To date, Marvel has launched five original shows on Netflix, all of which have been renewed for multiple seasons. The shows explore a more grounded corner in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, depicting more mature stories and more realistic heroes. Many of the shows have been critically acclaimed, while some have had more lukewarm reception.
With Jessica Jones recently premiering its second season, we rank all of the Marvel Netflix seasons so far…
#8: Iron Fist Season 1
I’m sure we can all agree on this one. Iron Fist is without a doubt Marvel’s first Netflix misfire. While not completely terrible (for the most part), the season just feels very generic and bland. This is especially disappointing considering how rich the past shows’ stories were. It skims over Danny Rand’s origin, the supporting cast (minus Colleen) is forgettable, and we barely even see, you know, the Iron Fist in action.
Considering how weak the response was to this show, I was surprised when Netflix ordered a second season. Thankfully, however, the season has a new showrunner, while there have been promises for improved fight scenes. Hopefully, season two will be better. But for an introduction to Danny Rand and his world, Iron Fist was a big letdown.
#7: The Defenders
The Defenders was the culmination of all the Marvel Netflix shows so far. It united Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist to stop The Hand from taking over New York. This was a very entertaining series, mostly due to the action and the exciting dynamics between the four heroes. It has a smaller episode count (8 episodes vs. the usual 13), the story is simpler, and the scale is bigger. Even Danny Rand was better here.
Was The Defenders good? Sure. But should it have been better, based on the hype surrounding it? Definitely. Apparently, there are no plans to do a second season, which is mildly disappointing. I would watch several more seasons of this team working together, and it made me more excited for each character’s next season. It just wasn’t the groundbreaking masterpiece that some expected.
#6: Jessica Jones Season 2
Following the universally acclaimed first season, anticipation was high for Jessica Jones‘ season season. This season took a more personal approach, getting deeper inside Jessica’s mind and exploring her past. It was a good story chock full of plot twists and strong character development. While the season has the same pacing issues as past shows, the story is still interesting.
Overall, while not quite on the same level as season one, Jessica Jones delivered a solid second season that got the job done. I was also impressed with how all 13 episodes were directed by women. I’m very interested in seeing where a potential third season will go. Be sure to check out Austin’s review of season two, which will be published soon.
#5: Daredevil Season 2
Daredevil was a huge hit for Netflix, so the service quickly renewed it for a second season. This season accelerated the conflict between Matt Murdock and The Hand in preparation for The Defenders, while introducing Punisher and Elektra. The season was a solid installment; the action is as great as ever, while Jon Bernthal’s performance was incredible. However, the story did feel overstuffed.
Daredevil could have easily split the Punisher story and the Elektra/Hand stuff into two separate seasons, rather than bringing everything into one. They clearly wanted to use this season to set up Defenders moreso than any other show. But, at the end of the day, this was still a good season, and it effectively launched The Punisher spinoff series.
#4: Luke Cage Season 1
Following the character’s introduction on Jessica Jones, Luke Cage returned to Harlem for his own series. Season one shed light on Luke’s backstory, while establishing several threats to save the people from. I personally enjoyed this show a lot more than others, especially the first half. However, the decline in quality for the second half is still noticeable, with the addition of new villain Diamondback.
Luke Cage is a very good adaptation of Marvel’s Power Man, with Mike Colter fully embracing the character and Mahershala Ali’s Cottonmouth being a big highlight. I thought that villain twist was interesting, but the execution could’ve been better. Otherwise, I loved this season, and I can’t wait for season two.
#3: Jessica Jones Season 1
The second show to launch was Jessica Jones, which introduces us to Marvel’s beloved alcoholic P.I. in Hell’s Kitchen. We see her pursuing her career with Alias Investigation, we learn how she develops her PTSD, and we see the villainous Kilgrave. This was a very strong debut season, further selling the darker tone of Netflix’s MCU shows. The show is very faithful to the “relationship” between Jessica and Kilgrave, and with the type of themes tackled here, it’s easy to forget that this exists in the same world as the Avengers.
Despite some pacing issues and filler subplots, Jessica Jones is elevated by Krysten Ritter and David Tennant’s fantastic performances, as well as some gripping storytelling. After years of development at ABC before moving to Netflix, the show was worth the wait. It was also a decent introduction for Luke Cage before her own show. And, in a world where we need more female protagonists, Jessica Jones is a complex and unique one.
#2: The Punisher Season 1
Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle was so widely praised in Daredevil season two, Netflix immediately ordered a spinoff series. With the world believing him to be dead, Frank attempts to move on from his life as the Punisher, but a conspiracy theory from the past pulls him back in. The show is, simply put, fantastic. The pacing is better, the characters are better, and the action is more brutal than ever. It effectively continues Frank’s storyline, and it’s not tied to the main Defenders story arc like the other shows, which works in its favor.
After several unsuccessful adaptations on film, it was only a matter of time before the Punisher came onto the small screen. The show is a perfect fit on Netflix, making it one of the service’s best Marvel shows yet. I cannot wait to see where the second season goes.
#1: Daredevil Season 1
And now, we’re at the show that started it all. Daredevil was adapted only once in the 2003 movie, but Marvel chose him to launch its slate of Netflix shows. And boy, what an introduction. Daredevil immediately told viewers that this is a very different corner of the MCU, featuring bloody violence (that door decapitation!) and more mature storytelling. The season chronicles Matt Murdock’s rise as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, seeking to bring down Wilson Fisk.
Really, what hasn’t been said about Daredevil that hasn’t been said already? The action is phenomenal, the performances (particularly Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio) are outstanding, and the storytelling is compelling. This is not only Marvel Netflix at its peak, but in my opinion, this could be the best season of any comic book TV show, period. Without this season, who knows what the rest of the genre would look like.
How would you rank the Marvel Netflix shows?
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