On a Nightwing and a Prayer

“[W]e need to find the perfect person. We need to get the script right. We need this movie to blow your mind.” — Chris McKay, director

I’ve mentioned the upcoming Nightwing movie before, and you may have heard or read other stuff. I’m excited about it, ‘cuz Nightwing/Dick Grayson has become one of my favorite DC heroes. Up until recently, all we knew was that:

1) Warner Brothers announced back in February that it was ramping up development on a live-action, Nightwing solo film based on the DC Comics character;
2) it was planned for release in the next few years (recently set for 2/1/2019, though that is likely tentative); and
3) The LEGO Batman Movie director Chris McKay has been given the helm, with a script from Bill Dubuque (The Accountant).

I just wanted to comment on a few of the latest newsbits….

Those newsbits come mostly from McKay himself, who has been sending out tweets and doing interviews over the past few months. Regarding what attracted him to the project,

“I’m a big comic book fan, and being able to do the story of Nightwing, to do a Dick Grayson story, which is a character that every single person in the world knows, but has never really had a lot of screentime…. I’m a big fan of underdog stories, and he is one of the biggest underdog stories in comics. And he’s a character that I grew up with. I like the arc.”

He continues…

“Robin was there as a window character for little kids like me to understand Batman’s world and see into Batman’s world. There’s no other character in comics that went through this real-time transition.”

Comic writer Tim Seeley thinks that a plot based on or “very similar to” the 6-issue story arc he recently wrote for the character is the way to go. I haven’t read it, but the synopsis I saw does sound interesting. On the other hand, it sounds like the impact of the events depend on Nightwing’s relationships with other heroes, and there really isn’t time to sufficiently establish those relationships on-screen, imo. In other words, there’s too much ‘history’ for it to really work. I’m not saying there can’t be references to known DC people and things, and I truly hope there are. We fans expect and deserve them. But this really needs to work as a standalone feature.

While no plot details have been revealed as yet, we do know that Grayson’s comic-based past will be acknowledged. As per McKay, “Yes. In some form. There will be lots of nods. Lots of nods.” This comment spurred plenty of speculation about what might be referenced in those nods. His youth working as a circus acrobat with his parents and their subsequent deaths? His years working as Batman’s original sidekick ‘Robin’? His time spent with the (Teen) Titans? Past (or current?) relationships with Starfire and/or Oracle? His day job as a cop in Bludhaven? There’s a ton of material to mine there, but we just don’t know what McKay and Dubuque have in mind.

From the beginning, McKay has stressed the intense physicality of the Grayson/Nightwing role and that the actor will need to be fully committed. “Every day. It is going to be gruelling from a martial arts, gymnastics and stunt perspective.” Isn’t there CGI for that stuff? According to McKay, not so much in this film.

“It’s gonna be a [frick]ing badass action movie with a lot of heart and emotion. It’s gonna be a crazy, fun ride. Whoever gets cast as Nightwing, and any of the other actors around, are gonna go through a [frick]ing boot camp experience because it’s gonna be a lot. I’m not gonna do a lot of CG. It’s gonna be all real $#!t. It’s gonna be real stuntwork, and they’re gonna need to do all of the stuff on camera and do it credibly. For the cast and the crew, it’s gonna be a visceral experience, and for the audience. It’s not gonna be like a lot of these movies where there’s a lot of CG and flying and things like that. Everything he does is gonna have to be real. His superpower is being really [frick]ing good, as a human being, at fighting and gymnastics and $#!t like that, so you’re gonna see that on screen. It’s gonna be fun!”

Sounds awesome!

Naturally, there have been a lot of actors’ names thrown around the fan-boards (e.g., Finn Wittrock). But, no one’s been cast, yet, and as per FlickeringMyth’s Jordan James, “according to Chris McKay himself, we shouldn’t necessarily count on Nightwing being played by a well-known actor.” (See also opening quote.) I think this is a great move, one that more superhero movies (and sci-fi/fantasy in general) should consider. In fact, a few years ago I came up with a few potential candidates….

McKay’s exuberance for the project is practically palpable, and he’s already predicting (sort of) an award win in at least one area:

“This movie is going to win a stunt Academy Award. They’re going to make a stunt Academy Award for this movie. I guarantee it. It’s going to be insane.”

I certainly appreciate his enthusiasm and drive to make a spectacular movie. As always, I just hope he does right by the character(s) and the source material, while balancing amazing action with well-developed characters and believable dialogue. It certainly has blockbuster potential, and I’d like to see it realized. “A [frick]ing badass action movie with a lot of heart and emotion,” indeed.

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Upcoming, Live-Action Superhero Series Round-up, part 2

Continuing from last week, wherein we looked at various confirmed, possible, and merely rumored Netflix series that will/would join the four Marvel adaptations so far, this week we’ll review several more superhero shows being developed at other networks. Most of them also happen to be based on Marvel properties, but not all….

Disney/ABC

o I’ve already blogged about the “Inhumans” mini-series coming out this Fall (here and here). As previously mentioned, it will focus on the Inhumans’ Royal Family (as seen in the comics) and will not be connected to “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I have mixed feelings about the casting choices — e.g., Serinda Swan as ‘Medusa’ looks rather disappointing in the pic I saw — but I’m hopeful that the overall story and production will make it worth watching.

Fox

‘The Gifted’

o As we now know, the mysterious “X-men related” show that was being developed over at Fox is called “The Gifted”. The basic premise is that a suburban American couple discovers “their children possess mutant powers. Forced to go on the run from a hostile government, the family joins up with an underground network of mutants and must fight to survive.” This appears to be a new concept and not based on any particular Marvel mutant-themed comics, but there will be a few familiar characters (e.g., ‘Polaris’, ‘Blink’, ‘Thunderbird’). The creative team / producers include many familiar names, too — e.g., Bryan Singer, Jeph Loeb, Lauren Shuler Donner, Simon Kinberg, Jim Chory, and Matt Nix. My interest is piqued! (No premiere date but possibly late-2017.)

Hulu

o Based on another popular Marvel comic book series, “Runaways” is about a group of teenagers who discover that their parents are the members of a secret cabal of supervillains. As if there wasn’t enough to be angsty about…. These kids discover that they have unusual skills and abilities of their own and decide to foil their parents’ evil plans. As you might have guessed, the parents do not appreciate the interference, and the kids end up on the run, so to speak. Thus the title. I remember reading several issues of this series when it came out years ago and enjoyed it. I really hope they do a decent job with this adaptation. At least the cast looks good…. (Premieres sometime in 2018.)

