Ranking the Best and Worst Comic Book TV Shows of 2014-2015

Friday, 29 May 2015 - 4:54PM
The Flash
Agent Carter
Daredevil
Friday, 29 May 2015 - 4:54PM
Ranking the Best and Worst Comic Book TV Shows of 2014-2015
Comic book adaptations have staged a hostile takeover of television in the past few years, and with at least four more coming out next season (Lucifer, Legends of Tomorrow, AKA Jessica Jones, and Supergirl), the phenomenon isn't going away anytime soon. But which superhero shows lived up to their source material, and which left even the most devoted Marvel/DC fans completely cold? Let us know in the fan poll before reading our thoughts below:

Fan Poll:
What Was the Best Comic Book TV Show This Year?
What Was the Best Comic Book TV Show This Year?
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(Note: we left out non-superhero comic adaptations like The Walking Dead and iZombie, partially because iZombie isn't finished with its season and partially because they're just sort of a different animal.)

Here's our ranking of the superhero series of the 2014-2015 television season, from worst to best:

7. Gotham



Let's not mince words: Gotham's first season was a mess. I had really high hopes for it; Batman is my favorite superhero, I'm a big fan of shows with a dark, gritty aesthetic, the cast is great, the production value is high, etc. It had all the makings of an amazing superhero show, and managed to quash all the potential it might have had. The storytelling was inept, the characters were one-dimensional (with the possible exceptions of Penguin and Alfred), the dialogue was laughably cheesy, and the Easter eggs were far too cute. Of all the shows on this list, Gotham is the only one that we would consider to be a "bad" show. 

Hopefully next season will improve, with the season finale opening some intriguing doors (no pun intended) and the writers scrapping the case-of-the-week format, but we're not sure we have the morale left to tune in.


6. Constantine



Like Gotham, Constantine was a bit of a mess in its freshman season. But unlike Gotham, which just plain squandered its potential, Constantine was in the process of fulfilling it when it was unceremoniously yanked from the line-up. Plenty of great shows take a while to find their footing, and Constantine seemed to be finding it by the end, especially with the final reveal that (spoiler!) Manny was the primary villain. A high-stakes villain would have fixed a lot of the show's narrative problems, and it certainly deserves a second season more than Gotham.

There's still some hope, as Constantine is still being shopped to other networks, particularly Syfy. We're pulling for a CW coup, so Stephen Amell's requested cameo can really happen, not to mention potential crossovers with The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. 

5. Arrow



Arrow was perfectly solid this season, especially compared to problem children like Gotham and Constantine, but it can easily be considered the "worst of the best." After an exemplary, genuinely thrilling second season, Arrow took a little bit of a tumble, lapsing a little too often into teen melodrama and sidelining its titular hero for a large portion of the season. The third season wasn't bad, necessarily, it just didn't live up to the promise of the amazing second season, and we hope that it sees a return to form in season four.


4. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.



After an extremely rocky first season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. became one of the most entertaining hours on TV. Between the successful additions of characters like Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter, the perfectly choreographed fight scenes, and the game-changing revelation that Skye is an Inhuman, this season was a non-stop Marvel-style thrill ride. While it may not have hit as many high notes as The Flash, it was arguably the most consistent comic book show this year. It might occasionally feel like a 22-hour-long commercial for Marvel films, but it's a damn good one and with the prospect of a Civil War tie in next year, it's actually a trend we're looking forward to seeing continued into the show's third season.  


3. Agent Carter



When Hayley Atwell strolled onto our screens as Agent Carter, it felt like a breath of air. Despite the proliferation of TV shows, Agent Carter managed to take the genre and do something different, seamlessly merging period drama with some brilliantly produced comic book action. Atwell deserves particular praise for her stunning portrayal of a character who is both mentally and physically hard as nails, but the show's supporting cast also warrant a call out. James D'Arcy delivered some witty comic relief and Chad Michael Murray was surprisingly compelling as the sexist Agent Jack Thompson, but we were hoping that Lyndsey Fonseca was going to get more of a role than she ended up receiving.

Agent Carter's approach to addressing gender issues wasn't always subtle, but it was certainly appreciated given the problems the comic book industry has had with the issue. Much of the show's success in this area came from Atwell's portrayal of what we believe to be one of the best role models the Marvel Universe has ever produced, and it warms our hearts to see so many Peggy Carter cosplays at comic cons across the country. Long may that continue too, because the Marvel gods heard our prayers and Agent Carter was recently renewed for a second season albeit after a nervy 3 month wait.


2. Daredevil



Daredevil was everything Gotham wanted to be, but utterly failed. It was a huge departure, and therefore a huge risk, for Marvel, but it paid off in spades. It was dark, grounded in realism, and thematically heavy, but still managed to be entertaining and true to its comics roots. Charlie Cox made a perfect Matt Murdock and Vincent D'Onofrio was the best and most memorable villain Marvel's Cinematic Universe has produced, hands-down. It completely got the taste of Ben Affleck's Daredevil out of our mouths, received universal rave reviews, and went on to become Netflix's most-watched original show of the season, even beating House of Cards.

Oh, and it also contained a fantastic homage to Oldboy. So there's that.


1. The Flash



Honestly, either Daredevil or The Flash could have taken the top spot; they're both amazing, and they can't really be compared, as their tones are diametrically opposed. (Funny, isn't it, that this year DC perfected the lighthearted superhero show while Marvel perfected the dark and gritty one?) But we let Flash take the win, because not only was it well-written, well-acted, funny, and eminently likable, it managed to be nearly perfect while dealing with external factors like ratings, ongoing fan feedback, and a season that was twice as long as Daredevil's. Where Daredevil proved that superhero shows can be dark without being pretentious downers, The Flash proved that superhero shows can be goofy and distinctly comic book-ish while still serving character development, relationship work, and thematic coherence. Even more than Arrow or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the massive, record-breaking success of The Flash proved that comic book television shows are here to stay.
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Comic Book TV Shows
The Flash
Agent Carter
Daredevil
Ranking the Best and Worst Comic Book TV Shows of 2014-2015