The year's best superhero moments
From Nazis supervillains to weird dance sequences, here are our 10 favorite superhero TV moments from the past year. (Warning: Spoilers ahead)
10. Babies' first team up, Marvel's Runaways
After spending the first few episodes of the season figuring out there’s more them than their high school social groups, Nico (Lyrica Okano), Karolina (Virginia Gardner), Gert (Ariela Barer), Chase (Gregg Sulkin), and Molly (Allegra Acosta) used their newfound skills and abilities to save their friend Alex (Rhenzy Feliz), who was kidnapped by one of his father’s old friends. Sure, it’s rather frustrating that we’re eight episodes into the first season and the titular kids still haven’t, you know, runaway, but cool and awesome comic book moments (and a dinosaur!) like this are what make the show worth it.
9. The Stepford Cuckoos take out Sentinel services, The Gifted
For some reason, Hollywood tends to not gravitate toward legendary comic book writer Grant Morrison’s admittedly weird work when adapting stories to the big and small screen. Thankfully, Fox’s X-Men drama wasn’t afraid of going there in its first season, which introduced Morrison’s Stepford Cuckoos (Skyler Samuels), mutant triplets with telepathic powers. And in the final moments of the midseason finale, we saw just how frighteningly powerful the Cuckoos were as they used their powers to escape Sentinel Services custody by turning forcing their captors to basically kill themselves one by one. I honestly can’t wait to see what the show does with the Cuckoos when it returns on Jan. 1.
8. Marvel's street level heroes assemble, The Defenders
This was the scene we’ve been waiting for since Netflix and Marvel first announced their partnership way back in 2015. Yes, the road to this moment was long and oh-sovery bumpy and uneven, but this team-up definitely met our expectations. In the third episode of the season, Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) joined forces to fight their way out of the Hand’s Midland Circle building in a dynamic and exhilarating Hallway Fight Scene™ set to Run the Jewels’ “Run the Jewels.”
7. Supergirl vs. Superman, Supergirl
The CW drama’s season 2 finale opened with its best action scene to date. Evil Daxamite Queen Rhea (Teri Hatcher) orchestrated a fight between the Super-cousins by infecting Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) with Silver Kryptonite, which made him see his greatest enemy General Zod whenever he looked at Kara. It was a brutal fight and you felt every single punch as it landed thanks to the effective use of slow-motion (at times, it reminded me of Superman and Darkseid’s brutal battle in the Justice League Unlimited series finale). In the end, Supergirl emerged victorious with a devasting uppercut.
6. That bonkers time and space twist on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
With each season, ABC’s Marvel Cinematic Universe spin-off series improves, becoming bolder and more fun in the process. This year, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s long awaited fifth season exceeded expectations by throwing an absolutely bonkers twist at the audience in its two-part premiere. Not only were Coulson (Clark Gregg), Daisy (Chloe Bennet), and everyone else on the team (save Fitz) sent to space, but they were also transported several years into the future where the last remnants of humanity is trapped on a grimy, Kree-controlled space station because the Earth exploded. You would expect this kind of timey wimey twist from The Flash, but not from this series, and yet that’s exactly why it worked so well. The adjacent shot may be hands down the coolest thing this show has done — and it gave us a pretty awesome version of Ghost Rider last season!
5. Everything about the Legends' insane trip to WWI on DC's Legends of Tomorrow
In its first season, Legends of Tomorrow felt like the first true misfire of the Arrowverse. It had it’s fun moments, but it never quite came together because it was a bit too serious even though it’s plot was about a bunch of time-traveling screw-ups trying and failing to fix time. However, that all changed in the show’s charmingly silly second season, which fully embraced how incompetent Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) and her crew could be. This led brilliantly wacky and weird adventures through the time stream, and the most ridiculous one — and there was heavy competition in a season that featured an episode where two of the Legends lost their superhero abilities because they crossed paths with George Lucas and inadvertently stopped him from making Star Wars and Indiana Jones, two movies that inspired them as kids — was when the Legends traveled back to WWI to find J.R. Tolkien and ask him to help them find the last remnants of the blood of Christ in order to destroy the Spear of Destiny, a MacGuffin that could rewrite reality. Honestly, this episode (in fact, the final three episodes of the season) shouldn’t have worked, but it did.