Freeform (formerly ABC Family)

o “Cloak & Dagger”: “Two teenagers [Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson] from very different backgrounds find themselves burdened and awakened to newly acquired superpowers while falling in love.” To be honest, I never really got into these characters much. I remember reading a few stories with them — maybe the initial, limited series and a few guest-starring appearances in other titles. But, they never really got me excited. Still, it’s an interesting concept, and I know their fans have been talking for some time about the possibility of these characters arriving either on the small- or big-screen. Well, it’s finally happening, so for their sakes, I hope this is a satisfying live-action adaptation. (Premieres early/winter 2018.)

o Not much is known about the “(Marvel’s) New Warriors” series being developed for Freeform, except that it will be a half-hour action-comedy and apparently features ‘Squirrel Girl’. Now, since debuting in the ’90s, this team has gone through a few different rosters. But, it has always been (mostly) serious, despite the silliness of Speedball, and the ridiculous Squirrel Girl has never before been part of any incarnation of the team. This series “is about six young people with powers living and working together. With powers and abilities on the opposite end of the spectrum of The Avengers, the New Warriors want to make a difference in the world… even if the world isn’t ready.” The team will be led by SG, whose “most important trait is that she has faith in people and teaches them to believe in themselves.” Not the way I’d have gone with this property, but I guess…. (No premiere date but probably 2018.)

You might be wondering if there will be any crossover between the two Freeform series. Well, probably not. As per Karey Burke, Freeform’s Vice President of Programming, “If you know these two properties, they’re not particularly connected. There are many degrees of separation with where they fall in the Marvel universe. But anything is possible with Marvel. Their tones are so wildly different. Cloak is this angst-filled, achingly beautiful, heartfelt romantic drama. And Squirrel Girl is a balls-out comedy.”

CW

‘Black Lightning’

o DC’s latest — fifth, or sixth if you count “iZombie” — entre on The CW will be “Black Lightning”, starring Cress Williams in the title role. The incredibly busy and talented Greg Berlanti is one of the executive producers, along with his producing partner Sarah Schechter. Husband-and-wife team Salim and Mara Brock Akil are writing, with Salim also directing at least the pilot. The show tells the story of Jefferson Pierce, a long-retired superhero who gets pulled back into the biz, when his daughters (who I think also have powers) get involved in some heavy stuff. The trailer I saw looked pretty good, so here’s hopin’…. (Premieres either this October or early 2018.)

???

o The one we know the least about is “Quantum & Woody”, based on a Valiant title by the same name. (I loved the original but haven’t read the new one.) It was a quirky, clever series with fun characters: adopted, adult brothers — one black, one white; one serious, one goofy — who gain superpowers and (naturally) become costumed adventurers. This past March it was announced that the Russo Brothers (“Community”, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War) would develop the property as a TV series, once they wrap The Avengers: Infinity War. Other executive producers include Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari (Ant-Man), who are currently working on Ant-Man and The Wasp. Sounds like a great creative team! But, correctly casting the title characters — with the “odd couple” vibe and repartee from the comics — will be crucial to the show’s success. (No premiere date.)

o Just before going to press, I discovered that DC’s live-action “Titans” series has not only been revived but will begin shooting in September. Apparently, I missed the announcement back in April that it was moving forward, after all. Beside the shoot-date, we also now know that Berlanti (along with Geoff Johns and Akiva Goldsman) is co-developing this one, too, and it will be “part of a brand new digital service from DC Entertainment and Warner Bros.” Does this mean it won’t air on a regular TV or cable channel? I dunno. Regardless, I hope they do the team justice. Teen justice! <<ahem!>> (Likely premieres sometime in 2018.)

I don’t know about you, but I think there is a *lot* to look forward to over the next couple years, and that’s just from this particular subset of our beloved sci-fi/fantasy and action/adventure genres. Even if only half of these series catch on, I’ll be happy. (Assuming I have a chance to watch them, that is.)

Upcoming, Live-Action Superhero Series Round-up, part 1

I’ve said it before, but superhero genre fans are truly blessed these days. In addition to the the many live-action adaptations on the big screen, we have more leather- and spandex-clad heroes with special powers and skills on TV now than ever before — from DC’s various series on regular TV (“Arrow”, “The Flash”, “Legends of Tomorrow”, & “Supergirl” on CW; “Gotham” on Fox (no costume-wearing heroes in this last one, though)); Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on ABC and “Legion” on FX; and, Marvel’s Netflix-original shows (“Daredevil”, “Jessica Jones”, “Luke Cage”, “Iron Fist”). I suppose I should throw in DC’s “Preacher” (AMC), though I don’t care for the concept and would hardly call him a hero. (Same goes for “Lucifer”.)

There were also the late, lamented “Agent Carter” by Marvel and “Constantine” by DC, both of which had loyal fan followings but still got canceled. And, of course, there have been a few that were talked about a lot but fell through — e.g., DC’s “Teen Titans”/”Blackbirds” and Marvel’s “Mockingbird”/”Marvel’s Most Wanted”.

But, there are more on the way…. Over the past couple years or so, several other comic book adaptations have been rumored, discussed, planned, and in many cases gone into production. I thought we’d take a quick look at each of them — those I am aware of, at least. (Given that I’m a bit pressed for time, though, I’m splitting the “round-up” between this week and next. Hope you don’t mind.) Let’s begin with…

Netflix

o “The Defenders”: Anyone paying attention is aware that the heroes from the first four Netflix shows have always been intended to co-star in a mini-series as Marvel’s best ever non-team, “The Defenders”. I don’t think this particular line-up has ever seen print, but anything to get our heroes fighting together and likely among themselves in time-honored Marvel tradition. It debuts this August 18th.

o “The Punisher”: The popular, gun-toting anti-hero was so popular in his appearance in Season 2 of “Daredevil” that the powers-that-be decided a spin-off show was in order. I believe I’m on record as being in favor of this, as long as they do right by the character. Last I read, this one’s scheduled for release in Nov. 2017.

o More?: A little over a year ago, rumors began that Netflix was planning to add to their stable of Marvel-based series. Specifically, Moviecreedlive reported, “Our sources have revealed that Blade, Ghost Rider, and Moon Knight are lined-up to join Netflix.” These all make sense, given the darker, street-level tone of their other series. However, I haven’t heard/read anything more about this, other than the discussions of MK replacing Iron Fist, when the latter was having trouble getting some direction. (No comment.) Of course, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” has since introduced a version of Ghost Rider, so I don’t know how that might affect Netflix’s plans. Since Marvel has been keeping its Netflix properties independent from other shows & films, it might not matter at all. Personally, I’d love to see the original Ghost Rider, with host Johnny Blaze, brought to Netflix.

