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…

Fan-Cast: Moon Knight

“I am vengeance! I am justice!”  — Moon Knight

Almost a year ago, I wrote a 2-parter called “7 Marvel Properties that Should Be on TV”, and the first property I discussed was Moon Knight. (If some of the text below sounds familiar, it’s because I “borrowed” from the earlier post.) In fact, there has been talk of a “Moon Knight” series being developed for Netflix since at least April 2015, though I am not aware of any confirmation of them moving into production. Not even a place-holder entry on IMDB. Still, it seems a (super)natural fit with the other Marvel properties that Netflix has been working on. And, naturally, I have a few ideas about who might portray our hero. But, first…

Moon Knight

moon-knight-5-moon-knight-finchI’ll keep the usual origin/history of the character a bit briefer than usual, ‘cuz I want room to present six candidates rather than the usual three.

Moon Knight is part Batman, part Punisher, with some unique “issues” and abilities thrown in. Marc Spector is a former U.S. Marine-turned-CIA operative-turned-mercenary who died(?) and was brought back by the Egyptian moon god “Khonshu”, who inspired the Moon Knight persona for fighting crime (and Khonshu’s enemies). He also created for himself the alternate identities of successful financier “Steven Grant” and taxicab driver “Jake Lockley”, both of which serve his purposes as adventurer/vigilante. So, we have a rich guy with deadly skills and fancy toys who fights crime in costume (sound familiar?), who also struggles with keeping his multiple personalities straight; plus, there is the mystical connection with his serving as the “Fist of Khonshu”.

With friends & associates like Jean-Paul ‘Frenchie’ DuChamp and Marlene Alraune, and sometimes with other superheroes (e.g., Avengers) and vigilantes (e.g., Punisher), he has fought mercenaries, serial killers, assassins, mobsters, werewolves, and supervillains. It helps that he (or Khonshu) can increase his strength, speed, reflexes, stamina, durability, healing ability, resistance to pain, and his fractured psyche gives him limited immunity to telepathic control. Of course, he has plenty of other offensive and defensive skills from his training as a Marine, CIA operative, and merc — e.g., detective, pilot, marksman, interrogator, boxer, martial artist, and master of many weapons. His weapons of choice are a truncheon and throwing crescents. The toughest part of being the Moon Knight, though, may be simply holding onto his sanity.

Moon-Knight-IdentitiesAs I recall, the Marc Spector personality is somewhat gruff, whereas Grant is more refined and Lockley is friendly but a bit roguish. Moon Knight is often, though not always, the silent type, usually focused on a mission and/or vengeance, which tends to preoccupy him a lot. On the other hand, it has been ages since I read anything with the character, so I could be a little off. Anyway, as you can gather from this second pic, he is an attractive, well-built white man with brown hair and a scar over his left eye. Marvel’s wiki lists him at 6’2″, 225 lbs., so an athletically-built white guy in the 5’11” to 6’4″ range should work. The fact that he has already spent several years in the U.S. Marines, then in the CIA, then as a mercenary, tells us he was probably in his 30s when he gained his powers (and mission) from Khonshu. Theoretically, he could get all that experience while still in his 20s, but I always felt he was older. I would say anywhere from 30 to 40 would work, but my preference would be early- to mid-30s.

Normally, at this point I would list a few actors and/or athletes that I considered briefly but ruled out for one or more reasons. And, technically, I could have ruled out one on each end of my age parameters this time. But, I decided they were all worth presenting for your consideration. So, here is our six man line-up, in order of oldest to youngest…

gorham-christopher - shirtless, dogtags, camo pants

Christopher Gorham

You might remember Christopher Gorham (6′,b.1974) from “Odyssey 5” or “Jake 2.0” or “Covert Affairs” or maybe something of another genre. He has also done a little voice work, including as The Flash in a few animated Justice League movies and as the Wizard of Oz in “Once Upon a Time”. He may be on the slim side, but I used a shirtless pic of him so you could see that he’s in good shape. (Or, at least, he was a couple years ago.) And, yes, he is over 40, but he can pass for younger.

