With Marvel’s “Agents of SHIELD” due to break new ground in super-hero television, I thought it would be a great idea to take a look back at some of the past super hero centered television shows. Hey, some worked and some didn’t, but all those experiments helped move things in the right direction. Today, I’m taking a look at my top five:
“Smallville” chronicled the adventures of young Clark Kent as he transformed into Superman, and really it is hard for me to imagine a better super-hero television series. Everything from the great performances of Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Allison Mack, and Kristen Kreuk to the legendary performances of Michael Rosenbaum and John Glover proves how good the show was over the decade long run. Littered with guest stars and familiar faces, this was one television series that is still a lot of fun to watch.
“Justice League” was an interesting half-hour, and luckily the show still lives via Netflix, and I thought it really had everything. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and a supporting cast of characters that allowed the stories to go pretty much anywhere the writers wanted to take it. This was a great way to get folks interested in characters they might not be exposed to, and the follow up series “Justice League Unlimited” helped underscore that thought process.
Using an old Bruce Wayne to mentor a troubled youth as he embarks on becoming Batman for a new generation was risky, and it did not always play out perfectly. I still think “Batman Beyond” was underrated, because it was entertaining and told some great stories. The major drawback for me was the lack of great Batman villains to use (although in the movie version The Joker made a pretty cool impact). Still, for some reason this show always finds its way into my DVD player or Netflix queue.
“Buffy: The Vampire Slayer” is quickly becoming the stick to which all great super-hero shows are measured. The series had it all, a great set of characters, riveting story lines, and villains that made you think. Whether you want to throw it into this genre or not (obviously I do because Buffy was pretty much a super-hero), this show deserves to be mentioned in any best of TV breath.
I wasn’t sure how “Arrow” would play. Green Arrow never seemed as popular as his other DC counterparts, and I thought that Justin Hartley captured Oliver Queen and his alter ego pretty well on “Smallville.” Those were two things the series has going against it before I tuned it, and I am glad I did. The show is a bit darker take on the mythology, but it serves it well.
As for honorable mentions, I would put “Batman: The Animated Series” on the list, because it was so good for so long. I would throw either “Avatar: The Last Airbender” or “The Legend of Korra” onto the list as well, but I think they belong more to the anime genre than super-heroes. Still, there are a lot of great shows over the years, and time will tell with “Agents of SHIELD” will make this list or the one to follow tomorrow, which will be the most disappointing super-hero shows.