On the other hand, a different report around the same time said that Marvel/Netflix were next developing series for She-Hulk, Cloak & Dagger, Bullseye, and Elektra. The odd one out here seems to be She-Hulk. Not only do they already have one show about lawyers — Shulkie is also an attorney named Jennifer Walters — and two characters with super-strength, but the character doesn’t really fit the dark-n-gritty tone of the other shows. Plus, they’d need a decent CGI budget. The other three make more sense, though I haven’t read/seen anything more about Bullseye or Elektra. Most likely, it was an April Fool’s joke, anyway, since the article was published 4/1/2016. However, I’ll talk more about Cloak & Dagger in a minute — or, rather, in Part 2.

Finally, the possible Netflix show that makes the most sense to me would be the one rumored to spin off the Misty Knight character from “Luke Cage”. Ideally (for me), she would get her bionic arm and team up with Colleen Wing (from “Iron Fist”) to form “Knightwing Restorations”. (They could use that as a title, or “Daughters of the Dragon”.) It has been confirmed that Knight & Wing will both show up in “The Defenders”, so maybe it will set up events that lead to a spin-off then. Unfortunately, there has been no further news on this front, either.

That’s it for now. Continued next week…

Bat-News

There was a small flurry of Batman-related news over the past month or so, so I thought I’d make a few comments….

“Gotham”

We have a new Ra’s al Ghul to look forward to, this time in “Gotham”. As you’ll remember, in the Nolan/Bale film trilogy, the character was played by Ken Watanabe and then Liam Neeson. More recently, Matt Nable played the quasi-immortal master assassin in several episodes of “Arrow”. While I respect the talent of all three actors, I felt those versions were… unsatisfactory. Part of it is the writers’ fault, of course, but none of them quite captured the essence of the character for me.

Siddig in GoT

The latest interpretation of the Demon’s Head will be portrayed by Alexander Siddig (5’11.75″,b.1965), most well-known for his role as Dr. Julian Bashir on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”. (Siddig has, of course, been in many other genre productions, including Kingdom of Heaven, “24”, “Primeval”, “Game of Thrones”, etc.) This is an intriguing choice. He (a Sudanese native) is much closer in ethnicity to Ra’s al Ghul (an Egyptian) than any of the previous actors, and he has played villainous characters before. On the other hand, I’m not sure he has the proper bearing (if that’s the right term) to portray this character correctly. While projecting a certain nobility/regalness, Ra’s is also a very physical person — martial artist / swordsman and often seen bare-chested. So, if they are planning on him displaying much physicality, Siddig had better be physically fit and properly trained.

We shall see. I just hope that they get the other visual aspects right this time, too — from the sometimes Wolverine-like hair & whiskers to his distinctive style of clothes (i.e., sort of a mix of Dr. Jekyll, Doctor Strange, and Doctor Doom).

The Batman

Among the latest news about the solo The Batman movie is that Ben Affleck may be trying to bail (no pun intended) on the role, apparently due to frustrations with Batman vs. Superman‘s reviews, development hassles, and pain-in-the-butt fans. As per Johnny Brayson at Outer Places,

“[S]ources claim that Affleck and Warner Bros. are currently in talks that would see him exit the role, and though he reportedly would like to leave before The Batman, the studio is apparently trying to convince him to stay on for the standalone movie before he takes his leave.”

Assuming any of this is true, you have to wonder if it’s a play for more money.

I know that some people are still very anti-Batfleck and would love to see him leave the franchise. I was skeptical but actually appreciated his performance in BvS and would like him to stay awhile. He is already in Justice League this November, and I would prefer to see continuity with him in The Batman (2018?) and the Justice League sequel (2019). After that, though, I would like to see a reboot with a younger Bruce/Batman. (I’m putting some story ideas together, which I will post in a few weeks/months.)

The other news on this front is that Affleck abdicated the director’s chair and a replacement has been named: Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Planet of the Apes franchise).

Nightwing

Among the better fan-made film shorts and web-series about superheroes is “Nightwing: The Series” (2014, 5 episodes). I only caught one or two episodes, but I thought they were pretty decent and had good fight choreography. There is also a new “The Nightwing” mini-series being filmed by another group this year. Fans of the Nightwing character who have been holding out hope for a feature film, though, may finally be getting their wish.

Just a couple weeks ago, Warner Brothers announced that they are now planning a live-action Nightwing film! It will be directed by Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie, “Robot Chicken”), with screenplay by Bill Dubuque (The Accountant, The Judge). Since this is just barely getting underway, little is known. An adult Dick Grayson / Nightwing would fit with Affleck’s 40-something Bruce Wayne / Batman, but we don’t yet know if there will be an effort to connect the two.

We do know, however, that McKay’s take on the character will probably be a bit lighter, less gritty than Batman, especially the Batfleck version. As he said in a recent podcast,

“Dick Grayson didn’t come from [privilege]. Dick Grayson came from a circus family. Essentially people who aren’t rich and they are self-made. They’re entertainers. They’re gymnasts. They’re people who live hand-to-mouth and that’s something that informs him and his attitude.

He’s a fascinating guy to me, because he had all the same things happen to him [as Bruce had]…. [Y]et he remains still a brutal fighter but he’s not a playboy, he loves people dearly. Those things are why I like Dick Grayson, why I like the idea of Nightwing as a movie.”

That sounds good to me and in line with the way Grayson is usually portrayed in the comics.

Ideally, I would like to see the evolution of Dick Grayson from young, newbie-hero Robin to independent Nightwing over several years. (This would be part of those ideas I’m developing.) But, if the powers-that-be are already planning a solo film, I have a feeling that I won’t get my wish. There just isn’t time to develop the character. I’m guessing it won’t be out until 2020 or later, but whether tied to Batfleck or independent, we may not know for a while. Wherever in the current DCEU timeline it takes place, I just hope (as usual) that the writers/producers respect and draw directly from the source material. Please, comic gods, let it be a faithful and fun ride!

Artist Appreciation Day: Alex Ross

For sometime, now, I’ve been wanting to post something in tribute to my favorite comic & graphic novel artists. There are quite a few — both “regular” artists and “painters”, some of whom specialize in covers and some who do mostly interiors and others who do a lot of both. Since I don’t really follow the current batch of “new artists” (i.e., since I stopped collecting 7 or 8 years ago), my faves have been around awhile. But, I don’t have encyclopedic knowledge of all their work and didn’t want to take a ton of time researching individual careers. Plus, I wasn’t sure how much you, my readers, would tolerate of my reminiscing, etc.

Aaaanyway, I finally decided that, once in a while, I would just pick one of my favorite artists to honor with a post dedicated to them — minimal text + an assortment of sample images displaying their talent. Who better to start off with than “the Man” himself, Alex Ross? He captures both the physicality and the psyche/emotions of his subjects *so* well that really does bring them to life! Simply awesome!! The tough part is choosing which ones to feature here…

With Ross, I suppose it is only natural to begin with the limited series that gave him his big break — “Marvels” (1994). I grabbed this image because it shows all four covers (plus Ross in the upper right corner), but he also did the interiors.

