Saturday, December 7, 2019

Power Rankings: Superhero TV [Updated 12/7/19]

You love lists, and Look to the Cookie doesn't do enough of them. So here are the rankings and reasons for the 25 modern comic-based super-powered television series (Marvel and DC), as determined by the entire LTC staff, which is currently just Germar. The list is updated as seasons conclude and series premiere.

25. (24) Inhumans 5/10 Years of optimism, anxiety, and backtracking resulted in this, universally agreed upon, worst part of the MCU. Scott Buck may be MCU's kryptonite. Please, Marvel, don't let him ruin another series (e.g., Iron Fist). 

24. (23) Agent Carter 6/10 Yes, I hosted the show about the show, but it always felt like a lukewarm Marvel offering. The pieces fit snugly, and Hayley Atwell shined, but did anyone even watch the second season?

23. (22) Batwoman 6/10  So far, no good. She's flawed; that's good. The villain is her sister--ummm--okay. The diversity is nice. And I really mean that. But the shows just not very interesting . . . yet?

22. (21) Iron Fist 6/10 No one likes this show. And no one fears the surfer dude-voiced, Ramen noodle-haired, prince of privilege no matter how many times he says he beat a dragon or calls himself "immortal." Colleen Wing and Bakuto almost saved this atrocity. And I almost worked at Fox Sports. Cue that Brandy song. And then he improved slightly in Defenders and season two of "Cage." And the second season of Iron Fist was almost fire because they decided to focus on all of the amazing women while diminishing the lead. Ultimately, it got the ax anyway.  

21. (20) Swamp Thing 6/10 Alec Holland > Swamp Thing. So far it's shaping up to be baddie of the week; that format sucks like when there's no flavor left in the blue Icee. The swamp-Cajun feel is cool. That beautiful doctor drives the show. And it only got worse and is canceled . . . .

20. (19) Gotham 6.1/10 Gotham will probably be really good once it's all on Netflix, and we all finally decide to watch it. The first season got everything wrong--especially allowing Jada Pinkett to perform like an amateur starring in a Spelman College production of Wicked

19. (18) Legion 6.5/10 Is this a period piece? Style over substance? Maybe, but beautiful still, plus ambitious. It's not a great show yet, but it's better than almost all of the X-men movies.

18. (17) The Gifted 6.7/10 This is the best way to realistically represent, on television, the best team of heroes in the history of comics. No, they're not the X-men. But if the X-men X-isted they'd be a lot more like The Gifted than that awesome Saturday morning cartoon. It's inconsistent at best, but there's definitely something there.  And now it's better, but, still somehow, exactly the same.

17. (16) Black Lightning 6.8/10 It's only the most important show in the history of television in the United States (in season one). They deal with everything, better than most shows deal with anything--race, violence, cops, sex, LGBT matters, relationships, schools . . . and superpowers. "This one's for the streets." So far season two has not matched season one, but they remain "the people's champ." And season two continues to disappoint, but the "racist hicks" story-line was somewhat refreshing. AND season three continues the misses of season two. BUT the story is a powerful and important one. CRISIS.

16. (15) Legends of Tomorrow 6.8/10 If you don't like this show, you don't like smiles, fun, or good times. Remember when The Avengers was the best thing to happen to the '10s? DC decided to do that with 200th of the budget, but weekly. And now, maybe it's a little too much fun. I'll still ride the wave, but this could fizzle fast. CRISIS.

15. (14) Arrow 6.9/10 Arrow has quickly become the can miss DCTV CW show of the week. But we keep watching. I look forward to its ending, followed by frequent character cameos on the other shows. It started too fast and left little room to grow. Team Arrow was Justice League lite before we got the Legends, Team Flash, or Supergirl. Pacing. And now they may be taking the street justice a little too far OR maybe just far enough. And in it's EIGHTH?!?! season, (which may be its last) they're really going for it, while staying true to its origins. CRISIS.

14. (13) Doom Patrol 6.9/10 They're not heroes, like at all. It's hard to call their unique qualities "abilities" or "powers." And whatever they are, they aren't super. But as wacky as this series is, it feels real. It's unique and not for uniqueness's sake. Titans isn't a fluke; DC Universe is coming for Marvel's head. The ending was meta af, but ultimately meh   

13. (12) Krypton 6.9/10 So far, so good. They did it. They borrowed from the beautiful Man of Steel opening, and made their own Krypton. The black Zods are awesome and their story has stolen the show. Plus, it sets up Zods better than any previous source. Seg-El is that dude. -.1 for that wack-ass Lobo.

12. (11) Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 7/10 Its debut was a meandering mess. But for the fans that stuck around, Agents of Hydra/Agents of Nothing got good fast. And more recently, we've been gifted the best live action Ghostrider, top notch action, intelligent political commentary, and the best possible "what if"-styled virtual world story. Now, Agents is a secret gem. 

