FROM PANEL TO FLAT-PANEL1 of 12"And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer." – Die Hard’s Hans Gruber by way of Plutarch's Life of Alexander.
Having now officially conquered the worldwide box office, it’s looks like the U.S. major comic book publishers are turning more attention to film’s younger cousin, television.
Thursday saw news that Preacher is officially in development for television, joining The Flash, Constantine, Gotham, I, Zombie, Hourman - all DC Comics properties - as one in heading to the small screen..
So that got us to wondering, what comic book properties would work well for TV ... perhaps work even better for television than film?
Here’s a look at 10 comic book properties Newsarama contributors think would make for excellent small-screen adaptations.
RAVEN2 of 12by Vaneta Rogers
Comic fans might know the CW as the network that airs superhero series like Smallville and Arrow (and soon, The Flash), but the network's other two hit dramas, The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural, are both more focused on paranormal adventures that teen girls adore.
So why isn't the CW moving forward with the Raven series it announced almost three years ago — a property that combines both paranormal and superheroes?
Raven may not be the frequent focus of comic books, but imagine the set-up for a TV series aimed at the teens who love CW programming: A beautiful but awkward teenage girl finds out that she is, unknowingly, the daughter of a powerful demon, with the power to either help her father destroy everything she loves, or choose to do good and try to save the world, one episode at a time.
And who knows? If CW can make Raven's story work, there's the possibility of not only a crossover event (since she technically lives within the universe where Arrow and Flash exist), but her story could lead to an eventual live-action version of Teen Titans, the team that's most associated with Raven.
WITCHBLADE3 of 12by Lan Pitts
If the Flash can have a do-over, there’s no good reason why Sara Pezzini, the bearer of the Witchblade, shouldn't be given the same chance.
The first Witchblade series starred Yancy Butler, but only lasted for 23 episodes. This series also debuted before the acclaimed Ron Marz run, which they could base this one on. You have elements of family with Sara's sister Julie, you could have Patrick Gleason come in, and of course the Curator.
Later on, with the addition of Dani Baptiste, the possibilities are nearly endless of what you can do here. Think supernatural elements of The X-Files mixed with the camaraderie of Rescue Me, and you've got the makings of a great show.
SHAZAM4 of 12by Vaneta Rogers
The one established superhero property that truly allows kids to feel like their wishes could come true is Shazam, the story of a young orphan who gains the power to turn into an all-powerful, world-changing adult. The property and its original comic books (once known as "Captain Marvel") still hold the record for having the highest number of copies sold (an estimated 2 million).
The child-like love for Shazam was passed to subsequent generations — some of us old folks fondly remember the 1970's Shazam TV series from when we were kids — but today's generation of children probably don't even know who the character is. And that makes him a prime candidate for a live action revamp for modern young audiences, to give a new bunch of kids the wish fulfillment story of young Billy Batson.
Geoff Johns, the DC chief creative officer who's been instrumental in the Arrow and Flash series, has already been co-writing and producing a film treatment for the character, as announced back in 2009.
And as recent as January 2012, Johns was telling Newsarama a live-action Shazam was still very plausible. "There's always talk about Shazam. And I can't get into the specifics on that," he said of the property, "but yeah, there's hope for Shazam."
STARMAN5 of 12by George Marston
James Robinson's Starman may have ended a decade ago, but for the ten years of its run, it was a seminal example of outside-the-box superhero comics. Featuring Jack Knight, the son of a long retired WWII era hero who is trying to live up to his father's legacy while maintaining his individuality, the themes of fatherhood, inheritance, family, and crime fighting make Starman seem like a lock for an AMC style drama.
Couple that with Opal City's strange, lurid atmosphere of old junk shops, haunted alleyways, and art deco skyscrapers, and this one's a no-brainer.
GLOBAL FREQUENCY6 of 12by Seth Robison
Today they’d call it ‘going viral’ but when the original 2005 pilot for a TV series based Warren Ellis’ limited series Global Frequency leaked onto the Internet and spread around the world, gun-shy TV executives pulled the plug and a show based on the efforts of a global network of experts on puerperal call to save the world from itself was doomed.
Almost ten years on now the concept still holds up. The world has not become a safer place, and networking and smartphone technology - key elements of the comic - were still in its infancy in 2005, now are ubiquitous.
Keep the failed pilot’s conceit of a core ‘away team’ supported by the information gathering Aleph and their enigmatic boss Miranda Zero (bring back Michelle Forbes to play her too, she’s awesome) as well as an assortment of on-call experts, the new, more stalwart producers of Global Frequency can build a universe of action and conspiracies to rival cult hits like Fringe.
Neil Gaiman's SANDMAN7 of 12by Lan Pitts
Vertigo's Sandman has been stuck in movie developmental hell for what seems like decades at this point. Artist Jill Thompson once painted some storyboards to assist in the production, but still, nothing has come into fruition. What if we're thinking too big and Lord of Dreams is more suitable for the small screen? Given the success of the Dr. Who revamp and ABC's Once Upon A Time, this gothic fairytale seems like it would be a great fit as either a series of BBC mini-movies ala Sherlock, or even a mini-series event like American Horror Story.
