Why DC Comics Is Taking Over The Airwaves

Senior Contributor
02.13.14 16 Comments


This time next year, there are going to be a lot of TV shows based around DC Comics on the airwaves. Gotham is casting left and right and will be one of Fox’s flagship shows. Arrow already has a third season coming. The Flash seems likely to go to series. Meanwhile, DMZ and Preacher are coming to basic cable.

And that’s not even getting into other shows DC has coming, such as iZombie and the Constantine pilot for NBC. So how is DC taking over the airwaves?

DC Has A Long Television History

It’s worth noting that DC Comics has a long history on television, dating all the way back to the success of George Reeves on the small screen in the ’50s. In truth, DC has, in one form or another, had a live action TV show on the air for quite a while, and they’ve been surprising successes. Find somebody who when Smallville premiered thought it’d be a drama that ran for a decade. Even unlikely titles like The Human Target have not only had a pilot made, but actually gone to series.

That said, though, aside from the Batman fad of the 1960s, DC’s successes were more cult or low-key, largely thanks to the source material. Then The Walking Dead debuted.

Those Darn Zombies

It’s pretty hard to overstate how popular The Walking Dead is, or what it’s done for comic books and comic book adaptations. The Walking Dead is a mainstream cultural phenomenon; the only thing more popular than a new episode of the show is football. Its premiere handily beat both the Beatles and the Olympics. And that undeniably draws attention in Hollywood, with DC in a perfect position to exploit it.

DC’s Unique Position

One could also argue DC has spent years putting itself in the perfect position to flood the airwaves. Just like Marvel’s characters and story arcs arguably lend themselves to big-budget blockbusters, DC spent most of the last twenty years, through Vertigo and some of its books, publishing a surprisingly diverse collection of comics. Look over Vertigo over the last ten years and you have series as diverse as Transmetropolitan and Scalped, Sweet Tooth and The Unwritten. Superheroes can be expensive to put on TV, but a producer looking for a crime series can find something he wants at DC.

It also doesn’t hurt that DC is owned by a major Hollywood studio. Needless to say, Warner Bros. Television has been eager to adapt books it owns the copyright to.

More Series In The Future?

It’s not clear that everything in the works will go to series, of course; television is an uncertain industry in the best of times. But it’s fairly clear DC sees an opportunity here… and it’ll be interesting to see how it pays off.

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