With the rights to the characters from the Marvel Netflix shows now back in Disney’s hands and the first season of WandaVision nearing its end, it seemed appropriate to rank the Netflix shows that centered on the Marvel superheroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and The Punisher.
6. Iron Fist (2017-2018): This placement should not really come as a surprise to anybody. It originally seemed like Iron Fist would be another hit for Netflix like the previous three shows that came before it. However, this proved to be anything but the case as Iron Fist stumbled out of the gate and was never able to properly get back up. Iron Fist stars Finn Jones as Danny Rand, a young millionaire and martial artist known as the “Immortal Iron Fist” who struggles to use his powers to combat the evil organization known as The Hand while balancing the responsibilities he has for his family’s company. Unlike the other shows, Iron Fist contained an abysmal first season with terrible pacing, choppy editing and lackluster performances, particularly from Jones who did not live up to the challenge of being the lead in a superhero show. The fight scenes were one of the Iron Fist’s worst aspects, which should not have been the case for a show centered on martial arts. The second season stepped things up slightly by having better choreography, acting and storytelling. However, the season was still a misfire and allowed for Iron Fist to be the first of the marvel Netflix shows to be cancelled. The one good thing about this series that most people agree on is Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing, whom many say should have been the lead instead of Jones. Rating: 4/10.
5. The Defenders (2017): After five seasons of buildup, Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) all came together for an eight episode miniseries in which the four heroes team up to take down The Hand led by Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver), once and for all. However, Daredevil discovers that The Hand has captured and brainwashed his former lover Elektra (Èlodie Yung), and is now given the ultimatum to defeat The Hand or be with the love of his life. While there are many great things about this miniseries, it still suffers from a rushed story, poor writing and use of The Hand as villains, with Weaver’s character being wasted towards the end. The motivation of the antagonists is confusing and never explained properly, which results in an underwhelming payoff. However, certain aspects such as the action, cinematography and interactions between the four heroes manage to be very entertaining, even with Jones as Iron Fist, who has great chemistry with the other three leads, something that he did not have in his own show. While The Defenders fails to be the tv equivalent of The Avengers, it still manages to be a decent and fun experience that is worth at least one viewing. Rating: 6/10.
4. Luke Cage (2016-2018): First appearing in the main cast of Jessica Jones season 1, Mike Colter stars in Luke Cage as the title character who is now a fugitive trying to rebuild his life and stop a ruthless group of criminals led by the intimidating crime boss Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali) in order to make the neighborhood of Harlem a safer place for civilians. The first half of the first season from this series is incredible, as it provides terrific character development, great cinematography and dialogue from the characters. The performances of Colter and Ali are phenomenal and the two actors provide some of the best material in any Marvel show in general. However, the series falls flat on its face and is never able to recover during the first season’s second half. By getting rid of Cottonmouth, the show switches in villains who are lackluster and never able to hold a candle to Ali. Likewise, the quality also suffers in not just the first season but also the second as well due to the poor pacing and use of certain characters. As a result, Luke Cage became the second of the Marvel Netflix shows to be cancelled. If the series kept Ali as the villain, Luke Cage would have been able to be on par with Daredevil and the first season of Jessica Jones. That being said, it is still a good show, but nowhere near as good as it could have been. Rating: 7/10.
3. Jessica Jones (2015-2019): The second of the Marvel Netflix shows to premiere and the last to be cancelled, Jessica Jones stars Krysten Ritter as the title character as she goes through life as an alcoholic investigator in a rundown office. Jessica became a depressed and moody individual after losing her family at a young age and especially being mind controlled by the sadistic and psychotic Kilgrave (David Tennant), an individual who has the superpower to force one into doing anything he wants just by telling them to. Kilgrave prematurely ended her attempted superhero career by kidnapping her to be his lover and forcing her to do brutal, perverted and horrible things that would please him. When an innocent girl (Erin Moriarty) is forced to murder her own parents on Kilgrave’s orders and face jail time for it, Jessica becomes dead set on bringing her demented abuser to justice before he can force her to become his slave again. The first season of Jessica Jones is a masterpiece, as Ritter and Tennant give exceptional performances as the hero and villain of this story. It also manages to stand out from other superhero shows by instead focusing on the detective aspects of the lead character. However, the second and third seasons never manage to capture the magic of the first and suffer from lackluster villains and poor pacing. Despite that, the first season is one of the best seasons in not just a superhero show, but television in general. Rating: 8/10.
2. The Punisher (2017-2019): With a character whose primary purpose is to kill criminals using various types of guns and ammunition, it seemed almost impossible for The Punisher to get his own tv show. However, after three botched attempts of bringing the character to life on the big screen, Marvel introduced Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle during Daredevil’s second season and saw the two collide with each other, with both heroes having different ideologies and motives. After the positive reception to the character, Bernthal starred in his own spin-off as The Punisher, where the character was on a quest to hunt down and kill the ruthless soldiers who were responsible for massacring his family in Central Park. Frank’s journey is a harrowing experience as he is relentless when it comes completing his warpath and killing the monsters who ruined his life, with one of them being his own best friend Billy Russo (Ben Barnes). While The Punisher is incredible with its action, storytelling and performance from Bernthal, it suffers greatly when it comes to its pacing like most of the other Marvel shows. Both seasons have a ton going for them, but also drag at certain points. However, The Punisher still manages to be a terrific and entertainingly violent experience. Rating: 8.5/10.
1. Daredevil (2015-2018): If there was such a thing as a perfect superhero show, Daredevil would be it. Every single season that this series had was a masterpiece in television. We focus on Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), a blind but exceptional lawyer who works in Hell’s Kitchen. While he is a well-established lawyer with his best friend and partner Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), Matt secretly operates as the crime fighting vigilante Daredevil and works to stop any criminals that he comes across. Matt’s main goal throughout the first season is stopping the powerful crime lord Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) and bringing him to justice. Not only does the first season develop Matt’s character, but also that of Fisk’s who tries to maintain a personal life while also working towards his own goals. The second season builds up the stakes by bringing in Elektra and The Punisher, both of whom prove to be dangerous foes but also tremendous allies in the long run. However, it is the third season where Daredevil became one of the best action shows of all time, in which Matt once again goes up against Fisk, who stands in his way as a nearly unbeatable challenge in Matt’s story as he ruins his reputation as Daredevil by having a skilled but also very unstable FBI agent (Wilson Bethel) frame him for various murders in the Daredevil costume. It is unfortunate that Daredevil was cancelled after its third season, as there was still so much potential to be had. However, if this is truly it, then Cox still made his mark as the definitive version of the man without fear. Rating: 10/10.