In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, superhero movies and television shows have become pretty popular. Now that Hollywood has the technology to really bring comic books to life, movies about Batman and Iron Man are pretty much the surest recipe for box office success that there is.
And now we seem to be on the cusp of a superhero television explosion. Arrow and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have had success in recent years, and Gotham and The Flash earned some of the most glowing reviews of 2014’s new shows. That’s not even mentioning the fact that Netflix is getting into the action, most notably with a new Daredevil series. So with comic book TV shows about to take over the airwaves, here are some superheroes we think need to be in the mix.
10. Jonah Hex
We’ll admit that Jonah Hex isn’t a typical superhero, but he’s the star of a compelling comic book series that unfortunately saw his brand tainted with the stink of a horrible movie. But there’s still plenty of material to mine, and combining a western with supernatural, otherworldly stuff could absolutely work as a gritty, ass kicking series. Plus, the plot lends itself perfectly to the sort of serial storytelling that’s made shows like The Walking Dead so popular.
Speaking of Walking Dead (another comic book show), AMC would have been the perfect landing spot for Jonah Hex… except they’ve already got a gritty western called Hell on Wheels. So with that in mind, and understanding that Jonah Hex is a disfigured bounty hunter who has no problem whipping out his guns and blasting bad guys, a premium channel like Showtime might make sense.
Mystique has been getting a lot of attention on the big screen over the last decade, especially since Jennifer Lawrence stepped into the role. But she’s yet to make the jump to the small screen, even though there are few comic book characters that better lend themselves to a serialized show. Why are we so convinced that Mystique would make a great TV star? It’s simple, really — she’s a shape shifter.
That means she can be anyone from week to week, and her interactions and adventures can be tremendously varied. We’d love to see her get an Alias-type show where she’s a shady covert operative, using her powers to go undercover and pull off high risk missions for both good and evil. She’s morally ambiguous enough that she could legitimately go either way based on what the plot dictates, and she would be an amazing character to plop right smack down in the middle of international espionage. Cast a hot young up and coming actress like AnnaSophia Robb and you’ve got a great foundation right there.
8. Black Panther
Marvel recently announced plans to turn Black Panther into a big screen hero, and chances are he’s going to be folded into the Avengers universe along with Guardians of the Galaxy. But there’s absolutely no reason Black Panther couldn’t extend to the television side of things, considering the Avengers universe has already grown to include Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the upcoming Agent Carter.
Black Panther debuted in an issue of Fantastic Four, and became the first black superhero in mainstream comic books. The title of Black Panther actually goes to the chief of the Panther Tribe in fictional Wakanda, a nation that’s going to play a major role going forward since it’s the country that produces vibranium, better known as “that stuff Captain America’s shield is made from.” The guy who becomes the vigilante superhero Black Panther is T’Challa, and he becomes one for the same reason so many others do: to avenge the death of his father, the king of the Black Panther tribe. Along the way he had a relationship with Storm of X-Men fame and joined the Avengers. If you can’t milk a long running series about a guy like that, then we just don’t know what to tell you.
Everyone has been clamoring for Gambit to appear in an X-Men film — any X-Men film — for years now, while carefully ignoring the horrible portrayal he got in the awful X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And now it looks like we’ll finally be getting one, with Channing Tatum set to star as the X-Men cinematic universe expands. But we’re going to be honest here — we don’t want to see Gambit as a member of the X-Men. We want to see the dashing Cajun rogue before he ever joined forces with Wolverine and the gang. We want to see a young Gambit being charming and more than a little shady.
The Gambit we want is the one from his days as a professional thief, who skirts the edges of the criminal underworld while still pulling off heroic acts to make himself a true anti-hero. Seriously, are you going to try to tell us you wouldn’t watch a show about a card playing master thief who fights with a bo staff and can harness pure kinetic energy, seduce ladies and make witty quips? We thought so.
6. Doctor Doom
The arch-nemesis of the Fantastic Four is pretty darned interesting. He’s a brilliant scientist, he has superpowers, and he has his own freaking country. That’s right, the dude is not only a supervillain and a sorcerer, but a full-fledged dictator. Apparently that’s not cool enough for the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, which is re-imagining him as an antisocial hacker if reports are to be believed. Apparently that’s the one stupid cliche evil character that screenwriters just can’t let go of.
So with that awful (reported) re-imagining of Victor von Doom, we would totally be on board with his more traditional persona getting his own show. It could go in a number of directions, from showing his rise to power and his early run-ins with Reed Richards and the accident that created the Fantastic Four, to focusing on the aftermath of that accident instead. That’s when Doom wandered the earth and was eventually taken in by Tibetan monks, after which he took all of their teachings and disciplines and decided to go forge a suit of armor and become Doctor Doom. Because Tibetan monks are nothing if not egomaniacal psychopaths bent on world conquest and revenge, we guess?
