2018 proved to be the year of the superhero show. As the superhero genre is not only becoming more popular in the mainstream but continues to push boundaries and blend mature storytelling with outlandish comic book action. Whether you fall on the DC or Marvel side of the equation, both companies are proving that the superhero genre has an abundance of stories waiting to be told, and as time goes on these stories will become as widely regarded as any other genre of television. Yet, despite the sheer volume of shows now being put out on streaming services and television, not all shows in this genre are created equal.
Some of the superhero shows that we see each year are well into their show’s run, and not all of them are able to capture the magic that the original first season captured. Others suffer from slow starts or too many plots overlapping one another. Yet, some excel where other’s fail, not only capturing the magic of the comic books that fans have come to know but creating original stories that show off the funny, the gritty, and the mythological sides of the comic book industry.
Yes, the year 2018 was quite a rollercoaster ride. Filled with some truly surprising comic book moments, unforgettable comic book storylines being adapted, and disappointing ends to previously beloved shows, these shows have certainly gotten the fandom stirred up. That’s why we are going to explore the ten worst superhero shows of 2018, and ten of the best.
20 Worst: Krypton
While SyFy’s Superman prequel excelled in many areas, including a refreshing take on the time travel storyline and exploring the world that humanity’s future hero comes from, the first few episodes were a bit slow and the politics and class system of the planet made for some forgettable dialogue between characters. Fans are hopeful that thanks to a better finale and the promise of characters like Lobo appearing that the second season will be much better than the first.
19 Best: Arrow
One of the best examples of the superhero genre that began what is now known as the Arrowverse is the story of Oliver Queen and his superhero persona, Green Arrow.
While the show’s sixth season got off to a slow start, the second half of the season and the beginning of season 7 has shown a return to the show’s grittier nature from the first few seasons.
A truly memorable and powerful foe in Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo), the unmasking of Oliver Queen, and his recent stint in prison have made for some truly compelling television.
18 Worst: Jessica Jones
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the show overall. The first season of this Netflix and Marvel series was gritty, smart, and did a wonderful job of infusing powerful female characters and a sinister villain in Killgrave (David Tennant). However, while it was nice to see the show explore Jessica’s backstory more, the lack of a memorable villain and plot lines that were revealed and then never explored further (the prison security guard Jessica confronted, then forgot about soon after), made the second season a forgettable one. With a season 3 in the works, let’s hope the next iteration returns to the show’s original format that fans fell in love with.
17 Best: Legends Of Tomorrow
Surprisingly enough, fans are really starting to grow on this show.
The third season dealing with the loss of a beloved team member, paired with battling an ancient time demon and defeating it with a giant stuffed animal/toy (shoutout to Bebo everyone!), was quite a fun way to end the third season.
The recent season introducing Constantine and the more magical side of the DC Universe in a fun, lighthearted, and yet engaging premise that has made this show a true standout amongst the other Arrowvverse shows.
16 Worst: Luke Cage
Much like a lot of the Marvel/Netflix shows, the highly acclaimed Luke Cage suffered from a troublesome sophomore season. While Luke Cage continued to shine in its approach to the racial problems mirroring our own world and including memorable Marvel characters, the show took Luke on a dark path that made this feel more like one of the “What If…?” comic book storylines than a true adaption of the original comics. On top of that, the show was canceled, leaving no room to fix or improve the problematic direction the show’s story took in the finale.
15 Best: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Now, despite low ratings and a season that was not as popular as the season 4 mini-arcs like Ghost Rider and the Framework, season 5 of AoS was memorable for building the characters' bond further during its time travel storyline, while also giving both Clark Gregg’s Coulson and Chloe Bennet’s Daisy (Quake) room to shine in heroic roles.
Quake even took to the skies to battle a power-hungry foe in the moments leading up to Avengers: Infinity War.
With a sixth season in the works, fans are eager to see how last summer’s MCU film will affect the show going forward.
14 Worst: The Gifted
While the second season promises to build upon classic storylines like Polaris and her potential family history with Magneto and the development of the Hellfire Club, The Gifted suffered from too many storylines and plots overrunning one another to the point where they never quite gelled together. While many X-Men characters get a chance to shine, the show never quite captured the same love that the X-Men films have. With the MCU absorbing the X-Men characters in the coming year, it begs the question where The Gifted will fall after its upcoming season 2.
13 Best: Black Lightning
One of 2018’s biggest breakout hits in the superhero realm has to be Black Lightning.
Similar to how Luke Cage broke barriers for Marvel in its first season, Black Lightning broke DC’s social barriers by introducing a hero who showcases the racial injustices of our world and stands up for what is right.
The story of a family man who is forced to return to the superhero life he left behind years ago and the impact on his family and community, really sunk in for fans and made this a truly remarkable show.
12 Worst: Iron Fist
While the show’s freshman season failed to garner the same love as other Netflix/Marvel shows, the second season improved somewhat, delving deeper into the Iron Fist mythology and showing Danny Rand taking to the streets, not for his own mission, but to protect the city he loved. However, the show was canceled, and with so many plot lines left unanswered, the show failed to deliver on what promised to be a much improved Iron Fist show.
11 Best: Supergirl
This show continues to improve as each season goes by.
With a far more memorable villain in season 3 (Reign), storylines that continue to highlight the current social injustices of our society (racial discrimination, bias, bigotry, and violence), and proving that shows can have female heroes who are both strong and vulnerable, highlight the growing love for heroes like Wonder Woman and Supergirl. Melissa Benoist continues to shine as Kara, while Katie McGrath’s Lena Luthor does an excellent job exploring the Luthor history and showing the complex relationship between both Kara and herself and Supergirl and herself.
