In the past few years, Marvel have really stepped up their game when it comes to comic book television. They’ve been covering a variety of their titles throughout a couple of different outlets. With some licenses over at Fox, some with ABC and the rest through Netflix -- Marvel have been bringing more of their characters to life like never before. The Netflix shows are usually the go-to when recommending a superhero show, as they’re universally critically acclaimed. With incredible fight scenes, fantastic character development and some truly visceral cinematography it’s hard not to be impressed.
But it’s not all fun and games. Even though Fox have an entertaining team of mutants in The Gifted, they resort to similar plot lines in many of their episodes. And although Legion is a visceral delight, it can sometimes be a slave to its own ingenuity. Whilst Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might be absolutely killing it in its fifth season, many fans were initially put off with that shaky first season. Our point is, even great comic book shows have their flaws. Whether it’s an awkward character moment, a weak plot line or just bad directorial decision; here are the 15 worst episode of Marvel television shows.
15 IRON FIST: SHADOWHAWK TAKES FLIGHT
When you have a character that has the title of ‘The Immortal Iron Fist’, one of things that a writers shouldn’t do is immediately limit that character in the second episode by drugging him and leaving him incapacitated in a psychiatric institution. Because that’s the simple summary of this episode, Danny Rand spends the majority of his screen time tied to a bed. How thrilling.
Instead of having him fight hordes of villains or investigating why Rand Enterprises seems to be run in a shady manner -- they spend considerable time diagnosing Danny with anxiety due to past trauma. Having anxiety is fine it was legitimately part of his character arc, but there’s nothing else for us to assume that it is. The rest of the episode is spent jumping back and forth between Joy, Ward and Harold Meachum, but with barely any substance to any of them.
14 INHUMANS: BEHOLD… THE INHUMANS
For a show that was originally meant to get its own big screen entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Inhumans feels incredibly small. We get brief introductions to the core members of the Royal Family that we’re supposed to care about, and then whisks them away to Earth away from the Moon and the wilder aspects of the series.
Once Maximus stages his coup, the show goes downhill quickly.
Lockjaw is only used as a getaway car rather than his own character, and Medusa is shaved so that the production don’t spend much on her prehensile hair. Splitting all these characters up on Earth feels like a cheap way out of doing a faithful adaptation of the Inhumans. Do we even need to mention the terrible Black Bolt costume? We expected better from you, Marvel.
13 THE DEFENDERS: ASHES, ASHES
Some people loved The Defenders, and understandably so -- it’s great to see all these heroes united on-screen. What isn’t entertaining, is seeing that team sideline one of their most powerful weapons just because The Hand want him as part of their schemes. The group tie Danny Rand up so that the Hand can’t get to him, and it’s just so boring, they have some of their key players just as babysitters.
And then there’s the ending. Throughout all of the marketing and interviews for the show, Alexandra was made out to be this huge overarching villain that would be a true threat for the heroes, only to be swiftly murdered at the end of episode six by Elektra. It’s just quite disappointing when she had been built up so much.
12 THE PUNISHER: COLD STEEL
For a show called ‘The Punisher’, it sure does spend a fair amount of time caring for people. Sure, there’s plenty of punishing too, but the eighth episode saw Frank and Micro’s Wife take a step that they really shouldn’t. Frank goes to check on her, and after a drink or two they kiss. Now that would be fine, if Micro wasn’t watching. It’s so awkward.
Maybe we just don’t like second-hand embarrassment, but knowing that Micro was seeing this on-screen and helpless to stop any of it just made us cringe.
Luckily the rest of the episode sees Billy Russo really grow into his villainous role. It’s just the weird, dysfunctional family drama portion of the episode that really brought it down for a while.
11 DAREDEVIL: NELSON V MURDOCK
Towards the end of Daredevil’s explosive first season, they understandably had to bring Matt Murdock down a few notches before building back up for the finale. But the tenth episode spends more time delving into character moments than it does fighting crime, and although the character dynamic between Nelson and Murdock is fantastic to watch, the supporting cast don’t make up for it.
The episode sees Karen Page and Ben Urich go in search of Fisk’s mother. Although it answers some questions about the Kingpin of Crime, it feels like a huge step away from the current priorities of the show. We just had an incredible fight scene in the previous episode, and the adrenaline doesn’t quite carry through this one. Ultimately though, all the quieter character moments are for the best.
10 RUNAWAYS: REWIND
The first episode of Runaways was a brilliant introduction into their world. We got to know each character carefully before they’re plunged into a world of uncertainty after they discover what the Pride really is. The cliffhanger of the episode saw the parents see the flash of a camera phone as the teens were spying on them, and the second episode really dives in on the suspense.
It loses all momentum as they all simply pretend to be hanging out together, even though none of them have really been friends for years.
It’s such an odd change in atmosphere that the parents should have noticed something almost instantly. The pacing just seemed to dive bomb after that but luckily the rest of the series makes up for the drop, because we got worried for a second.
9 IRON FIST: BLACK TIGER STEALS HEART
The Netflix Marvel shows have spent a considerable amount of time setting up their over-arching villains as an all-powerful group that are inherently evil. So the tenth episode of Iron Fist feels like a 180-degree turn that really throws the audience off and we don’t mean in a good way.
Once Danny awakens in the Hand’s strange academy, the pacing of the series grinds to a halt. Then as he becomes suspicious, he discovers the academy’s true intentions almost instantly. Which makes us wonder whether he should join Alias Investigations. The final fight to break out of the academy isn’t wildly impressive, and for a Kung-Fu/martial arts based show, that should be the most entertaining thing about it. Plus, the rushed introduction of Davos is a complete disservice to the character.
