Superhero TV shows have generally been a strong force in animation form for many years. With certain exceptions such as Batman 1966, Lois and Clark and Smallville, there has never been such high quality comic based shows on TV at one time. With DC ruling the roost on The CW and Fox, Marvel’s MCU taking Netflix and ABC by storm and Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead and Outcast making some damn fine TV! So, the first in a number of countdowns, I wanted to give some top 10’s based on more current comic book shows and the characters that feature within them. With the short lived Constantine being hugely popular, Arrow creating a massive TV universe and Gotham giving us some great origins on much loved characters.
This list was not easy to write, but there was so many to choose from. Honorable mentions go to Morena Baccarin’s Dr Leslie Thompkins in Gotham, her partner and good cop Ben McKenzie’s Jim Gordon and Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells and Reverse-Flash in The Flash. I want to know who you would say was portrayed best as opinions will always vary. This is my personal list, so take this as you will.
- Harold Perrineau – Manny (Constantine)
Portraying an original character in a comic book show is not always seen as a great idea, but Harold Perrineau pulls it off so well as the angel Manny. Guiding Constantine on his journey to prepare for the oncoming war with evil, Manny appears at times of great need (even when John really could do without seeing him). Sometimes a very insightful character and a moment or two of comic relief, it is a shame that we may not see him spread his wings in Constantine’s future anytime soon.
- Teddy Sears – “Jay Garrick”/Hunter Zolomon/Zoom (The Flash)
Trying to top the brilliant work by Tom Cavanagh in season one was never going to be easy, but Teddy Sears takes you on one hell of a journey in season two. Revealing himself to be Jay Garrick at the start of the season, he claims his speed was stolen by another known as Zoom! The twist here is that Jay is actually Hunter Zolomon AKA Zoom and he has hatched a plan to destroy all universes and speedsters…including Barry. Who knows if he will run again into the lives of the STAR Labs team.
- Emily Bett Rickards – Felicity Smoak (Arrow, The Flash)
Originally a minor character, Felicity grew to be one of the most important characters in the Arrowverse. Originally an employee of Oliver’s step-father Walter, Felicity proves herself to be a welcome addition to Team Arrow. Originally only wanting to save Walter, Felicity eventually joins the team full time and is vital in helping Oliver become more understanding and find new methods to deal with crime. Though many see their romance as annoying, Felicity really does make a big impact in the show and I hope she will do for a long long time to come.
- David Harewood – “Hank Henshaw”/J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter (Supergirl)
One of the biggest surprises of Supergirl was the revelation that head of the DEA Hank Henshaw was actually the Martian Manhunter. Having been nearly killed by the real Hank Henshaw, Kara and Alex’s father saved J’onn and in return J’onn promised to look after Alex and Kara as much as he could. A character with a huge heart and one of the most heartbreaking backstories in comics, he fights his inner demons and becomes a true hero who eventually gets the recognition he deserves.
- Manu Bennett – Slade Wilson/Deathstroke (Arrow)
Probably the greatest rival to come up against Oliver, Slade Wilson originally helped Oliver Queen survive on the island and gave him the help he needed to escape and find his family. After Slade was injected with the “mirakuru”, he finds himself stronger than ever before, but his mind suffers from the chemical. He personally wants revenge against Oliver after what happens to him in regards to Shado and losing his eye. Killing Oliver’s mother and almost destroying the city was indeed enough to push The Arrow to his limit!
- Danielle Panabaker – Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost (The Flash, Arrow)
When she had her cameo in Arrow, I was not too sure how much I would like this character. But from her first episode, Caitlin is shown to be a great part of the STAR Labs team. She is shown to be very distraught over the particle accelerator explosion which seemingly killed her fiancé and at times being cold towards her friends. Though Caitlin is indeed, in at least one life, destined to be the villainous Killer Frost, she proves a true friend and a heart to the show. She knows how to take on enemies without powers of her own and will do anything to help you.
- Stephen Amell – Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Arrow, The Flash. Legends Of Tomorrow)
The man behind the Arrowverse, Oliver Queen returns to Starling City after five years being presumed dead. When he returns, he takes on the mantle of The Arrow to fight the crime in the city as part of his promise to his father. Originally wanting to take on this crusade alone, Oliver later gets assistance from John Diggle, Felicity, Roy Harper, Sara Lance, Laurel Lance and even his sister Thea. Though Oliver may be sometimes hard to trust, he does care about his friends and family and does show a lighter side with his friend Barry/The Flash.
- Grant Gustin – Barry Allen/The Flash (The Flash, Arrow)
After getting caught in his lab as the STAR Labs accident happened, Barry Allen became The Flash. Originally unsure if he deserved his powers, Barry would go on to become one the greatest heroes in existence. With a pure heart and mind, Barry is definitely the best person to have on your side when in trouble with a meta-human. When Barry developed his powers and begun travelling through time, we see him truly get emotional with anything around his deceased mother when he sees her in the past. We want Barry to have a happy ending, but has he destroyed the world to get it?
- Robin Lord Taylor – Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin (Gotham)
The only Gotham character to make it into the list, but there is a good reason why he is this high! Robin Lord Taylor from episode one managed to make Penguin probably the best portrayal of the character in any medium. Danny DeVito done a great job in Batman Returns, Nolan North makes a great performance in the Batman Arkham games but it is Taylor’s take on the character which is unique and intriguing. Starting as an aspiring gangster, he eventually takes control of the Gotham underworld and uses many means to get what he wants. Whenever his version of Oswald Cobblepot takes to the screen, I am glued!
- Matt Ryan – John Constantine (Constantine, Arrow)
You know you have done a character right when you have a fan and cast campaign to get you to be the character again (eventually appearing in Arrow Season 4) and then becoming the character again for an animated movie (2016’s Justice League Dark). Am I right? Matt Ryan embodies the character perfectly and does everything right. He smokes like a chimney, isn’t afraid to be rude, enjoys being an arse to people and fights demons with ease. The look is also done right, down to the hair colour and the clothes. We may have only had 14 hours of TV with John Constantine, but I am sure Matt Ryan’s version of the character will be around for a long time…and maybe that petition to get a season two of Constantine will also become reality one day!
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove