Ria is a superhero and sci-fi movie enthusiast. Her favorite movie is Deadpool, with The Amazing Spider-man as a close second.
With Avengers: Endgame wrapping up one of the most epic storylines in cinematic history, superhero fans will be hard-pressed to find anything quite like it. While announcements at San Diego Comic Con revealed that there are more movies slated for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, their release dates are few and far between for now!
Other forays into comic book adaptations have been clumsy at times, with some of the X-Men and Superman movies getting really poor reviews. Plus, the team dynamic of the Avengers makes it stand out from most sci-fi films.
If you've already finished all the MCU movies from the past two decades, here are 10 TV shows and movies you can try if you're looking for lovable characters and a serious plot in your superhero stories.
The Umbrella Academy
Netflix's adaptation of the graphic novel series takes its time introducing the plot over the start of the first season, but the characters are so unique and well-written that it's still a joy to watch. There are witty one-liners, conflicts between protagonists, and enough exciting fight scenes to keep even the most cynical viewer interested. The show is definitely a little more mature than the Avengers movies, with innuendos, drug use and torture pushing this series close to an R rating.
With only 10 episodes in the first season, fans are anxiously waiting for more. Season 2 was announced in April 2019, so fans can probably expect it sometime in 2020.
Though Young Justice focuses on teenage superheroes, it manages to be surprisingly mature. Between fighting bad guys, the protagonists often argue with their superhero mentors – or each other. Shifting loyalties and complex betrayals help keep viewers on their toes and provide surprisingly believable sources of character development.
Unfortunately, the in-show timeskips and giant cast of characters means that some of the characters' growth is inconsistent at best. The massive gap between the production of seasons two and three also resulted in a shift in art styles. However, superhero fans will still find a lot to love in this fast-paced series.
My Hero Academia
This anime has proven to be a huge hit among Western audiences, in part thanks to its familiar superhero themes. Main character Deku manages to be a little more believable and well-rounded than most superhero leads, partly because he chose his power rather than having it forced upon him. Though the show's overall plot is still somewhat vague, and it sometimes gets a little bogged-down in the protagonists fighting each other in tournaments, the character interactions alone make it a solid recommendation for Avengers fans.
With a fourth season coming in October 2019, there's a lot more to look forward to in this series! Plus, there's a manga being translated into English.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Like with My Hero Academia and Young Justice, Avatar is a much more mature story than it appears at first glance. It's not really a superhero story in the traditional sense, but it weaves together a truly lovable cast of characters on a journey in a world with elemental abilities. The characters' allegiances and motivations are complex but not overly angsty, and the plot wraps up more neatly than many shows in its genre.
The original Avatar series spans 61 episodes. There's also a spin-off series, The Legend of Korra, which takes place in the same universe and has some of the same characters.
The superpower granted to The Flash may seem simplistic, but as a TV show, The Flash is anything but basic. The writers have kept the plot and character development moving smoothly over five seasons, and have introduced a decent number of characters without overwhelming viewers. The emotional punches in many episodes can leave you breathless, and it's easy to become invested in the characters' journeys.
With a sixth season set to air in October 2019, The Flash will hopefully keep fans entertained for years to come, and not get canceled like so many other superhero shows in recent years.
Though some of the X-Men films received mediocre reviews, the first movie in the franchise is a must-watch - and worth at least one rewatch, if you've already seen it. Its age means that its special effects and fight scenes aren't as impressive as those of the later Avengers films, and it doesn't have the same humor and lovable characters. However, the X-Men team is still memorable and relatable, and the franchise tackles a much different set of moral issues than that of the Avengers.
If you like the first X-Men movie, you should also see X2: X-Men United, which received solid reviews as well. Some of the other films, including 2019's Dark Phoenix, did not fare as well.
Cloak & Dagger
This Marvel series airing on Freeform TV doesn't get nearly as much hype as it should. While Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor have dramatic origin stories, the origin stories for this series' heroes are much more low-key and natural. With a believable setting and solid writing, Cloak & Dagger manages to be a good show for all ages.
There are only 11 episodes in the first season, but with a second season confirmed, we should hopefully get some more thoughtful yet exciting action from this show.
This R-rated film blends superhero action with a much larger dose of drama than most superhero films. The romantic tension alone made it too mature for younger audiences, but it's definitely a treat for older superhero fans who enjoy The Umbrella Academy. It also lacks some of the humor and charm that made the Avengers franchise so good.
The ending of the movie was fairly lackluster, and fans of the graphic novel were disappointed at how some parts were omitted. If you enjoyed it overall, check out the graphic novel for another take on the story.
Like The Umbrella Academy, this web-exclusive story is gritty and dark without being totally devoid of humor. Fans of the original Teen Titans series were surprised by how DC's live-action reboot of the iconic team ended up being a lot more grim. However, the first season is a solid installment in DC canon, with each main character getting enough screentime to keep their development moving along.
If Titans ends up being a little too dark for you, Teen Titans is much more light-hearted and similar to Young Justice. Titans can also be a little hard to watch because it's exclusive to DC's online streaming service in many regions.
This is an unorthodox recommendation, partly because it's not really a superhero story. It's a bounty hunter adventure story set in space in the far future, and there's no time traveling, no battle for the fate of the universe, and no spandex. However, it has the same conflict, drama, and witty team dynamics that made the Avengers franchise so good, and it's probably a welcome break from superhero antics for fans who are a little tired of constant high-stakes action.
This classic anime has 26 episodes and a movie, though you can probably skip the movie. It's also getting a live-action adaptation on Netflix! Hopefully this adaptation ends up being better than Death Note's.
© 2019 Ria Fritz