With Smallville ending in a few weeks, Human Target (unfortunately) hanging on by a the skin of its teeth in ratings, The Incredible Hulk in pre-production and the Wonder Woman pilot now shot and awaiting word on series pickup possibilities, this is a great time to discuss what other comic book franchises would be well served by a live action TV adaptation.
So without any ado at all, I offer five comic book franchises that would make great TV and the networks that would make the best match.
Network That Should Take It On: FOX
When I saw the movie last year, I was entertained by it, and when it failed at the box office, I was both stunned and sad. I would be willing to say that The Losers could easily become this generations A-Team. Which is what the original comics were inspired by. Why couldn’t we have a weekly series where Clay and his crew go on missions to help some poor, down on their luck civilians while working to regain their role in the military? The concept is already proven (Burn Notice), so I don’t see why someone couldn’t take a grittier shot at it.
The Losers would fit perfectly in with the rest of the programs 20th Century Fox produces in the genre already. Witty characters with a hidden charm to each of them. In fact, when compared to FOX’s other currently airing comic book show, Human Target, it’s like the two properties were built for the sake of a pretty awesome cross-over episode. Heck, I don’t see why one couldn’t just premiere The Losers through a back door pilot on Human Target anyway (and both properties are published by the Vertigo Comics division of DC).
Network That Should Take It On: Showtime
While I was a big fan of the 2004 film adaptation starring Thomas Jane, I always felt like the story of Frank Castle was better suited for a weekly series format. Picture this, every week Castle gets wind of a new criminal that has slipped through the cracks, and goes after him. It wouldn’t take that much to produce, and like The Losers, we already know that the concept is proven to work. Of course to do this series right, a network known for dark series would have to take it on.
Thus why Showtime would be the perfect television home for Frank Castle. The network is known for their series that feature characters that are slowly descending into their own madness through violence against others (especially Dexter).
Imagine an episode where Frank confronts a dirty cop with mob connections, or a child rapist who’s been in and out of prison since his teen years. When the moment comes that Frank strikes, I can only imagine the fear that would be struck into the audience watching it. Fear of what Frank is really capable of. I get the same feeling every time Dexter goes out on a hunt.
Network That Should Take It On: The CW
Perhaps my favorite character in the Spider-Man mythos (aside from Spider-Man himself), the story of Felicia Hardy/Black Cat would absolutely work as a television series. The beauty of Black Cat is that her allegiance is always flip flopping. Is she a good guy? A bad guy? Or like Deadpool, is it just whoever has the deepest pockets at the time? And in the age where The CW is constantly looking to make shows with strong female leads (like Nikita), this would completely fit into their current line-up. The character has been portrayed well in animated form during the days of the 90s Spider-Man animated series, and there is no doubt in my mind she would make a great live action adaptation.
Felicia Hardy is one of those side characters that has pretty much gone unnoticed to anyone not fully invested in the comic book world. And especially considering she’s one of the characters that never made it past the script stage during Raimi’s films, there’s no reason not to try it out. No one has any expectations of how the character can be portrayed in a live action setting, and thus would allow for some great experimentation on the part of The CW, which is how they’ve been operating for the last few years now.
Network That Should Take It On: FX
I didn’t hate the 2003 Mark Steven Johnson film. In fact, I happened to really enjoy the director’s cut. But I understand the complaints, and like some of the other entries on this list, the problem with a Daredevil film is that there’s too much plot to handle in a single outing. However in a weekly television format, Daredevil would have time to flesh out story lines like the introduction of Elektra and the slow take-over of the city’s crime world by Kingpin. Daredevil, with the right people (I’m looking at you McG) who know good television would make a fantastic series.
And there’s no better to take on the character than FX. I know, the network has never taken on a comic book adaptation before (though they did recently pick up the property ‘Powers’ to pilot), but Daredevil is one of those characters that is too lite for premium cable, but also too dark for regular broadcast.
FX has always been able to find that balance that’s needed for characters like Tommy Gavin, Jax Teller, Patrick ‘Lights’ Leary, Raylan Givens, Vic Mackey, Hank Dolworth, and a host of others. With a track record like that, there is no doubt in my mind that they could do the same for Matt Murdock and deliver the definitive adaptation of the blind lawyer out for ultimate justice.
The Wonder Twins
Network That Should Take It On: The CW
Are they a bit cheesy? Absolutely. But as their appearance in the Smallville episode “Idol” showed, the concept of The Wonder Twins can be done in a way that works for a small screen series. In fact, I don’t see why the twins that we saw in Smallville couldn’t be spun-off into their own series (cast changes aside). It’s the perfect concept for another CW/DC collaboration. A couple of teenagers with super powers? I’m not seeing the downside. Now I know some will point to the failed attempt at an Aquaman spin-off series as a way to deflate the Wonder Twins argument. But honestly, the Aquaman idea was never that great to begin with because well, it’s Aquaman.
The one thing that should be taken note of on this list, is that except for The Wonder Twins, none of these characters have actual super powers (except for Daredevil’s radioactive blindness and hearing). They are just ordinary people with very advanced skill sets in things like martial arts and acrobatics. The reason being is because it’s extremely hard for television to get away with special effects that can be taken seriously. But in replace of them, we end up with more time for characters to shine through great plot and witty dialogue.
If I were to take a guess, I wouldn’t be surprised to see television start imitating the film industry in the upcoming decade with a flood of comic book based series. Just not the one’s you would expect.
What comic book heroes do you want to see on the small screen?