8 AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: THE HUB
When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. first debuted, it was met with lukewarm reception, mainly because it felt so generic -- it’s episodes like this that really put people off. There was no real danger when Fitz and Ward go to retrieve the “Overkill Device”. Which is also code for "biggest plot device ever". And when it attempts to set up more mysteries as the episode goes on it only becomes messier.
Skye’s background is murky, and we’re given the clue that it was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who took her to the orphanage.
And Coulson can’t access information about T.A.H.I.T.I. but unless we’re told why he can’t have access, the block means absolutely nothing to the audience. Why do we care? We don’t. Thankfully, the series got the much needed shift change after the Hydra reveal.
7 LEGION: GROUP THERAPY
David Haller is an incredible character. All sides of his personality are well written, and we mean that quite literally, but once the series gets to the sixth episode, it grinds to a halt. And whilst the overall concept of the episode is mind-bogglingly cool, the final product isn’t so.
The characters spend the majority of the episode talking through their problems and feelings in the confines of the same psychiatric hospital that David was originally kept in. It’s actually a shared hallucination slowed down whilst they’re all being shot at. But the problem is that the previous episode was fast paced and incredibly entertaining and this episode slows it down too much and restricts these characters much more than needed. Luckily, the rest of the series is an excellent mind-trip.
6 DAREDEVIL: KINBAKU
Daredevil’s second season is a riotous affair. Introducing The Punisher, catching up with the Kingpin and also introducing Elektra Natchios. There’s plenty of pieces on the board, so it’s understandable that some of them get rushed through.
One of those rushed elements is the history between Elektra and Matt during the fifth episode.
The present day storyline is broken up by flashbacks that rush through Matt’s relationship with Elektra at breakneck pace -- all the way up until the two part ways. It just felt like a speedrun of why these two are at odds before they suit up in the next episode. It’s not a terrible part of the series, but compared to the rest of the series it’s probably one of the weakest. Matt also spends most of his time out of the costume, which is a shame.
5 THE GIFTED: EXTREME MEASURES
Fox’s attempt to bring the shared X-Men universe to the small screen has gone quite well so far. Legion was a bold move, and The Gifted is a thoroughly entertaining adventure show. But the problem with The Gifted is that it rehashes the same plot continuously every couple of episodes and by the time we get to episode seven, it begins to get annoying.
The plot always sees the group venture out in search of something, they get found out and have to scurry back to their shielded camp. This time Thunderbird goes looking for Blink, and it draws out the romantic subplot between them but it does so very bluntly. Oh, and making Eclipse work with the Cartel just felt like an unnecessary plot device to cause friction with Polaris.
4 AGENT CARTER: A VIEW IN THE DARK
Whilst Agent Carter did manage to be an entertaining series, it wasn’t without the occasional misstep, and one of those was the second episode in the second season. Although it rightly deals with sexism and racism, they’re written as direct plot points with such a heavy hand that it almost becomes cheesy.
It attempts to set up a death so that it can shock the audience later on in the season, but it’s easy to spot from a mile away.
It also attempts to leave us on something of a cliffhanger, but since we were only introduced to some of these characters in the previous episode, it doesn’t quite have the intended dramatic effect on the viewing audience. It’s a shame, since Agent Carter had definitive potential.
3 AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: YES MEN
Usually, we’re completely onboard for the Marvel Cinematic Universe crossing over with the television shows it also incorporates. But this Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode really made us cringe. It’s a very basic way of crossing the show with Thor: The Dark World. An Asgardian villain can control men to do what she likes.
It’s hardly compelling since we’ve never met Lorelai before, and although Sif’s in it there’s nothing to keep us wildly entertained. Lorelai creates a mini army of biker gang members, and that’s it. She takes control of Ward briefly, but since there’s been next to no development of his character by this point -- we’re not given any reason to care. The final tease about the drugs relating to Coulson’s resurrection are an underserved plot point.
2 IRON FIST: EIGHT DIAGRAM DRAGON PALM
We’re not saying that Iron Fist was consistently terrible across all 13 episodes, but there are many moments that really make us want to turn it off. The show isn’t able to decide what genre it should be, and episode four is a prime example of that.
At times, it’s a Kung-Fu comic book series, whilst at others it’s a boardroom drama.
Those two styles are significantly different, and although sometimes the blending of genres really compliment each other -- Iron Fist doesn’t work in that way. The boardroom scenes in which Danny tries to bully his way as a majority shareholder feel like an afterthought. They play out like a weak way of providing the audience with evidence that Danny is a good-guy. Plus, the ‘fish-out-of-water’ comedy grows old very quickly.
1 INHUMANS: …AND FINALLY: BLACK BOLT
It’s widely regarded that Marvel’s Inhumans is the most underwhelming of all the comic book television shows they’ve brought to life. It’s a show that injures its’ characters so they don’t have to use their powers frequently, or they just don’t use them at all. And although the finale of the show series does involve plenty of conflict, it’s so boring.
The most dramatic portion of the episode is the Inhumans migrating to Earth, but it’s played off like it’s not a monumental decision. But locking Maximus away on the Moon with unlimited supplies so he doesn’t die is seen as the most dramatic ending that the series could have conjured. Since he staged a coup against Black Bolt and tried to have them all killed, he certainly deserved to die. The finale of Inhumans proved to us that the show should categorically stay dead.