Okay, so all of the CW shows are wrapping up their seasons and it seems like time to check in with the glut of superhero shows that are currently being made. DC added Powerless on NBC this year to go along with Gotham on Fox, Arrow, Flash and Legends of Tomorrow returning to the CW and Supergirl moving from CBS to the CW. Meanwhile, Marvel still has Agents of SHIELD pumping away on ABC while they added Iron Fist on Netflix and Fox brought the X-Men-ish Legion to FX. That is a crap ton of superhero related TV and I didn’t even try to watch a lot of it. But I do want to talk about the more than half that I did watch. Here they are from best to worst, followed by the shows I didn’t watch.
Legion – Legion was far and away the best superhero show that aired over the last six or so months, though it only barely counts as a superhero show. It takes a few characters and ideas from X-Men, but it is very much its own thing. And it is a good, trippy thing. Instead of being beholden to either the X-Men movie continuity (good luck) or the comics continuity (hahahaha), Legion takes the characters it wants to use and crafts a wholly original story around them. It works pretty well, though I think I need to rewatch it all to make sure I saw what I thought I saw. Still, it is really good stuff.
Legends of Tomorrow – The first season of this show was kind of a mess; a grab bag of fun characters and bad ideas. This season they jettisoned the weakest and strongest parts of the cast (the Hawks and Vandal Savage the former, Captain Cold the latter) and refocused the show into something really enjoyable. The ensemble feels stronger, the sense of purpose is greater and it was just all around a much improved show. The time hopping served more of a purpose and the characters felt more comfortable in their roles. It is still the cheesiest thing, but it nailed that perfect state of enjoyable goofiness.
Supergirl – Supergirl went through quite the transformation this season, moving from CBS to the CW and having to deal with the lowered budget and lost cast members. It also came back a stronger show in its second season, with a better sense of identity and some of the odd parts sanded off. For instance, there is a stronger emphasis on the DEO instead of it being kind of cordoned off until needed. There are growing pains, like how abruptly Kara shrugs off her new Jimmy Olsen relationship and starts one with the charming, if empty, Mon-El. It was just a fun season, albeit one without a strong through line for the show or its title character.
The Flash – The Flash’s third season was an odd one. The central storyline was a non-starter, repeating similar beats to the first two seasons to much diminished effect. However, many of the individual episodes of this season were really, really good. It also spent too much time with the doom and gloom of Iris’s impending death hanging over the season. There is still a strong foundation for this show and most episodes are good enough, the writers just need to do a better job of building on the show’s strengths.
Arrow – This was a solid bounce back season for Arrow. It didn’t come anywhere close to the great second season, but it is a step up from last year’s mess. I stopped watching after the crossover, but I caught up with the rest of it on Netflix. I liked seeing some lesser known DC characters get some time; we see Mr. Terrific and Ragman and freaking Wild Dog. Wild Dog on TV every week, the world has gone crazy. The flashbacks were still a problem, even with Dolph Lundgren, and the ongoing nonsense with Black Canary is a head scratcher, but otherwise it was a solid season.
Iron Fist – Yeah, this show is a mess. I love the character Iron Fist, but this show couldn’t even get the martial arts right, with a few exceptions. It is clearly made in the prestige drama mode, but it fails on pretty much every level. I am really souring on these Netflix Marvel shows. Daredevil S1 was great, as was Jessica Jones, but Daredevil S2 was a mess and Luke Cage was a great set up with about half the story it needed to fill its 13 episodes. Iron Fist has all the problems of the stuff that preceded it without the strengths. I am still looking forward to Defenders, almost as much because it is about half as long as the rest of these series.
Agents of SHIELD – I hear that this season was pretty good. I can’t bring myself to care. Maybe one day on Netflix.
Gotham – This show lost me in the first season and everything I hear about it tells me I won’t like it. Still, it is currently on Netflix, so you never know.
Powerless – I only watched one episode of this; it feels like it was tested and adjusted to hell and back. The episode was occasionally funny, but not funny enough for me to do more than wait for it to be streaming. Unfortunately, NBC has cancelled it. It seemed like the kind of show that could have a Parks & Recreation like season 2 turn around. It was a good concept.
These shows, with the exceptions of Iron Fist and Powerless, will be returning next year. (Iron Fist will likely return, but wouldn’t bet on seeing it before late 2019) By next year, I of course mean this fall. Also, The Defenders, the capstone to Marvel’s Netflix shows hits in August, with The Punisher following at some point this year. Also Fox is adding another X-Men show in The Gifted and ABC has a new Inhumans series coming in September. At some point Syfy is going to start a Krypton series starring Superman’s grandpappy. And superheroes continue their takeover of the CW with Black Lightning. Honestly, this is likely the last post like this I’ll do. I can’t keep up with all this and I really don’t want to keep up with it. It was fun when it was just Arrow, Daredevil, and The Flash (along with the ignore Agents of SHIELD). Now that the list of shows is swelling up to ten or more, I am checking out. I’ll still watch my CW DC nonsense, they are good trash, and I will keep watching Netflix stuff because I have a sickness, but otherwise I am going to a lot choosier with what I watch. As long as Noah Hawley is doing it I’ll keep watching Legion, but I’m out on The Gifted and Inhumans barring excellent reviews. The same goes for other stuff on the horizon. I guess anyway, we’ll see this fall.