Marvel is on the big screen and the small screen. ABC has Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. while Netflix has Daredevil and Jessica Jones along with more on the way. When developing this list, I asked myself two questions: 1) How complicated of a history will need to be explained to introduce this/these characters to unknowledgeable viewers? 2) Would the production cost be reasonable enough to actually develop an exciting comic book series?
Editor’s Note: Since original publication of this article, the #1 pick has been announced as a television show.
Honorable Mention: Fantastic Four
We’ve all probably seen three Fantastic Four movies (and some of us have seen four), and I think from looking at this so far, it doesn’t work in a movie format. In two hours it is nearly impossible to build a plausible rekindling of this team as heroes after the disaster which transforms them and gives them powers. In fact, although it was a slow build, I think that’s why the Ultimate Fantastic Four series was so great at the beginning and may be one of the best FF reads. It didn’t try to rush the origin. If you gave the characters twelve hour long episodes to be introduced, design an experiment, have the experiment go bad, get used to their powers, take on the Mole Man, and introduce Doctor Doom then you might present the Fantastic Four that are worthy of explaining the Marvel Age phenomena they started. In terms of a television series, the cost might end up being monstrous and impossible to produce.
10. Superior Foes of Spider-Man
The trick to this series is to take four or five c-list villains and show them trying to survive against superheroes and other worse villains all with a healthy dose of humor. If you read this series, the production values would not have to be ridiculously high in order to pull this series off, but it may take the combined effort of both Marvel and Sony to pull off. Also this could be a difficult show to find its actual audience, the same way the comics struggled.
9. The Sentry
A Superman-esque character who gains his power from drug addiction which is personified by his schizophrenic brain as a shadowy figure – that’s a cool and original idea. It would have to be originally developed for a limited release, probably no more than three short seasons, to not wear out its premise and trying to reinvent itself into something unrecognizable. The trick with this series might be a network accepting the limited scope of the series and being willing to stick with it until the jaw dropping twists are revealed. Hannibal did it, but it was still 39 episodes which I’m not entirely sure this idea could last for.
If you didn’t read this series, it is just about homeless teen mutants in New York who are not lucky enough to find out or go to Xavier’s Institute. The big contribution this series made was the introduction of X-23. These mutants aren’t Morlock level disfigured mutants, just homeless kids. In someways this could almost be Runaways but without the supervillain parents. The production costs could be limited by having the kids scared to use their powers and be discovered. This was a fairly short series, so to carry it onwards the on-going storyline would be to be more developed. Being that this would probably fall into Fox’s characters’ rights, a large selection of b-list X-Men villains could be available for them to somehow deal with; maybe even like a remake of The City of Lost Children movie.
7. Agents of Atlas
An Asian man, a Gorilla, a robot, a half-naked goddess, and a boy in a space suit walk into a bar…; it’s an insane concept of a team, but one that given enough humor and heart could make them the new Guardians of the Galaxy. Given how well they made Grodd look on the Flash television series, I think we’re almost to a point where this series could be reasonably produced.
6. Moon Knight
This is a series would fit into the Netflix Marvel Universe currently being developed. It would be a dark and violent tale of a vigilante who may be schizophrenic or may actually be talking to an ancient Egyptian deity. This ambiguity would drive the series and create a compelling protagonist you are unsure of whether you’d want to cheer for or run from. Moon Knight also has his own cast of great tertiary characters and some excellent villains to help develop an ensemble series in the current Netflix tradition.
If you don’t remember this series, it was Kitty Pryde in college. While it wasn’t anything amazing, it is a simple enough of an idea that a successful teen drama could definitely be built around it. Kitty Pryde is a character that although fans know well, and has been in movies, is still relatively under the radar enough that you could “trick” many viewers who wouldn’t be interested in watching “X-Men in College” into giving this series a try. With low production costs and using the already established teen-drama-mystery format, this could be a successful show.
4. Power Pack
This great family series would center around four siblings with superhuman powers. Netflix could take a chance and create a kid-friendly superhero series. The largest hurdle would be the production cost with the kids’ powers, but with shorter episodes and smaller seasons it could be potentially pulled off.
Forget all the other Inhumans or that Karnak was part of the Inhumans; we don’t need all of that. This is a series revolving around a cynical nihilist who sees the flaws in all things and isn’t scared of a fight. He has a heroic sense of duty, which he isn’t necessarily happy about, and gives him the week-to-week plot device. The worst thing that could happen to this series would be if it showed up on a major network and they tried to balance his character out with a plucky female costar who tries to change his world view. This was the failing point of the Constantine televisions series (and probably will be the failure of Fox’s Lucifer). Let it be dark and unforgiving and people can turn to Doctor Who afterwards to wash it away if it is too much.
2. X-Factor Investigations
Fox really needs to get this show into production. Peter David’s cast of characters (Madrox, M, Siryn, Rictor, Shatterstar, Wolfsbane, Strong Guy, and Layla Miller) would be the main cast and given those characters’ power-sets, the production cost should be fairly reasonable. The entire premise is made to fit almost perfectly inside of a TV series formula. The show would be a superhero police procedural and have the week-to-week case, but also cast threads of character developing plots throughout the seasons. There would also be a soap opera level of romantic entanglement that could be easily developed, which from the shows my wife watches, seems to be important for high ratings.
1. Cloak and Dagger
First, these characters would be retconned back to being mutates and not mutants. Marvel can then get behind this, maybe on Netflix just to make it a bit darker in nature. A strong anti-drug message could be used to develop their origin, along with addressing the homeless teen issue in America. This could be an extremely strong “message” series without seeming to be too preachy or political. Along with that, their basic powers are just light and darkness. With inventive lighting and camera work this series could potentially be pulled off with limited production cost. With people clamoring for more diverse leads in television shows, this would be covered. Across the board, this Marvel property should be the next to be green-lit for its own series.