2016 in retrospective: Superhero TV

Superheroes on TV aren’t easy subject, when 2016 is concerned. We lost at least one show with potential (Agent Carter). In the thin line between superheroes and gothic romanticism, we also unexpectedly lost Penny Dreadful. When we’re talking about superheroes on TV, we usually use the differentiation between CW-verse (Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and more recently Supergirl) and the series which are connected to Marvel Cinematic Universe. The latter differentiates into ABC series (Agent Carter, Agents of Shield) and Netflix series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage). There are also Lucifer and Gotham available, but they are on FOX so there’s a good chance they’ll get canceled without any reason whatsoever.

CW (Arrowverse)

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Arrowverse, as the term goes, suffered some changes in the last year. Arrow, as the first series of the bunch, was the worst of them all (in the season that ended in 2016). Arrow still didn’t have sense of direction, it doesn’t have it to be honest since Deathstroke left the show, and if there’s anything we can look forward to then it’s the breakup of the Olicity. Maybe show will finally be less melodramatic and more action packed.

Second series of the Arrowverse, Flash, was the best of them all in its premiere season. Second season was slightly worse than the opening, but it still managed to be the best of the CW comic-book shows. Third one, which started in 2016 was marked by an ambitious attempt to bring Flashpoint to the screen. It failed. If you want to know why please address the comic or the animated movie, but in a nutshell, it doesn’t work without Batman and the other members of Justice League who we mustn’t mention inside the Arrowverse. That changed, because of Supergirl, when we’re talking about Superman so we can only hope that Oliver Queen will stop impersonating the Bat and that Bruce Wayne will be reinstated instead of just hinted within the Arrowverse.

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Legends of Tomorrow had the best evolution process within the same universe. Second season of that show is arguably the best of all CW shows at the moment. Show has its own dynamic, interesting stories and character development and for the time being is the one that I’m most excited about when DC is in question. That’s not the case with Supergirl which is still mostly bad. That’s a pity since Melissa Benoist isn’t bad choice for the part at all. Crossover of all four was the biggest disappointment to date and it’s a sort of testament to the claim that Legends of Tomorrow are the best DC show currently on air. Crossover was badly written, not fun and all, insulting for the intelligence of the viewer and its potential was mainly unfulfilled. Pity, I was looking forward to it.

MARVEL

ABC

Agents of SHIELD succeeded in making the story worthwhile in 2016. The show was struggling from the beginning and for the most of its first season it didn’t have the clear agenda within the broader Marvel Universe. That changed in the current season which made the most of Inhumans plot which leads the show to the Infinity storyline in the next Avengers. Agents of SHIELD are, for me, proof that idea of interconnected universe finally pays off.

HAYLEY ATWELL

I’m sorry that wasn’t the case with Agent Carter. Second season of surprisingly good show was weaker than the first, and great Hayley Atwell wasn’t put to the good use in the season we had a chance to watch. I’m very sorry because of that, I really needed a chance to see to foundation of SHIELD and Carter’s role in it.

NETFLIX

Netflix shows had ups and downs in 2016. Daredevil’s second season can be divided into two segments. First, with Punisher, was really good and we finally saw Frank Castle we always wanted. Second part, with Elektra, was weak and full of unnecessary emotions which clouded very good beginning of the season.

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The same can be said about Luke Cage. Cage was the show I was looking forward to, but in the second half of the season its quality dropped drastically. Superhero shows, as a rule, are as good as the antagonist they have. Luke Cage in the second half of the season had precisely that problem.

Weak antagonist ruined the show’s potential. It was great for the first five or six episodes. After that, it was plain average. From Netfix, we expect more.

OTHER NETWORKS

Some people will maybe ask why I didn’t mention Preacher or Outcast, but I don’t consider them as superhero shows. In some of the next posts I will write about the non-superhero adaptations. Other networks tried to keep the pace with the superhero hype, but the only two series worth mentioning are Lucifer and Gotham. Lucifer isn’t strictly a superhero, but he also has the power of persuasion. The show doesn’t follow the great comic series, but it can stand on its own. Lucifer is, for me, the pleasant surprise of the year.

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Gotham lost my attention after the weak first season. I couldn’t force myself to start the show again for quite some time. I like the characters in the comic book, I like the Penguin in the show, but somehow just wasn’t enough. Then I decided to give it a chance again. Show is better than before, it developed and it has some interesting storylines. I just can’t escape from the gut feeling that it’s, basically, unnecessary. When I force myself to see it as a parallel universe in which the ties to the comics are just superficial then I actually enjoy it. But still, it’s more a guilty pleasure than anything else.

If you’re asking yourself why I don’t like to watch FOX shows in general think Firefly.

But then again, maybe they learn from their mistakes. Some of us, who love superheroes, never do. That comes by definition, I suppose.

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