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Guide to Fall Superhero TV

The new, returning, and streaming badasses dominating our screens this season

by | October 3, 2016 | Comments

Agents of SHIELD (ABC), Arrow, The Flash (The CW), Luke Cage (Netflix), Supergirl (The CW)
Not since the end of the ’70s — when The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman, and Super Friends were all on the air at the same time — have there been so many superheroes on television as there are now. Between the DC Comics heroes on The CW and Fox, and Marvel’s on Netflix and ABC, TV these days looks more like an aisle of The Android’s Dungeon. And that’s not counting such animated ones as Teen Titans GO! and The Power Puff Girls on Cartoon Network or the Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers Assemble, and Guardians of the Galaxy triumvirate on Disney XD.

But if you’re behind on your TV watching, or your reading for that matter, never fear true believers: We have a guide to current superhero shows on television and available for streaming, including which comic universe they belong to, so you know who’s likely to do a crossover episode or two … or three or four.


THE ARROWVERSE

Though inspired by comic books that are part of the same fictional universe as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, the shows in the Arrow universe are actually unconnected to such DC Comics movies as Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, and the upcoming Wonder Woman, Justice League, Cyborg, Aquaman, and Flash flicks. Or, for that matter, a certain show about a juvenile Caped Crusader. They’re all encapsulated in the Arrow-verse, and will see a four-way crossover this season in which Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, and the heroes of Legends of Tomorrow join forces to battle an alien race called the Dominators that was introduced in 1980s comics-crossover Invasion!

Arrow: Season 5 (2016) 88%

Arrow (The CW)

Played By: Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows)
Show Created By: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Marc Guggenheim
Where to See It: Wednesdays, 8 p.m., on The CW returning October 5. Seasons one through three are available on Netflix.
Who Is He? After being stranded on a deserted island for five years, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen returns home to Starling City, where he uses his considerable skills with a bow and arrow to fight crime.
Fun Fact: Three of the actors who’ve co-starring or had recurring roles on Arrow — John Barrowman (who plays Malcolm Merlyn), Alex Kingston (Dinah Lance), and Colin Salmon (Walter Steele) — also had recurring roles on Doctor Who.

 The Flash: Season 3 (2016) 85%

The Flash (The CW)

Played By: Grant Gustin (Glee)
Show Created By: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Geoff Johns
Where to See It: Tuesdays, 8 p.m., on The CW returning October 4. Season one is available on Netflix.
Who Is He? After being struck by lightning that was infused with radiation from a malfunctioning particle accelerator, crime scene investigator Barry Allen finds he’s become the fastest man alive.
Fun Fact: Mark Hamill, who played The Trickster on this show, previously played that same bad guy in the 1991 TV series The Flash, and has voiced him in both the Justice League cartoon and in the animated movie LEGO DC Super Heroes: Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom!

DC's Legends of Tomorrow: Season 2 (2016) 88%

Legends of Tomorrow (The CW)

Played By: Rip Hunter: Arthur Darvill (Broadchurch); Atom: Brandon Routh (Chuck); Chronos: Dominic Purcell (Prison Break); Captain Cold (who sacrificed himself at the end of season 1): Wentworth Miller (Prison Break) ; Firestorm: Victor Garber (Alias) and Franz Drameh (Attack the Block); White Canary: Caity Lotz (Arrow); Hawkman: Falk Hentschel (White House Down); Hawkgirl: Ciara Renée (Big Fish)
Show Created By: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Marc Guggenheim, Phil Klemmer
Where to See It: Thursdays, 8 p.m., on The CW returning October 13.
Who Are They? To prevent Vandal Savage from destroying the world, a time traveler named Rip Hunter (Darvill) assembles a group of superheroes and supervillains to save the Earth.
Fun Fact: Legends of Tomorrow isn’t the first time Routh has played a comic book character. Not only was he the Man of Steel in Superman Returns, but he also starred in the comic book adaptations Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World and Dylan Dog: Dead of Night.