 

 

Scott Adkins

Scott Adkins

Scott Adkins (5’11”,b.1976) should be familiar to genre fans, ‘cuz that’s mostly what he does. For example, he has been in “Mutant X”, Unleashed, Undisputed 2 and Undisputed 3, The Bourne Ultimatum, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Expendables 2, The Legend of Hercules, “Metal Hurlant Chronicles”, Jarhead 3: The Siege, and he’ll be in Doctor Strange. He definitely has the look and the martial arts skills, but his acting is a little stiff. Just turned 40, too.

 

 

Dylan Bruce

Dylan Bruce

I have mentioned Dylan Bruce (6′,b.1980) in at least a couple other fan-cast posts. I know him from “Arrow”, “Heroes Reborn”, and “Orphan Black”, but he has also appeared in Unstoppable, “NCIS”, “Motive”, and “American Gothic”. He’s got the look and muscular build we need for MK, and he can do action. I don’t know if he has the acting range, but I’m willing to give him a shot.

 

 

Philip Winchester

Philip Winchester

Philip Winchester (6’1″,b.1981) is another beefy, square-jawed guy that could do quite well, I think, as our slightly unbalanced vigilante / “Fist of Khonshu”. I know him best from “Strike Back”, but he has also starred in the short-lived “Crusoe” and “The Player”. He also appeared in Solomon Kane, “Warehouse 13”, “Fringe”, “Camelot”, and “24: Live Another Day”. Winchester was classically trained in London, so I’m sure he can pull off the various personalities required.

 

 

Toby Kebbell

Toby Kebbell

Toby Kebbell (6’2″,b.1982) may be a bit of a surprise, but I think he could be an interesting choice. We already know he can play the brooding, unpredictable type. You may recall him from Alexander, RocknRolla, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Wrath of the Titans, or 2015’s disappointing Fantastic Four (which I recently reviewed). He was also in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Warcraft, though unrecognizable behind heavy makeup and/or CGI.

 

Oliver Jackson-Cohen

Oliver Jackson-Cohen

Youngest in our list is Oliver Jackson-Cohen (6’3″,b.1986), who I became aware of from his portrayal of a very intense contract killer in Faster (w/ Dwayne Johnson). He had some workout scenes that showed he was in very good shape (though on the lean side), and he became quite familiar with guns, too. He has also appeared in such genre fare as The Raven, “Dracula”, and the upcoming “Emerald City”. Not my first choice, but he could definitely handle the gig.

Well, I’ve given you more choices than usual this time. What do you think? Any of them strike you as a particularly good or bad fit?

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2016.

Headline Miscellany

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen several announcements in genre news that I thought were worth commenting briefly on. You may have seen them already, but please indulge me while I give my two cents’ worth (or less) on each. Give your own in the comments, too, if you feel led….

TV/Netflix News

nbc-the-a-team-keyartA-Team:  I thought the movie version from a few years ago was just OK and only liked half of the casting choices. If they want to bring it back to TV, I guess that’s cool… as long as they stay faithful to the original. Sounds like they’re going to make at least one of the main characters female. As long as it isn’t B.A., I guess I can deal with that… maybe. Btw, I started fan-casting for an A-Team reboot long ago, so I’ll have to share those ideas in the coming months.

Iron Fist and Moon Knight:  If the rumor is true about “Iron Fist” getting scrapped (or, at least, postponed), that would be disappointing but not entirely surprising, given the problems with casting and developing a workable concept for the series. (I wonder if they’ve considered bringing in some Hong Kong talent….) It would be a shame not to see the other half of “Power Man and Iron Fist”/”Heroes for Hire” in the Defenders. On the other hand, the possible replacement with Moon Knight works for me. Not clear if MK would be part of the Defenders, but he has been in at least one version of the team in the comics. Regardless, I’ve already expressed my desire to see an MK series, so how could I say “no”?

X-Men:  Well, not X-Men, exactly, but it looks as if not one but two new shows are being developed involving some of Marvel’s not-so-Merry Mutants. The first is “Legion”, named after the illegitimate son of Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller, who happens to be off his nut (i.e., crazy) and incredibly powerful. The second will be a look at “The Hellfire Club” as it existed in the 1960s. Not sure how I feel about “Legion”, especially when there are, imho, several better options. But, a look at the clandestine mutant elitists know as “The Hellfire Club” could prove quite intriguing, and setting it in the 60s is an interesting twist.

