Having completely conquered the multiplexes, superheroes are now storming the small screen — we already have Arrow and Agents of SHIELD, and they’ll soon be joined by the likes of Gotham, The Flash and Daredevil.
So, now that superhero TV is a real thing, maybe it’s time to start considering whether some top superheroes might work better as TV stars. I’m not just talking obscure heroes, I’m talking the big ones that already have, in some cases, multiple movies under their utility belts. A hit TV show can be almost as profitable as a hit movie, so why not? So, here are five superheroes franchises that have had (or are going to have) movies, but might just be more at home on the ol’ boob tube…
This isn’t the silliest thing that happens in ASM2. Not even close.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn’t great for a lot of the same reasons Spider-Man 3 wasn’t great, and I’m sure future Spider-Man movies will fall into the same trap. People like Spider-Man for two primary reasons — a) the soapy details of Peter Parker’s regular life and relationships and b) Spider-Man’s rogues gallery, which is either comicdom’s best or second best (after Batman’s) depending on if your a Marvel or DC guy.
So, the makers of every new Spider-Man movie are compelled to include a bunch of character and relationship drama and pack in as many iconic villains as possible. The end result is movies that feel overstuffed and schizophrenic, bouncing back and forth between doe-eyed romantic scenes and elaborate supervillain set-ups, and in the end both the relationships and the villains feel underdeveloped.
The reason Spider-Man was considered groundbreaking in the first place was because of the serialized nature of his stories. Spidey didn’t just have a series of wacky one-off adventures like Batman or Superman — Spider-Man, his supporting characters, villains and world were allowed to develop and change over time. TV would allow Spider-Man to embrace what made him great. Imagine if Gwen Stacy’s death (uh, spoilers?) had happened after a couple seasons worth of character development instead of a couple frantic blockbuster movies? People would have lost their s–t. Also, they could bring back the theme song…
60 mutants to keep track of, one of which is blue naked Jennifer Lawrence? I don’t know if my old brain can handle this.
Take everything I just said about Spider-Man and multiply it. X-Men comics are even more focused on drama and relationships, and require the introduction of even more characters (although in the case of the X-Men, it’s team members, not villains). To date all the X-Men movies have been, at best, barely coherent. The plot of most of the movies can be boiled down to “here’s a new character, here’s a new character, here’s 10 more characters, oh wait, somebody died, final confusing action scene, the end.” And now they’re adding time travel and multiple versions of some of the characters to the mix? I know a lot of folks are looking forward to X-Men: Days of Future Past, but I’m kind of dreading it.
If there was ever a comic book franchise crying out to be an ensemble TV drama, X-Men is it. And hey, given how often the X-Men line-up changes, they could constantly refresh the cast ala ER and keep the show on the air for 15-years.
Hey, Captain America! Where’s your shield?
The Fantastic Four is essentially a superhero sitcom. It’s a story of four wacky mismatched family members who live, love and learn together except, you know, one of them can turn into fire and another is made of orange rocks. None of the Fantastic Four flicks have felt properly cinematic partly because they were just plain crummy movies, but also because the real heart of Fantastic Four is just Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben hanging around the Baxter building sniping at one another.
Superhero comedy doesn’t have to be Batman & Robin or Peter Parker’s emo dance scene from Spider-Man 3. A smart, edgy yet affectionate, Adult Swim-like take could be exactly what the Fantastic Four needs. Just don’t replace the Human Torch with HERBIE this time around and we’re cool.
I wouldn’t mind more of this on my TV.
Yeah, I know, Wonder Woman hasn’t got her movie yet, but she is going to be in Batman/Superman and the Justice League movie, and Warner Bros. claims they want to do a Wonder Woman movie if they can find the right script. Ol’ Wondie definitely has Hollywood stars in her eyes.
Now, a lot of people have chalked Warner Bros’ slow movement on a Wonder Woman solo movie up to horrible sexism, but I think there might be a less contentious issue with bringing WW to the big screen — she just hasn’t had many iconic stories. None really.
That said, Wonder Woman has had some good runs. Brian Azzarello’s has had a good run. Greg Rucka and George Perez had good runs. Unfortunately, none of these runs can be easily condensed down into a single, tight, movie-friendly story. They would make good TV arcs though! Most of Wonder Woman’s best runs have revolved around her adapting to the modern world after being raised on a magical island, and serving as an ambassador for her people, which is interesting, but not necessarily the stuff of a punchy summer blockbuster. It would be good fodder for a mildly political, strong lady getting things done Scandal-esque series though.
Or hey, if you don’t want to deal with all that, just re-film every episode of Xena: Warrior Princess with the main character in American flag undies instead of a leather skirt and you’d have a pretty passable Wonder Woman show.
Remember this movie? No, me either.
The Walking Dead has proven comics for adults can be hugely successful with TV audiences, so it’s high time the most famous Suggested For Mature Readers comic book character gets his own cable show. You wouldn’t even need to hire scriptwriters — Garth Ennis’ Punisher run already reads like an unproduced HBO or AMC show. Let’s get the punishing started already.
Those are my picks. Which superheroes do you think should swallow their pride and transition from the big screen to the small screen?