Superhero Shows to Fill Your Summer

Doom Patrol

Before we dive into why Doom Patrol should be the next thing your television set blinks to life, go out and grab yourself a copy or two of Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol run. Whether you read it as a precursor to the show or as a watching companion, you’ll be better off for it.

Doom Patrol was brought to the silver screen with the help of Jeremy Carver, whose other accolades include Supernatural and Being Human. Carver’s shows demonstrate an innate ability to illustrate the intersection between the preternatural and the ordinary, and Doom Patrol shares that billing.

The show follows a band of metahuman misfits as they navigate their lack of belonging in the world and battle against the weird, wild and wacky. Much of the show’s success lies in its absolute refusal to take itself too seriously. The narration, provided by Alan Tudyk (Firefly, A Knight’s Tale) as the villainous Mr. Nobody, breaks the fourth wall again and again to deride the show’s characters, set pieces and direction. At points, an entire town is contained within a donkey, a mouse named Admiral Whiskers induces potent hallucinations, and the team sits through a Nazi puppet show. And that’s just the first season.

The cast alone is a draw, but the true centerpiece in the menagerie is a resurgent Brendan Fraser. Fraser doesn’t just chew the scenery as Cliff Steele/Robotman. He gnaws it into a raucous and colorful pulp and spits it back out for you to enjoy. And I mean that in the best way possible.

The first two seasons of the show are currently streaming on HBO Max.

For fans of: Deadpool, X-Men

The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella Academy, the brainchild of My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way, is about a family of super-powered children born simultaneously under unusual circumstances who are adopted by an eccentric billionaire and raised to fight crime. By the time the story begins, however, their adoptive father is dead and the children are estranged, their upbringing having left each of them emotionally scarred.

The television adaptation of The Umbrella Academy is focused on the relationships of these siblings as they attempt to avert a coming apocalypse while struggling with their inner demons and clashing personalities. The plot incorporates time travel, robots, classical music, a talking chimpanzee, and much, much more—suffice it to say: the show is weird (but in a fun and interesting way), but is grounded in the very human emotions and traumas of its characters. If you’re in the mood for something bingeable, fun, and a little different, you can’t go wrong with this show.

(It also features a fantastic dance sequence set to Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now,” something showrunners should take note of and start working into other projects.)

Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix, and Season 2 is due out July 31, 2020.

For fans of: My Chemical Romance, Dysfunctional Families

Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn has been getting a ton of screen time over the last few years, and for good reason. She’s a complex character with reasonably realistic motives. Unfortunately, not a lot of that screen time has done her justice (no offense to Margot Robbie). Harley Quinn, which coincidentally shares a platform with Doom Patrol, lends credence to the Quinn craze and scratches the cartoons-for-adults itch without being creepy. (Is there a term for “cartoons for adults” that doesn’t sound disgusting? Help.)

Voiced by Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory), Quinn embarks on an episodic quest to become her own supervillain, wholly removed from the manipulation and abuse of the Joker (voiced by none other than the GOAT, Alan Tudyk). She shares living quarters and screen time with Poison Ivy, played with a wry ethos by Lake Bell (Wet Hot American Summer, Children’s Hospital). The cast is so batshit good and rife with star power, every episode is a fresh game of “Who’s That Voice?”

There are 26 episodes of the show out currently, making it a reasonable binge for your quarantined summer.

For fans of: Batman Beyond, Ultimate Spider-man

The Boys

Life comes at you fast. That’s literally true for Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid), whose girlfriend explodes in a shower of blood when a careless superhero speedster, A-Train, crashes into her at the beginning of The Boys. While reeling from his loss, Hughie is approached by the brash and sardonic Billy Butcher (Karl Urban, in a role worthy of his singular talent), the leader of a vigilante group (the titular Boys) that’s dedicated to punishing superheroes who abuse their powers.

Because if superheroes were real, they’d probably suck. That’s the premise of Garth Ennis’s comic book series that The Boys is based on. The series is set in a world where superheroes exist, but are violent, corrupt, and indifferent to the pain and suffering their “heroics” cause. It follows the Boys as they go toe-to-toe with the most powerful and influential superheroes on Earth, the Seven (basically a douchey analog of the Justice League), led by the psychopathic Homelander (Antony Starr).

While no source material makes it through the adaptation process completely unscathed, the degree to which Eric Kripke (who also developed Supernatural) has been able to translate the violence and vulgarity of the comic to the small screen is nothing short of masterful. The Boys is not intended for children or those with delicate constitutions; it’s a blood-soaked deconstruction of everything you think you like about superheroes with something to say about celebrity, sexual harassment, trauma, and violence—like someone stripped Watchmen of its poetry and dialed the pulp up to 11—and it makes for damn good television.

Season 1 is streaming now, and Season 2 is due out September 4, 2020.

For fans of: The Parts of Zack Snyder Movies That People Enjoy, Preacher

Batman: The Animated Series

Look, there’s nothing we can say about Batman: The Animated Series that hasn’t already been said a million times over by a thousand other outlets. It’s the best iteration of DC’s most beloved character, and when you consider the amount of Batman media floating about in the ether, that’s really saying something.

If you haven’t watched the Caped Crusader’s animated adventures in awhile, now’s the perfect time to reacquaint yourself. Kevin Conroy’s iconic work as the voice of Batman is every bit as riveting as you remember (as is Mark Hamill’s work as the Joker) and the series is also where another character featured on this list, Harley Quinn, made her debut in the Batman canon.

There’s absolutely no reason for you to put off making yourself a bowl of popcorn and settling in for an extended binge with the man who is vengeance, the night, and Batman.