Here are my rankings for movies & TV based on comic books that were produced in 2015.
1. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Fans are always asking for movies that feel like watching a comic book come to life. Well, this movie provides that feeling in spades. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s the most comic book of any comic book movie, ever.
2. Daredevil (Netflix season 1)
Where AoU was a flawed but fun adaptation, Daredevil was a nearly perfect example of how to integrate comic book characters and stories into a more believable world. This series was possibly the most well-written comic book adaptation ever.
3. The Walking Dead (season 5)
The second half of season 5 saw Rick Grimes and crew return to civilization in a way that made them and us consider the possibility that living a nomadic and barbaric life might actually be the best way to survive. The show took time to breath and explore both its characters and its central themes of survival and family. It’s still the most mature comic book adaptation in many ways.
4. Agent Carter (season 1)
Benefiting from a series limited to only 8 episodes, Agent Carter was able to pour all of its writing, ideas, and fabulous 1940’s nostalgia into a neat little package. Peggy Carter is the most likable hero in the MCU other than the good Captain himself, and this series was a great vehicle for her. It wasn’t a perfect show, but it was very good and it left me wanting more.
5. Agents of Shield (season 2)
Season 2 of AoS has been much more consistent than season 1, with far fewer filler episodes, but it still falls short of other adaptations in the writing and visual departments especially when compared to its sister show, Agent Carter. Still, it gives us a weekly dose of the MCU and does so with likable characters who struggle and evolve over the course of each season. It doesn’t provide many great moments, but it does provide a heaping helping of good ones, and very few bad ones. (Edit: The season 2 finale was bonkers and provides several great moments that viewers will be talking about all summer. #Donttakefishoil, #FitzSimm….oh, #SecretAvengers)
6. Constantine (season 1)
Like many shows, Constantine got off to a slow start but was carried along by the charisma of its lead actor. In this case Matt Ryan played the smarmy, good-for-nothing, anti-hero known as John Constantine about as well as one could on network TV. This TV version is a bastard with a heart of gold, whereas the comic book version is just a bastard. Unfortunately, by the time the show caught up with the character there were already rumors that it wouldn’t be back for a season 2. Hopefully it gets renewed somewhere because it was just hitting its stride creatively near the end.
7. The Flash (season 1)
Season 1 has been a blur (boo! yes I went there!) and has included way more story and lore than any one season of a show has a right to include. So far we’ve been introduced to a cross-over with Arrow, Metahumans, FireStorm, The Atom, The Rogues, Reverse Flash, time travel, and Gorilla Grod. Even Agents of SHIELD didn’t move that fast in season 1. This fast-paced storytelling has managed to cram a lot of comic book goodness into one season, but at times I find myself needing a break and skipping an episode or two before I get back into the series. It’s the same problem I had with the first few seasons of Arrow, so it’s no surprise this show is produced by the same people. While Flash is one of the best offering from DC in 2015, it still has a ways to go before it competes with any of the Marvel shows.
8. Teen Titans Go! (Animated)
I can’t say that I watch this show very often, or that I like it as much as other Teen Titan cartoons, but it is consistently delightful and probably the best animated comic book property still being produced.
9. Gotham (season 1)
Season 1 was a real roller coaster of emotions for me as the show had the potential to be very good but consistently fell short of that mark. Gotham gave us a few strong episodes but also too many weak ones. The writing and characterization on this show fell short in many ways, particularly when compared to a show like Daredevil. Daredevil showed how to include campy and complex comic book lore into a TV show with finesse and sophistication, whereas Gotham used ham-fisted cameos and on-the-nose writing whenever faced with its own Batman lore. The worst offense for Gotham came during the season finale when I realized that after 22 episodes none of the characters actually changed or became anything more than what they were at the beginning of the show.
10. Arrow (season 3)
Hoo boy. This is the most wildly inconsistent comic book show on TV. Some episodes are good, some are bad, a few are better than good, and too many are terrible. The characters go through wild mood swings for improbable reasons and it too often resembles a daytime soap opera more than a superhero show. I like the Arrow as a character, and the actor who plays him, but the supporting cast is too inconsistently written and the plots have too many holes for me to keep watching every week.
11. iZombie (Season 1)
It seems like a nice show, but honestly I haven’t given it much of a chance. The first problem with it is that it’s not a comic that I’m familiar with. Secondly, it’s on at the exact same time as AoS and I typically watch my shows in real-time. Finally, and this may be the most petty complaint, I don’t like seeing the main character eat brains. No matter how she tries to dress them up with real food, it still turns my stomach.
12. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2015, animated)
I was not impressed by this animated offering in the slightest. The animation was fine, but not great, and same can be said for the voice acting, but the dialog and characterizations were incredibly disappointing. The versions of the DC characters in this adaptation were all of the worst versions of the characters. I actually got so frustrated with them that I cut this movie off after about 30 minutes.
13. Powers (PSN season 1)
I only watched the pilot episode, but was so disappointed in what I saw that I didn’t bother exploring how to find the other episodes. The writing, acting, and overall look of the show was not very good and I was particularly disappointed in the production values of the sets. The leading man, played by Sharlto Copley, seemed compelling, but he just couldn’t prop up the entire production.
Properties I did not watch in 2015:
Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)
Ultimate Spider-Man (Animated)
Avengers Assemble (Animated)
Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. (Animated)