These past few years have seen an abnormal and very welcome rise in superhero television shows. Both Marvel and DC have been going at it, giving space to some of their less major characters but developing their arcs with utmost passion and precision. In fact, in terms of cinematography, narration and direction both Marvel and DC are doing a better job with their television shows than with their big budget movies.
Arrow, which is the story of Green Arrow, is a DC character and is a rich kid whose parents are dead and gets trapped on an island. He masters archery and combat and returns to his life but finds a greater purpose in fighting crime and Oliver Queen thus becomes the Green Arrow. Here’s the list of TV Shows similar to Arrow that are our recommendations. You can stream some of these shows like Arrow on Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu.
A true ‘misfit’ on the list, this show is the only one up here which doesn’t belong to either DC or Marvel stables. While it originates on cliche (thunderstorm granting superpowers), it soon develops into an engaging tussle between snarky, unsympathetic but grounded, realistic characters who do not run off to save the world as soon as they discover their powers but focus on surviving the drudgery of their community service without accidentally killing someone. As it is a British show, foul-mouthing, vile behaviour and sexual tension are more uninhibited than ever, making the punk sensibility more evident. The actors grab their meaty roles and devour them with glee, doing complete justice to their crisp, snarky dialogue. Sans even a shred of campiness, this irreverent gang is unlike any ensemble of superhumans you have seen, or probably shall see.
Diving inside the head of one of the weirder and less ‘mainstream’ X-Men, The distorted ‘Legion’ could make Deadpool look sane. The show takes the road less trodden by plunging headfirst into a narrative as fractured as the protagonist’s confused brain. While it takes some moments for the viewer to become steady, the journey thereon is of sheer imaginative, surreal and visually arresting. As Haller is an ‘unreliable narrator’, we can never be sure of whether what we see is real or a figment of imagination. The visuals and the production design are a wonderfully weird mix of 1960s retro and modern elements, which fit David’s distorted perception of time and reality like a glove. David’s helpless meandering to clear his head will keep you allured, glued and guessing.
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This grotesquely violent and darkly humourous show is unlike anything known to the superhero genre, on TV or the silver screen. The highlights which set ‘Preacher’ apart from the run-of-the-mill swill are the pulp elements and run-down western feel of everything, which are otherwise alien to the superhero genre. It is reverent to the brooding, yet funny tone of its source material and despite tweaking a lot of things from the DC Comics, passes as a faithful adaptation to boot.
As is with so many iconic cinematic adaptations of superheroes, perfect casting of the lead elevates the show considerably. A rugged Dominic Cooper as the titular preacher battles his own demons along with everything else, giving a nuanced, restrained yet charismatic act. Currently in its sophomore season, the show has hit its stride well, continuing the gory insanity while sharpening the storytelling. Not your usual cup of superhero tea; a swig of alternative comic whiskey instead.
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12. Birds of Prey
It ran for only one season and had thirteen episodes in total. The team includes Barbara Gordon or Oracle and Huntress primarily. However, if the show had progressed then the team would eventually have included Black Canary who comic book readers will know is Green Arrow’s romantic interest. It goes to reason that a thorough Green Arrow fan would naturally be interested in watching a show about his romantic interest’s team. The show is set in New Gotham City and Harley Quinn is the main antagonist and Alfred Pennyworth makes frequent appearances. I am sure this will get the DC fans’ attention – yes the beloved characters from the Batman arc are here too, don’t just sit around, watch this show.
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We know why a lot of people like watching Arrow, Oliver Queen is a handsome man and he looks good fighting crime. You know who else looks good? Sam and Dean Winchester. Yes the dreaded names in the world of monsters these brothers make it their business to hunt monsters and kill demons. A dangerous life, these brothers have been on the road for a long , long time now. The show has gone on for eleven seasons and I for one have eventually grown out of it, but on a personal note the first five seasons are stupendous and if you like good-looking men fighting evil, look no further, these brothers will show you a good time.
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Long before Green Arrow became a thing, there was Superman, well not the godly flying thing we’ve grown accustomed to, but Clark Kent. Smallville explores the idea of what led Clark to become the man of steel and embrace his powers that were always there in the refugee Kryptonian. A critically acclaimed show we would definitely recommend Smallville to anyone who is interested in the DC universe.
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If you’re going to watch Kal-El or Superman on Smallville it is logical to progress to Kara-Zor-El or Supergirl, Kal’s cousin. The story is about Kara as she is forced to live up to her Kryptonian legacy and becomes the protector of National City. This show has also introduced the Martian Manhunter and has shown a crossover with Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. This show might just be DC’s way of building to an equivalent of the Defenders.
