The past decade has seen comic book adaptations swell Hollywood coffers and the trend shows no signs of slowing – this year television is also plundering their colourful characters and eclectic worlds.
On the back of 2014’s The Flash and Constantine, 2015 has already seen Agent Carter, iZombie, and Powers debut. Next up is Marvel’s Daredevil, which is being released in its entirety via Netflix on April 10th.
So what do we want to see from the medium down the line? There are countless brilliant comics stacked with television potential, and here are five of the finest…
The screen superhero genre is stagnating amid its perpetual bombardment of spandex and capes.
Swamp Thing offers an alternative. A hulking mass of tangled vines and flora, Swampy is a bit of a recluse and doesn’t get tied up with alien invasions and exploding suns. He’s a quiet and unassuming hero, preferring to dwell quietly among the fleeting shadows and alligator voyeurs of the Louisiana Bayou, utterly detached from his testosterone-charged compadres Superman and Batman.
Framed as an eco-horror, this would be a refreshingly creepy take on the genre – and the bayou’s black swamps would give Big American City some respite from Marvel Studios’ quarterly beatings.
Even the origin story is a breath of fresh air; author and comics doyen Alan Moore transposed Swamp Thing’s genesis from unfortunate scientific accident to ancient humanoid-cum-plant-elemental, placing the trigger on mythology in a genre saturated with super-science.
And just as former Flash John Wesley Shipp returned to play the father of his original character in the 2014 reboot, there’d be a guest role reserved here for Dick Durock who starred as Swampy in the cult early 90s series.
The Stuff of Legend
Everybody knows that when left alone our toys get up, walk around, and play cards and the like, but what happens when their beloved owner is dragged out of his bed and into the closet by an evil Boogeyman? They mount a rescue mission of course.
Riffing on Toy Story’s darkest shades with a dose of C.S. Lewis, TSOL sees the ragtag party brave the world of the closet, the Dark Realm, where they become real-life versions of themselves – the teddy becomes a ferocious bear, the plastic soldier becomes a real Colonel with functioning weapons. Along the way they battle the child’s bitter, forgotten toys, who have sided with the maleficent Boogeyman.
The great thing is that this could so easily be toned down for kids while still keeping the adults happy, à la Doctor Who or How To Train Your Dragon. As long as the camaraderie, suspense, and sense of sacrifice remains intact, I’d gladly tune in.
Game of Thrones may have popularised scheming femme fatales and casual evisceration, but zany space opera Saga goes a step further by imbuing the sex and gore with humour and frankness. It’s a recipe which works – right now, Saga is the hottest none-superhero work in comics.
Romeo and Juliet meets Star Wars, this tale of lovers from opposite sides of an interplanetary war invigorates the inevitable clichés with a cast of excellently designed characters. There’s the creepily seductive Stalk, an eight-legged bounty hunter reeking with menace; Lying Cat, a sphinx-like feline with the ability to detect deliberate untruths; and Prince Robot IV, an android struggling with PTSD while hot on the trail of star-crossed lovers Alana and Marko.
There’s so much colour and depth to this ensemble that it’s difficult to see how this would fail as a television series, although financing the costumes, spaceships, and special effects could be pretty eye-watering.
Achingly beautiful and dripping with angst, Craig Thompson’s coming-of-age autobiography strikes a melancholy chord with everyone who’s ever been a teen. A far cry from your typical first love young-adult flick, Blankets digs deep in addressing the author’s childhood and adolescent understanding of love, family, purpose, and faith – One Tree Hill it ain’t.
Filmed in a blustery, brooding Wisconsin landscape, with a touch of Bright Eyes here and there, this bittersweet tale could look gorgeous as a single, feature length episode. A potential roadblock could be Thompson’s reception – deeply personal and unaffected, he spills his heart on everything from bullying to being sexually abused; would any interpretation but his own do it justice?
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
Star Wars TV spin-off rumours have been bouncing around for decades, and Disney’s decision to wake the behemoth franchise from relative slumber has only fuelled the fire.
Interestingly, it emerged in early March that next year’s stand-alone Star Wars film will be titled ‘Rogue One’. This alludes to Rogue Squadron, a line of Star Wars comics detailing the exploits of the rebellion’s deadliest pilots. While the movie will almost certainly be a fresh reboot rather than an adaptation, it could prove the perfect springboard from which to launch a TV series.
While reproducing Rogue Squadron on screen would without doubt see producers and accountants lock horns, it’s hard to see how the investment wouldn’t pay off. In the Rogue Squadron comics writers have an archive of Top Gun swagger and rollicking space adventures to draw on, from kidnap and rescue to sabotage and subterfuge – and it all takes place within the world’s most popular cinematic universe.
Are there other comic books you’d like to see made into a TV drama? Let us know in the comment box below if so.