Steamy Streaming: Sexy Super Heroes
From Green Arrow To Watchmen And More!
It’s wrong to classify “super hero” as a genre. Comic books, from which most super hero movies and TV shows draw inspiration, are a medium, not a genre. They vary so wildly, from the civil rights allegory of The X-Men to the gothic psychology of Batman, and the youthful energy of Spider-Man. There’s so much room in that so-called genre; despite warnings of skeptics that the bubble is bound to burst, there’s still so much creative potential left untapped by the major film studios and television networks. Here are some of our favorite superhero properties you can stream right now.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe
In the world of comic books, characters cross over all the time. Iron Man pops up in Spider-Man books, Black Panther crossed into Daredevil (even assuming the mantle of “The Man Without Fear” at one point), and teaming up in industry-wide events to beat up bad guys. In 2008, Marvel Studios released Iron Man, the final scene of which featured Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, telling Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark that he is but one part of a larger universe.
This was the first chapter in the MCU, a sprawling universe of movies starring The Avengers, in both solo and team up films. The franchise is barrelling towards its climax with Avengers: Endgame, the final chapter in this current iteration of the MCU (but definitely not the end of the franchise), so now’s a great time to catch up by watching the movies on Hulu and Netflix. Most of the films (especially the more recent ones, such as Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther) are on available on Netflix, as are the ABC spin-off shows, Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter.
The MCU is just that, a universe; in an unexpected move, Marvel Studio teamed up with Netflix to produce shows based on their characters which are set within the universe of the movies. Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and – our favorite – The Punisher are all set on the gritty streets of New York City, which is still recovering after the game-changing Battle of New York, as seen in 2012’s The Avengers.
These street-level heroes are more grounded and adult-oriented than the likes of Thor and Doctor Strange, but they still rise to the challenge when New York is threatened by criminals like Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) and The Hand, an international syndicate of ninjas. Each show has multiple seasons, and all of the heroes (except for The Punisher) crossed over in The Defenders, a truly unprecedented miniseries event.
Every once in a while, a more adult-oriented comic book movie comes out, and idiots are shocked when it becomes clear that an R-rated movie isn’t for children. Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, based on the seminal 1986-1987 comic book miniseries by Alan Moore, is one such movie. A three hour epic (provided one watches the superior Director’s Cut) about an alternate history version of America changed by the emergence of costumed vigilantes and Doctor Manhattan, a genuine super human, Watchmen is a triumph of visual storytelling and is one of the most direct adaptations of a comic book that’s ever been made.
The DC Extended Universe
On the other side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is their rival, Detective Comics, better known as DC. Despite a trilogy of massively successful Batman films under the watchful direction of Christopher Nolan, they chose to start fresh with a new cinematic universe with Man of Steel, a stand-alone Superman origin story. Directed by Zack Snyder (Watchmen) and starring Henry Cavill as America’s most iconic pop culture figure, Man of Steel was a solid start to the series, bolstered by its epic grandiosity and attention to realism amid its science-fiction fantasy trappings.
While the series has seen high points with triumphs like Wonder Woman and the recently-released Aquaman, it also suffered from a divisive reception to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which simply tried to do too much for one movie, focusing on setting up plotlines for future films rather than being a complete story on its own. Looking forward, hype is building for Shazam!, starring Zachary Levi, and Suicide Squad 2, which is to be written and directed by James Gunn, following his firing from Disney as a result of an alt-right hitjob.
While not as epic or expensive as the MCU or the DCEU, the Arrowverse has been chugging along on the CW Network since 2012. Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow all crossover with each other on a regular basis, and every year has seen a massive, multi-night crossover, in which the casts of all the shows combine in one epic showdown.
Last year’s crossover, Crisis on Earth-X, was massively ambitious, but it paid off; one of the worlds across the multiverse, Earth-X, is a world where the Nazis won World War II, and they decided to invade Earth-1, where our heroes hang their capes. The miniseries culminated in a massive battle, in which heroes like Supergirl, The Green Arrow, and The Flash took on their own Nazi doppelgangers. It was sincere, exciting, a little bit silly, and entirely spectacular. Simply put, there’s nothing else like The Arrowverse. Every season of each of the shows (plus Black Lightning, an excellent adjacent series) are available to stream on Netflix.
Oh, and that Stephen Amell is just a gorgeous hunk of man-meat.