Marvels covers - Alex Ross

And he only got better from there, as evidenced by his next big project (inc. interiors), which garnered him even more avid fans and critical accolades alike: DC’s “Kingdom Come” (1996). Hard to believe that was 20 years ago! Unfortunately, we can’t see all four wraparound covers, but this poster is still pretty cool…

poster-kingdomcome

For a little compare and contrast fun, here’s a diptych showing classic line-ups of DC’s Justice League and Marvel’s Avengers…

JLA Avengers diptych - Alex Ross

Here’s a nice triptych of DC’s “Trinity”…

DC Trinity triptych - Alex Ross

Before I leave DC, here’s a popular piece of everyone’s favorite Joker and Harley Quinn doing the “Tango of Evil”…

Joker & Harley, Tango of Evil - Alex Ross

I had to get Spidey, the Fantastic Four, and a couple “editions” of the X-Men in here, too…

Special TV Guide cover

Special TV Guide cover

 

Fantasticfouralexross-500x500

Original X-Men

Original X-Men

 

Classic, Uncanny X-Men

Classic, Uncanny X-Men

And, we’ll wrap up with a few sci-fi faves…

Star Trek TOS - Alex Ross

star-wars-1-alex-ross

(Original Battlestar Galactica, riffing on classic Star Wars poster)

(Original Battlestar Galactica, riffing on familiar sci-fi/fantasy poster pose)

I’d love to display more (e.g., Daredevil, Hulk, Iron Man, Astro City, Squadron Supreme, etc.), but I gotta stop somewhere. Hope you enjoyed the unauthorized Alex Ross gallery. If you have the dough, go buy some of his prints at alexrossart.com.

Have a Great Day (or Night, as the case may be)!

Follow-up Review of Supergirl (TV series)

Supergirl - yellow bkgrd with symbolBack in November 2015, I posted my initial impressions of the “Supergirl” TV series, after having watched only the first 3 episodes. As expected, there were some things that annoyed me, but overall I liked the show and continued to watch. The series did well enough to be extended to 20 episodes and finally finished up its freshman season last month (April 2016). (As I noted in an update to another post the other day, “Supergirl” has been renewed for a second season but has moved from CBS over to the CW, home of DC’s other TV series.) So, I thought I’d briefly review some of the issues from the first post….

Fortunately, the main characters have all grown a lot as people and in their relationships during the few months we saw them, and we’ve also learned some background information that helps the audience to understand them better. So, hats off to the writers.

After my “Initial Impressions” post, something occurred to me. For several years in the Superman comics and movies — particularly the Christopher Reeve era –, Clark Kent’s public persona was that of a somewhat goofy, clutzy, unsure, golly-gee farm boy. His real personality, however, was much closer to that which he displayed as the confident (but not cocky) hero Superman. What the writers of “Supergirl” have done is flip that idea on its head. Kara’s real personality is the “somewhat goofy, clutzy, unsure, golly-gee” goodgirl, but she puts on a brave act (generally speaking) for her superheroic adventuring. Interesting…

I have grown to appreciate this version of Kara/Supergirl and like that she has retained a lot of her “innocence” and optimism. Still, she has come a long way, gaining more confidence both personally and professionally. She has been through a lot emotionally, and it shows. So far, she is maturing without becoming cynical.

I’m glad to see they took my advice (ahem!) in having her train with Alex and Hank. She is also becoming fairly adept at balancing superheroics with civilian life. However, I still think she would/should be grossly outmatched by the Kryptonian soldiers and some of the other escapees. Of course, we can’t have our heroine get her butt kicked (or worse) every week. At least she is working more with others, be it James/Winn or Alex/Hank/DEO — not quite the camaraderie of Team-Flash or Team-Arrow, but not bad. (Very different circumstances, too.) We also now know a little about Kara’s family on Krypton, why Kara didn’t exercise her powers much while growing up on Earth, what happened to her adopted father (sort of), and a few other bits about her family and youth.

I still can’t think of Mehcad Brooks as “Jimmy Olsen”. But, I do like the “James” character. He and Kara have become close friends, and I think one day they could make a pretty cute couple. However,… various issues have kept that from happening — from the presence of Lucy Lane to Kara’s shyness and conflicting duties. I kind of hope that Season 2 has them working through the tension of working together, eventually coming to acceptance and moving forward as friends.

I hope the same for her “best friend”, Winn Schott. Winn is a likable character and always good for a humorous scene. He continues to be unlucky in love (as are many of us “IT guys”). But, he is growing, too, learning and dealing with family issues and romantic frustrations. I hope they continue to find ways to develop this character, so that he remains likable, real, and not two-dimensional.

(Most of the) Supergirl cast

(Most of the) Supergirl cast

What about Cat? If you recall, I had some harsh things to say about her. But, I have to admit, while her professional persona grates on me, she is beginning to grow on me. Or, at least, I am beginning to understand her a little better, even if I often disagree with her approach (not to mention her politics). We have also observed a maternal side of her, both with her sons and with Kara/Supergirl, that is encouraging to see. I suspect we may see a little less of her in Season 2 (since Calista Flockhart is highly paid, and they need to cut costs). But, I hope she will continue to surprise both Kara and me. (Btw, I wonder if she really knows Kara’s secret identity….)

In my earlier review comments about Alex, I said, “Sometimes she annoys me, and sometimes not. I probably need to cut her some slack….” I like her a lot better, now, thanks to some good character development and back-history — e.g., as much as Alex loves her adopted sister, there was some latent resentment; also, the bit about her father’s death(?) and her motivations for becoming a DEO agent, etc. Despite some disagreements, she and Kara have become closer; similarly, she and Hank are now closer, personally and professionally.

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

Hank Henshaw is very different from the comics version. That said, this one is a good guy, and I like him. They smoothed out a few rough edges on this character, explained his reservations about Supergirl, revealed some of his past and his big secret, which is all good. I like that he revealed his true form to Alex and Kara. He really needed someone to understand him and share his burden, and they also stood up for him when his secret was revealed to the DEO and military. Now, if only we could see him use the rest of his powers (e.g., invisibility, morphing, phasing, heat vision, etc.), or explain why he doesn’t have them. They probably decided that a full-strength J’onn J’onzz is too powerful and would overshadow Supergirl. But, I’d like to see the range and level of the TV version’s abilities defined better.

I do think that the military has been depicted via harsh stereotype; on the other hand, I suspect those types do exist and would indeed react that way. So, I guess I am of two minds on this….

It has been fun to see familiar faces show up in supporting and guest roles — e.g., Chris Vance as Non, Glenn Morshower as Gen. Sam Lane, Owain Yeoman as Vartox, Dean Cain & Helen Slater as Jeremiah & Eliza Danvers, Laura Vandervoort as Indigo, Henry Czerny as Toyman, etc. It was cool to see characters like Red Tornado, Maxima, Cameron Chase, and James Harper make appearances, too. Since our heroes are heading to CADMUS in Season 2, I hope we eventually see Harper (and/or his clone) become Guardian.

The various villains and associated F/X haven’t been too bad. Not perfect but pretty good, actually, especially for a TV show. Fight scenes and wire-work could still use some improvement, though. At times, it felt like villain-of-the-week. But, there were plot threads that crossed several episodes (i.e., Maxwell Lord’s scheming and the Kryptonians’ domination plans), along with the aforementioned character development, which helped with the continuity factor. Sometimes, it bugged me that they “stole” a Superman villain and/or the way that they tweaked him/her for TV, but I’m learning to just go with the flow. The plots have been somewhat comic bookish (duh!) but not too over the top. (Not that I recall, anyway.)

5134986-cw-crossover-174888Finally, I think the generally more cheerful & positive tone (while not glossing over the very serious aspects), which directly reflects the persona of the central character, is a nice balance to the darker feel of “Arrow”, et al. Speaking of which, now that “Supergirl” is on the CW, rumor has it there will be more crossovers with the other shows. Sounds good to me!

Initial Impressions of Supergirl (TV series)

Unlike with some of my other reviews, I’ve only watched 3 episodes before deciding to do a review. (Ep 4 already aired, but I won’t get to it until this weekend.) So, since I don’t have a whole (or even half) season to base it on, I opted for the “initial impressions” thing. But, like everyone else commenting on the series, I do have a few observations — good and bad — that I want to get off my chest.

Supergirl - flying thru cityFirst, I would like to address a problem I noticed when the “Supergirl” trailer first came out and that I mentioned in a previous post. I had hoped they would have fixed it before (officially) airing the pilot, but they didn’t. In the opening voiceover (of the pilot, at least), adult Kara says “Twenty-four years ago, my planet, Krypton, was in serious peril…. Krypton’s destruction sent a shockwave that knocked my pod off course and into the Phantom Zone, a region in space where time doesn’t pass. I slept there for 24 years, until somehow I got here. When I arrived, I was still a 13-year-old girl….” Later, one of the villains that escaped the Fort Ras(sp?) prison, which landed on Earth the same time as Kara’s pod, says they have been hiding in the shadows for 12 years. This makes sense, since Kara looks to be in her early- to mid-20s. (Since Kal-El was an infant when he left Krypton, and he presumably did not spend more than a few weeks or months in the pod, he would be roughly 36-37 years old now.) BUT, what her voiceover *should* have said is “Thirty-six years ago…”. (Of course, this talk of ages & appearances also assumes that 1) all references to “years” are Earth-equivalent and 2) the extended lifespan for Kryptonians under a yellow Sun isn’t noticeable until well into adulthood.)

MINOR SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

Two things bug me about Kara Danvers. First, I understand that she’s trying to be unassuming and blend into the background, but she’s a little too naive, insecure, and mousey. And that was the case before she adopted the Supergirl identity, too. (Golly gee willikers!) I guess it is supposed to have something to do with her original plans/expectations going awry and now trying to “find herself” and her purpose. (Cat Grant wasn’t that far off with her remark.) But, to me it seems like, after all of these years, she would have adjusted by now. Besides, she wasn’t raised on a farm in the middle of nowhere. She needs a bit less naivete and a bit more self-confidence,… but not too much.

On the other hand, when she is Supergirl or talking about what Supergirl did, will do, or should do, she comes across as being much more sure of herself — too sure, if you ask me. I mean, I understand the “girl power” thing and wanting to get out from under her cousin’s shadow, wanting to prove herself a hero, etc. I also appreciate her excitement and admire her gumption & determination to figure it all out and use her abilities for good. But, up until the pilot, she was years out of practice from using those abilities. She obviously has no hand-to-hand or other combat training. The metas she is going up against have had their powers for many years, and some have had military training. If I were able to break the fourth wall, I would say to her (in private, of course),

“For pete’s sake, girl, can’t you see that you’re outmatched and lucky to survive most encounters with these guys/gals?! I admire your enthusiasm and bravery, but at least start learning some fighting skills from your sister and ask Henshaw about combat tactics. Besides, between Winn, James, and the DEO, you aren’t doing it on your own. And, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

In fact, I think Superman ought to impart some wisdom re this, rather than just texting an “attagirl”.

Beyond that, I like her, and Melissa Benoist appears to have been a very good casting choice. She is adorable — sort of a cross between Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent and “Arrow”‘s Felicity Smoak. Well-done on the costume choice, too. I do wonder how she can afford such a nice apartment on the salary of an executive assistant, though. Cat Grant does not seem like she’d be particularly generous in the salaries she pays, especially to a “lowly” EA, but I could be wrong.

I like Jim… excuse me, James Olsen. But, a cool, confident, buff, Black dude just isn’t “Superman’s pal, Jimmy Olsen”. Not to me, anyway. It’s so much of a change, and just doesn’t feel right. I understand the desire to make a connection with “the Big Guy”, but they could/should have either made him a different character or cast a different actor (e.g., that guy “Dave” from episode 3). On the other hand, it does make sense that Olsen is at least somewhat more confident at this age and stage in his career.

Winn Schott‘s an OK character, and he fulfills the role of the tech-savvy buddy who helps our hero. Not sure if this secret crush he has on Kara (who in turn has a crush on James) will eventually cause him such frustration and pain that he goes bad, like his namesake in the comics. Maybe it’ll be something else, or maybe he won’t go bad at all. Maybe Winslow “Toyman” Schott will turn out to be a relative?

Cat Grant is an annoying, self-important, cold-hearted, feminist b*tch. At least, on the outside. If I am supposed to despise her, mission accomplished. On the other hand, maybe she will soften and become a more likable character down the road. It could happen. I suspect we will eventually discover that she was beaten down (literally and/or metaphorically), so that the character gains some sympathy. Maybe that offhand remark about never forgetting childhood traumas was an unintended (by her) peek at her past. I don’t remember any of that from the comics, but I don’t know the character that well. Regardless, Ms. Grant certainly has potential to develop in a lot of ways.

