Ranking The Marvel Netflix Shows

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Spoilers abound as we put the Marvel Netflix output into some kind of order.


With The Punisher arriving on Netflix this weekend, and the recent news that future Marvel TV shows will likely air on a new Disney streaming service, we thought it was about time to re-watch and rank the streaming services Marvel output to date - Daredevil season one and two, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders.

Warning: There are multiple spoilers for just about every Marvel Netflix show below,
so don't read it if you haven't watched it!

6. The Defenders
We start with the big team-up series and it's such a shame as The Defenders promised so very much. Sure there are multiple fan-boy squealing moments, bags of charisma between the leading cast and the return of some much loved supporting characters but overall the eight part series suffers from some really rather terrible 90's style green screen moments, an awful lot of talk and a weakly plotted and confusingly very blah story-arc.

So what went wrong? Well, New York was hit by a giant earthquake because... er... reasons. I'm still not quite sure what they were or why it happened but it was something to do with Midland Circle. The Hand's corporate high-rise building needed to be destroyed because it was home to a million ninjas, there was an old dead carcass of a dragon below it and a criminally under-utilised Sigourney Weaver was abusing her fracking rights. Or something.

But it's all good, right? Because we have a team of super-heroes who can easily take care of a tower block of ninjas in super-fashion, right? Wrong! Instead of taking things down in super-fashion they chat a lot, get on the wrong side of the law a lot, fight in the dark a lot and then decide to follow the plans of a dead architect by detonating a few strategically placed bombs underground.

And then all the authorities and everyone in New York sorta forgets it every happened.

Unfortunately we as an audience don't get the same memory wipe.

The criticism you usually hear for these type of series' is that the story's ambition can never be fully realised by the budget allocated to a small screen show. And although elements of that statement ring true about The Defenders, the main issue here was that the story just wasn't ambitious enough and did very little to further any of the individual characters.


5. Luke Cage
Sweet Christmas! I hate myself for putting this in fifth place, partly because Mike Colter is so entertainingly perfect in the role, but this is where it must be.

The thing is season one of Luke Cage is very much a series of two halves. The first half was brilliant! We're reintroduced to Cage and his new life in Harlem against the backdrop of a killer soundtrack. The low-key story works really well, there's no world domination threat, there's just a city in trouble and super-strength boy scout Luke Cage is the right man in the wrong place at the right time. There's a very welcome central role for Rosario Dawson's Claire Temple, and the introduction of Simone Missick's Missy Knight adds in interesting element to their dynamic. And then there's Mahershala Ali's Cottonmouth who was really one of the best villains you could ever wish for. Complex, violent, and afforded a believable back-story, Ali helped to elevate the first seven episodes to true greatness.

And then they killed him off!

The show went downhill from there. Alfre Woodard hams it up throughout, and worst of all logic is thrown out of the window as we learn that Cage and Diamondback are actually brothers and it was all a case of the latter being jealous. I'd say this series suffers more on re-watch than any of the others, as you know the best is over so soon and you've still got half the saeson left!


4. Iron Fist
Whitewashing controversy aside, if you take a look around the interweb I suspect you'll find more general negativity towards Iron Fist than any of the other Marvel Netflix shows. An awful lot of that is justified but it's really not as bad of a series as it's often made out to be.

Finn Jones plays Danny Rand perfectly. (There, I said it. Now let me hide in a cupboard for my own safety). The 12 year old boy who had his life torn away from him, never really getting the chance to grow up but forced to master a whole load of cool martial arts before taking his place as The Immortal Iron Fist. New York, the suits that work there and its regular inhabitants, are all an enigma to him, as it would be to any young child. And that's how Jones plays the character. As a man-child. And, for me, it worked.

The immortality McGuffin and the Meachum's are counterbalanced by the enhanced role for the always entertaining Madame Gao, and although the series sorta feels more incomplete than any other (largely because a lot of it was used to set up the plot of The Defenders) when taken as a whole it's an interesting story which makes you want to binge-watch the season in one go. Something the previous two on the list couldn't quite manage.


3. Daredevil (Season Two)
Season two of Daredevil was really good. A dark, sombre, gritty affair featuring natural story progression for Matt, Karen and Foggy, the welcome return of Stick, the introduction of Electra and the Punisher, a nice cameo for Wilson Fisk and some excellent fight scenes and choreography.

But there's an old saying that you can have too much of a good thing and season two of Daredevil does often feel like it's trying to fit too much in and tell too many different stories for its own good. Still, all in all it's no sophomore slump and that's why it's here in third place, just behind...


2. Daredevil (Season One)
Now this is how you do it! The debut Netflix Marvel series just cries out to be binge-watched as the story unravels so tantalisingly well that you can't help yourself from watching "just one more episode" until all 13 are in the can and its 4am in the morning. Even second and third time around.

The cast themselves are near perfection. Charlie Cox wipes away any painful memory of Ben Affleck's piss-poor attempt at the lead character. He's supported stupendously by Deborah Ann Woll and Eldon Henson, but the icing on the cake is the phenomenal Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson "Kingpin" Fisk. His character is given so much room to develop. For really what feels like the first time ever we are allowed almost equal screen-time between hero and villain, giving us the viewers a much greater understanding of just how this 'bad guy' ticks and why he does the things he does. There's really so much going for it. "Daredevil Vision" is handled incredibly well. The fight choreography is swift and brutal.

And then there's that fight scene. Oh my! Nothing has bettered it since.

The only negative I can say here is that a couple of the episodes are a bit on the light side and filler-like, something which becomes more obvious on repeated viewings and also something which every one of these shows has suffered from at times.

Still, even on re-watch it's damn near unbeatable. And yet, it sits in second place...


1. Jessica Jones
Going into this I figured Jessica Jones would be second place. I mean, I knew I enjoyed it, loved it indeed, but that was two years back and I hadn't re-watched it again. In my mind, Daredevil season one was surely going to take first place.

But no. Jessica Jones is even better second time around. Even when you know everything that's about to happen it still pulls you in and won't let you go. This superhero noir thriller takes you to some dark, unexpected places. Rape, PTSD, sexism, misogyny, not necessarily topics you'd expect from a superhero series, but all are handled incredibly well.

Krysten Ritter was just born to play the part of Jessica Jones. I can't possibly think of another person who could've bought this character to the screen in quite the same way. Her Jessica is flawed but strong, broken but fighting, sad but with a sarcastic edge that makes her funny and easy to love.

Introducing Luke Cage here was a masterstroke. He doesn't feel forced into the series at all, and his connection to Jessica is brilliant storytelling. I said it earlier but Mike Colter really is fantastic as this character, however I think he shines possibly more here than in his own series.

And then there is, of course, David Tennant in what is arguably his finest screen role to date. The fact that he uses his Tenth Doctor mockney accent, I believe, enhances the menacing of his character. It puts you on edge from the get-go because you associate that voice with a hero, but Kilgrave is as evil as they come. Even when we don't see him you feel his dark shadow throughout, keeping the tension palpable from the opening chapter right through to the closing moments.

Quite simply, Jessica Jones is not just the best Marvel series on Netflix, or even the best Superhero series to hit the small screen anywhere, it really is one of the best dramas in recent years and deserves top spot on our list.

So that's how we'd rank the Marvel Netflix shows. Agree? Disagree? Let us know your ranking in the comments below.

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