alike. However, that all changed when Marvel and Netflix partnered up to begin building a new branch of the MCU – one that could bend the rules in comparison to the studio’s family-friendly films.
Although season one outweighs season two in terms of quality, Daredevil as a whole is everything fans could have asked for in a live action depiction of Matt Murdock. Incorporating elements from classic comic book stories such as The Man Without Fear and Born Again, the Daredevil we see on-screen is every bit as compelling as the version fans have been reading for years. Additionally, Vincent D'Onofrio’s depiction of Wilson Fisk has arguably set the gold standard for superhero TV show villains.
What do you think? Do you agree with this list, or would you rank any of the shows differently? Let us know in the comments section!