Cast-Wallpaper-supergirl-2015-tv-series-38652517-1280-720As with Winn, I am somewhat ambivalent about Alex Danvers. Sometimes she annoys me, and sometimes not. I probably need to cut her some slack, as she and Kara are struggling to adjust their relationship (and Alex’s with her boss). I do admire that the character did not become resentful of Kara’s “adoption” or jealous of her powers (which Kara apparently hasn’t used much, anyway). Looks like episode 4 may delve into the family dynamic some more, with at least one of the parents showing up. Could be good. Also, interesting idea having Alex be a DEO agent. Back to Alex’s boss, then…

Hank Henshaw is kind of hard to like, what with that gruff exterior and seemingly always being irked or PO’d at someone or something. I guess I can see how the public appearance of another (alien) do-gooder in the environs of National City would make him nervous. But, it’s obvious that he’s better off training and working with Supergirl. On the other hand, with the glowy eyes and possibly enhanced senses he appeared to exhibit briefly in episode 3, it’s obvious he has some secret and possibly ulterior motives for tracking/capturing escaped aliens and/or for not wanting Supergirl on his team. Will he become the “Cyborg Superman” as in the comics, or something totally different? Time will tell…

Now, you may have noticed that I have not ranted and griped — well, maybe just a tad — about the many ways that the show strays from the comic version(s). How uncharacteristic of me. My regular readers know how much I like adaptations to remain faithful to the source material. And, yes, this one bugs me, too; but, not as much as others. Maybe it’s because Supergirl, although I like her, isn’t among my favorite superheroes, so I’m less “invested” in her. Maybe I’m just more “zen” about this one, recognizing that the producers/writers are going to adapt & tweak & retcon whatever they feel like, in order to make something they think will resonate with audiences, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Maybe I’m just tired and decided to give you all a break. (Probably a mix of all three.) But, if I were to mention one other thing that bugs me, it’s how the villains either don’t look right — same complaint I have for DC’s other shows — or they are supposed to be Superman’s villains — at least, first. (Except that Reactron is indeed a Supergirl villain, yet they gave this version a long history with Superman. Sheesh! And why the heck couldn’t Superman defeat this guy?!)

Some have complained about the tone of the show. While I think a somewhat more “serious” tone would have been preferable, I wouldn’t want it to be too dark, either. Closer to “The Flash” than “Arrow” (or “Gotham”, especially), I’d say. However, the lighter tone might work, too, especially if the network & producers are targeting younger/family audiences and others who don’t care for the serious-er, grittier stuff. Of course, there are still dark elements to the show, particularly since so many of the superpowered villains are escaped criminals from the Kryptonian “Fort Ras”(sp?) prison. The ones we’ve seen so far don’t seem to have a problem with killing and causing mayhem. It’s a delicate balance.

Miscellany… decent F/X, decent soundtrack, decent mix of seriousness and humor. I wish the fight scenes were a little more realistic. (That Vartox guy should/could have destroyed her!) But… that’s TV for ya, I guess.

I’ll finish by saying that I’m enjoying the show so far despite its shortcomings and look forward to the rest of the season. The characters and the show itself have a lot of room to grow as everyone — writers, actors, directors, etc. — finds their groove. I hope “Supergirl” finds its own enjoyable, creative niche in the small-screen DC universe.

Fan-Cast: Martian Manhunter

Guess what time it is…? Yep, fan-cast time. While I already had some ideas about this character, I got thinking about him some more a few weeks ago while working on the “7 DC Properties that Should Be on TV” posts. I guess that’s to be expected, since I was proposing a “Martian Manhunter” TV series, which requires finding someone to play the guy. Let’s get started, shall we?

(The) Martian Manhunter

Martian Manhunter - painted with MarsAs anyone familiar with the pre-52 version of the character knows, Martian Manhunter is J’onn J’onzz, “last” survivor of the inhabitants of Mars. I put “last” in quotes because, as with Superman, who was also thought to be sole survivor of his native planet’s race, he turned out to not be the last. A handful of Green Martians have popped up over the years. One of those is J’onzz’s evil twin brother and arch-nemesis, Ma’alefa’ak (aka Malefic), who also survived the extinction-level event known as “H’ronmeer’s Curse” that he himself caused. There were also pre-Crisis Yellow Martians on Earth-One, and a race of nasty, war-like White Martians were revealed many years later in our preferred “New Earth” continuity.

J’onn J’onzz made his home on Earth, adopting the identity of policeman “John Jones”, and was one of the founding members of the Justice League of America. (For awhile, he actually maintained several human identities, which he used for various activities around the world.) His many superhuman powers have come in quite handy when dealing with human, superhuman, and extraterrestrial threats over the years, whether as a cop or as a costumed crimefighter in the JLA and a few other groups. On the other hand, his weaknesses include 1) a genetic aversion to and extreme fear of fire, 2) a nearly debilitating anguish & sorrow over the loss of his wife and child (not to mention the rest of Green Martian civilization), and 3) an unusual obsession with the Oreo-like “Chocos” cookies. The Martian Manhunter became the “heart and soul” of the Justice League, beloved and respected in the metahuman community of Earth (and elsewhere), and instrumental in many victories. Sadly, he was tortured and murdered by Libra and the new Secret Society of Super-Villains during the “Final Crisis” events. Fortunately, he was also one of many who were resurrected during the events of “Blackest Night”.

185px-MartianManhunterCv2Despite having the typically “somewhat cold and stoic demeanor” of those of his race, J’onzz is extraordinarily kind, noble, wise, and self-sacrificial. He has also demonstrated incredible willpower, as well as a subtle sense of humor. J’onzz is several decades old but still appears to be in the prime of life. As a powerful shapeshifter and telepath, he can look and act like just about anyone. When working as Martian Manhunter, though, he usually either puts on his “public” form (i.e., that which he would wear in public on Mars) or a combination of that and a more human appearance, along with typical Martian garb. That form is tall and powerfully-built, with DC’s wiki listing it at 6’7″ and about 300 lbs. But, his human identity doesn’t have to be big, because his height & build are adjustable with his malleable body. In that case, I suppose they could get an actor that is not nearly so tall or muscular and just CGI a larger body for costumed action scenes. However, I would still prefer to see someone over 6′ tall and with a fairly muscular build play the role, regardless of how much CGI is used in the action scenes. Also, at least when “in costume”, I think he should speak with a deep voice, possibly with an accent of some sort. So, I would try to cast a Black or white man, roughly 6’2″ to 6’7″ with a fairly muscular build, in his mid-30s to mid-40s. It would help if he looked good bald, too.

