Over the course of the last few years, superheroes have pretty much dominated the small screen, and it has been an absolute pleasure to watch. We've seen vigilantes fight intense street wars, powerful sorcerers use magic for nefarious purposes, and even super powered aliens that have to deal with the stress of everyday life. From Arrow, to Daredevil, to Luke Cage, and Supergirl, there seems to be a superhero for every tonal preference. With that in mind, we have taken it upon ourselves to compile a list of 2016's best TV superhero moments. Some of these moments are amazing action sequences, while others are quieter, character-driven moments, but they all epitomize everything that we love about the comic book genre. Now let's get started with the most recent Marvel hero to debut on Netflix...
Luke Cage Takes Down Crispus Attucks
Luke Cage is pretty much chock full of badass superhero moments (seriously, his showdown with Diamondback in the Season 1 finale is one for the books) but the absolute best moment from the entire first season comes during Luke's assault on Crispus Attucks. Set to Wu-Tang Clan's "Bring Da Ruckus" the sequence shows Luke using his formidable strength and durability to take down a legion of heavily armed thugs and plow through the reinforced defenses of the building. In a Netflix series that's packed to the brim with relevant social, there are several moments in the sequence that feel incredibly empowering -- while also remaining completely and utterly badass. The best part of the entire sequence is the fact that Luke doesn't use the money he steals from the gang compound for personal gain; he takes what he needs to get Pop's Barber Shop up and running again and leaves the rest for the cops.
Barry & Cisco Travel To Earth-2
Fans of The CW's The Flash looked forward to the introduction of Earth-2 the instant the multi-verse became an established and accepted aspect of the Arrow-verse. Although it certainly took a while happen, Barry Allen and Cisco Ramon's trip to Earth-2 did not disappoint in the slightest. Not only did the episode provide us with an utterly bizarre look at a world completely distinct from our own (although they do have Big Belly Burger) the episode also served as an introduction to Killer Frost not to mention represented the jumping off point for Barry to travel to other Earths -- such as Earth-3 and Earth-38. The best part of the entire episode? Barry Allen discovering that his Earth-2 doppelganger has a bunch of (super) friends named Bruce, Hal, and Diana. If there is a show that does fan service better than The Flash, I haven't seen it.
Supergirl Meets The Flash
Crossovers are nothing new in the realm of superhero television; Oliver Queen and Barry Allen do it all the time. That said, getting The Flash and Supergirl into the same room was nothing short of a miracle when the Supergirl episode "World's Finest" aired earlier in 2016 on CBS. The episode began like any other episode of Supergirl, but Kara soon found her life turned upside down when a stranger from another world (that would be Barry) ran into her life to fill her in on the idea of the multi-verse and the concept of infinite realities. Although Barry ultimately didn't get to do much during the episode's core conflict (a showdown with Live Wire and Banshee), his arrival on Earth-38 definitively proved that crossovers between DC series on different networks could happen, and it laid the groundwork for the undeniably awesome Heroes vs. Aliens crossover.
The Punisher's Monologue
The Punisher has an incredibly simple origin story that has remained relatively unchanged for the better part of his publication history, but Daredevil wisely kept it obscure for the first few episodes of Season 2. After being rescued by The Devil of Hell's Kitchen, a gravely injured Frank Castle finally broke down in a cemetery and explained his "one batch, two batch" mantra to his red-clad rival. Jon Bernthal gave an absolutely Emmy worthy performance as he talked about going off to war and returning home to his family exhausted from his experiences overseas. As the scene wore on he ultimately revealed that he refused to read his daughter's favorite bedtime story the night before she (along with the rest of his family) was killed in a gangland style massacre. After four episodes of a tough and brutal exterior, Daredevil gave Frank Castle a moment to unload his emotions, and the scene did not disappoint.
Oliver Queen Finally Finds Closure
A truly compelling journey into the psyche of Oliver Queen, Arrow's 100th episode proved to be the culmination of everything that we have come to know and love about The Emerald Archer over the course of the last five years. The episode could've been a real downer, but instead the folks behind Arrow turned that idea on its head by allowing him to face all of his loss and all of his torment head on and actually find some closure by the time the credits rolled. At the end of the episode Oliver turned to face projections of his lost loved ones (his parents, Tommy, Roy, etc.) and we got to watch him unload the weight of everything that he has gone through since the sinking of the Queen's Gambit in 2007. It was a beautiful moment, as well as some of Stephen Amell's finest acting on the series to date.
Supergirl's Hope Speech
Sure, silver screen Kryptonians haven't been the most inspiring characters over the course of the last few years, but Superman's small screen cousin has done an amazing job of inspiring hope in those around her. During the Supergirl Season 1 finale, Kara Danvers finally came into her own by delivering a rousing speech to the people of National City in order to shake the effects of the Myriad mind-control weapon that turned her home into a city full of mindless drones. Without throwing a single punch she sat in front of a camera and spoke passionately about the importance of hope, helping one another, and never giving up in the face of overwhelming adversity. Superheroes don't just look cool and blow things up; they inspire those around us and create a sense that everything will be fine. Few heroes have ever embodied that idea more than Supergirl in that one, beautiful moment.
The Flash Creates Flashpoint
Barry Allen may actually have the worst luck of any hero in the entire Arrow-verse (which is saying something when we consider everything that Oliver Queen has gone through over the years) and the Season 2 finale of The Flash finally saw him do something for himself. Running back in time, he took swift and speedy vengeance against Reverse-Flash and finally saved his mother from her horrific fate. We knew that the decision to save Nora Allen would have terrible consequences for The Flash, but in that moment we didn't care. We spent the entire summer of 2016 wondering what the Season 3 version of Flashpoint would look like, and while The CW series has made some insane changes from the iconic narrative in order to sustain a full season of television, nothing will ever compare to the excitement we felt the moment we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Flashpoint was coming.
The Punisher And Daredevil Rooftop Argument
Matt Murdock and Frank Castle share some truly badass moments on rooftops over the course of Daredevil Season 2 (seriously, they actually fight ninjas at one point) but their beautiful superhero rivalry is epitomized by their rooftop argument during "New York's Finest." With Daredevil chained up on a rooftop, the two Marvel icons engage in a bitter verbal fisticuffs about the morality of killing in the vigilante world. It's a beautifully written episode that never once flinches while examining the morality of a hero, and anti-hero, or a superhero. So many superhero "vs." movies tried to match the intensity and the depth of this one argument during 2016, but none of them ever came close to matching it. Daredevil's second season fully understood the mentalities that drive The Punisher and The Devil of Hell's Kitchen, and it used that knowledge to craft some of the best dialogue we've ever seen in superhero fiction.
Ghost Rider's Debut On Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D
Despite the fact that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D started its existence as little more than a spy vs. spy series chronicling the minutiae of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Season 4 of the ABC series has really delved into some dark territory that fans have wanted to see for quite some time with the introduction of magic and mysticism. No moment epitomized that idea more than the introduction of Robbie Reyes a.k.a Ghost Rider. The moment we saw his flaming skull take out a group of thugs in the middle of the street, we knew the series had pretty much nailed the character. The season would eventually bring us a ton of other great Ghost Rider moments (his origin story was particularly compelling) but nothing will ever compare to the moment the Rider debuted on the small screen for the very first time.
The Arrow-verse Vs. The Dominators
It's no secret that last year's Arrow-verse crossover event left a large number of fans disappointed; Vandal Savage simply wasn't a very intriguing or engaging villain. However, The CW seemingly recognized that fact and doubled down on the insanity this year in order to deliver one of the coolest on-screen battles we have ever seen in the small screen DC universe. The Legends of Tomorrow leg of the Heroes vs. Aliens crossover capped off the 4-night event by showcasing an amazingly complex battle that saw vigilantes, Kryptonians, speedsters, time travellers, and every other type of hero face off against an army of vicious aliens. The Arrow-verse has obviously never skimped on action and excitement, but this particular battle really showed audiences how far the universe has come since Oliver Queen made his gritty debut to the small screen in 2012.
Mad Hatter Makes Induces Jim Gordon's Hallucinations
One could technically make the case that Gotham is not actually a superhero show due to the fact that it does not feature the superhero who calls Gotham City home. That being said, Gotham's third season features one of the most bizarre episodes of comic book television in recent memory (featuring one of the most bizarre Batman villains in the entire DC lore) so we pretty much have to include it. Titled "Red Queen," the episode sees The Mad Hatter send Jim Gordon into an utterly bizarre psychedelic hallucination in which he is forced to face off against his past, present, and future. Gotham has become more and more willing to embrace the peculiar and the weird with each passing season, and "The Red Queen" allowed the series to completely let its freak flag fly in ways that we haven't necessarily seen before.
Superman's Debut On Supergirl
It's been quite a while since The Man of Steel made a legitimate appearance on the small screen, and Tyler Hoechlin had some seriously big red boots to fill when he signed on to portray Superman for Supergirl's second season. Considering all of the hype and anticipation, we were counting on him to fail when he finally made his debut. We were so wrong. Unlike Henry Cavill's silver screen version of Superman, Hoechlin managed to deliver everything that we have come to know and love about him all within his first few seconds on the screen. He is the ideal of humanity's compassion and optimism personified into a single being; he's powerful enough to do anything he wants as Superman, but he remains entirely unassuming as the mild-mannered Clark Kent. Supergirl has wisely kept Hoechlin's Man of Steel at an arm's length since his debut earlier this season, but we would be entirely on-board with him receiving a spin-off series after his amazing first impression.
The Real Jay Garrick Reveal
The Flash has pretty much become the show where anything and everything can happen, and we have the concept of the multi-verse to thank for that. After spending much of the second season under the assumption that Teddy Sears' Hunter Zolomon was actually Jay Garrick, The Flash finally revealed the identity of the imprisoned man in the iron mask. Henry Allen? Nope, that was the real Jay Garrick from Earth-3. Watching John Wesley Ship once again don a speedster outfit and put on Jay Garrick's legendary helmet was nothing short of amazing, and it's something that fans of the DC lore likely never thought they would ever see. The Flash has proven time and time again that campiness is nothing to shy away from, and the reveal of Henry Allen's doppelganger as the real Jay Garrick absolutely solidifies that point.
The Tick & Young Justice Revivals
Sure, 2016 may have been defined by some truly amazing superhero moments -- just look at the rest of this list for evidence of that fact -- but this year also promised some great things for the future of the genre. In particular, this year we saw The Tick as well as Young Justice receive orders for new seasons -- a reboot for The Tick, and a third season for Young Justice. Both of these shows are considered underrated cult classics, and both of them were initially cancelled far too early. With the newfound resurgence of The Tick and Young Justice in the very near future, it's beginning to look more and more like the television superhero genre has finally started to come into its own and find specific niches for these beloved series that were undeniably ahead of their time. That's something that we can all get excited about.
What was your favorite TV superhero moment of 2016? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!
Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.
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