Given the size of each volume of the series, not worrying about cramming everything into a two-hour movie would be a smart move.
Of course, at least for now, the franchise is leaning toward film, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt involved in the production work.
RUNAWAYS8 of 12by Lucas Siegel
Brian K. Vaughan’s lasting legacy at Marvel Comics was the creation of a group of kids whose parents all happened to be supervillains. The story of Chase, Nico, Molly, Gert, Karolina, and Alex (with some losses and pickups along the way) trying to figure out their adolescent years while also trying to escape the clutches of their villainous parents, The Pride, has long had a possible movie in the works, but it would be so much better on TV.
The interpersonal connections of the gang, the way the series was set up in a “seasons” mode, and their links to every corner of the Marvel Universe make them ideal for the TV treatment. Through the Runaways, you have connections to aliens, time travelers, tech geniuses, magic users, and mutants. You have broken hearts, tragic deaths, and epic betrayals. You also have nearly limitless untapped potential, as Vaughan left the series relatively early, and subsequent writers only did a handful of issues each.
With Vaughan now firmly ensconced in the realm of TV as showrunner of Under the Dome, he may even be willing to lend a hand to the adaptation of his masterwork with Adrian Alphona. The possibility of brand new Brian K. Vaughan Runaways stories on television ala the changes made in The Walking Dead’s TV adaptation? Sign us up.
CONSTANTINE9 of 12by Chris Arrant
Anti-heroes might be old hat to comic books with the rise of the likes of Punisher and Wolverine in the late 1970s, but modern television has seen some of its most critically acclaimed hits showing dark-leaning characters going down dark paths. You have the acerbic and pessimistic House M.D., all the way to more over-arching stories like Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy. And on premium cable anti-heroes are more the norm than the exception. Now imagine that kind of approach taken to DC’s John Constantine.
Put aside if it’s the “New 52” or “Vertigo” versions of this Hellblazer, and just picture an AMC or more R-rated Showtime-type show featuring a working class magician who wades into the supernatural side of the DCU. He could be a modern-day Kolchak: The Night Stalker, but with the combined backstory from authors like Alan Moore, Jamie Delano, Brian Azzarello and others. The U.K, has a bumper crop of actors who would die for a role like this, and perhaps in terms of financing it could be a co-production between the BBC and an American cable network to make the numbers work.
England’s given us Doctor Who and James Bond into modern genre entertainment – we need a Hellblazer now more than ever.
Apparently someone was reading when we posted this originally last summer, as Constantine has gone to pilot at NBC, and could be on the air this fall.
DAREDEVIL10 of 12by Chris Arrant
There’s room for more than one dark inner-city hero, and Marvel’s Daredevil is both a dark horse and an ideal candidate for consideration as a live-action television series. Although 2003 Daredevil film failed to win over audiences, Marvel’s got the rights back and Jeph Loeb and the Marvel Television department could take ol’ hornhead and give us a great serialized superhero show that mixes the venerable legal-courtroom format, rooftop fights, and some memorable special effects work.
Imagine a modern-day Daredevil television show thoroughly grounded in the urban environment of New York City and specifically Hell’s Kitchen. There’s a truckload of comic book storylines television producers could go to plot out the first few seasons, going through the Frank Miller years to Bendis and to the lofty heights of Mark Waid’s current run. Marvel shouldn’t shy away from the framework of the Arrow television show, making it less about the costume and more about the character and the world he lives in.
And if this does materialize, it wouldn’t be the first Daredevil was considered for the TV treatment; everyone from David Bowie’s ex-wife to the creator of In The Heat of the Night have tried to get Matt Murdock on the small screen. In the late 80s, Daredevil was introduced in a Bill Bixby-fronted Incredible Hulk television movie as a back-door pilot for the Man Without Fear, but that failed to work the way they planned.
Thankfully, this one, too, will be coming to TV - but in a roundabout fashion. Thanks to the deal with Netflix, we will see a live-action Daredevil from Marvel Studios, alongside three other TV series that will get the one-season (at least) treatment from the content provider before culminating in a mini-series called "The Defenders."
CATWOMAN11 of 12by Lan Pitts
Catwoman might not have the best of luck with her solo adventure on the big-screen, but what if you brought her to the small screen? A Catwoman TV series has the potential to be Alias meets Arrow. Basically a heist flick in every episode with Selina being the best at what she does.
Stories could loosely be based off anything from "When In Rome" to "Selina's Big Score", bringing in cameos of other infamous Gotham rogues along the way. We never did get a Batman-type of show that was equivalent to Smallville, but Catwoman might be the next best thing.
Now, the series Gotham is coming to Fox in the 2014 season, and Catwoman was already namedropped as a villain who we'd see on the show, but in what capacity is still unknown. Maybe she'll have spin-off potential of her own.
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