Now that I’ve been through the latest Marvel Netflix installment of Iron Fist it’s time to put together my personal ranking of the now 5 seasons of shows (I’ve separated Daredevil season 1 and 2 because I think they differ wildly in quality). Also, please remember this is just my personal opinion, but you can also feel free to yell insults at me in the comments section because I don’t get many comments and I really want to get to know my fans. So, let’s get started shall we? Beginning with my least favorite….
5. Luke Cage
Credit where credit is due, LC knew what it wanted to be and what it wanted to say from day one, but as much as I loved the characters, I couldn’t get engaged with a poor storyline. Cottonmouth was a crime lord to empathize with taken too far and relived too soon after the Kingpin. The show seemed to confirm this by abandoning him half way through the season, or perhaps it was supposed to shock us. Frankly I was just glad. The psycho brother seemed a better villain, but wasn’t left with enough time to really make an impact. Plus the cheesiness of the ‘super suit’ finale seemed more at home in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. than the gritty world of Netflix’s corner of the MCU. The acting was top notch, the style was gorgeous and I’m with the show, it still ranks high amongst TV in general, but it’s the weakest on this list. Here’s hoping for a stronger season 2 when the characters will be able to be original.
4. Daredevil (season 2)
DD, what went wrong? You made the Iron Man 2 mistake, releasing a rushed sequel before the big mash up event. Still, the series started strong, with the same good performances and excellent additions, a slight nostalgia feeling for the characters of season 1 and the long hallway fight scenes, but somewhere after the Punisher gets free from prison the plot started to meander with no real threat – certainly not one that stands up to the towering standard of the Kingpin’s rise and fall anyway. Even though I quite liked Elektra, as a character, I didn’t care what happened to her by the time she joined team Matty and the final confrontation seemed like an early season action piece. The whole thing fell flat at the end with The Hand’s ninja prancing about on rooftops and digging huge holes for undisclosed reasons. Maybe it was the 90s Godzilla flashbacks that gave me. I just couldn’t get excited for it.
3. Iron Fist
The newest entry so high up the list? Are you sure you aren’t crazy, Emma? I am crazy but that has nothing to do with it. Heavily criticized for doing almost the same thing its predecessors did, Iron Fist is still a solid adventure that perhaps suffered from being rushed out the gate to beat The Defenders to production. There are some serious problems with tone and agency that undermine the otherwise strong story and that’s more easily fixed than rewriting the whole mess of DDS2’s last half. It just needed a few pointers early on so we know Danny isn’t already a fully powered, driven hero so that we empathized on his journey instead of wondering why he isn’t just kicking everyone’s ass already. They should have had some more pointers for the main villain as well, as the first few episodes, tho I found them interesting, lacked direction. To all the people who criticized the show for being whitewashed, one final note. The asian hero you wanted is in the show. Colleen Wing was a bad ass from start to finish and its beautiful how she opens up as a person through out the season, fights for what she believes in, learns something shocking about her past, and overcomes her antagonist to be a true hero. She’s the hero you wanted. Right there. But maybe it’s simply because I fell in love with her. If I had the time I’d recut the series so it featured her as the main protagonist.
2. Daredevil (season 1)
Netflix shone right off the bat with its first Marvel series that perfectly showcased what a superhero show could be. Free from the restraints of network television and close association with the kid friendly movies, DD could satisfy the MCU audience who were looking for something darker. With excruciating long takes, artful camera movements and brutal action, it used the longer narrative structure to weave a complex comparison of two approaches to saving a city. There was a hero who charmed us and a villain who made us empathize in equal measure, both determined to reach their goal their own way. A new era of television was born.
1. Jessica Jones
The problem with sequels is that you’ve already lost the surprise factor, so it is harder to impress the audience. While Jessica Jones isn’t strictly a sequel, it is the second in a series of connected stories and gone was the mystery of how a Netflix Marvel TV series could be: they could be excellent! Arriving swiftly in the shadow of DD, a relatively unknown superhero who hated using her powers didn’t seem to stand much of a chance of continuing the glory, but that was exactly its strength. Thanks to a different kind of superhero, a compelling and terrifying villain, brilliant acting all round and several nods in style and narrative to the noir genre, Jessica managed to wow audiences again with a near perfect run. Tenant is captivating in many senses of the word, terrifying us and making us feel guilty for laughing at his wicked commands. He took a cliched idea and delved further into the ramifications of his twisted psychology than ever before. He even manages to grip us from the very start of the show, despite the fact he takes quite a while to actually make an appearance. The show is also a flagship for female characters with agency, depicting an exaggerated tale of a women escaping from the mental chains of an abusive relationship, with the help of her sister. I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect show, but then, I do love noir.
All in all, an excellent standard all around, with even the worst of the ranking being an 8/10 in consideration of television history, but it’s clear to me that quality suffered when Netflix started rushing titles through production. If more time and care had been taken, as they had with the earlier series, they could have been more of a Pixar of television, but they fall just shy of that to me. That’s early Pixar of course. Not the regular Disney cash cow they are now. The talent and the leadership is definitely there, but we need more time to develop these shows.
That’s it for now, until The Defenders comes out in May anyway. Join me then when I’ll update the ranking: will it take the top spot?
What do you think of my ranking? Want to fight about it in the comments? Keep an eye out for updated rankings as new shows are released.