Thursday, February 28, 2013

Comic Book TV Shows

There's no doubt one of the hottest trends in Hollywood over the past 5-10 years has been the Superhero blockbuster.  They seem to be unflappable; from the lower budget, but still profit-turning fare like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengenace (seemed like a flop, but it grossed $132 million with a budget of $57 mil) all the way up to the mega-success The Avengers.  It doesn't take a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist to see their almost unlimited potential.

That said, it baffles me as to why Marvel won't go the route of a superhero tv show.  I know they have  S.H.I.E.L.D. show in the works, but why not go further.  The groundwork is all there.  Disney owns Marvel.  Disney owns ABC.  ABC is constantly searching for hour-long dramas that will draw an audience.  The already used Disney properties for the fairy-tale hit Once Upon a Time.  Why not option a superhero show?  CGI effects have gotten better looking and cheaper to do.  There's no shortage of superheroes in the Marvel stable that aren't quite big enough for movies, but could easily carry a tv audience.  Seems like a perfect opportunity to make it happen.

It's worked in the past

Heck, DC already had successes in the recent past with Smallville and now Arrow (which both air(ed) on the CW network, owned by Warner Bros., which conveniently also owns DC Comics).  For God's sake, Smallville ran for 10 seasons.  10!  Even further back, Marvel found success with The Incredible Hulk.  Sci-Fi's Alphas has a nice audience with original un-licensed heroes.  It can and does work.

Batma...err... Green Arrow

Let's look at Arrow.  The Green Arrow isn't a marquee superhero.  He's a guy with no powers.  He's just an excellent archer. He doesn't fight planet-level threats, he's more of a street-level hero.  He's pretty much a low-rent Batman with a bow.  All aspects that lend themselves better to a tv show rather than a big-screen movie.

So, here's my pitch for a Marvel superhero tv show:

Luke Cage and Iron Fist: Heroes for Hire

Try and guess which one is the Iron Fist

Two street-level superheroes.  One a martial arts expert with a Batman-esque personal history (rich, dead parents).  The other a reformed drug dealer with super strength and impenetrable skin. They formed an unlikely partnership and decide to put their skills to use helping those who's problems aren't big enough for the likes of The Avengers, but are too much for the cops to handle.  New cases each week with some overarching plots.  Think of each episode like it's own comic issue.  

The effects aren't hard to do on tv... martial arts with the occasional flaming fist or foot.  And super strength is easy to accomplish with light cgi or wires.  (Heck Sci-Fi's Alphas does super strength on a shoe-string budget just fine)  Let's face it, Power Man and Iron fist are likely never getting a big movie.  They'd be side characters in a Daredevil film at best.  But on tv they can shine.  The show sets up like a cop drama serial, but with more interesting villains (Kingpin as a Mastermind?).  And again, there's no shortage of B-C-list villains to use.  Plus you have the added personal drama of Luke Cage being a married Superhero with an infant child.   

If this had been titled 'The Incredibles', would it have tanked?

Now I know ABC already tried their hand with No Ordinary Family, which flopped.  But that series was too light-hearted, and it had no name recognition.  This would be grittier, and have known heroes.  NBC's Heroes was great for a season.  The problem there was they didn't stick with the plan of following totally new heroes for the second season, which hurt the planned storyline.  Then the writer's strike finally killed any interesting plot lines.  

Good show gone wrong

Now, I'm clearly biased being a comic book fan.  And I know a lot of people are getting plain sick of the superhero movie trend.  But come on, why not take a chance on a new medium.  Successful tv shows don't have to be Shakespeare.  Do you know what the top-rated dramas on tv are? ...


NCIS and CSI: Los Angeles

Put it on at 8:00 and you'll draw viewers who are kids, kids at heart, and a lot of the people who'll watch cop shows in general.  I don't think any kids watch NCIS.  Marc Harmon isn't that popular. 

So come on Disney/ABC execs, let's actually use some of those assets.  

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