Marvel and Netflix have collaborated on 7 series now based on comic characters owned by Marvel. Some have been great. Others not so much. Below I list my least favourite to my favourite.
Iron Fist series 1
As it’s been established that I don’t like the Hand, I will use this space to focus on what else I didn’t like about Iron Fist. The plot lacked tension, Finn Jones lacked charisma as Danny Rand and the whole thing left me thinking “what’s the point?” Iron Fist himself isn’t an interesting character and this didn’t add much to the Marvel Netflix shared superhero universe. Hopefully at least they will have learned from the mistakes this series made when the second one comes out.
Defenders series 1
The Hand, a group of ancient ninjas with seemly inexhaustible numbers that the police and government are unaware of, are not a villain that work for me. They don’t have anything to say, any explanation usually falls back on fantasy clichés and pushes the level of believability beyond what I can accept. So an entire series focusing on them, their workings and some bizarre plot involving turning a woman into “The Black Sky” – I’m still not sure why – isn’t particularly appealing to me. What I did like about this show was how it weaved together the plots of the individual shows. It was good to see Jessica Jones and Luke Cage again and Sigourney Weaver was very good as the principal villain, but the rest of the show left me cold.
Daredevil series 2
The second series of Daredevil started well with the introduction of the Punisher and an exploration of the morality of vigilantism as Daredevil attempts to take him down. The middle of the show, focusing on the trial of the Punisher and the return of Matt Murdock’s ex-girlfriend Elektra, was very average and lacked tension. The end, in which Daredevil fights an inexplicable army of ninjas, became a mash of empty spectacle and mystical claptrap. If the series had kept up the momentum it showed earlier then it might be further up the list, however it did not.
Daredevil series 1
This show restored my faith in Daredevil after the disappointing Ben Affleck film adaptation. In this show, Daredevil goes up against crime lord Wilson Fisk, who is profiting from the rebuilding of New York after it was devastated in Avengers Assemble. Fisk is a complex villain and the addition of a romance plot focusing on Fisk was interestingly different. Beyond this, Daredevil did not have a lot to say, but it was at least entertaining.
The Punisher series 1
The Punisher first appeared in the second series of Daredevil, but was then given his own show a year later. In this series, he takes revenge against corrupt army officers with his signature style of gun-based vigilante justice. This series has what can only described as unflinchingly intense violence. The Punisher is an interesting character, but I would have liked the show to explore the morality of being a vigilante more than it does.
Luke Cage series 1
Luke Cage is another show whose strength is having something to say. Luke Cage is a bulletproof black man who is a hero to his community in Harlem, New York, but is feared by the police and gang bosses. Like Jessica Jones, another strength of the show is that it has an excellent villain, in the form of Mahershala Ali’s Cottonmouth. The show also has an excellent soundtrack, lots of interesting literary references and is beautifully shot. The quality unfortunately dips in the second half of the series, which is why it has missed out on the top spot.
Jessica Jones series 1
When Jessica Jones first debuted on Netflix, everyone was talking about it. It dominated my Twitter feed and offline conversations. The opening episode was intriguing and built to a shocking conclusion. The rest of the series lived up to the promise of the opening episode. What made this series so good was not just that it was well plotted and Krysten Ritter was excellent in the title role, but this show had something to say about how charming men can be abusers. The villain, Killgrave, played by an uncannily creepy David Tennant, is a picture of charm and malevolence. As Jessica comes to term with Killgrave’s abuse, the audience get a window into the life of an abuse survivor.
That’s my thoughts on the Marvel Netflix superhero shows so far. The second series of Jessica Jones has just come out and you can find out what I thought of that by listening to the latest episode of the Moderate Fantasy Violence podcast below: