In the next six years, over 40 DC and Marvel films will hit theaters (including second-party studios Fox and Sony). In recent weeks, Marvel Studios and DC Entertainment have both laid out plans for their shared movie universes – with surprise announcements including Suicide Squad, a Green Lantern reboot, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Infinity War, and more! Comic book adaptations are set to dominate the big screen for years to come – a trend that has also filtered down to the television side as well.
With Supergirl show on CBS, a rumored Krypton prequel from David Goyer, and Netflix’s Defenders team-up series (including standalone seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist), the small screen is experiencing its own superhero boom. For two years, Arrow has proven to be a solid replacement for Smallville (which ran 10 full seasons) but 2013 saw Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. struggle to maintain its viewership – leading many to wonder how three new comic book series, The Flash, Gotham, and Constantine would fair in 2014.
As we’ve previously reported, Constantine debuted to solid, albeit not record-breaking, numbers for a Friday night show (especially when going up against the World Series) and, despite a mixed response from die-hard fans, Fox was satisfied enough with initial ratings of Gotham to order an extra six episodes.
So how are the rest of the superhero shows faring? As mentioned, Arrow is holding steady, mostly coasting on its established audience from the past two seasons. That said, Oliver Queen could certainly see a boost when the highly publicized Flash crossover event occurs later-on in the season – given that DC’s speedster debuted to the CW’s best premier ratings in over 5 years.
Yet, after four episodes, it sounds as though The Flash‘s momentum may be slowing – only slightly. TV Line reports that this week’s episode dipped six percent in overall viewers (down to 3.4 million) and shed thirteen percent off the key age 18-49 demo rating (which is now 1.3). To put that in perspective, the season premiere drew 4.5 million viewers for a total demo rating of 1.8. Nevertheless, Barry Allen fans have little reason to be worried. It’s typical for ratings to fluctuate week-to-week and the decrease could also be attributed to Flash viewers settling in for the long haul – meaning that, even if though they’re enjoying the series, they may not feel the same immediacy to watch live and have started letting episodes build-up on their DVR’s for later binge viewing.
Of course, it’s also possible that longtime CW viewers are starting to lose some of their enthusiasm – especially considering how closely The Flash is following in Smallville‘s footsteps. Most episodes, The Flash is facing a new lightning (as opposed to meteor rock) freak of the week and the titular hero has already been branded with a nondescript “Red Streak” nickname – similar to Clark Kent’s original monicker “The Blur”. Even if The Flash is a better show than Smallville (as some have argued) is it a bit too familiar to keep CW viewers engaged? The comparison drew semi-heated debate on the latest Screen Rant Underground podcast but we’ll have plenty of time to see how ratings track in the coming months – since the network recently gave the series a full season order.
On the other side of the fence, after hitting an all-time series low (4.36 million viewers) with the episode “A Hen in the Wolf House”, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. bounced back slightly this week – upping their numbers to 4.5 million viewers and a 1.7 demo rating. Marvel fans eager to troll DC fans will likely point out that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. numbers are normally higher than The Flash but it’s worth noting these ratings are still a major drop from the original series premiere (12.12 million viewers) as well as the season 2 premiere (5.98 million viewers).
Without question, the improvement could have been the result of viewers who were keeping an eye out for the exclusive Avengers 2 footage Marvel had teased – which turned out to be an extended Age of Ultron trailer (featuring a party scene from the studio’s San Diego Comic-Con panel). ABC also used the extra attention as an opportunity to debut a new Agent Carter TV spot – to help raise awareness for the mid-season miniseries.
As we previously discussed in our editorial “Is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Getting Better as Ratings Fall?” it’s unfortunate that more of the show’s original viewership haven’t returned to give Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. another shot. Season 2 has seen a number of major improvements – proving that Marvel was listening to fan and critic feedback when plotting a course for the sophomore chapter.
The show still struggles in certain areas, and some story beats are better realized than others, but the overall quality (and fun) has improved. A more serious tone, tangible connections to the larger film storyline, and new additions to the cast (especially potential Avenger Mockingbird played by Adrianne Palicki) have definitely raised the series bar and helped Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. become a worthwhile part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It won’t be for everyone but certain viewers who might have initially been turned-off by the series could find that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is hitting its stride.
The Flash airs Tuesdays @8pm on The CW.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays @9pm on ABC.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for any future updates on Agents of SHIELD and The Flash, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.
Source: TV Line