4. Alex's coming out story, Supergirl
2017 was a big year for Chyler Leigh’s Alex on Supergirl. In season 2, Alex met detective Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima) and was immediately drawn to her. It would take a few epsidoes and some nudging from Maggie for Alex to realize that she was interested in being more than Maggie’s friend and she may actually like girls. However, this realization wasn’t limited to one Very Special Episode, but unfolded over the course of the entire season as Alex handled her shifting identity and what that meant for her life. It was a heartwarming, and at times heartbreaking storyline, the kind Hollywood rarely makes time for when bringing superheroes to the big and small screen.
3. The "Feeling Good" dance sequence, Legion
What’s the best way to show that an evil telepathic mutant has taken over a hero’s mind and is treating it like his playground? If you’re Legion, it’s through a demented dance number that resembles the opening credits of a James Bond movie set to Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.” In the trippy FX drama’s sixth episode — which was directed by Atlanta‘s Hiro Murai — Lenny Busker, a.k.a. Amal Farouk the Shadow King (Aubrey Plaza) dances her way through our hero David Haller’s memories, demonstrating just how much control she has over his mind. Given how stock superhero properties tend to be (this was before Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and Thor: Ragnarok hit the big screens), this entire sequence was delightfully unexpected, which, to be fair, is how I would describe several of Noah Hawley’s choices in this topsy-turvy approach the X-Men mythos.
2. The horrifying Kandahar raid, Marvel's The Punisher
In the gritty drama’s third episode, we finally got a glimpse of the horrors Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) went through while he was serving abroad in Kandahar. The episode climaxes with a bloody montage of Frank rampaging through a building of enemy fighters in order to secure evacuation from a mission to kill an unidentified “high value target.” Unlike the other fight scenes on this list, however, this is far from cool and not really heroic. It’s brutal and upsetting, and thanks the show’s use of The White Buffalo’s “Wish It Were True,” (“Country I was a soldier for you/Did what you asked me to/It was wrong and you knew/Country, now I’m just a stranger to you”) really drives home one of the show’s main themes: How the U.S. government turns men into killers, sends them off to kill, but then expects them to return home the same way they left, which would be damn near impossible if you went through something like what Frank does here. His blood soaked face reminds us that it’s hard to simply wash any of this away, that this violence has consequences. Putting this horrific sequence so early in the season made it clear that this show might not be the gun porn we all feared it would be when it was first announced.
1. The excellent "Crisis on Earth-X" crossover
In past years, the Arrowverse’s crossovers have been fairly episodic. The Flash hour felt like an episode of The Flash that just happened to feature characters from Arrow, and the Arrow half felt like an Arrow episode with guest-appearances from our favorite Central City-based team. However, this year’s enterprise was different and more ambitious, with character-specific storylines weaving in and out the main story across the four parts. The multiverse-spanning “Crisis on Earth-X” was basically a miniseries, and captured the cosmic grandeur of comic book crossover events that the Big Two publishers love pumping out at least once a year. In it, most of the Arrowverse’s heroes descend on Central City to attend Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris’ (Candice Patton) wedding; however, the celebration is interrupted by evil Nazi versions of Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) and Supergirl from a parallel Man in the High Castle-like Earth. The battle scenes were fantastic, the story had real stakes (it’s a ridiculous and sad fact that saying “Nazis are bad” is a timely argument in 2017) and gave women and LGBT characters prominent roles, and it also delivered powerful moments, like the tragic death of Victor Garber’s Martin Stein. Overall, it succeeded where Justice League failed and was vibrant beacon of hope in this depressing year.