TV/Movie News

(Teen) Titans and Birds of Prey(?):  It’s about time we heard something about this. We got a little news in May and then September that the “Titans” TV show is still in development at TNT. Now, we may be getting a Teen Titans movie, too! I was never a huge Titans fan, but I do like several of the characters, so this could be pretty cool. The quoted line that led to the speculation about a Birds of Prey movie, too, is not that clear to me. I read it as referring to the Teen Titans movie possibly having an “all female cast”. But, if they do it right, I am totally in favor of a big-screen Birds of Prey, as long as the connection to Batman and other heroes is there.

Movie News

Xenomorph (H.R. Giger)

Xenomorph (H.R. Giger)

Aliens and Prometheus:  The first part of this is that Scott is now insisting that his Prometheus 2 be scheduled to shoot before Alien 5, which is probably fine, since Blomkamp is still refining his story and script. (Downside, ofc, is that this may delay Alien 5 another year.) A few weeks later, Scott announced that his film will now be titled, Alien: Paradise Lost. This strengthens — or, at least, confirms — its connection to the Alien films. Uncharacteristically, Scott even hinted at “connections with Ripley”, the return (or would that be the debut?) of the classic xenomorph, and big plans for the android David’s severed head. Scott is 77, which may factor into his reasons for this accelerated pace. For me and the rest of the fans, I think it’s a good thing.

Superman:  A bit of bad news, this one. Rumor has it that the much-anticipated Man of Steel 2 is on indefinite hold. Truth be told, though, it’s all a bit sketchy, with nothing definitive coming from the studio or reliable sources. Far as I could tell, we never had any projected dates for production or release, anyway. Still, this is a bit disappointing, and I hope everything comes together in the near future. I’d really like to see Henry Cavill’s Supes in solo action, with focus on him and his classic foes, while he’s still in his 30s.

Men in Black:  I don’t know about this…. MiB is due to return with another trilogy (could be great!) but without Will Smith (could spell disaster). So much of the success of the first trilogy was the characters played by Smith and Jones and their odd-couple chemistry on screen. This makes me dubious of another trilogy’s success without either star. But, who knows? There may be another perfect pair ready to be cast that could — along with clever stories/scripts and F/X — give the franchise three more blockbusters.

Indiana Jones:  According to Spielberg, “I’ll probably do an Indy 5 with Harrison.” This confirms what both (Spielberg protege and current Lucasfilm president) Kathleen Kennedy and producer Frank Marshall have hinted at earlier this year, though there is no script and it will probably be awhile. Of course, if they want to have Ford, 73, actively involved, they better get a move on! One possibility is to have an elderly, possibly ailing, Indy (played by Ford) bookend the movie, as he relates a tale of his younger years to his (grand)children. Not sure how I feel about Chris Pratt (suggested by some) playing that younger version of Indiana Jones, but casting will be crucial to capture that same, lovable, swashbuckling swagger.

Die Hard:  Not sure how I feel about this. I thought the last installment was fun, yet it lacked a little something. Making a prequel could be a great idea, or it could really suck. Willis’ unique presence — the attitude (inc. the ever-present smirk) and delivery of great one-liners — is what made this franchise so popular. Without him, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. Casting the young John McClane is key, along with a great script and director, of course. (Just as it will be for any Star Wars prequel featuring a young Han Solo, or the Indiana Jones prequel mentioned above.) If it doesn’t all come together, they should just let the franchise rest in peace.

UPDATE, 10/22/2015:  Of course, this came out the day after I published this post….

Krypton:  “It takes place 200 years before Man of Steel.… [W]e’ll learn about the politics of the world. We’ll learn about the culture, the art, all the different guilds… a lot of different locations… some of the other moons, which is kind of cool.” That all sounds cool to me. Lots of opportunity to expand on what we “know” about Krypton and its peoples. I’m sure the creators are having a lot of fun mapping it all out. Now, how about an estimated release date…?

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

A few weeks ago, I wrote about some ideas I had for DC properties that I thought would make cool TV/Netflix shows. As promised, this week and next I’ll do the same for Marvel properties. It’s not as easy as it may sound, especially when trying to balance a mix of interesting characters and genres without breaking special F/X budgets. But, I think I came up with some fun stuff.

First, I should explain a couple conspicuous absences. Any talk about possible TV series based on Marvel characters has got to include something X-Men/mutants related, right? But, we already know that one is in development, and I already discussed several possibilities for it and my preferences in my “Jack Bauer and the X-Men” post. I have not included a “Punisher” series in this list, either, even though I would love to see one, because one is likely to spin off from season 2 of “Daredevil”, anyway.