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8. Legends of Tomorrow
This DC show will introduce a lot of characters that comic book readers or animated show watchers might be familiar with. Rip Hunter is a time traveler who assembles a team which includes Hawkgirl and Hawkman, both of who feature in the Justice League animated series and along with other team members they attempt to hunt down and stop Vandal Savage an immortal evil genius who is a constant antagonist to the Justice League team. This show is critically very well received and deals with a lot of characters that might never see the big screen but are absolutely essential to have a proper understanding of the DC-verse.
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John Constantine is a hellblazer. Probably most people will remember a chain-smoking young Keanu Reeves kicking demons back to hell with his sorcery. Well irrespective of how impressive he was, the film was not really true to the comics. Constantine though ran for just one season became a favorite with the viewers and they even petitioned for a renewal. A loner who lives a more or less unhealthy lifestyle, Constantine is immensely likeable and immensely powerful .With his appearance on Arrow maybe the very loyal fanbase can have their hopes up of him resuming his role in the solo television series.
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DC shows are dark and gritty right? That’s what sets it apart from Marvel. Well when it comes to the Marvel television shows they borrow a page out of DC’s handbook and they do it better. The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen is a dark and problematic character and Marvel utilizes the full scope of Matt Murdock’s darkness. A show that explores moral dilemma, disability and ethical conundrums along with generous dollops of brilliantly orchestrated action sequences, Daredevil is a definite recommendation to the DC camp fans as well for its sheer brilliance.
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5. Jessica Jones
The second best thing Marvel has got going on television at the moment, an argument can be made for this being the best Marvel show though. Jessica Jones is a dark neo noir detective story that ingenuously entwines feminism and consent. The fact that it does so in the backdrop of a superhuman character is all the more impressive because well it shows Jessica as a woman first and a superhero later. The humanization of the Marvel characters, when the camp is known for painting larger than life heroes is another thing that DC fans will appreciate and all in all Jessica Jones is remarkable for the ideology it espouses and transcends a mere television show into a manual on what not to do if one wants to avoid being a misogynist jerk.
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4. Justice League Unlimited
You know what was there before the television shows and the big budget movies? The animated series ! Comic book lovers will swear by them and they are a pleasure to watch. Want to know DC’s best work in the entertainment business? Watch their animated stuff- way ahead of Marvel there folks ! The Justice League Unlimited or the JLU as it is called is a direct sequel to the old Justice League animated show that brought together Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, Green Lantern, Flash and Martian Manhunter. The JLU boasts of a wider range of heroes and shows the League at its full power. One of the heroes is of course Oliver Queen, a man of extraordinary courage and fans will love to see their favorite hero fight alongside the more popular and sometimes more powerful members of the league.
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Flash is one of the more recognizable characters of the DC universe. Known to be the fastest man alive, Barry Allen fights crime in Central City. A spin off from Arrow, this series enjoys the same amount of popularity and they often have crossovers. So if a viewer wants a more complete picture of these two superheroes they should definitely check out this show as well. However, recent ratings have suggested that the Flash isn’t doing as well on television and with DC having officially introduced the character in the new Justice League movie with the Flashpoint Paradox being discussed as a possible DC venture, it remains to be seen if our favorite speedster will remain on television for much longer.
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To be honest the typecast of the rich kid turned crime fighter springs from – well you guessed it, billionaire Bruce Wayne. But the movies and the comics have always seen Bruce as a grown man, someone who still struggles to grapple with his parents’ murder but someone who has had a good many years and experience between the traumatic act and the present. Gotham places Bruce Wayne in his youth, with little maturity and experience to help him.
The show explores the back story and rise to power of Batman, as well as numerous villains and well known characters of the Batman arc. We have already seen an Alfred who doesn’t pull punches which speaks to his ex special forces background that was alluded to in the movies. We see a young Gordon rising through the ranks, navigating office politics and fighting crime and a younger Lucius Fox, fighting against the corruption within Wayne Enterprises. These three form the support system on which young Bruce thrives and grows. The show has also teased numerous villains over seasons including Penguin, Riddler or Edward Nygma, Catwoman, Mr Freeze and Hugo Strange. A show that explores the origin stories of a lot of Batman’s characters and in fact the feared Arkham Asylum, Gotham is a Batman fan’s dream come true.
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1. Iron Fist
Marvel’s Danny Rand is almost the equivalent of Oliver Queen. They are both rich kids, whose parents own big companies. They both lose their parents and become stranded in a faraway place. They both return to their old lives, a changed person and realize that they have a greater calling – Danny Rand as the immortal Iron Fist and Oliver Queen as Green Arrow. Iron Fist is to be brutally honest, the most shaky of the Defenders characters introduced in the television show, but he is the biggest enemy of the Hand, a mysterious ninja organization with evil motives. While Iron Fist received mixed reviews, it was the final character we saw which heralded the forming of the Defenders and thus holds a special place in our hearts and minds.
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