Despite the less-than-glowing critical reception for Zack Snyder’s latest blockbuster, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” it would be a shame to let the hype (or lack thereof) of the film fool you about where things stand in the battle between Marvel and DC Comics. Even though Marvel has mostly dominated the film market with generally better-received titles, the vast world of television is filled with DC goodness that you may not have discovered just yet. Let us lead the way, as we introduce you to some fantastic DC titles that you don’t want to be (and shouldn’t be!) missing out on, either currently airing now on television or available to stream. Including live action and animated titles, you can rest assured because we’ve got you covered. Bat-chin up and happy watching, folks!
What is it? After spending five years stranded on a desert island, isolated from his upper-class lifestyle, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) returns to Starling City a changed and humbled man. Stripped from everything he had ever known, he had no other option but to start from scratch, and began to see the world in a different way than he ever had before. As he returns to society, he reunites with his friends and family as he tries to disguise his transformed identity. Billionaire bachelor by day and hooded vigilante by night, the series follows the journey of a changed man, as the isolation molded him to be a hero he never knew he could be.
Where to Watch: The CW (online and broadcast), Netflix, Hulu
“The Flash” (The CW)
What is it? Although “The Flash” is a spin-off from “Arrow,” the series has more than proved that not only can it stand on its own two legs, but it can run as one of the CW’s most successful shows. The series focuses on Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), who at a young age witnessed his mother’s mysteriously supernatural murder and his father’s wrongful conviction for her death. The trouble is, nobody believes his story at all. After spending his life obsessing over the details of his troubled past, Allen is literally struck by lightning after an advanced particle accelerator malfunctions and causes a terrible storm chock-full of terrible radiation. The event causes him to slip into a coma for nine months, only to emerge back to life to find out that he can run at superhuman speeds, thus becoming the Flash. As a result of this, he chooses to use his abilities for good, all the while still attempting to understand his past, present and future.
Where to Watch? The CW (online and broadcast), Netflix, Hulu
“Gotham” (The CW)
What is it? While “Gotham” primarily serves as an origin story for beloved detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) as he rises up in the ranks, the series also follows some of the city’s most notorious villains in their early days, as well as a young Bruce Wayne even before the tragic death of his parents. In a city filled with crime and chaos at every turn, Gordon may be Gotham’s last hope as he attempts to set a different path for himself and shed some light in a dark, grimy city. Before Batman, after all, there was Gordon, the hero Gotham deserved and desperately needed. Along the way, he comes across delightfully devious characters such as the Penguin, The Riddler, Poison Ivy and Catwoman — what more could you ask more?
Where to Watch: Fox (online and broadcast), Netflix (Season 1), Hulu
“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” (The CW)
What is it? The third series to join Greg Berlanti’s sprawling DC TV universe brings together over a half-dozen minor characters (heroes and villains alike) from “Arrow” and “The Flash” for an epic romp through time and space. Technically, the team’s mission is to track down and destroy the evil immortal Vandal Savage, but really it’s an opportunity to watch Brandon Routh be adorably goofy, Victor Garber disapprove of everything, Wentworth Miller chew some scenery and Caity Lotz kick some serious ass. Throw in Arthur Darvill as, let’s face it, a Time Lord and you’ve got a hell of a good time waiting for you.
Where to Watch: The CW (online and broadcast), Hulu
What is it? Finding himself bored as hell in his hometown way, way down under, the ridiculously charming and mischievous fallen angel Lucifer, has decided to abandon his throne in the underworld to make a home out of Los Angeles, where different kinds of evil are alive and well. Tom Ellis, as our titular anti-hero, is delightfully sly, using his charms and means of persuasion to punish local bad guys. With equal amounts of humor and drama, “Lucifer” will make you a fan of the dark side like you never thought you would be. The character was originally written by fantasy genius and novelist Neil Gaiman himself in the acclaimed “Sandman” series, and the series has all the right ingredients for something that is more nuanced and unique than one would expect, especially for a show about Satan — er, Lucifer — himself.
Where to Watch: Fox (online and broadcast), Hulu
“Smallville” (The CW)
What is it? If you can believe it, “Smallville” will celebrate its fifteenth birthday later this fall, surpassing the lifespans of three presidential terms, MP3 players and the original Harry Potter series. With ten seasons to its credit, the show ran from 2001 to 2010, and it might be safe to say that the series paved the way for the WB’s reputation as a comfortable home to some of DC’s very best. “Smallville” chronicled the journey of young Clark Kent and his humble beginnings, before he inevitably transformed into the mighty Superman. With one of the most loyal fanbases known to television, “Smallville” remains as one of the WB’s most classic shows and is most certainly a DC essential.
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
What is it? As one of the latest additions to the DC TV universe, “Supergirl” has been lauded as one of CBS’s most promising and exciting superhero series in recent years. The show gives us a look at the backstory of Supergirl herself, whose trip from Krypton to Earth went awry after being diverted by a shockwave from the tragic explosion of their home planet. After previously hiding her powers, “Supergirl” follows the 24-year-old hero as she learns how to handle her overwhelming capabilities. “Supergirl” serves as a more lighthearted companion to the other DC titles on the CW, trading in darkness for a refreshing optimism.
Where to Watch: CBS (online and broadcast)
“Batman: The Animated Series” (FOX)
What is it? An absolutely essential title in the long list of Batman screen adaptations, “Batman: The Animated Series,” much like the comic books come to life, included heavy film noir influences, from its distinctive aesthetic to the Danny Elfman-inspired music. Funny, dark and brilliantly produced, dare we say that “Batman: The Animated Series” is definitely as good as Batman gets? Especially thanks to Mark Hamill’s wonderfully maniacal take on the Joker.
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
“Justice League”/”Justice League Unlimited” (Cartoon Network)
What is it? Before the first part of the gargantuan “Justice League” film arrives next year, these two animated series should serve as the perfect crash course on the mighty list of characters that the film will bring to life. Based directly on the comic books, “Justice League” was another production from genius animator Bruce Timm (“Batman: The Animated Series”) that brought together DC’s greatest heroes into one team. With Superman, Batman, Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and Martian Manhunter all in the mix, there’s plenty of exciting action to feast on.
Where to Watch: Netflix
What is it? “Vixen” is based on a crime-fighting superhero whose cool trick is the ability to mimic the abilities of animals. And no, not just any animal — Vixen (Megalyn Echikunwoke) can emulate any and all of them, and versatile set of powers thus enables her to fight against those that threaten the safety of others. Since her parents were tragically murdered in Africa by corruption, she channels her personal pain by protecting those in need. Originally created for the CW digital platform CW Seed, “Vixen” was fully incorporated into the CW/DC universe after Echikunwoke guest starred on “Arrow” as the live-action version of the character she was voicing. Including a recurring cast from other live action DC faves — Stephen Amell (Arrow), Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak) and Grant Gustin (Flash) all made appearances during the first season.
Where to Watch: CW Seed