TV Superhero Showdown!
A few weeks ago I ranted and raved about Gotham, the Batman prequel series that’s been blowing up on Fox. This week I’m going to return to the TV theme, but expand it to the four other comic book shows on the major networks: Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Constantine, and of course, Arrow. We’re at the midseason finales for these shows, and all of them (with one exception) have been a hit. With the news that Constantine will be wrapping up it’s season with thirteen episodes and not the usual 22, I think it’s time to take a look at all of these series and do what nerd do best: ask which one is better?
Honestly, if I have to choose, I’m going with Flash. The Arrow spin off has been a lot of fun, and Grant Gustin’s performance as Barry Allen has been awesome to watch. While the show is starting to dip into the same “monster of the week” formula that doomed Smallville, episodes like the one that featured Captain Cold were so good that they earned a ton of goodwill for me. While the midseason finale had more big moments for Barry’s personal life than as the Flash, the mystery behind Reverse Flash is still pretty cool, and I don’t think it’s going to play out at all like we think it will.
Coming in second is Arrow, which, on it’s third go round on the big screen, has started to develop a pretty concerning trend: how seemingly easy it is to become a vigilante. While I can buy Roy Harper’s somewhat quick transformation into Arsenal (mainly because of the Mirakuru serum), I’m having a really hard time buying Laurel’s transformation into the Black Canary. So far we’ve only seen her taking boxing classes with Ted Grant. Is that really supposed to be the extent of her training? Or is she trying to get enough training to start out, and convince Oliver that she can beat the crap out of criminals like her sister did? If its’ the latter than it’s easier to buy, but I’m still not sold.
One of the other reasons keeping Arrow from the top spot is the lack of a major villain for this season so far. Now I know that they’ve had Ra’s Al Ghul appear in the midseason finale, so we definitely know he’s playing a bigger part later, but so far Oliver’s been dealing with drug runners and rival archers, and trying to solve the mystery of Sarah’s death. Of course, we didn’t get to see Manu Bennett’s awesome Deathstroke cut loose until midway through last season, so it’s safe to say that this area of Arrow’s third season is definitely going to improve in this regard, and the insane ending of this week’s episode insures that.
Next on the list is Constantine, a show that’s making waves right now not for ratings, but for the news that NBC has not ordered any additional episodes for the show’s first season. Now a thirteen episode season isn’t a death sentence (Hannibal, which is also on NBC, is fantastic and has done wonders with this kind of a season), but it’s not great, especially when you consider the fact that Constantine was the last comic book show to debut on the big networks.
Another thing hurting Constantine is the fact that the quality of the episodes varies way too much. While the pilot episode, “The Devil’s Vinyl”, and “A Feast of Friends” were all good to great, the episodes in between those two were kind of a mess. And while we’ve seen John Constantine holding a (GASP!) lit cigarette in the latest episode, it’s still kind of sad knowing how badly the producers have had to fit the character into a mold that doesn’t exactly fit him. However, this may be more noticeable to me though, I just read the first Hellblazer collection.
One thing that does suit Constantine well is Matt Ryan, who does an excellent job as John Constantine. Ryan’s able to make Constantine act like kind of a dick, but still have that charm about him that doesn’t make him a complete a-hole (it should be noted that Ryan played Edward Kenway in Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, a game that I played for months on end, so I might be a little biased).
As for Gotham, I feel like I said my piece about it weeks ago, and I still stand by everything I ‘ve said. In fact, I’m watching the “mid-season finale” as I type this, and I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ll be back when the show returns. And that sucks, because I’m a huge Batman fan. But at the same time, there’s only so much time in a day that I can devote to TV, and watching a show that doesn’t interest me or often causes me to fly into a nerd rage doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Last but not least is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., aka Marvel’s only entry in the TV race. Honestly, the second season of Coulson and Co.’s adventures has actually been pretty good. While it’s not at the same level as the post –Winter Soldier episodes, it’s nowhere near as bad (or boring) as the show when it first started out. They’re slowly bringing more and more Marvel characters into the fold, and Adrienne Padilicki’s Mockingbird is actually kind of badass. Add in the fact that they’re including the Kree aliens and the Inhumans to the fold, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may just start climbing up my DVR watch list order.
Regardless of my feeling about these shows, I still think it’s incredible that we have ONE comic book TV show, let alone FOUR on network TV right now. Hell, add in AMC’s The Walking Dead and you’ve got a comic book show that’s not just a success, but also a runaway train that seemingly has no end in sight. It’s a good time to be a comic book fan with a TV set, and it’s great that there are so many shows out there for different audiences.
Posted on December 21, 2014, in Comic Books, TV, TV Shows and tagged Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow, Clark Gregg, Comic Book TV Shows, Constantine, Gotham, Grant Gustin, Matt Ryan, Stephen Amell, The Flash. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.