Superheroes, superheroes! They’ve conquered comics, they’ve conquered cinema, and they’re on their way to becoming the kings and queens of our favourite small screen. Whether you quiver in anticipation every time Oliver Queen pulls down his hood or you would rather spend an hour with Agent Coulson and his pals, if you’re reading this, you most likely watch one – or, you know, all – superhero show(s) currently airing. You’re probably also getting ready for Daredevil and AKA Jessica Jones.
But how good are the superhero shows currently on TV? Here’s the Buns official ranking.
Roz: Gotham proves that a show in the Batman universe only works if you have Batman in it. Case in point: all the best episodes involve Bruce Wayne, even though he’s only a kid still. Highlights of Gotham (for me) include the Penguin, who is getting really repetitive as a character (cozy up to a mob boss, betray him, get attacked, weasel out of it, repeat), kid Bruce and Alfred, and Detective Harvey Bullock. The low points of the show often involve Barbara, who is completely useless, and her ex-whatever-they-were Detective James Gordon trying to maintain an interesting (it’s not) relationship while he chases crime (although it seems like Bruce is doing all the actual detective work). For a show about Gotham, a corrupt city full of crazy villains, it’s a pretty ho hum hour of TV. Gotham commits the worst sin of all: it’s boring.
Nadin: It’s not that I don’t like Gotham – it’s that I can’t think about it in the context of Batman, which, I guess, was the general idea. I know they wanted to show the ‘childhoods’ and early years of the characters we only knew as grown-ups before, and how they became who they are now, but, compared to the Batman films – any of them – everything in Gotham seems so out of character. It’s impossible to think of this show as something completely stand-alone. Which sort of messes with my head. Also, maybe it’s my thing for teens and their unnecessary drama that makes everything even weirder. I don’t mind Gotham in general, but I’m hardly the biggest fan, and I think it would’ve worked better if they were older.
Anais: Maybe Gotham was made because people up there in the nebulous world of studios saw us gush all over Commissioner Gordon’s character in Nolan’s Batman trilogy and decided that the character should get his own show, without realizing that our love for him was mainly due to Gary Oldman playing him. Or maybe not. I don’t follow any of the Batman comics on a regular basis, nor do I really keep up with Batman news – I’m a bit Batman’d out to be honest, so I don’t know. What I do know is that there are too many things in Gotham that I just don’t want to see. I don’t want to see another female character being depicted as silly and/or useless while male characters play cops and robbers. I don’t want to see bisexuality portrayed as a sign of instability. I don’t want to see some of my favourite comic villains as children – especially when the show implies that they’re bad because of a bad childhood. There’s nothing interesting about any of that. I tried to like that show. I didn’t. And the next time I see Bruce Wayne, he’ll be played by Bland Affleck. I just can’t win, man.
5. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Nadin: I like Agent of SHIELD, most of the time. The plots are usually fun and Skye rocks! Also, they saved my Coulson – whose death I took hard in The Avengers, so this is a plus. But again, much like in Gotham – but on a lower level – I can’t take them seriously because THEY ARE ALL SUCH BABIES!! Coulson and May make sense, but the rest of the team… I don’t know. I’m used to Black Widow, and Cap, and Hawkeye, and Hulk all being in their 30’s and 40’s, and it’s just easier to believe that they’re on a mission to save everyone from everything. That said, Agents of SHIELD is still fun. Although I probably wouldn’t put any of them on the real Avengers-kind of mission. So far, I’m happy with the character development and general storylines, and I hope Marvel will keep it up.
Rachel: I can’t believe how feeble the show started out. Yeah, sure, you have Coulson and some cameos that make up the pillars, but all the show really had was just a bunch of people talking about the superheroes we love, but we don’t actually see the superheroes we love. However, as time progressed and the characters built up their own significance, the show has evolved into something worthy of being in the MCU. I’ll always think of Skye as that annoying Mary Sue character who can ‘hack’ everything, and I still think Fitz and Simmons look like they just finished grade school. However, thank the lord that character development is a thing. Also, who totally called that Ward was going to be a bad guy?
Roz: AoS had a shitty first season. Let’s be honest. Everyone felt the way Rachel did, it was just a bunch of lesser baby Avengers characters talking about the heroes you wished you could be watching. But, the second season has been solid. I can’t say it’s all because of Patton Oswalt, but I love him so much, I think he saved everything somehow.
Anais: Yeah, this show is only so high on the list because of the second season. I still haven’t watched the rest of season one, by the way. I actually pretend that it doesn’t exist. That way, I can just sit back and enjoy my weekly dose of Buffy-like drama, with a pinch of Kyle McLachlan insanity and just a touch of ass kicking.
4. The Flash
Nadin: Frankly, I’m still trying to see why they decided to make The Flash while Arrow was still on air – these shows are so much alike it would actually make more sense to show them one after another, not have us sit here and compare everything about the two of them. That said, I’m quite fond of the cast and the dialogue; the SFX are working quite nicely, too. And yes, the lack of depressing vibes in general – something I struggle with when it comes to Arrow – is refreshing. It’s still not exactly your comfy show for a dark and stormy night, but – and maybe it’s just me – Barry and his red and gold costume remind me so much of Sheldon Cooper wearing a similar one and being totally ridiculous that I can’t help but smile. A lot.
