6 Comic Books that Should Become TV Shows

The announcement yesterday that the Syfy Network has ordered a pilot script for obscure DC superhero Booster Gold got me thinking: what other comic book superheroes or stories would make for great live-action TV? We already know that superhero movies are a huge hit in Hollywood, and there are decades worth of superhero cartoons from Marvel Comics, DC and also some indie publishers. Even live-action shows based on comic books have been successful. The Walking Dead is currently kicking ass on AMC. And Smallville, the story of Superman as a teenager, ran for a whopping 10 seasons on the CW!

And heck, Booster Gold even appeared in live action during an episode of Smallville. That show gave us our first on-screen, live-action Justice League years before The Avengers movie will hit theaters.

And they did it with explosions and crappy green screen effects!

New shows and programs flood our boob tubes every year, like flinging a bunch of crap against a wall and hoping something sticks. Sometimes they’re a surprise success, sometimes they are canceled after one or two episodes and sometimes, like the Wonder Woman pilot, they never get broadcast at all. TV is a funny world.

Well here are 6 Comic Books that I think Should Become TV Shows! And I mean only live-action, no cartoons.

6. District X:

“It will appeal to the ‘urban’ market,” – souless executive

Spinning out of the X-Men, District X was a short-lived series that only ran for about 14 issues between 2004 and 2005. It starred Bishop as a police officer working in Mutant Town, otherwise known as District X. Mutant Town was a mutant slum in New York City, like Chinatown or Harlem. Not all mutants get cool superpowers like super-healing or controlling the weather, some of them really are freaks with feathers instead of hair or mucus-related powers. Squeeze all of that racial tension into a few crowded blocks of New York City, and you have a police procedural show with super powers and a badass lead officer as the star.

The show could feature mutant hobos, mutant gangsters, or someone like Lara the Illusionist, a call girl with the power to induce fantastical hallucinations. Or maybe the mysterious Mr. M, with the incredible power to warp reality, but who chooses to live on the streets. The special effects budget wouldn’t be too outrageous, because most of the super powers would be ugly pedestrian stuff. Throw in a few cameos or mentions of the X-Men and the fans will come running.

Or maybe a cameo by Multiple Man and X-Factor? Just saying…

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5. She-Hulk:

America loves big, green women

Jennifer Walters’ angry cousin had a very popular TV show back in the 70s, and Marvel is currently working on a new Incredible Hulk show. But I say switch genders and make a She-Hulk show! Because unlike the unlucky Bruce Banner, Jennifer Walters gets to keep her brains and intellect when she transforms into a super-strong, super-green monster. She also gets to keep her super-model-esque looks! But the real reason they should make a She-Hulk show is because she’s a lawyer, and not just any lawyer, but She-Hulk is a lawyer who specializes in weird supernatural and superhero laws!

Can a ghost testify in court? What happens when a superhero gets sued for property damage? Is the jury biased because that superhero once saved the entire world? Do super-villains ever get a fair trial? Should Spider-Man patent his web-shooters? These are all potentially fun questions that could be answered on a show like She-Hulk. She could be the next Ally McBeal!

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4. Ant-Man

People like creepy crawly things, right?

Truth be told, Booster Gold is a great choice for a straight-up superhero-based TV show. You can’t just make a straight superhero show. It’s boring. Just look at NBC’s The Cape and its paltry one season. If you’re going to do a superhero show, you need a twist. Booster Gold isn’t a boy scout superhero, he’s kinda sleazy, in that he’s in it for the lucrative endorsement deals more than the world-saving. That’s why I’d pick Ant-Man if you’re going to make a straight-up hero show, the second Ant-Man, Scott Lang, in particular. Lang was a two-bit thief who stole the Ant-Man suit from the original, but then got caught and was convinced to use the suit to do good.

So the hook would be that your protagonist, who is, admittedly, a hunky white guy, is something of a lout and former criminal trying to do good. He’s also got a teenage daughter from a failed marriage to add some interesting side character action. Eventually you’d want to let the daughter in on the secret. Plus he could always be hanging out with the original Ant-Man, who has since retired and lets Lang use the suit for some type of deal they’ve worked out. Plus making someone appear to be only an inch or so tall is far from difficult to do with a little TV magic.

Plus add some third Ant-Man, Eric O’Grady, into the mix by having Ant-Man use his powers to spy on women in the shower and other unethical behavior. Just to spice things up.

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3. Y: The Last Man:

Monkeys make everything better

Stepping away from mainstream superheroes for a moment, Y: The Last Man is an indie comic about the last man on Earth, in a world where all the women are still alive! A mysterious illness suddenly kills every person and every animal in the world with a Y chromosome – everyone except Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand. Why do they survive? Could they somehow have a cure that would make it possible for women to have male babies in the future? And what becomes of the world when women take over? Is there chaos? Anarchy? Is everything peaceful? What does this mean for the end of the world when humanity can no longer reproduce?

Y: The Last Man is a fascinating story as Yorick and his companions set out on a cross country, and eventually worldwide, journey to find the few scientists in the world who may know what’s going on, and who may be able to reverse it. It’s one long tale with a beginning and an end, with lots of creative story arcs and adventures. Sometimes it can be funny, and other times it can be heart-breaking. Hollywood was considering making a series of Y: The Last Man movies starring Shia LaBeouf, but I say keep that story on the small screen where it can get the time and effort it needs to tell the full tale.

