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Don't Let the TV Superhero Go Extinct!

by Van Sias, posted Aug 8th 2010 5:00PM
Tom WellingIt'll be a sad day for comic book fans when 'Smallville' ends its 10-year run after the upcoming season. Where else can we turn to for a look at the impossible, like people leaping tall buildings in single bounds or being more powerful than locomotives? The superhero on TV will cease to be.

But that doesn't have to be the case.

There are a number of comic book characters that can do extraordinary things, which would be easy to translate onto the small screen. The networks don't have to go all 'Iron Man' with their special effects to thrill the comic-buying public. Here's a look at some possible shows and thoughts on the tricks needed to pull them off ...

The Show: 'Cage and Iron Fist'
Based on: Marvel's Power Man and Iron Fist
The Show's Premise: Luke Cage, a super-strong ex-con with steel-hard skin and a disposition to match, and Danny Rand, a martial artist with the power to channel his chi into his right arm--making it "like a thing of iron"--help protect the weak in the gritty Big Apple. Think of it as the cops part of 'Law & Order,' but these cops have super powers.
Special Effects Needed: Making bullets appear to bounce off superheroes and having them perform feats of strength has been around since the '40s with Superman serials, so replicating Cage's powers is as easy as duck soup. For Iron Fist, just create some lighting effect to go around his fist and you're home free.

The Show: 'The Urban Jungle'
Based on: Marvel's Black Panther
The Show's Premise: King T'Challa of the tiny nation African nation of Wakanda comes to America (I promise, this isn't a rehashed Eddie Murphy movie!) to learn more about the culture of the U.S. He disguises himself and works as a teacher in an inner-city high school during the day, but at night prowls "the urban jungle" as the powerful Black Panther. It may sound far-fetched, but that storyline worked for his early comic book adventures! There's a Black Panther motion-comic cartoon now, but there's no reason it can't be pulled off in a live-action capacity.
Special Effects Needed: In the comics, the Panther has heightened speed, strength and agility, as well as enhanced senses, easy tricks to replicate. You don't need CGI to simulate super-hearing or a good sense of smell!

The Show: 'Future Shock'
Based on: DC's Booster Gold
The Show's Premise: Starting off in the future, Michael Carter works as a security guard in a museum and one night decides to swipe some high-tech equipment to travel back to the 21st century to become a superhero. Equipped with a ring that enables him to fly, a force field and gauntlets that shoot lasers, Carter becomes Booster Gold: a guy looking to cash in on his newfound fame, while trying to figure out how his gadgets work amid ensuing hilarity: It's "The Greatest American Hero" redux!
Special Effects Needed: Lasers and flight -- that's Superheroes on TV 101.

The Show: 'The Astonishing Ant-Man'
Based on: Marvel's Ant-Man
The Show's Premise: Scientist Henry Pym creates a special gas that allows him to shrink to the size of an ant. Sure, that sounds kind of lame, but he then builds a special helmet that enables him to telepathically communicate with and control the ants. He decides to fight crime as the Ant-Man, commanding his insect army!
Special Effects Needed: You'd probably need a huge studio to house the larger-than-life props for Ant-Man to stand next to, giving the appearance of size reduction. There probably aren't too many ant trainers out there, but computer-generated ants shouldn't be too difficult to pull off.

The Show: 'Black Magic'
Based on: DC's Zatanna
The Show's Premise: Zatanna Zatara is the world's greatest illusionist with the schtick of speaking backwards before she does a trick. But few people know that her backwards "spells" are actual incantations she uses to accomplish the impossible. She secretly protects the Earth from the forces of evil looking to take over the world through sorcery.
Special Effects Needed: Sure, performing feats of wizardry might sound difficult, but going the 'Charmed' route would keep the comic book cognoscenti enthralled. And if magic could be pulled off on a weekly basis with "Bewitched" back in the day, imagine what could happen in 2010!

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wktlnk

There was once a TV movie for Marvel's "DR. STRANGE" that could probably be done way better now.
Another Marvel creation, "CLOAK AN DAGGER" is a VERY solid idea that could work well for the CW
give me THAT over another season of that Tyra Banks ego trip they call "America's Next Top Model".

March 19 2011 at 12:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
zahadum

Don't know if you realized that you may be getting your wish with your "Future Shock" idea since Geoff Johns is writing a Smallville script which will have Booster Gold and Blue Beetle in the same episode. With the amount of DC characters they are throwing into season 10, bet that a bunch of them could turn up in a spinoff Justice League series. And Blue Beetle spinoff talk persists. Also really like your Black Magic idea, but I still think Zatanna could be included in a Justice League series.

August 09 2010 at 11:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mdk

Sheesh, just revive the plans to do a TV series based on the Jack Knight version of Starman already. It was a great series with lots of action, but also lots of quirky subplots and mysteries. The Jack Knight character was very relatable, especially to people in their twenties and he refused to wear a costume, which would make the network suits happy (in action he wore jeans, a shirt, a vintage leather flight jacket embroidered with a star graphic on back, military flight goggles and a Texas Ranger star badge). Seems like it be the perfect series to continue the superhero genre when Smallville throws in the towel. Also, fans of Lost and Fringe will go nuts for the character of The Shade (Who is he? What is he? Is he friend or foe?)

August 09 2010 at 10:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BugKiller

The best superhero show would simply be "Grayson."

Not the lame "The Graysons," that the CW tried to do, but "Grayson."

It would follow Dick Grayson's move to Bludhaven as the superhero Nightwing, and his attempts to clean up that city from the inside and outside, as both a cop and a superhero.

Special effects would be relatively cheap. There'd be a cool headquarters under his loft. You'd have some other DC mainstays making appearances, like wheelchair-bound Barbara Gordon as Oracle. Alfred could appear on computer monitors to help him learn lessons. The Tim Drake Robin would make appearances as the "little brother" character. You'd have old Teen Titans like Donna Troy (Wonder Girl) or Roy Harper (Speedy, Arsenal, now Red Arrow) stop by.

There'd be awesome villains (Blockbuster, Nite-Wing, as well as Jason Todd) for him to fight over the course of the series.

This is an idea that should and would work.

Too bad we'll never see it.

August 09 2010 at 8:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BugKiller's comment
BugKiller

Also, you could load each episode with a couple of flashbacks from his time as Robin back in the Batcave after he learned a valuable lesson with Batman out on the rooftops of Gotham, getting his butt kicked or something, and Alfred is there to help him understand and comfort him, and then he uses those lessons to beat his weekly villain.

Seriously, this show frakking writes itself!

August 09 2010 at 8:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
slaguru

If you get a chance you should try and catch the excellent Misfits from Channel 4 in the UK. Its about 5 teen who are on community service who gain some super powers after a crazy storm.

Excellent stuff, only 6 eps, but a new series soon.

August 09 2010 at 5:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Age-K

My friends and I have been saying for years that The Legion of Superheroes (Legionnaires) would make a great TV show.

August 08 2010 at 10:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
AAV

wasn't zatanna on smallville for an episode. If the cw wants a new dc show or smallville spin off they should make her a regular and make her a spin off.

August 08 2010 at 10:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Matt

I think Daredevil could make for a good tv show. Each week Matt Murdock will recieve a new case as a lawyer that will also require a little extra assistance from his alter ego Daredevil. This would allow that show to have stand along feel to it, however in the background you lay the ground work for the Kingpin that builds until later in the season when he is finally revealed.

August 08 2010 at 8:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael

I don't see the Ant-Man series working from a cost effective aspect.Irwin Allen's Land of the Giants TV show grew far too expensive with the FX required each week & he could not continue the show.

August 08 2010 at 8:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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