10 Worst: Cloak And Dagger
While fans loved the backdrop of New Orleans, exploring racial injustices and fears young people of color have to go through, and seeing two breakout performances from the show’s protagonists, Cloak and Dagger was a definite slow burn. With actual powers showing up much later in the show’s run and lacking a memorable villain to play off of, the show’s freshman season failed to deliver what felt like a complete story. Let's hope season 2 finds a great foe for the characters to face together and test their powers even more.
9 Best: Marvel’s Runaways
One of Marvel’s strongest shows just recently premiered its second season in 2018.
The show’s sophomore run has proven to completely deepen the character’s connections with one another, creating stronger bonds and a more cohesive cast experience that translates well onto the screen.
While fans have noticed the show’s dependency on overly used plot devices, overall the second season showcases a show that continues to grow and improve rather than go backward on what made it so remarkable, to begin with.
8 Worst: Gotham
While the upcoming final season of Gotham is highly anticipated and the show has had some truly fantastic years, last season was not one of the fans favorites. Things like changing Butch into Solomon Grundy from the comics, Bruce Wayne “taking out” Ra’s Al Ghul in the season’s first few episodes, only for him to return and then get taken out again in the season finale, and introducing a “twin” to fan-favorite Jerome and making him into a new version of the Joker, made the show’s plot stranger, even for Gotham’s standards. Continuing strong performances by Ben McKenzie’s Jim Gordon, Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin, and David Mazouz’s Bruce Wayne, the show has stayed just strong enough to present an unforgettable final season that is sure to lead into the rise of Batman.
7 Best: The Tick
Yes, it may seem strange, but the second half of The Tick premiered in 2018, and despite a lack of budget and nonsensical plotlines, the show shone brightly as one of the fan-favorites in the superhero genre in 2018.
The Tick and Arthur’s chemistry was a major highlight, as was the hilarious plotlines and mixture of humor and villainy in The Terror, the villain played by Jackie Earle Haley.
This allowed Amazon to get a foot into the Superhero genre in a big way, making for one of the genre's more unique shows.
6 Worst: Justice League Action
Now it’s time to take a step back from live action shows and look at some of the superhero animated shows that have graced our screens in 2018. While a fine children’s show or short form show, the actual plotlines and content of the show lack the same level of maturity or cohesive, connected storytelling that previous Justice League shows had (Justice League, Justice League Unlimited). While they are fun videos on their own, as a show, the lack of an overarching plot makes this a bit less enjoyable.
5 Best: Titans
2018 saw the creation of DC Comics very own streaming service, and with it, their first-ever television series, Titans.
Based on the popular Teen Titans comics, the mature and gritty drama saw an older Dick Grayson trying to escape the violent shadow of his mentor Batman, and encountering a young girl with a dark and mysterious past who needs his help. Meeting the likes of Kori (Starfire) and Gar (Beat Boy) and introducing other shows like the upcoming Doom Patrol, Titans became one of the biggest hits of 2018. While the finale left a little to be desired, the second season promises to build upon the show’s gritty nature and fantastic storytelling, including the introduction of Superboy and Krypto.
4 Worst: Legion
Now, while the show is highly acclaimed for its trippy, mind-bending storytelling and including one of the less explored sides of the X-Men mythos, the FX original show Legion delivered a less-than-stellar second season. While the show’s finale indicated a fantastic twist on the show’s protagonist (played by the incredible Dan Stevens), the show’s fate is unknown, and little is know about whether or not fans will get to see the payout for the epic reveal.
3 Best: The Flash
One of 2018’s most loyal, comic book worthy shows has to be The Flash. Including a non-speedster villain for the first time, the show’s fourth season delivered fantastic humor, great new heroes like Ralph Dibney (Elongated Man), and the current fifth season has introduced Barry and Iris’s daughter Nora, another speedster, as well as the powerful foe, Cicada.
This show doubles down on its comic book roots, and the payout is nothing less than stellar.
Performances from stars Grant Gustin, Candace Patton, and newcomer Jessica Parker Kennedy, this is the show that continues to make the Arrowverse shine bright.
2 Worst: Freedom Fighters: The Ray
One thing that the Arrowverse has done since building its multiverse of shows has been to introduce new characters in animated form first. This worked for characters like Vixen and John Constantine. After the popular crossover event Crisis on Earth-X, an animated show based on new hero The Ray was made, but sadly its second season has not helped improve the show’s popularity. The timeline is a bit murky as the Arrowverse’s first encounter with Earth-X was at Barry and Iris’s wedding, and yet here in the animated show, Cisco is breaching his Earth’s Ray to Earth-X to fight. It’s a bit all over the place, making it less than enjoyable to many fans.
1 Best: Daredevil
Despite its maddening cancellation at Netflix (bring it back, Disney!), Daredevil’s third season proved to be the best superhero show of 2018.
Bringing Wilson Fisk back as the show’s main antagonist and showcasing a more broken, defeated Matt Murdock and his struggle to end Fisk once and for all made this one of the most compelling, gritty, and overall enjoyable shows of the year. The characters soared, the introduction of the villain Bullseye was both original and comic book worthy, and the epic final fight scene between Fisk, Bullseye, and Murdock is the stuff comic book/superhero shows are made of.