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2. Robin:

The costume will have to go

Hear me out for a minute, because I’m sure not everyone shares my love of Robin. For this series, I’m picturing something like Smallville, a teen-focused television show about growing up, going to school and dealing with the complexities of adolescence – while at the same time juggling a career as a superhero. Obviously Batman would be a cool choice for TV, but Batman is already succeeding on the big screen to the tune of $1 billion. Not to mention cartoon after cartoon after cartoon. Why take Batman away from that? I think the real story is in Robin, the Boy Wonder.

But instead of high-flying adventure, tell the story of how teenager Dick Grayson goes from being an orphan to being Batman’s sidekick. Focus on his training, on his first adventures and the mistakes he makes. Save the costume for later in the season, and start with him on a rooftop training with Batman. Put the emphasis on Grayson’s growth behind the mask, and how Batman’s tutelage and parenting change Dick from an angry kid who just lost his parents to a well-rounded and skilled crime-fighter. Then once you’ve established him as a badass, bring in other characters like the Teen Titans and Batgirl.

If you learn nothing else from reading this blog, learn this: Robin is a much deeper and fascinating character than the pixie boots would make you think. Also, no pixie boots.

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1. Gotham Central:

Why this show doesn’t already exist is a crime against humanity

Two Batman-related shows at the top of my list? C’mon, why not just go with a Batman TV show already? Again, hear me out, angry blog readers. My Robin idea is more of a personal project, but Gotham Central is custom made to be the greatest police procedural show ever committed to television. Just think of all the cop shows on TV, from Law and Order to Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. You’ve got half a dozen CSIs, Criminal Minds, Numbers, NYPD Blue, The Shield, The Mentalist, NCIS, and a million others! New police procedural shows come out every single year.

But how many of them feature the Joker? Or Mr. Freeze? How many of them have Batman waiting in the shadows? None!

Gotham Central was a short but brilliant comic that clocked in just under 30 issues from 2003 through 2006. It starred the Major Crimes Unit in Gotham City, the most crime-ridden burg in all of fiction. Everyone knows that Commissioner Gordon flashes the Bat-signal to have Batman come in to solve the really tough crimes. But what about the day-to-day crimes that happen in a city full of costumed lunatics? What about the people whose job it is to investigate and solve these crimes? Maybe they don’t like having to rely on a masked vigilante to do their jobs. Maybe tempers flare and romance blossoms.

Gotham Central is about real cops with real problems living in Batman’s world. It’s gold.

Honorable mention: Fables, but only because it was cheap the way the networks showed interest in Fables, then just stole the idea to make Once Upon A Time and Grimm.

About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on November 23, 2011, in Batman, DC, Lists of Six!, Marvel, Robin, Television. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. actually if they made gotham central into a show, though i would love to see Mr. Freeze and harley being investigated, i would actually be more interested in seeing his henchmen. What kind of guys would choose to work for psychos who could shoot them just because they think it funny. And how do you get into that line of work……does the Penguin post on monster?
    Also i have to add: Preacher, Planetary, and The Twelve. Hear me out though.

    Preacher-HBO was supposed to have actually greenlit this series, James Marsters was even picked to play the main character, but they chickened out at the last minute…..yes people there is a story so violent, gory, sex filled and offensive that HBO won’t make it. :smiles: But the comic was awesome if a little over the top and i would love to see it on the T.V. every week.

    Planetary-a miniseries of comics that was basically a love letter to all geeks everywhere which is why i can see this being very popular. The concept of a group of semi-supers (if you have read the comic you will know what i mean), hunting down all the ‘lost’ histories of the world seems pretty straight forward and the fact that those stories are all the sources for virtually every geek concept ever makes it lovable. Getting rip off story lines about the Hulk, Superman, doctor who, sherlock holmes, buffy the vampire slayer, etc. would be great. And if they included a behind the scenes mystery involving the destruction of the whole world, as did the comic, it would be beautiful.

    The Twelve-I admit this one is primarily for me. I loved this comic! The retro 1940s superhereos being thrust into the modern era, each dealing with the loss of everything they loved and took for granted in different ways. The interpersonal relationships, the mind set of pre-war american citizes dealing with 21st century values, the ideas of how much honor will hold you together when nothing else will…..it was incredible to me. Honestly the only 2 complaints i had with this comic were 1. it was too short and 2. the phantom reporter didn’t write enough. He was given an editorial section in The Daily Bugle and asked to write about how things have changed for the better and worse over the last 60 or so years and i wish they had showed that off a bit more.

    Well there are my thoughts. With the recent success of Arrow season 1 and the upcoming S.H.E.I.L.D. live action series i thought it was worth commenting on this older post.

    • I too hope Arrow and SHIELD are just the first of many good superhero TV shows. You might be on to something there with Preacher and Planetary. Unfortunately, I haven’t read any of the ones you suggested, but I’ve only ever heard good things. And you’re totally write about a henchmen episode of Gotham Central. That would be fantastic. There is a lot of story potential in henchmen!

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