Superheroes are all the rage these days, but sometimes, it feels like Marvel and DC adaptations just aren’t enough. Sure, both studios are churning out new content for film and television at astonishing rates, but there are only so many times we can see Batman’s parents die, right? Alternately, you may be eagerly anticipating the next MCU movie or show, but need something to fill the void while you wait for Phase Four to unfold.
If you’re a superhero fan looking for fresh blood, scroll below for some of our picks for the best super-TV outside of the Big Two.
Here’s a bit of a cheat: The Boys comic series (created by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson) was initially published under a DC imprint before moving to Dynamite Entertainment. But the only trace of the Big Two you’ll find in the Amazon Prime series is in the raunchy spoofs of familiar characters and super abilities. In this world, the famed super team The Seven are a corrupt and overpowered group beholden to a powerful corporation. Enter The Boys, a rogue vigilante group determined to bring The Seven down and expose their true, villainous nature. The result is way more violent, vulgar, and riotous than you’ll get out of most Marvel and DC series.
I Am Not Okay With This
This sadly short-lived Netflix series (based on the comic by Charles Forsman, who also wrote The End of the F**king World) is about a teenager named Sydney (Sophia Lillis) who begins to manifest telekinetic powers. Sydney recently lost her father to suicide and feels ostracized from her best friend and secret crush, Dina (Sofia Bryant), who's now dating a jock from their school. As Sydney struggles to keep her emotions in check, her new powers react to her lack of control, causing increasing amounts of chaos (and bloodshed) in her life.
Raising Dion first sparked interest online as a proof-of-concept short film about a Black single mother raising a super-powered son, documenting his many abilities as she learns to navigate them. The idea caught Netflix’s attention, and expanded into a series surrounding Nicole (Alisha Wainwright), and her newly-empowered son (Ja'Siah Young) while also mourning the loss of her husband Mark (Michael B. Jordan). Mark turns out to be at the center of a mystery involving other super-powered people who are being hunted down and absorbed by an entity known as "The Crooked Man." Alongside Mark’s best friend Pat (Jason Ritter), Nicole does her best to protect and prepare Dion for his unusual life.
The Umbrella Academy
Based on the comic book series by Gerard Way, this series follows a dysfunctional family of orphans who were raised to be superheroes under the tutelage of their adopted father, Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore). After a period of estrangement, the now-adult siblings (played by Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, and Justin H. Min) reunite after Hargreeves’ death and are shocked when their lost brother, Five (Aidan Gallagher), returns from traveling in time to warn them about an imminent apocalypse. They reluctantly have to work together again for the first time since they were kids through a series of raunchy, trippy, time travely-y, super adventures to thwart the end of the world and the nefarious Commission.
Alphas is like a superhero procedural: Dr. Lee Rosen (David Strathairn) specializes in the study of people with superhuman abilities, whom he calls "Alphas." He heads a government-sponsored team of such superpowered people, tasked with investigating crimes committed by other Alphas. Over the course of their investigation, they come into contact with a group called Red Flag, a terrorist operation that seek to protect Alphas from government oppression and interference at any cost.
In its time, Heroes was the definitive, wholly original primetime superhero show on TV. The drama encompassed a large, diverse cast of characters, inextricably connected by their unusual super abilities. Geneticist Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) begins a quest to track down superpowered people and study where their abilities came from, while the mysterious serial killer Sylar (Zachary Quinto) is also tracking them down to take their abilities for himself. Meanwhile, time traveler Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) becomes aware of an apocalyptic event from the future, and recruits Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) to help save the cheerleader (Hayden Panettiere as the invulnerable teen Claire Bennet) so they can save the world.
This adult animated series is based on Robert Kirkman’s comic series of the same name. Teenager Mark Grayson (voiced by Steven Yeun) is an ordinary kid, except for one thing: his father is secretly the world’s most powerful superhero. Nolan Grayson, aka Omni-Man (voiced by J.K. Simmons), is an alien warrior living a double life as a travel writer on Earth. When Mark’s own superpowers begin to manifest, his father agrees to train him to be a superhero and becomes his mentor. However, a conspiracy is afoot that takes out the heroes the Guardians of the Globe, and may drive a permanent wedge between father and son.
This irreverent British dramedy follows five young delinquents who gain superpowers after a freak storm grants them unique abilities. But the storm has affected others as well, including their probation officer, whom they end up killing in self defense. As the gang attempt to cover up their crime, they also face off with foes whose powers have manifested in odd and surprising ways (knitting jumpers from the future, calling upon the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and removing others’ powers through sexual intercourse, to name just a few of the unusual abilities). The community service squad become an unlikely found family as they fall in love, form deep bonds, and protect each other from their bizarre new reality.
Created by Joss Whedon (who later departed the show amidst controversy), this sci-fi series is set in an alternate version of Victorian London, in which a mysterious event that occurred in 1896 created a group of superpowered people called "The Touched." Three years later, a widow named Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) runs a sanctuary for the Touched, most of whom are women. She uses her ability to see into the future (and fighting prowess) to protect her kind from a hostile government and a serial killer targeting the Touched.
Another one-season wonder from Netflix, based on the comic of the same name by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely. The series toggles between two timelines: in the late 1920s, Sheldon Sampson (Josh Duhamel) receives visions of a mysterious island after his father commits suicide following the stock market crash. Nearly a century later, Sheldon is an all-powerful hero known as the Utopian who leads the Union of Justice. As his children come of age and come into their powers, Sheldon’s strict moral code (with a classic number one rule: no killing) is tested.
The Tick (2016)
The Tick, based on Ben Edlund’s popular superhero parody comic, has been adapted a few times now: first as an animated series in the '90s, then as a live-action comedy starring Patrick Warburton in 2001. In the third iteration, premiering on Amazon Prime in 2016, Arthur (Griffin Newman) is a young man obsessed with tracking down The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley), a supervillain responsible for his father’s death. His trail of breadcrumbs leads him to become entangled with The Tick (Peter Serafinowicz), an eccentric hero with apparent amnesia. The pair become an unlikely crime-fighting duo when Arthur inherits his own super suit, aiding his investigation of The Terror.
Superheroes are back to save movie theaters.