For a while now comic book heroes have been dominating the big screen and bursting into pop culture stronger than ever — and DC and Marvel, the publishing houses responsible, don’t want to stop anytime soon.
Marvel’s only natural response was to line up a solid slate of comic book influenced films all the way into the distant future of 2028. While Marvel has a track record of high quality films, DC has not had that same prosperity. Besides the obvious popularity of The Dark Knight trilogy and Man of Steel, most other films from the comic franchise have flopped their way out of theatres in a matter of weeks.
Of course, comics are known for their insanely long and complicated story arcs so it only seems natural that these publishing houses want to take their heroes to a medium where they don’t have to condense every story into two hours.
This has resulted in the imminent cavalcade of comic book television shows coming in the last few years. It took a while for other networks to catch on since Smallville really got the train rolling back in 2001 on the CW (when it was still the WB), with mostly positive reviews and a large fanbase. Now we have Arrow returning for its third season and The Flash just beginning. What the network seems to be hinting at is the shows’ eventual intertwining with one another and building into their own sort of Justice League.
That’s not all there is for comic shows. DC also has the hugely anticipated Gotham, which will be airing on NBC and follows Constable Jim Gordon in his younger days fighting in the crime ridden streets of the city. It’s a time before Batman was around to fight crime, so don’t expect any kind of Ben Affleck cameos coming your way.
Netflix is getting in on the DC action as well by giving demon hunter Constantine his own show, sadly not starring Keanu Reeves this time around. This show will most likely function as a slightly grittier version of Supernatural from the looks of it.
Launching the overhyped Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel also stepped into the television ring last year. The show functions as a serial crime drama with a spotlight on the more B-grade Marvel characters. Speaking of B-grade, blind lawyer and super hero Daredevil will be getting his own show on Netflix as well. It’s said it will be joined by characters like Luke Cage and Jessica Jones in the near future who make up the group known as The Defenders.
There’s also plans to release more off-brand comic shows much like The Walking Dead. AMC is airing a show based on the cult favorite and extremely bloody Preacher which follows a former rebel turned preacher who becomes possessed by Genesis, the spawn of an angel and a demon — it’s better than it sounds. Oddly enough, the show is being spearheaded by the duo responsible for Superbad and This Is The End: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.
Other comics such as Powers and Scalped are making their way to the tube as well. This all means that the TV screen is about to become as congested with comic book material as the silver screen.
It’s true that TV shows better suit the complicated and long run storylines of comic books. The huge financial success of the movies and the obvious plan to keep that going with the recent success of even the more bizarre franchises like Guardians of the Galaxy means that these movies will likely continue well into the future.
This leaves the TV shows to either the lesser known characters, or ones with movies that wouldn’t screen well or flopped completely like Daredevil and Constantine. There’s also the off-shoots like Gotham that will generate a large fanbase due to the relation to Batman.
It’s sad to see that the closest we get to the more recognizable heroes on TV are Clark Kent before he was Superman and the Flash. Characters like Batman, Superman, Iron Man and Deadpool would benefit hugely from the extended storylines, but it’s something we will likely not see for a long time until the movie money has gone dry.
Graphic: Pascal Dimnik