11. (10) Runaways 7.1/10 At the episode three mark, this show is far better than anything on this list. Performances, cinematography, drama, use of powers, relationships, representation--perfection. The problem with being on top . . . is that long tumble down. How will they handle powers or the discovery of the teens' discovery? How will they handle the budding and realistic romances? And is this really the MCU? Did it need to be? (3 months later . . . show was dope) And in the second season so much happened . . . on the way down. Season one was  too good. The worst thing about being at the top? There's only one way to go. The sexy non-aging Spanish-speaking dude was super cool though.
10. (9) The Defenders 7.1/10 The first four episodes were the highlight of my year. The Defenders are to the Avengers what the X-men are to the Justice League. They are the heroes we might be, not the gods that save us. They blended four distinct tales better than I imagined possible--style and mythos. To enjoy: 1) ignore the villains' plot; 2) remember that we witnessed an even more annoying Iron Fist earlier.

9. (8) Supergirl 7.5/1She got pants now bitchessss! Every week entertains. Each episode plays out like an updated, less whiny, less soap opera-y version of Smallville. The weird episode where she was "kid" Supergirl was weird. Pro tip: Superman is your problem, not your solution. [Each] season [goes] deep on race, LGBT matters, relationships, and it remained a top comic book-based show. Kudos. CRISIS.

8. (7) The Flash 7.5/10 So maybe skip the second season. And maybe they do the same arc each season. But this is the most pleasant series on the list. It's like a '90s Saturday morning cartoon for grown-ups. This is the team that every Millennial would join if given the opportunity. And I'm in love with little Flash-et junior - sue me. CRISIS.

7. (6) Jessica Jones 7.5/10 Two Js is da realest! She single-handedly saved The Defenders (literally and also from us critics). In her debut, she overcame the #1 true villain in the MCU (twice). She also laid out Luke Cage. And maybe she can fly. And then the second season sucked hard. The former #1 has dropped like the best beat. And the the third season redeemed in a way most shows never can. #podcastcomingsoon

6. (5) Luke Cage 7.5/10 Cage, one of the strongest characters on the list, started weakly and ended weakly. But that midsection does work. Ummmm. Cottonmouth is the King. And if you're black, this should feel like a moment . . . for us . . . because it is. And in the second season, a strong show got stronger. It's a shame this moment is partially wasted on Mike Colter. Bushmaster saved the series and washed the diamond-backed taste from our mouths. Annnnnnnd it's canceled. A record-breaking black-ass show that did impossible numbers for Netflix is gone.

5. (4) Cloak & Dagger  7.9/10 I want to love the show, in the way I love its young stars. And I might, if I could stay awake. I think they realize they have superpowers in episode five . . . I think. Who's this show for?--moody-artsy-poetic-horny-virgin 13-year-olds? I'm guessing. They get bonus points for flipping the most common racial stereotypes. And like all of the best things, once it ended, I begged for more. Cloak & Dagger may have something just yet. The second season began like the first, and then something happened--something good. Ish got real, real cultural, real racial, real domestic . . . real. Now, this show matters. CANCELED.

4. (3) The Punisher 8/10 It's nothing like other shows on this list. They chose to ignore the superhero world setting. It works, but may have worked better as a standalone. Ultimately, it was more predictable than most comic book-based shows because it was a lot like every gritty revenge, PTSD flick we've ever seen. And then in season two they created one of the most beautiful pieces of art in the history of time. It was not like anything anyone has every seen. There were TWO antagonists, and they both had unconventional, unpredictable, realistic endings.

3. (2) Daredevil 8/10 Hallway scenes started here. It's a shame they didn't end here. Foggy is as whack as Charlie Cox's accent (both improved by season 3). If you are anti-shadowy fight scenes, then Kingpin kept your interest. This series was redeemed by the Punisher's arrival. Ssssooo many ninjas. And then season three was maybe the best thing I've seen "on TV." Yes, Daredevil season three is "Wire," "Sopranos," "Lost," Breaking Bad"-good.

2. (1) Titans 9/10 We saw that corny-ass trailer and scoffed. The first episode wasn't much better. But Titans has become my #1 must-see-TV each week. If this dropped Netflix style, I wouldn't have left the seat. It would've been my first "diaper show." Starting with the Hawk and Dove episode, this is the grittiest, most realistic, non-fantastical fantasy show (read: best) of all time. This is not our Teen Titans (coming soon). It's not like the Titans as seen anywhere before. That black Starfire that you hate is one of the best characters on TV this year. DC should stop making movies. They really get television. And season two is even better.

1. Watchmen 9.6/10 It's the best show on television. And like many of our best shows, it deals with race (and in the best way), so you're NOT watching it. 


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