OK, SO OTHER THAN NOLAN’S BATMOVIES, DC MOVIES HAVE PRETTY MUCH SUCKED FOR DECADES. T.V., ON THE OTHER HAND…An Update of Comic Book TV Adaptations

supergirl from the moviesDC has made some more announcements about pending TV shows, and that sounds potentially…Complicated. DC’s comic book movies have generally been less-than stellar. Man of Steel. Green Lantern. Superman Returns. Catwoman. Jonah Hex. Batman and Robin. You have to go all the way back to 1992 to get a decent mainstream DC superhero film (“Batman Returns”). (I’m not counting 2009’s Watchmen because it didn’t feature DCU heroes.) Even Vertigo movies haven’t fared too well. I loved RED and The Losers, but both of those came out in 2010. Other than that, you’ve got RED 2 and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Go back to 2006 and you can shoehorn V for Vendetta on to the list of good ones, but then you have to take the Keanu Reeves Constantine. Ugh.

But turn to TV and the story changes. Historically, DC started making solid TV shows with Lois and Clark (1993-1997), followed by Smallville and the underrated Birds of Prey. Today’s crop is good as well. Constantine ain’t bad. Flash is damn good. Gotham borders on being good enough to be a“real” cop drama—instead of a super-hero story. And everyone (except me) loves The Arrow. So it’s no wonder DC is diving in heavy to the world of TV. Here’s a round-up of a few planned projects that seem more than likely to reach fruition:

  • Supergirl. Early indications were this would stand alone, but now they’re talking about crossing this CBS show over with Flash and Arrow.
  • Static Shock. Details are sketchy, and this one really might not be a go—it might only be a series of shorts.
  • Young Justice. Another one where there’s not a lot of info, but it may be coming to the CW.
  • Krypton. David S. Goyer, who worked on the afore-mentioned Nolan Batman flicks, is developing a SyFy series about, get this, Superman’s granddaddy.
  • Titans. Geoff Johns has stated a pilot for a show featuring Nightwing, Raven and Starfire will shoot in 2015 for, of all places, TNT. Has anything worth watching ever appeared on TNT?
  • Hourman and Dr. Fate.  There’ve been rumors about more of DC’s “dark” or “magic” characters getting series—and Dr. Fate’s helmet appeared in Constantine, but with that show being on the bubble for cancellation the 8-ball says signs point to “no” for future development.

They’re also moving forward with many Vertigo properties:

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  • iZombie. This is a lock for a midseason series.
  • Preacher. AMC has ordered a pilot from Seth Rogen’s production company.
  • DMZ. Also for SyFy.
  • Lucifer. A “Sandman” spin-off, for FOX.
  • Ronin.  Not technically a Vertigo book, this was the book that proved there could even be a Vertigo-type publication.  Frank Miller’s Samurai cyberpunk story has been in development for decades, but as of April it looked like Syfy was moving forward with it. 
  • Global Frequency. Based on the brilliant Warren Ellis Wildstorm comic about a tactical team fighting threats around the world—for FOX. This has already been in development before, so it may never happen.
  • Scalped. For WGN America. Of all these, this to me is the most easily adaptable to serialized TV.

Looking at the roster above, and the array of networks involved, I can’t help but think of scattershot. Marvel has been very protective of its properties—having learned the hard way that other studios can make crap films from their source material. It may be time for DC to learn the same lesson.

Speaking of Marvel, it’s Agents of SHIELD has been trying its best to impress in 2014, but for me it still is falling short.  It’s just too…I dunno.  Serious?  Heavy?  DC’s Cinematic Universe is known for being bleak and dark—Marvel usually has more charm and wit.  But the table seems to be turned for Marvel TV.  What’s in the hopper for 2015 and beyond?

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  • Netflix.  We all know about the planned connected Netflix Unverse of Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Daredevil, which will come together in a Defenders series.  Marvel recenlty announced that Jessica Jones, the hero of Brian Michael Bendis’ groundbreaking “Alias” series and the wife of Luke Cage, will be played by Krysten “Jessie’s girlfriend in Breaking Bad” Ritter.  Great choice.
  • Peggy Carter: Agent of SHIELD.  As the tepid Agents of SHIELD goes on hiatus, a “miniseries” period piece about that chick who helped Steve Rogers out in Captain America: First Avenger will air—and it promises to give a lot of backstory about the SHIELD agency.  I find myself really not caring.  I’ll watch it, I just don’t think I’ll care much.

Of course, the best live comic book show of all time isn’t Marvel or DC.  It’s Image, and it’s on AMC.  The Walking Dead is getting a spin-off in 2014, so we’ll get less downtime between feedings.  The second show will not tie in with the flagship—it will be about completely different characters.

As for the rest of indie TV, there’s tons of rumors and “probably won’t ever happen” stuff, but you can probably expect to actually see these:

  • The Strain.  A second season of gross-out silliness that for some reason I keep watching even though it’s pretty bad.
  • Powers.  Technically this is at least partially a Marvel show (it’s published by Icon, which is Marvel’s equivalent of DC’s Vertigo), but the book has also been published by Image Comics and Marvel Studios has nothing to do with it.  The good news is, Brian Michael Bendis’ comic about cops investigating superhero homicides is tailor made for episodic TV.  The bad news?  It’s going to be on Playstation Network, so no one will see it.
  • Archie.  A “Riverdale” series is being developed for FOX.  Too bad it’s not based on After Life With Archie, the terrific and dark zombie comic.  (Why not tie this in with Walking Dead—two comic shows for the price of one!)
  • Outcast.  Robert “Walking Dead” Kirkman’s book about an exorcist is one of my picks for the best comics of 2014, and Cinemax has already ordered a pilot episode.
  • Clone.  This Image Comics book is a wild ride—a nonstop action book where everyone looks alike.  Think about Matrix 2, where Neo is fighting all the clone agents, and you kind of get the idea.  It’s being developed, but this one is probably a long reach.

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