Supergirl: Season 2 (2016) 92%

Supergirl (The CW)

Played By: Melissa Benoist (Glee)
Show Created By: Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg
Where to See It: Mondays, 8 p.m., debuting on The CW (season one aired on CBS and is available on Netflix) starting October 10
Who Is She? Years after Superman started fighting crime, his teenage cousin Kara Zor-El arrives on Earth and decides to follow in his footsteps.
Fun Fact: In the first season, Kara’s adoptive human parents were played by Helen Slater, who played Supergirl in the 1984 movie of the same name, while her dad was Dean Cain from the show Lois & Clark. In season 2, Lynda Carter of Wonder Woman fame plays the president.


MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE

Just as all their comic books are connected, so too are all of Marvel Comics’ movies and TV shows. But while Daredevil hasn’t had lunch with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Agent Coulson yet, Netflix are prepping a miniseries called The Defenders that will have Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil’s frenemy The Punisher, and Iron Fist (the latter two of which have their own Netflix shows in the pipeline) teaming up Avengers-style. Daredevil‘s second season aired earlier this year, and Jessica Jones isn’t debuting a new season this fall, but we have a lot to look forward to from those two Marvel superheroes.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 4 (2016) 96%

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)

Played By: Agent Coulson: Clark Gregg (The New Adventures of Old Christine); Melina May: Ming-Na Wen (The Joy Luck Club); Quake: Chloe Bennet (Nashville); Leo Fitz: Iain De Caestecker (Not Another Happy Ending); Jemma Simmons: Elizabeth Henstridge (Reach Me); Mack: Henry Simmons (NYPD Blue)
Show Created By: Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen
Where to See It: Tuesdays, 10 p.m., on ABC. Seasons one through three are available on Netflix.
Who Are They? Remember those guys in The Avengers with the big, flying aircraft carrier who helped out Iron Man and his superfriends? Yeah, Coulson and crew used to work for them, then they didn’t, and now they do again.
Fun Fact: While some of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s characters were created just for this show or the movies, they’re all comic characters now, as you can see in the books S.H.I.E.L.D: Volume 1: Perfect Bullets and S.H.I.E.L.D: Volume 2: The Man Called D.E.A.T.H. from former Fantastic Four writer Marc Waid.

Marvel's Luke Cage: Season 1 (2016) 90%

Luke Cage (Netflix)

Played By: Mike Colter (The Good Wife)
Show Created By: Cheo Hodari Coker
Where To See It: Season 1 debuted on Netflix Sept. 28.
Who Is He? While he has unbreakable skin and superhuman strength, Luke, in this show, has not become a Daredevil-esque superhero…yet.
Fun Fact: In the comics, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones are not only married, but they have a kid together. Best part: their babysitter is Squirrel Girl — y’know, the fuzzy superhero with a tail who talks to squirrels and once beat up Galactus.


GOTHAM-VERSE

Though this show is — like The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow — based on stories from DC Comics, it’s actually not connected to those shows. Or, for that matter, the DC Comics movies. It’s all alone at the center of its own universe.

Gotham: Season 3 (2016) 74%

Gotham (Fox)

Played By: James Gordon: Ben McKenzie (The O.C.); Harvey Bullock: Donal Logue (Grounded for Life); Bruce Wayne: David Mazouz (Touch); Alfred Pennyworth: Sean Pertwee (Elementary); Penguin: Robin Lord Taylor (Accepted); Leslie Thompkins: Morena Baccarin (Firefly)
Show Created By: Bruno Heller
Where to See It: Mondays, 8 p.m., on Fox. Seasons one and two are available on Netflix.
Who Are They? In this Batman prequel show, the future Commissioner Gordon starts out as a beat cop, Penguin slowly builds his criminal empire, and The Dark Knight is just a kid who hasn’t learned the joys of cosplay.
Fun Fact: Gotham City’s mental hospital Arkham Asylum takes its name from the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, who died two years before Batman first took flight in 1939’s Detective Comics #27.

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