F.y.i., I played with the idea of a “Daily Bugle” series, but decided that to really work, it would need to have a lot of superheroes & villains popping up not just in print but on-screen. Since the Bugle is in New York, as are most of the major heroes/villains, that would probably not work out logistically or legally, particularly with those claimed for the big screen. Some have suggested a “Spider-Woman” series, and I’d be fine with that, but Netflix already has a female private investigator (i.e., Jessica Jones). On the other hand, the characters are different enough that it might work. (Dakota North would be another possibility, if they did decide to have another female P.I.) Finally, another idea I considered was “Thunderbolts”, based on the original concept of a band of new superheroes, who are actually supervillains seeking to gain & exploit the public’s (and government’s) trust. But, ultimately I dropped it, because I wasn’t sure it could be done without significantly re-working many of the characters, connections to the Avengers, etc.

Alright, here are my first three suggestions…

845482-moon_knight__005_017_018_copy_01_superMoon Knight: I know I’m not the first to suggest it (though I did think of it quite awhile ago), but I think a show based on the Moon Knight has a ton of potential. If you aren’t already aware, MK is part Batman, part Punisher, with some unique “issues” and abilities thrown in. Marc Spector is a former Marine-turned-CIA operative-turned-mercenary who died(?) and was brought back by the Egyptian moon god “Khonshu”, which inspired the Moon Knight persona for fighting crime (and Khonshu’s enemies). He also created for himself the identities of successful financier “Steven Grant” and taxicab driver “Jake Lockley”, both of which serve his purposes as adventurer/vigilante. So, we have a rich guy with deadly skills and fancy toys who fights crime in costume (sound familiar?), who also struggles with keeping his multiple personalities straight; plus, there is the mystical connection with his serving as the “Fist of Khonshu”. With friends & associates like ‘Frenchie’ DuChamp and Marlene Alraune, as well as foes like Bushman and Taskmaster, I see lots of opportunity for fun and intriguing stories involving a boatload of action and drama. There should be the occasional reference to characters and events from other shows and movies to demonstrate a shared “universe”, too. Also, can you say “Marvel Team-up”? [Note to self: I really need to fan-cast this guy.]

Shang-Chi

Shang-Chi

Shang-Chi: Created in the wake of Bruce Lee’s death, the “Master of Kung Fu” has the dubious distinction of being the son of criminal mastermind/sorcerer Fu Manchu, who trained him as an assassin. He has connections to the Avengers, Heroes for Hire, and the British intelligence community, as he has worked as both spy and adventurer/crimefighter. But, all he really wants to do is live the simple life of a fisherman. I think these and other characteristics make him different enough from Danny Rand (aka Iron Fist) to justify a second show centered on a martial artist. I see it having elements of the old “Kung Fu” series, where our hero wanders all over the globe (e.g., Hong Kong, England, USA), reluctantly either finding himself encountering injustice that needs to be addressed or being contacted & persuaded by other heroes and intelligence agencies to lend them his particular skills and knowledge. With the right vision, writing, and casting, I think such a series could be both charming and action-packed — sort of like Bruce Lee.

 

Agent 13 (aka Sharon Carter)

Agent 13 (aka Sharon Carter)

Agent 13: I would love to see a current day “spy” series that is more James Bond-ian than what we have with “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”. Black Widow could work as the protagonist, but her being a major player in the MCU probably puts her out of the running. But, Sharon Carter (aka “Agent 13”), whom we have seen played by Emily VanCamp in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and returning for Captain America: Civil War, is a distinct possibility. “Agent 13” is, therefore, already established as a live-action character, and I can see her branching off into a series of her own, much like her aunt Peggy did in “Agent Carter”. As a (former?) S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, she has connections to Captain America and Fury, who might make the occasional cameo appearance. (She and Cap were lovers for quite a while in the comics.) I imagine the show being about Carter going undercover on various missions, some related to but mostly separate from the events in the MCU and “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” She might report directly to Fury, but it would probably make more sense for her to report to either Coulson or another high-ranking officer that survived the Hydra massacre/purge. Or, if she stays at the CIA (as per the end of Winter Soldier), that opens up a whole ‘nother realm of possibilities.

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

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2015.