I considered Dennis Haysbert (6’4.5″,b.1954), Kevin Grevioux (6’3″,b.1962), Christopher Judge (6’2″,b.1964), but they are all too old. Raw Leiba (6’3″) has the build, but I’m not sure he has the acting skills. Vin Diesel (5’11.75″,b.1967) might be good, but he’s too short, a little too old, and not quite right for it. Kevin McKidd (6′,b.1973) is too short, and Armie Hammer (6’5″,b.1986) is too young and boyish looking. I looked at a few others in the 6’4″-6’5″ range, but they were either too old, didn’t look right for it, or I was afraid they didn’t have the acting chops for this complicated character. A few years ago, actor/stuntman Jeff Chase (6’7″,b.1968) might have been a good choice, and they wouldn’t have needed any CGI. But, he is too old now and a bit round in the middle. (Not sure about his acting range, either.) LaMonica Garrett (6’2″,b.1975), who I suggested for Det. Crispus Allen a few weeks back, might be good; but, I had to eliminate him to get to… my top four candidates:

David Ramsey - shirtless pose with green lightingDavid Ramsey (6’2or3″,b.1971) is the shortest of the four, but he may actually be my favorite. I think he was the first person I came up with when I started thinking about casting the character awhile ago. The biggest problem with this choice, of course, is that he currently has a regular gig on the ever-popular “Arrow” series. He is also known for recurring roles in “Dexter” and “Blue Bloods”, as well as appearances in shows like “Space: Above & Beyond”, “NCIS”, “CSI: Miami”, “Charmed”, “Journeyman”, and “Ghost Whisperer”. Plus, we already know he has the physique and martial arts skills to play the action hero. If they decide to kill off John Diggle anytime soon, they should grab Ramsey to play J’onn J’onzz. I think he has the look and versatile talent to do right by the Martian Manhunter!

Ryan McPartlin - shirtless with gunKnown to “Chuck” fans as Devon ‘Captain Awesome’ Woodcomb, Ryan McPartlin (6’4″,b.1975) has also appeared in Super Capers, “CSI: Miami”, “Daybreak”, “Sequestered”, and even plays a detective in the comedy “Mystery Girls”. He also voiced the titular hero in Lego: The Adventures of Clutch Powers. Of course, he has the height & build needed to play J’onn J’onzz, too. I’d like to see McPartlin in a regular, dramatic, possibly action-oriented role, and the lead in a “Martian Manhunter” series might be just the opportunity he needs to shine.

36-MARTIANMANHUNTER-SIMMONSJLE-36Nowadays, fans can see Henry Simmons (6’4″,b.1970) playing ‘Mack’ on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, and it looks like he’ll be there at least through season 3. But, if they write off the character after that, maybe Simmons could be persuaded to switch to DC…. Simmons has been in Spartacus (TV movie), “NYPD Blue” (in which he played a detective for several seasons), The Insurgents, “Shark”, “Ravenswood”, and the recent Synapse. He also voiced a character for Superman vs. The Elite. He has the necessary physical traits and acting experience to make a darn good Martian Manhunter. Based on the pic I found, I’m not the only one to think so.

Daniel Cudmore - gym t-shirtBoth the youngest and the tallest of my candidates is former X-Man “Colossus”, Daniel Cudmore (6’6or7or8″,b.1981). In addition to three X-Men films, Cudmore has been in four The Twilight Saga films, Alone in the Dark, Merlin and the Book of Beasts (TV Movie), The Killing Machine, Rites of Passage, “Fringe”, The Baytown Outlaws, and “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn” (TV mini-series). I haven’t seen him in anything else, so I’m not sure of his acting range, but physically he certainly fills J’onzz’s shoes, and he’s used to working with CGI. He might actually be a surprisingly good Martian Manhunter.

As I have said before, with the right take on the character, Martian Manhunter could be a very good cop/superhero show. Any of the above actors might have the required balance of physique and talent — not to mention a deep voice — to do J’onn J’onzz justice.

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2015.

7 DC Properties that Should Be on TV (Part 2 of 2)

Continuing on from last week’s Part 1, here are four more DC properties I think could make great TV series, ranging from regular cops to super-cops (sort of) to superheroes to super-science. (Just to be clear, I am proposing live-action adaptations.) Heck, maybe somebody from DC will see my ideas and pass ’em on to the relevant people. Yeah, I’m dreamin’ again.

I know some DC fans really want to see The Question (aka Vic Sage) adapted for TV, and I’d be OK with that. But, I was never a big fan of the character, so if I had my choice of DC-based (private?) detectives, it would be…

Martian Manhunter (J'onn J'onzz)

Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz)

J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter: Reece Jones at MoviePilot.com suggested adapting JJ, but I’d been thinking about this for a long time. I didn’t much care for the “Smallville” version, and it just seems like the character is being neglected in the DC Cinematic Universe, too. He’s a great character with lots of potential, so maybe a TV series is where he can find a home. What I would like to see is J’onn working as either a police detective (as he has done in the comics) or a private detective, preferably in a city other than Gotham or Metropolis. (I think he lived & worked in Denver for awhile in the comics.) The series would focus on his cases, which he works mostly in human guise but, of course, he would need to surreptitiously use his superhuman powers — e.g., flight, superstrength, invisibility, shapeshifting, phasing, telepathy, etc. — from time to time. Maybe some of those powers will be reduced in strength or even gone. (Temporarily?) Occasional references to past and present cases with the JLA could be fun and interesting to see him explain his absences to friends & co-workers. Or, maybe he could be on a self-imposed hiatus from the JLA. There would be personal and professional tension, as he tries to live life as a human (most of the time, anyway) and perhaps struggling with Martian-specific issues and memories of his dead family & race. The right take on all of this — drama, action, suspense, with a dose of humor — could be just what the Martian Manhunter needs to get the live-action respect he deserves.

Continuing with the police detective genre…

Gotham_Central_Vol_1_1Gotham Central: Unfortunately, this one will never happen (in the near future, at least), since DC already has a GCPD show called “Gotham”. While I am enjoying that show, I would much prefer that they had done one based on the acclaimed “Gotham Central” comic series. As such, it would take place when Batman was already a well-established vigilante hero and many of the familiar villains had also been around awhile. The series would, of course, be a police procedural “cop show” — sort of a Gotham-style “NYPD Blue”. Assuming it followed the comic series pretty closely, it would be set post-No Man’s Land, after Gordon had re-staffed the GCPD but then retired, leaving Michael Akins as Commissioner. The focus would be on detectives like Renee Montoya, Crispus Allen, Marcus Driver, Romy Chandler, Nathan Patton, Sgt. Jackson Davies, Capt. Maggie Sawyer, and others. Costumed heroes and villains would turn up for some story arcs, but most of the detective work and arrests would be by Gotham’s Finest. OR, the series could be set at a different time, when Gordon was Commissioner and Bullock part of the crew. In that case, it might be possible to keep the appearances of costumed types to a minimum, maybe limited to being in shadow, at a distance, or captured briefly on camera. The idea would be to focus on the cops, of course, as they deal both with normal crime/criminals and with the weird crazies that Gotham is infamous for. Throw in a frustrated assistant district attorney or two, and that is the kind of show about law enforcement in Gotham City that I’ve been wanting to see. It’s been a few years, but I need to read “Gotham Central” again. I wonder if my library has the TPBs….

