Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Superheroes in Television

I think part of the problem with the transition of superheroes to the small screen is the creators spend too much time focusing on the super powers and not enough time on the characters.  Any good series is driven by strong characters and their relationships with each other, not on the spandex.

I still think this suit looks
better than Aqua-Superman
in the upcoming film.
I really think that the show that really got this right was Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.  As a kid I watched it because it had Superman in it.  Now when I watch it on DVD, I'm watching for the relationship between the two title characters.  It is important to note the title; Superman gets third-billing, how often does that happen?  Pretty much never.

My wife, who has no interest in superheroes whatsoever (after watching Spider-Man 3 with me she didn't know who I was talking about when I referenced Venom, though in her defense I rewatched the movie and they never do call him that on-screen), loves Lois & Clark.  While we were dating long distance she and her best friend would borrow the seasons from me and they would devour them inside a week.  They wanted to see the love story, they didn't really care about Superman.

I keep hearing about new television series being developed by Marvel and DC; I've read about the Hulk, Mockingbird, and Cloak & Dagger from Marvel and Wonder Woman from DC.  I don't think any of those properties (especially from the synopsis' I've read) really fit the small screen very well.  Here, in no particular order, are the properties I think would translate well to television and how I would do them. The titles are just for fun though!

In my mind Daredevil is a slam dunk of a television show.  Rather than focus the majority of the show on Daredevil, shine the spotlight on Matt Murdock and his legal practice.  There are a ton of legal dramas on television, just add a swashbuckling vigilante into the mix.  I think Matt's blindness would also be able to give the show a different spin than your average show.  The best part about this series is you can easily work in guest stars from the Marvel Universe.  The Punisher could be a recurring character who Matt has worked with as Daredevil in the streets and defended (or prosecuted!) by attorney Matt Murdock in the courtroom. Work in Luke Cage as a bounty hunter or as Matt's personal security.  Jennifer Walters as a rival attorney.  So many characters could be worked in, but again, keep the focus on the characters, not on their superhero exploits.

As much as I hate to admit it, putting the X-Men back into a high school setting (cliche, I know) would work extremely well.  X-Men Evolution did a great job with this concept; I resisted the idea at first, but after watching the show they developed a unique look at the X-Men's history and relationships that was very well done.  I would probably put the X-Men into a regular high school, so you can explore the prejudice and persecution angles, but also of acceptance.  I'm not even sure what line-up I'd use since almost any one I can come up with would make for a good show.

Justice League of America
I don't actually know what I'd call the series (Super Buddies, Formerly Known as the Justice League?), since using the Justice League name leads people to believe Superman, Batman and company are the stars.  No, I would base this show around the Giffen/DeMatteis/Macquire premise, as a comedy.  Guy Gardner, Sue Dibny, Elongated Man, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire, Ice and Maxwell Lord.  The characters aren't over-powered (the problem with including J'onn J'onnz), but the potential is there for a lot of laughs.  I would do the series in the same vein as the Tick live action series, which was hilarious.

Counter-terrorism shows are popular these days, so unleash Nick Fury, Dum Dum Dugan, Maria Hill and the other members of SHIELD.  Some weeks you can work in organizations like Hydra or AIM, others you can just use original creations.  No superpowers required.  My only requirement is we don't get a Samuel L. Jackson Fury...I like my Fury with greying temples and chomping on a cigar, thank you very much.

Power Pack
Why Disney hasn't put this into production for ABC Family, I do not know.  As much as I'd love to see Pixar's take on the Pack, it would be too similar to the Incredibles.  Therefore, give the Powers kids a live action series instead, the younger viewers will have a ball!

Damage Control
Rather than focus on super-powered beings fighting, how about focusing on cleaning up the mess afterwards?  For some reason I imagine this series being done in a similar tone to that of the Office, which is funny considering I rarely watch that show.  I think it would work.

I could keep going, but I'll stop there for now.  What shows would you like to see?


  1. Uh... Jay: your idea for the Justice league was all ready (sort of) tried back in 1997. The failed (in more ways then then one) CBS TV pilot featured The Flash, Green Lantern (Guy Gardner), Fire, Ice, The Atom & Martian Manhunter. You can watch it on Youtube if you want (you may not want to).

    But I do think a The Office/Parks & Recreation/Mockumentry style Damage Control could be kind of awesome if done correctly.

  2. I've seen the Justice League pilot you are referring to, but the trick is that show was trying to take itself seriously, and anyone who has seen it can't take it seriously!

    I propose something more along the lines of the live action Tick show; it didn't take itself too seriously and was great fun!