Don’t look now, but superhero sagas on television are becoming a major trend. TV shows will probably never gain the blockbuster popularity of major comic film releases. However, studio executives are finding that television is an excellent way to provide a day-to-day comic-related thrill and keep fans happy in between film releases. The first major example was Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., but there are now plenty of additional shows: The CW’s Green Arrow and The Flash; Fox’s Gotham; the upcoming Daredevil original to be uploaded to Netflix; and most recently, Marvel’s Agent Carter, for which we recently posted a pilot review. Frankly, it’s become a lot to keep track of!
But if there’s one thing comic book and film fans alike have learned over the past 15 years, it’s this: studios will never stop creating new content so long as comics are bringing in boatloads of money. And in all likelihood, that means more TV adaptations are on the way. So why not play the speculation game? Just for fun, here are our picks for superheroes and comic concepts that could be adapted to television….
The Watchmen did get a film in 2009, and it received fairly strong reviews. In that film, titled simply Watchmen, Rorschach was portrayed by Jackie Earle Haley. However, because it never resulted in a sequel or any sort of large-scale continuation, the film has since been somewhat forgotten. That makes Rorschach ripe for rebooting, and frankly he’d fit in beautifully with modern television culture. The TV audience of today flat-out loves antiheroes (Tony Soprano, Walter White, Frank Underwood, Nicholas Brody, and even Don Draper all qualify). And finally, Rorschach also lends himself well to invented storylines and new journeys. More or less a vigilante with no boundaries, he brings his own intrigue. The right actor in the role could surely make a hit out of this concept.
As shown through the introduction of Marvel’s Agent Carter and the announcement of a Wonder Woman character in Zack Snyder’s upcoming Man Of Steel film sequel, there’s high demand for female protagonists in superhero productions—and Elektra is primed for her own show. The 2005 film Elektra starring Jennifer Garner essentially flopped, and since then the character has all but disappeared from mainstream relevance. There is an online arcade game for Elektra hosted at Betfair, and you can try out a demo of the game here. Building on the visual themes of the film, it places the Elektra character alongside a number of other Marvel superheroes who have gaming adaptations online. But beyond such games, Elektra has faded away. And, interestingly enough, Comicbook.com posted a cryptic comment from Daredevil executive producer Steven DeKnight regarding Elektra involvement. Asked why the character isn’t expected to appear in Daredevil, DeKnight responded “because wait and see.” Could this be implying that an Elektra-based spinoff is already in the works?
Ranked by College Humor as the sixth-best comic book villain of all time and portrayed memorably by Liam Neeson in Christopher Nolan’s Batman film trilogy, Ra’s Al-Ghul is probably more popular than ever. But he’s also a rare comic villain who doesn’t depend too much on his chief adversary (Batman). For that reason, he could be a chilling and fascinating central character for a TV drama. Whereas Gotham is using a slew of Batman villains—even having newly introduced the Joker—these are characters who are generally intriguing mainly because they’re battling Batman. Without him, they’re just not as interesting. Ra’s Al-Ghul is different because he’s essentially an international terrorist leading a shadow organization that has had successes and, presumably, failures, over the course of history. In other words, he’s bigger than a Gotham showdown with Batman and could
carry a show more effectively than his contemporaries.
Whether any of these concepts will ever be created is anyone’s guess. Elektra seems to be the likeliest character to secure her own show at this point. However, in weighing popularity, television fit, and standalone intrigue, these are three characters that could do quite well amid the new trend of comics-turned-TV shows.