250px-BirdsofpreybloodandcircuitsBirds of Prey: As you may know, there was a “Birds of Prey” TV series over a decade ago that didn’t last long, and deservedly so. (I still watched it, of course. Dina Meyer and Ashley Scott were HOT!) But, I think we can re-use the title. What I would prefer to see developed would be an Oracle-centered team straight out of the comics, with her calling upon various female heroes (e.g., a seasoned Black Canary, Batgirl, Huntress) and even villains (e.g., Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy) to go on missions for cases Oracle is working on. The emphasis would be on cases mostly independent from or, at best, peripheral to those Oracle works on with other members of the Bat-family or the JLA. But, there could be fun references to those other heroes, villains, and stories from the comics. This would be a total “girl-power” series, but it might make an interesting companion show for “Gotham Central”….

 

Project Cadmus (principal characters)

Project Cadmus (principal characters)

Project Cadmus: This series would be quite different from the mostly street-level crimefighting of the above proposals. From the DC wiki, “Project Cadmus is a scientific research center located just outside of Metropolis. It is primarily known for its achievements in genetic engineering and its human cloning capabilities. Its notable creations include the Golden Guardian (a clone of the original Guardian) and Dubbilex, a DNAlien telepath who resembled a tall grey alien with horns.” If I remember right, some (all?) of those who work there also have living quarters on-site. The premise, then, would be to follow the personal and professional activities of Director Mickey Cannon, Security Chief Jim Harper (aka “(Golden) Guardian”), Dr. Serling Roquette, Dubbilex, and various other residents as they deal with clones, mutants, scientific discoveries, technological breakthroughs, experiments gone wrong, pressure from the military, industrial espionage, sabotage, personnel issues, ethical questions, etc. Oh, and a superpowered hero or villain might stop by — or be created? — on occasion, too. Plenty of exciting elements for weekly action and drama….

What do you think? I tried to stay away from concepts that would require heavily F/X-laden episodes all the time, because those usually mean huge budgets. On the other hand, anything involving occasional use of superpowers, advanced tech, and/or intense action is going to involve some cool F/X, and that’s pretty much expected with a comic adaptation. I also tried to present a variety of characters and settings — from research labs to police precincts to average joes/janes “on the street”. I think you will agree that there is a lot of potential. I just hope the powers-that-be at DC & Warner Brothers are smart about realizing that potential.

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2015.

7 DC Properties that Should Be on TV (Part 1 of 2)

We can never have too many TV series based on comics, right? (Well, assuming they aren’t cheesy.) With recent hits like “Arrow”, “The Flash”, and “Daredevil” (yes, I lump Netflix in with “TV”), networks are getting increasingly adventuresome and willing to try new things. “Supergirl” will makes its official debut in October, and we already know about a few more shows in various stages of development and production — e.g., “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”, “(The?) Titans”, “Krypton”, and Netflix’s growing stable of Marvel-based series.

Over the past three months, I’ve seen at least three comics- & movie-oriented sites publish articles proposing ideas for what other Marvel and DC properties should be adapted for the small screen. There were several concepts floated, and I agreed on a couple, but the rest I either thought were much better suited for the large screen (e.g., “Jack Kirby’s New Gods”) or just wasn’t sure it could hold its own as a series (e.g., the goofy “Major Bummer”). So, I got thinking about what comic characters/titles I thought might make fun TV series. I’ll give you my Top 7 from DC now, and in a few weeks I’ll do the same for Marvel….

Steel (John Henry Irons)

Steel (John Henry Irons)

Steel: Lan Pitts at Comicbook.com suggested Steel, and I like the idea. (Yes, there was already a big-screen Steel movie starring Shaquille O’Neal, but we don’t talk about that in polite company.) As loyal Superman readers know, John Henry Irons is a gifted mechanical engineer and inventor who became one of the replacement “supermen” in the “Reign of the Supermen” story-arc, following Superman’s death at the hands of Doomsday. He later became friends with the resurrected Superman, and the armored “Steel” became a respected member of the superhero community. I think the best time to place the series would either be in the early days, when Superman was still considered dead, or much later, when Irons was semi-retired as a hero and trying to focus on making his Steelworks facility a successful developer of non-lethal weapons and other equipment for groups like Metropolis’ Special Crimes Unit. During the latter period, his teenage niece, Natasha, also lived with him. This could make for a nice combo of hero-ing, business, and family struggles.

h_dialDial H for Hero: I can’t remember what I read or heard in passing recently that reminded me of this title, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of adapting the “everyman hero” series for TV. If you are unfamiliar, the basic premise is that there is a mysterious device that looks like an old phone dial with ancient runes on it, which enables an ordinary person to temporarily become a superpowered being — complete with name & costume — by dialing H-E-R-O. (These superheroes are usually brand-new, but on one occasion the dial caused its owner to become a duplicate of an existing superhero, Plastic Man.) Dialing O-R-E-H returns the person back to normal. In some versions, other words could be spelled out on the H(ero)-Dial with varying repercussions. Also, sometimes the possessor of the dial was able to either subconsciously or actively influence the results. I envision “Dial H for Hero” for TV as a sort of anthology series with several people using the dial each season. Either each episode is self-contained or, better yet, have 3- to 4-episode story-arcs. Maybe a mix. Not only would there be the opportunity to tell different kinds of stories with different kinds of protagonists with different sets of powers (costume optional), but it also allows for jumping around to different locales in the DC Universe. Sounds like a lot of fun to me!

Blue Beetle (Ted Kord)

Blue Beetle (Ted Kord)

Blue Beetle: I admit I’ve never been a huge Blue Beetle fan, but the idea does have potential for a live-action adaptation. Reece Jones at MoviePilot.com suggested adapting the Jaime Reyes version. That might work. I remember reading the first several issues of his comic series years ago, and the teen character was likable and had an interesting origin story. It incorporated the alien scarab, which also gave the original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett, his powers. If done right, it could have a fun, Spider-Man-like vibe. My preference, though, would be to do the Ted Kord (New Earth) version of Blue Beetle. Assuming it is true to the source material, that could make for some humorous hijinks action as the commercial tech company CEO develops gadgets and plays superhero. The Bug ship would be a kick to see, along with some of his other weapons. Maybe pair him up with Booster Gold on occasion to escalate the hilarity? (Of course, it might also make sense to have Booster appear in “Legends of Tomorrow”, given his time-traveling and connection with Rip Hunter.)

That’s enough for this week. I’ll discuss the other four next time. I think you’ll like ’em. ‘Til then…