With Venom swallowing the box office whole, Sony cashing-in on every other Spider-Man rogue, Joaquin Phoenix going solo with the Joker, and news that James Gunn is reassembling the Suicide Squad, bad seems to be the new good. We’ve been living in a comic book movie universe for well over two decades now. For that obsession to maintain, it is only logical that the formula needs to be twisted — perverted. Marvel and DC Comics have been mucking about with their system practically since creation. Naturally, the movie studios would follow their lead as a preemptive strike on our boredom.
Variety reports that CBS wants in on the supervillain game, although their description is careful not to toss the word “villain” around. Instead, in describing the concept of the Secret Six, the phrase “morally ambiguous strangers” is used. Basically, this spandex drama will revolve around jerks with a potential for ethical growth. Hmmmm. Already skeptical.
In the comics, there has been a rather wide variety of Secret Six super-teams. They first appeared in 1969, but you’ve never heard of their founding members: August Durant, Lili de Neuve, Carlo di Rienzi, Mike Tempest, Crimson Dawn, and King Savage. The team was manufactured by the mysterious Mockingbird, who used blackmail as a means of keeping them together.
In the 1980s, a new team appeared: Durant as the new Mockingbird, Mitch Hoberman, Ladonna Jameal, Tony Mantegna, Luke McKendrick, Vic Sommers, and Dr. Maria Verdugo. Yep, you’re still scratching your head. That’s ok; it’s not like you knew who the Guardians of the Galaxy were before they dominated your pop culture obsession.
In 2005, the Secret Six were revitalized once again, but this time, the emphasis was on dark, borderline evil characters. The mantle of Mockingbird was revealed to be worn by Lex Luthor, and he constructed this iteration as his own personal hit squad. This team was nasty: Catman, Deadshot, Cheshire, Rag Doll, Scandal Savage, Parademon, and The Fiddler.
Ok, ok, so, you know Luthor, right? And Will Smith was Deadshot in Suicide Squad. Ah, but due to that fact, you can bet that neither of them will come anywhere close to appearing on a CBS television series.
Over the years, the Secret Six have rotated in lots of other characters including Bane, Harley Quinn, The Penguin, The Mad Hatter, Black Alice, King Shark, Dwarfstar, Lady Vic, and Giganta. You should recognize a few of those, but again, the ones you do probably won’t appear on the TV. Even amongst comic book fans, the Secret Six has consisted of some real z-grade characters. The comic has stirred serious passion amongst its fans, but they are few and seemingly dwindling.
CBS has committed to the pilot. That’s going to happen. Rick Muirragui has been tapped to write and executive produce the show. He’s no slouch. He previously oversaw the USA Network series Suits as well as contributing several scripts for Men of a Certain Age, The Good Guys, Charmed, and Past Life.
On The CW, DC has shown that lesser-known characters can succeed into multiple seasons. Green Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and the upcoming Batwoman. Of course, Secret Six makes those characters look like A-list celebrities. Comic book popularity means nothing when it comes to transitioning into other platforms. Cast Catman well and give him some righteous dialog, and we could be looking at the next Iron Man or Rocket Raccoon.
We’ve seen all the heavy-hitters spread across the big screen. If the Justice League struggled to capture our enthusiasm, maybe the smart move is to scrape the bottom of the barrel. The good guys had their chance.