Rachel: Well, I like it better than Arrow, I can tell you that much. Grant Gustin is a surprisingly great Flash, a much better fit for the character than I think Stephen Amell is for Green Arrow. There are a lot of elements that I feel redundant because of Arrow – the love interest, the ragtag band of scientists, the older white guy who has trickery up his sleeves – but it comes together a little more harmoniously. I think they have a built-in advantage of having a big-name superhero like the Flash that hasn’t been adapted for the screen in recent history. Also, since I loved Prison Break with all of my soul, the whole bringing Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell back together thing is a huge plus in my book. Also, what kind of shitty nickname is the Streak? If you say the first thing that comes to mind isn’t dirty underwear, then you’re LYING, my friend. LYING!
Roz: I also like The Flash, but every time Iris opens her dumb mouth and says something dumb, I hate the character even more. I legit think Candice Patton is doing her best, but come on writers, her character is bad and you should feel bad.
Anais: The Flash is silly and fun, and that’s really all I was asking for. However, I agree with Roz: I hate Iris. Actually, I hate most female characters in all currently airing DC shows, but the ones on The Flash are such complete disasters that I actually like the series less because of them. In 2015, any writer who decides to write a female character as a useless damsel in distress, who only aspires to be with some dude, should be put barefoot in a field of legos, right beside the writers who still write love triangles. This said, I’ll keep watching The Flash. Grant Gustin as Barry Allen is adorkable enough to make me want to hang out with him forever.
Nadin: My favourite thing about Constantine is that it’s not your regular superhero stuff, I love the paranormal angle and Supernatural vibes of it, and Matt Ryan is hot. Most of the Biblical lore goes right over my head though, but I do enjoy the darkness and the impending doom hovering over each story, so…
Roz: After a shaky start, Constantine became one of my favourite shows this year. I like the core main characters and the religious-paranormal angle that sets it apart. That kind of lore is old school biblical. It is goddamn scary. So, of course, it’s fun. We’ll have to see what happens for this show in the future. On March 9th, the latest news was that a renewal decision was still pending. An executive producer, Daniel Cerone, talked up the time-slot performance of Constantine and tweeted with the hashtags #SaveConstantine and #Hellblazers. The puns will keep you posted!
Nadin: I’ve got a complicated relationship with Arrow, to be honest. On the one hand, I like the story lines and the general narrative arcs, and most of the characters, and I was rather excited about it because the Oliver Queen plot in Smallville was really cool – and Oliver was HOT. On the other hand though, I’m not always impressed with how the writers handle the female characters in Arrow, and it’s bugging me too much to properly enjoy the whole thing. Yes, it’s Oliver’s story; yes, he’s got to be a hero most of the time; yet, when they focus too much on it and undermine the value and importance of everyone around him, it makes him look like a jerk. Even though his life hasn’t always been all sunshine and rainbows, his doom, gloom, and martyrdom go over the top more often than not. Thank God, Felicity is there to save the day, and pull us out of the depths of depression.
Rachel: … I don’t like this show. I want to love it, I really do. It’s got all the elements of a fantastic superhero show for me – hot lead, John Barrowman, filmed in Vancouver, sad backstories – but none of it works for me. Everything about it screams a lower-budget, less compelling copy of Batman. My hatred for this show may possibly be related to my undying hatred for CW. No, it’s actually entirely related. The writing… the writing. If I wanted that much corn in my diet, I’d go to Costco and buy myself a rack of niblets. No, thanks.
Roz: Although I get Nadin’s point, the ladies are often terrible (I’m looking at you Laurel. And Thea!), and Rachel’s concerns about the corny writing, I can’t help but love Arrow. It’s perfect for binge watching when you don’t want to think too hard. Sure, Felicity is a geeky Mary Sue and we’re all just waiting for Amell to take his shirt off, but I still tune in. The characters are interesting and the action is fun. It’s cheesy, but I effing love cheese. Wine and cheese and Arrow.
Anais: I’m French, so I tend to feel right at home in any kind of depressed climate (one of our funniest TV shows involves a guy who’s surrounded by idiots and wants to kill himself). It’s not really a surprise then that I fell in love with Arrow, this despite the awful female characters and the love triangles of doom. What can I say? He’s a hot guy in a hood. Felicity Smoak is an SI for every Arrow fangirl out there (“I kept that – I like watching you do that”). John Barrowman’s in this. I can play “What Part Of Vancouver Is This?” while watching the show. What else could you ask for?
1. Agent Carter
Nadin: PEGGY MOTHERFUCKING CARTER!!! Nuff said, really. Agent Carter is the best thing that happened to us all since forever, and I can’t thank whoever made it happen enough for bringing it to life. It’s perfect on so many levels! For one thing, the back story of Howard and Peggy is priceless, especially in the context of Marvel films that keep coming out with enviable regularity. Isn’t it amazing just how alike Howard and Tony are? And then there’s Hayley Atwell and her absolutely brilliant acting. Even these days, a story focused on a strong – in every possible way – female character is a precious rarity, especially one written so well. It’s amazing. It’s groundbreaking. I love it and I desperately need 10 more seasons of it ASAP!
Roz: Agent Carter pretty much blows the rest of this list away. It’s brilliant. We gushed and raved about it as the season came to an end. Great writing, beautiful period production design and costumes, phenomenal casting, and wonderful drama and ACTION AND SCI-FI AND HAYLEY ATWELL.
Anais: The difference between Agent Carter and the rest of this list is that the show doesn’t have to call on my fangirl instincts to make me love it. Agent Carter is awesome because everything about it is awesome. You can’t argue with that.
What did we miss? Are you watching other superheroes on TV? How would you rank these programs?