Ten of our favourite superhero TV shows from Arrow to My Hero
PUBLISHED: 16:38 20 June 2018
We’re up, up and away with our list of our favourite superhero shows to celebrate a brand new series of Marvel’s Luke Cage series two which arrives on Netflix later this week.
Aged four, I was parading around a French campsite in my Superman pyjamas with delusions of grandeur and a smile on my face. I’m sure I’m not the only one but my childhood ambition, without a doubt, was to be a superhero.
In all honesty, now at the ripe old age of 24, I still wouldn’t down the chance to tug a pair of underpants over my trousers, stuff a blanket down the back of my shirt and go fly off to save the world.
But with no radioactive spiders nearby, nor the knowhow to build myself a super suit, I’m left to ramble about superheroes on the internet instead - it’s a super power of sorts, I suppose.
So, without further ado, it’s a case of all eyes on Friday with the latest series in the collaboration between Marvel and Netflix set to arrive on the streaming service. It’s Luke Cage season two. After the deaths of villains Cottonmouth and Diamondback, Luke is now the most famous man in Harlem and expected to stop every crime that happens. Mariah Dillard has grown ever more powerful, taking brother Cottonmouth’s place as crime lord of Harlem, while a new villain is on the scene in the shape of Bushmaster. Will Luke be the hero Harlem needs?
I have no idea, we’ll find out soon. It’s a golden age for superheroes. They dominate the big screen and especially during the last few years, they’ve started a takeover of the small screen. So let’s delve into 10 of the best super series to grace our TV screens.
1) Daredevil (Netflix, 2015): The man without fear was a fitting way to kick off the collaboration between Marvel and Netflix. After a subpar big screen debut in 2003, Daredevil was able to redeem himself with this 2015 Netflix series. Brit Charlie Cox (The Theory of Everything, Boardwalk Empire) was handed the lead role of Matt Murdock/Daredevil, the blind lawyer turned vigilante superhero, while Jurassic World’s Vincent D’Onofrio earned rave reviews as villain Wilson Fisk/Kingpin. It was a dark, gritty procedural, an excellent superhero origin story and had some stellar action sequences to boot. It’s all set to return for a third season on Netflix later this year.
2) Arrow (CW, 2012): After five years on an island, a billionaire playboy in the shape of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) returns home to Starling City, all set to fight crime and corruption as a hooded vigilante armed with a bow and arrow. Arrow mixed flashbacks showing Oliver’s time on the island with engaging vigilante shenanigans in the present day. Its opening two seasons were an absolute blast, paving the way for series such as The Flash and Supergirl. Now the veteran of the CW-DC collaboration, Arrow will return for a seventh season later in the year – available to watch on Sky One on these shores.
3) Legion (FX, 2017): Legion. What to say about Legion? It focuses on the mutant David Haller/Legion. It’s connected to the X-Men film series. Haller, played by Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens, is a mutant diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age. Legion is a wildly different from every other entry on this list and all the richer for it. I honestly haven’t got a clue what’s going on half the time. It’s mind bending, utterly mad art unfolding on the small screen.
4) Gotham (Fox, 2014): A crime drama series. A prequel to the Batman universe What’s not to like? Gotham focuses on James Gordon’s early days in the Gotham City Police Department, before becoming the Commissioner to help the Bat fight crime. The series does introduce a certain Mr. Wayne, albeit still a kid, while the origin stories of villains such as the Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow and more are all covered.
5) Jessica Jones (Netflix, 2015): Perhaps the crème de la crème of the Marvel-Netflix link-up, Jessica Jones follows Jessica Jones as it so happens. JJ is trying to rebuild her life as a private investigator after a short-lived career as a superhero ended in tragedy. With its noir tone, stellar lead performance from Breaking Bad’s Krysten Ritter and excellent depiction of darker topics including assault, rape and posttraumatic stress disorder, the series was a massive hit, arguably able to standalone as far more than just a superhero TV series. It also features a certain former incumbent of the Tardis in the shape of David Tennant, who shrugs off his Doctor Who roots in tremendously disturbing style as the villainous Kilgrave – a man from Jessica’s past who can control minds. He really is a terribly guy. Really, really terrible. It’s pretty mesmerising to watch, mind you.
6) My Hero (BBC, 2000): While the Americans give us gritty, dark comicbook adaptations, us Brits offered the word a superhero sitcom back in 2000 with My Hero – a series I will never not love, FYI. Thermoman heralds from the planet Ultron. On earth, he’s adopted the alter-ego of mild-mannered health shop owner, George Sunday (Ardal O’Hanlon). He falls for nurse, Janet, and does his utmost to get to grips with human life. Spoiler alert: He’s not very good at it. It’s hilarious, O’Hanlon is perfect in the role and it will never fail to make you chuckle. After five series, O’Hanlon decided to leave the role and was replaced by James Dreyfus. The series struggled to recapture the spark and, bar a few moments, Thermoman has hung up his superhero tights.
7) The Tick (Amazon Video, 2016): OK, so apparently the Americans can do superhero comedies too. Amazon’s The Tick stars Shaun of the Dead’s Peter Serafinowicz as the titular character, running around The City in a blue tick costume to combat crime. He befriends Arthur Everest (fantastic name, right?) who becomes his sidekick. They soon realise a long-dead supervillain may be pulling the strings in the city’s underworld and join forces. Sure, these gritty adaptations have a certain appeal, but you can’t go wrong with a good ol’ superhero comedy here and there.
8) Heroes (NBC, 2006): In a rare occurrence, Heroes had no ties to any comic books. Its ensemble of superheroes and supervillains scattered all over the world had their powers activate at the same time. The titular heroes joined forces to prevent catastrophic futures.
9) Spectacular Spider-Man (CW, 2008): I’m a Spidey guy. I can’t help myself. I had to get the masked menace on here somewhere. There is a wealth of animated series to choose from but top of the pile is the Spectacular Spider-Man which was indeed, spectacular. It followed Peter Parker during his high school years, having plenty of fun when suited up as Spidey, while brilliantly handling his struggles at school and with friends sparked by that aforementioned fun. It somehow only ran for two seasons but very highly regarded.
10) Luke Cage (Netflix, 2017): It seems rather fitting to conclude with Mr Cage. He was a timely arrival, especially for American audiences. A bulletproof black man fighting crime and corruption. While the second-half of the season dragged a little, there was little doubt the opening seven episodes were excellent TV – featuring Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) as the villainous Cottonmouth, while Mike Colter in the lead role really delivered. Early buzz for season two has been pretty good, so with that in mind – roll on series two.