1. Spawn — HBO, 1994
If you didn’t read the comics, chances are this was your first exposure to the hell-spawned entity Spawn. We’re ignoring the ridiculous movie in favor of the animated masterpiece featuring vocal legend Keith David. Spawn was gory and brooding and just the right mix for teenagers to learn about the comics legend.
2. Luke Cage — Netflix, 2016
Perfect casting made this show what it is, and we’re sad to see it gone. Luke Cage was great in the execution as well and has a phenomenal soundtrack. GI hometown boy Mike Colter sizzles in the title role and Alfre Woodard, Theo Rossi and Mahershala Ali absolutely steal the show every time they’re onscreen.
3. Daredevil — Netflix, 2015
Tight writing, brutal fight scenes and good casting made this a hit on Netflix. The first two seasons were superb with emphasis on the casting of Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin. Daredevil, like all Marvel Netflix shows, has been canceled, but it’s worth getting a subscription just to see the magic of a competent Matt Murdock.
4. Arrow — CW, 2012
We must give it to Stephen Amell: He certainly turned Oliver Queen into a credible superhero. Arrow has seen its ups and downs (everything post season 4, anyone?), but it’s still a decent story and the early twists and turns are enough to entice you to stick around and invest in the Queen family and their exploits. Arrow was one of the first successful comic book TV shows and it’s paved the way for others like it. It has earned its props.
5. Smallville — CW, 2001
One of the first comicbook shows before the recent craze and takeover of Marvel television, Smallville had folks talking about Superman like they were comic book experts. Tom Wellington did an excellent job portraying the Man of Steel in his younger years, but the true shout out goes to Michael Rosenbaum as the scene-stealing Lex Luthor.
Steve Rogers/Captain America: If you ever needed a leader and wanted to make sure your every directive was followed, you employ Steve Rogers to get the job done. Rogers was the first Avenger and the last Avenger and the team’s heart and soul (and mom), no matter the roster.
Bruce Banner/The Hulk: Bruce Banner brings not only his vast genius intellect to the fight, but also his green angry alter ego Hulk, who is equal parts mad as he is cunning and destructive. The madder Hulk gets, the better the outcome for the Avengers.
Tony Stark/Iron Man: Much like Banner, Tony Stark brings his intellect to the fight and usually other toys to ensure that the Avengers will win. Beyond that, Stark provides a place for the Avengers to stay and upgrades for every team member. Think of him as the dad of the team as well as the brains of the organization.
Luke Cage: Now that Netflix has brought some of the more background Marvel characters to the forefront with excellent (but canceled) TV shows, Luke Cage has a spotlight on him that showcases his invaluable contributions. Cage is virtually indestructible with super strength to match. The Hero for Hire hasn’t joined the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe just yet, but know that when he does, it will be worth the wait.
John Walker/U.S. Agent: An alternate version of Captain America, U.S. Agent is a bad dude. Receiving his super strength from the Power Broker, John Walker has gone against Captain America and won as well as joined the Avengers and its derivatives such as Norman Osborne’s Dark Avengers. Walker once worked for the Commission on Super Human Activities and has taken up the Captain America mantle in the past.