In the days before Disney+, Marvel brought its properties to the small screen via Netflix. In some ways, it seemed as if Marvel saved its most popular (i.e, more marketable) superheroes for the big screen while relegating their lesser-known characters to Netflix.
Those shows, however, garnered a slew of diehard fans; and it was a sad day when Marvel and Netflix decided to pull the plug on those shows in favor of bigger-budgeted series on Disney+. In honor of those shows that have fallen by the wayside, let’s rank the Netflix Marvel shows from worst to best.
The series, which ran for just two seasons, follows billionaire Danny Rand (Finn Jones), who returns to New York after he was presumed dead for 15 years. He has to choose between his duties as a superhero or his family’s legacy.
In the process, Rand also has to keep his identity a secret after a new enemy shows up threatening to expose him and his family. With a rather thin plot like there, it was no wonder Iron Fist garnered only a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes for its first season. The second was relatively better (55%), but it wasn’t enough to convince Marvel execs to keep in on the air.
In some ways, The Punisher was two separate shows. The first season showed a lot of promise, with audiences following Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) as he exacted revenge on the people who killed his family. This show’s second season is what brought it down.
The series decided to dig in more into Castle’s past while trying to retain the fun, unfettered action that was a staple of its first season. Critics felt that the portrayal of Castle was a bit too underwhelming for an anti-hero that extols a lot of charisma like The Punisher did. Maybe Marvel will get it right in a potential reboot of the series on Disney+, which has been in discussions as with the other Marvel Netflix properties.
Luke Cage had a lot of potential when it premiered on Netflix in September of 2016, and it suffices to say the show delivered. The show follows Luke Cage, a fugitive who is rebuilding his life in Harlem. His past, though, comes back to haunt him, and he embarks on a superhero mission to clean his name and save the city.
Luke Cage threaded the needle between action and drama well, and it also helped that the actors portraying the characters – especially lead actor Mike Colter – did the comic justice. Alas, Luke Cage’s time in the spotlight was short-lived, especially on social media, where the series ran out of steam after its second season.
Daredevil was the first series to premiere for Marvel on Netflix. It started the Netflix Marvel Universe that would produce five more shows that, more or less, fed off one another. Daredevil received multiple award nominations and critical acclaim and flexed the muscle of what Marvel could do and what it could achieve on the small screen.
That’s why it was sad to not see Daredevil get a reboot on Disney+ after its cancellation in 2018. This series deserved to be among the shows retooled for the streaming service; or, at the very least, be picked up by a network television studio. That’s how good Daredevil was, and, sadly, the only way we’ll be able to relive its greatness is through reruns.
Following the success of Daredevil, Marvel knew they had a winning formula. They put into production Jessica Jones, which follows the title character (Krysten Ritter) as a former superhero who opens her private investigation firm. The series was an instant smash and was praised by critics, some of whom praised the series as Marvel’s strongest television series. It’s a true shame that Jessica Jones didn’t get its fourth season, as fans would have liked to see where the series would have developed creatively.
It isn’t inconceivable to think that Marvel could revitalize Jessica Jones as a Disney+ series; and if by any chance it is, the series could get the proper send-off it deserves.
If the Netflix Marvel shows were destined to fall, they fell with guns ablaze. The Defenders tied all of the shows together and brought the superheroes in for one showdown against the Hand, a supervillain that deserves to be in the MCU. The Defenders felt like a show that would work well on Disney+, and Marvel fans would’ve loved the sweet taste of a second season.
Re-watching The Defenders can make one a bit teary-eyed. Marvel fans took the Netflix shows for granted, and while they were certainly rougher around the edges than their big-budget Disney+ counterparts, The Defenders, and the previous shows listed, pointed the way for the success of WandaVision, Loki, and other Marvel TV shows that grab all the headlines.
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