12 superhero titles to stream, from The Dark Knight to Supergirl
Looking for a superhero fix? These are some of the best DC and Marvel titles now streaming on Netflix, Showmax and DStv.
The second season of the superhero drama Batwoman swoops onto our screens this month, and with Kate Kane missing in action, a new heroine has to take up the mantle to bring hope to Gotham.
Actress Javicia Leslie (God Friended Me) makes history as the first black actress to play Batwoman in a live-action series, following Ruby Rose’s exit due to a back injury. Javicia’s Ryan Wilder is nothing like Kate Kane, bringing a whole new feel to the series. Athletic, raw, passionate, fallible and even goofy, Ryan is not your stereotypical all-American hero, but she could be exactly what Gotham needs.
Nominated for a 2021 Saturn Award for Best Superhero Adaptation, Batwoman also picked up nominations at the 2020 GLAAD Media Awards and the Queerties.
Ryan Reynolds stars as Hal Jordan, the world’s cockiest but best test pilot who works for the US government. His cockiness is his flaw (all heroes need some form of self-issue) but it’s also what makes Hal perfect for his new job: as wearer and protector of the Green Ring Of Power. It’s an alien heirloom that grants its wearer impossibly wonderful superpowers (including being able to fly, which Hal loves), but with great power comes great responsibility.
Hal now becomes part of the Green Lantern Corps, a squad of intergalactic space policemen who’re tasked with patrolling 3,600 sectors and keeping baddies like Parallax (a whole mysterious malevolent being that takes on the shape of a cloud) at bay.
The Dark Knight franchise (Showmax)
Batman has been around for decades but there’s never been a proper origin story. We’ve always just picked up with billionaire Bruce Wayne well established in his role as the Caped Crusader. And that makes Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy that much better – we get to see Bruce transform into his alter ego, the effects that being Batman has on him, and his eventual need to hand over all his crime-fighting goodies to a worthy successor. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you’re getting with the Dark Knight movies…
Batman Begins: troubled youngster Bruce (Christian Bale) is taken in by the League Of Shadows and taught the art of ninjitsu (and more). Returning to his beloved Gotham, Bruce forges a bond with police detective Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and develops his alter ego with the help of his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) and Wayne Enterprises tech genius Lucious Fox (Morgan Freeman) as he fights both Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and his League Of Shadows mentor Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson).
The Dark Knight: Years later, Batman is still fighting crime – including the mob. He thinks that he’s got help with the shiny new DA, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), but even that isn’t enough to save the woman he and Harvey both love, Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), from Gotham’s newest villain – the Joker (played by Heath Ledger, who tragically passed away before the movie was released and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), a psychopathic mastermind who wants to see Gotham burn (literally and figuratively). Throw in Harvey’s new alter ego – Two Face – and Batman has a challenge on his hands.
The Dark Knight Rises: Batman is retired as there’s no need for his services – he’s arrested all the super baddies in town. And it’s a good thing, because Bruce’s body can no longer keep up with the demands of the job. But what’s that? A new super mega villain who isn’t just a genius, he’s physically imposing too? The masked man known as Bane (Tom Hardy) seizes control of Gotham and builds an atomic bomb using Wayne Enterprises’ revolutionary water purification plant. Bruce gets a couple of new toys from Mr Fox, but even that might not be enough to save the day when it’s revealed who is guiding Bane: the vengeful daughter of Ra’s al Ghul.
Multi-award-winning series Supergirl is gearing up for its final showdown. The first seven episodes of the final season are available to binge now, with another 13 (!) due towards the end of the year, since not even superheroes are immune to the global pandemic.
Last season’s cliffhanger means Supergirl (aka Kara Danvers, played by Melissa Benoist) will face her nemesis, Lex Luthor (Two and a Half Men’s Jon Cryer), this season.
Nominated for four Teen Choice awards, a People’s Choice award and the 2021 Critics’ Choice Super Award for Best Superhero Series, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow returns to the show’s sci-fi roots in Season 6 when Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), aka White Canary, is abducted by time-travelling aliens.
The series has an 89% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, with Season 6 finally cracking that elusive 100% score. AV Club praises it as a “marvellous, irreverent, stupid-like-a-fox show,” with “oh-thank-god-let’s-have-some-dumb-fun energy,” and says, “Punch aliens! Roll your eyes at Spartacus! Drink a cocoon! Talk about John Constantine’s ass! Do whatever you want, Legends — we’re just glad to see you.”
The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)
From the minds of My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way and artist Gabriel Bá, The Umbrella Academy is a live-action adaptation of the comic book series first published by Dark Horse Comics in 2007. Off-kilter, eccentric, and often hilarious, this is not your average superhero TV show and it’s the better because of it.
Jupiter’s Legacy (Netflix)
This single-season sci-fi superhero series is based on the comic books by Mark Millar and Frank Quietly and follows a team of superhero kids who’re trying to live up to their parents’ ideals. The problem is that these hero legacies are super strict. The Union Of Justice, a team lead by hero Sheldon Sampson (Josh Duhamel), was formed around the ideal of never killing anyone – no matter how evil – and never getting involved in political matters.
It’s a series of rules that Sheldon’s very own son Brandon (Andrew Horton) breaks when he, as superhero The Paragon, kills his greatest villain rival. And that opens another can of fish… because there’s soon a public outcry over the need for heroes and whether the Union’s ideal are still relevant, and Sheldon himself will have his back to the wall struggling to maintain calm and follow his own rules.
Based on the popular Teen Titans comic book series published by DC Comics, Titans is far more mature and darker than its source material. It’s set in a world where Dick Grayson, aka Batman’s first Robin, needs to lead a team of super-powered misfits as they try to protect the mysterious but dangerous teenager Rachel Roth, aka Raven.
With his wife Iris missing, Eva McCulloch on the rampage, and Barry fresh out of “flash”, the team has their work cut out for them this season as they wrap up the dangling threads from the abruptly shortened Season 6, before taking on a new story arc kicked off by Abra Kadabra, hellbent on revenge.
The Flash has already been renewed for an eighth season.
Before superhero shows were even a thing on TV, Arrow was paving the way for all of them. It was due to Oliver Queen and his desire to save his city that we now have an entire Arrowverse to savour. The fact that the series is still going strong after seven seasons is only a testament to its quality.
Widely regarded as the best superhero TV show ever created, Daredevil shines in every aspect as it introduces the best live-action version of the Man Without Fear (sorry, Ben Affleck). The action-packed series takes cues and inspiration from Matt Murdock’s greatest storylines, delivering us an unforgettable and unmissable series.
The 10th-biggest box office hit of 2020 globally, Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is a twisted tale told by Harley herself, as only she can tell it. After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.
In their four-star review, The Observer hailed Birds of Prey as “the movie equivalent of a fairground ride with all the bolts loosened and the safety booklet blazed long ago when someone ran out of Rizlas.”