5. Captain Marvel
Isn’t it about time that a female superhero got a chance to shine on TV? Back in the day we actually got a pretty strong Wonder Woman show, but attempts have fizzled over the years to replicate that success, most recently with a disastrous attempt to bring the Amazon warrior back to television. But we think that could change if some network decided to take a chance with Carol Danvers, better known as Captain Marvel. Marvel recently announced plans to make a Captain Marvel movie, but we’d be just as happy if she got her own TV series.
Captain Marvel is actually a name various people have used through the history of Marvel comics. But we’re sticking with Danvers here, in large part because fanboy favorite Katee Sackhoff not only bears a striking resemblance but has expressed an interest in playing the part. Danvers had previously been known as Ms. Marvel before getting the promotion to Captain in 2012, and had been a member of the US Air Force before, long story short, an explosion gave her superpowers. Don’t try that at home, kids.
4. Y: The Last Man
For awhile, Y: The Last Man was rumored to be in progress as either a movie or a miniseries. In fact, Shia LeBeouf was perpetually rumored to be playing the lead, which makes us pretty glad that they decided to ditch the idea altogether. However, Y: The Last Man is a story that, while not well known by casual comic fans, would make for an incredible show. It would have to be on a premium cable channel, or at least AMC or FX, and it would work best as a limited run series of two or three seasons.
For those unfamiliar with the comic, it’s a dystopian science fiction story about a young man named Yorick who, well, is the last man. It’s really right there in the title. He wanders the country with his pet monkey, somehow having survived a mysterious plague that wiped out everything else with a Y chromosome on the entire planet. Being the only man in the world obviously leads to some strange and dangerous situations, and part of the plot involves the remaining government learning about Yorick and trying to get him to Boston to be examined and cloned in order to keep humanity from dying out. Due to the unusual plot and the fact that it’d be a cast comprised almost entirely of women, it’s likely regular networks would avoid it out of fear it might not capture their key demographics. But hey, people thought Orange is the New Black would be a tough sell to men, and it’s become one of the most popular shows around. We have a feeling Y: The Last Man would be even more popular, if done well.
3. Lex Luthor
It’s pretty easy to envision Lex Luthor at the center of a television show. In fact, DC already has a good blueprint for telling the early story of Superman’s arch-nemesis. The one thing Gotham has consistently done well is its portrayal of the Penguin, to the point where even Patton Oswalt took to Twitter and suggested that the show could become great if they overhauled things to make Oswald Cobblepot the central figure. Now just take that idea, insert Lex Luthor in place of the Penguin, and that’s a heck of a show.
Luthor has been portrayed as both a mad scientist and an evil businessman, and there’s nothing that says he couldn’t dabble in both worlds in his own show. Why not make him an evil version of Tony Stark? The compelling part of a show about Luthor would be his rise through the world of organized crime in Metropolis as he uses his genius intellect to manipulate people. Smallville showed that even in a show about young Clark Kent, Lex Luthor is going to be the most interesting character. Time to build on that and give us a Lex Luthor show that falls somewhere between Gotham and Boardwalk Empire.
2. Booster Gold
Another more obscure superhero, the seeds for a Booster Gold show were already planted by Smallville, when he popped up for an episode late in the show’s run. So who is Booster Gold, and what are his powers? Honestly, that’s the best part — he doesn’t have any. Well, outside of possessing technology from the future. Because Booster Gold’s from the future, and he decided to bring fancy gadgets back to contemporary America to win himself fame and fortune.
Basically, Booster Gold is what happens when you take Syndrome from The Incredibles and make him a good guy. He’s an ordinary man with advanced technology who just wants to convince the world that he’s a superhero. The big difference is that, despite being a con artist, beneath the surface he actually does have the heart of a hero (even though he may not quite realize it). And that’s what the show would be about — Booster Gold gradually coming to the realization that not only does it take more than cool toys to become a superhero, but he’s got that special something inside him already.
You probably haven’t heard of Checkmate, but if you’re a DC fan and have watched Smallville, Arrow or Gotham then you’re at least somewhat familiar with a few of the characters. That’s because one character in particular has already popped up in different incarnations.
See, Checkmate was a short lived comic book series in the late 1980s that had another short run a few years ago. It’s about a covert ops agency run by Amanda Waller (recognize the name, Smallville and Arrow fans?). Law enforcement agents are recruited from around the world to join this somewhat shady team and engage in international intrigue. The team is called Checkmate because its members — which include Harvey Bullock, as seen on Gotham — are called Bishop, Rook and so forth. Think of a show like Alias, and then turn it into a team of highly trained, borderline superheroes pulling off Mission: Impossible style operations. Honestly, who doesn’t want to watch a show like that?