Netflix Marvel series ranked from best to worst
I’m ashamed that I watched all the Marvel Netflix series. It started out very rewarding, with villains that were less one-dimensional than in the movies, adult themes were addressed, and most strikingly, great cinematography with a strong emphasis on color and shadows. Also, violent fights, including a long-take that gave Daredevil a promising start… And then some shows dropped the ball *cough* Iron Fist *cough*. Here is my personal ranking, from my favorite season to the one I liked the least.
Daredevil season 3 (2018)
Excellent, I have nothing to complain about. Direction and tension at an all-time high. I was extremely impressed with the prison long-take, as well as the motorcade attack. A treat for the eyes and the ears. The story is thrilling from start to end, the characters are all well written and interesting. Amazing.
Jessica Jones season 1 (2015)
Considering that I didn’t get on board with Jessica Jones’ character, I had trouble with the first episodes. And then, Kilgrave appeared. I was magnetized by actor David Tennant’s performance, every single one of his appearances was tearing the screen. Most striking: despite his calm demeanor, he was radiating a feeling of menace and danger; a character completely in control thanks to his ability to control others. Also, the notion of loss of control in this manner is absolutely terrifying. I was only frustrated by Jessica wishing not to kill one person whose every breath could mean the mass murder of innocent people.
Daredevil season 1 (2015)
An introduction to this darker and more violent face of secondary Marvel superheroes. Superb cinematography, blood, and a great long take inspired by the Korean movie Old Boy. Sadly, this early scene raised my expectations and left me waiting for more fights with similar quality. I was disappointed by what followed, I didn’t like Vicent D’Onofrio’s constipated and forced voice as Wilson Fisk, and I must admit that I found Daredevil’s self-questioning tiresome. At least, it was one of the rare Marvel Netflix series with good pacing, and it set the stage for the rest.
Luke Cage season 1 (2016)
As someone who is not familiar with Harlem, I enjoyed its discovery, supported by great songs and Mahershala Ali’s performance as the bad guy, Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. However, the second half of the season shifted to a completely different atmosphere with Diamondback, and even though it was pleasingly rhythmical, I found it too over-the-top (like the comics) and did not like it. I also developed a hate for a presumptuous Misty Knight and a useless and moralizing Claire Temple, I only mention them now but it counts for all the seasons in which these two characters appeared.
Daredevil season 2 (2016)
I enjoyed Elektra and the Punisher as characters, as well as their opposite relationship with Daredevil, but everything else was too flat. Worse than flat actually, everything about the ninjas was ridiculous, from the story to all the fights against faceless goons. Without those two characters that I greatly appreciated, this season would closer to the bottom of my ranking.
Luke Cage season 2 (2018)
I must highlight the presence of Bushmaster, the very charismatic Jamaican. An interesting character that I wanted to follow and see succeed despite his wrongdoings. The hunt through the Harlem streets with cars patrolling while blasting ominous music impressed me. What I disliked was an unchained Mariah Dillard and pacing issues with lots of sequences with nothing happening.
The Punisher season 1 (2017)
Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle was funny with his big head next to Ben Barnes and his thin face as Billy Russo. After an explosive start of the Punisher in Daredevil season 2, I was disappointed by a shift towards a lethargic standstill, and it’s the first season of this ranking that made no remarkable efforts with its cinematography. In the positives, the themes of PTSD and veterans coming back after the war were addressed with great care, but it takes too long before the story goes somewhere. I really liked Dinah Madani, the Homeland agent, her presence allowed the scenes to breathe as a counterpart to a very dramatic Frank Castle with high levels of testosterone.
Iron Fist season 1 (2017)
The dysfunctional Meachum family and Colleen Wing allowed me to hold on, unlike an unbearable Danny Rand. We catch him at a moment of his life when he is supposed to have obtained the privilege of wielding the Immortal Iron Fist, but the character has no control over himself, he remained the little kid that left. Most importantly, the fights are absolutely dreadful (except maybe the Drunken Master that was fun to watch), it would have been much better to use an actor who practices kung-fu rather than trying to compensate with camera cuts. Oh and more useless ninjas, even though at least this time they have a face.
The Punisher season 2 (2018)
I saw influences from Leon, The Terminator, Heat and John Wick, without doing anything to make it work properly, and poor use of music that distracted from the action. The characters all felt very artificial, and there are so many crisis situations that would have been solved with a little bit of communication that watching it all unfold was an exercise in frustration. Billy Russo and his psychiatrist didn’t even know how to Google Frank Castle’s life, right after we saw Amy do it. Too much filler and pieces of script haphazardly put together like a puzzle. By the way, Jigsaw’s face wasn’t nearly damaged enough to convey his hate to the viewer.
The Defenders (2017)
Visually very bland, no interesting theme, once again those annoying ninjas that clearly outstayed their (inexistent) welcome. It was fun to see Sigourney Weaver, as well as our heroes finally united, but apart from that, it was completely uninteresting. I’m glad that it was shorter than usual!
Iron Fist season 2 (2018)
I failed to see any sort of motive that would justify why the bad guys are so terribly mean, especially when it comes to Joy Meachum who was quite reasonable during the first season. Consequently, it was hard to get on-board and accept what tried to pass as character development and plot. I only liked the spin on “what if the Iron Fist was used in an extreme manner: to kill”, a vigilante with a taste for violence, but Davos was boring and poorly written. Actually, the whole season is a bore. Released shortly before Daredevil season 3, the difference is staggering.
Jessica Jones season 2 (2018)
There is nothing to see here. I was constantly switching to faster playback so that I would get rid of this horror as quickly as possible. The other shows sometimes had downtimes, but here it’s a whole season dedicated to downtime. Without Kilgrave to carry the season, all that was left was useless filler.
I would like to say that these series benefited from a great start before all becoming boring and useless, possibly released too quickly, but the latest season of Daredevil was worth the watch just by itself. Actually, you can simply watch Daredevil season 1 then move on to Daredevil season 3 without feeling lost, I recommend that you go for it if you didn’t watch it already.
Netflix will close this universe with one last Jessica Jones season and then stop there as not to promote stuff from their competitor Disney, so the fates of these heroes are likely to be tossed by the roadside. Especially Iron Fist and its ridiculous cliffhanger ending! I would have liked more gravitas and deaths in the main cast or secondary cast, considering that we live in a post-Game of Thrones world.