Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Five Reasons Why Superoheroes Will Not Dominate the TV like They Do the Movies

Noticed anything about the cinema lately?  Superheroes galore.  Seriously, they are everywhere.  With so many tried and true characters making the leap onto the big screen it was only a matter of time until the smaller leap to the television screen.

In development are series based on The Flash, a semi-Batman series in “Gotham,” and a new show based on John Constantine.  These join a few notable superhero programs currently on TV, “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” and “Arrow.”  Oh, don’t forget some small show called “The Walking Dead.”  So is TV ready for more?

Well, according to HitFix, “Arrow” is doing okay for the CW in its timeslot, but “Agents of SHIELD” has been all over the map struggling to find its footing.  The problem with AOS is that it isn’t a superhero show, but was billed as one because of the mega-successthat Marvel has seen at the box office.  Couple that with the DC success at the movies and there are some unrealistic expectations attached to TV series about comic book characters.  Here are five reasons why superheroes will not make a great transition to TV:


This is a deal breaker for many, because all that CGI hocus-pocus costs a ton of cash (Why do you think Hiro lost his time-stopping power all the time on “Heroes”?).  If the show can’t turn a profit with advertisers that means that the show has to cut back or suffer the way “Sarah Conner Chronicles” did so many years ago.  Cutting corners means low effects, and TV is going to be compared to Hollywood blockbusters so skimping isn’t really an option.  Basically, producers need to spend money and we all know how everybody likes to spend money.

Limitations on Content

While “The Walking Dead” gets away with smashing heads and some swearing, it is nothing like the comics (okay the smashing head part is close), but that show is on cable on AMC.  The new shows creeping up are on basic over the air TV.  Imagine Constantine not smoking or swearing? (Whoa, Sorry a Keanu reference had to be done).  The characters have at least resemble their comic book counterparts or a whole portion of the audience will experience Nerd Rage and take to the Internet to harpoon the white whale.  Some of the characters are edgy to the point of being offensive, which can cause some problems on basic TV.

Limited Audience

How many people know who John Constantine is?  I bet you meet most of them every Wednesday at the local comic book store as well.  See what’s going on here.  Making the transition from niche to mainstream is difficult.  TWD proves it can be done, but it has to be done right, and there are more cases for how not to it (“Heroes,” “The Cape,” the first “Flash,” “Sarah Conner Chronicles”) than for how to do it (Buffy, TWD, Angel, hell even “Charmed” managed to do it, but don’t forget “Smallville.”)

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Too Much Back Story

The origin of Batman seems pretty simple huh?  That’s not what I’m talking about, and what really had something to do with DC launching the New 52.  There is a ton of backstory that goes into Batman, Spiderman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Latern, etc.  Anything that can be told has been told.  Producers need to commit, like “Smallville” did, to an idea of rebranding and relaunching a character.  Own it and make it yours, don’t worry about what the critics will think—make something you’re proud of.

Casts Make the Difference

The right characters make all the difference in the world.  “Arrow” is a hit because of how the series was casted, “Smallville” was special because it was also perfectly casted.  The same goes with every comic book TV show that hit the small screen, Buffy included.  The people pretending to be the other people need to be convincing.  That is the essence of the make believe world fans love, characters can be different but they have to have great actors behind them and not be card board cut outs.  Oh, and great actors cost money, see reason number one.

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