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Seven Marvel Properties That Should Make The Move To TV

With the announcement on Monday that Marvel has at last established a television division, with veteran writer Jeph Loeb at the helm, the obvious question for comics fans is what characters might be winding their way toward the small screen.

Several of the company’s most recognizable properties are presumably tied up in licensing agreements with other studios (although, curiously, Sony reportedly returned all television rights to Spider-Man in September). However, even if you take characters like Daredevil, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and Ghost Rider out of the equation, Marvel has numerous comic concepts ripe for adaptation as live-action TV series. Here are just seven:

Black Widow
Marvel seems more interested in laying the groundwork for a Black Widow movie — hey, with Scarlett Johansson in the role, who can blame the studio? — but the character is equally suited to an action series. Natasha Romanoff could take Sydney Bristow and Nikita with one hand tied behind her back. Slowed aging, combined with Natasha storied past as a Soviet operative with false memories, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and a superhero opens up endless possibilities for flashbacks interwoven into contemporary espionage adventures — or entire arcs set in different decades. Throw in guest appearances by her one-time love interest Hawkeye, and you have a winner.

The Crew
The short-lived 2003 series inspired in no small part by the 1999 film Three Kings, The Crew was sparked by Christopher Priest’s desire to “write a good buddy book,” using a somewhat unlikely group of buddies: White Tiger (Kasper Cole), a New York City narcotics officer and acolyte in the Wakandan Panther Cult; Junta (Danny Vincent), a con man and ex-spy; Justice (Josiah “Josiah X” Bradley), son of Isaiah Bradley, the black Captain America; and War Machine (James Rhodes), pilot and one-time Iron Man. Set in the No Man’s Land between Brooklyn’s Little Mogadishu and the exclusive gated community of Princeton Walk, The Crew ended before it moved past character introductions and the origin of Josiah X. However, Priest laid the groundwork for an examination of family, friendship, gentrification, crime and so much more. It would be a great series for a cable network like AMC, HBO or Showtime.

Heroes for Hire
It’s like Burn Notice, but with superpowers. What more would an executive at USA or TNT need to hear? Luke Cage (aka Power Man) and Daniel Rand (aka Iron Fist) are superheroes who operate a private investigation and protection agency with the support of their secretary Jenny Royce and lawyer/business manager Jeryn Hogarth. It’s a solid premise that becomes more interesting, and more complicated, by occasional assistance from Colleen Wing and Misty Knight (Daniel’s love interest), private investigators whose clients’ goals — at least in the TV series — may not match those of Heroes for Hire.

The Incredible Hulk
Okay, so the two feature films didn’t exactly set the box office on fire. But there was a time, more than three decades ago, when The Incredible Hulk kicked off CBS’s top-rated Friday-night lineup and loomed large on the television landscape. If you’re unfamiliar with the series — surely you’ve seen reruns on Syfy — it took a Fugitive-like approach to the Hulk story, with Dr. David Banner (you can call him Bruce) hitch-hiking across the country searching for a cure for his condition, and frequently helping the people he meets. He’s pursued by a newspaper reporter, who believes the Hulk killed Banner and another scientist. If that sounds similar to Bruce Jones’ 2002 shakeup of the comic, that’s because it is — minus the conspiracy overtones. The new TV series, now with a CGI Hulk rather than a six-foot-five body builder in green paint, could embrace those conspiracy elements, as Banner struggles to control the monster while being pursued by the Hulkbusters. Add Betty Ross, General Ross, Rick Jones and Doc Samson as supporting characters, and Abomination, Absorbing Man, Glenn Talbot, the Leader and MODOK as villains, and voila!

Machine Teen
Marc Sumerak and Mike Hawthorne’s 2005 miniseries is ideal for Disney XD, the Walt Disney Company’s channel targeting boys, or maybe ABC Family: Adam Aaronson is popular, a straight-A student and captain of the football team. However, while in a fight with his high-school rival, Adam is injured, and soon discovers that he’s a robot constructed by the man he thought was his father. What’s more, his father’s former employers consider Adam to be stolen property, and are determined to get it back. High-school drama, action, adolescent wish fulfillment — Machine Teen is just begging to be adapted for television.

Power Pack
I hesitate to suggest Power Pack as a live-action series, if only because the budget constraints of weekly television might lead to difficulty in depicting the Power children’s powers (for instance, in the 1991 TV pilot Jack’s “cloud form” was eliminated, and he was instead given shrinking abilities). But I figure if Doctor Who and Smallville can pull off decent special effects — well, mostly decent — on tight budgets, then Marvel/Disney should be able to do the same. Plus, I want to see CGI versions of alien allies Aelfyre Whitemane and Kofi Whitemane, Smartship Friday and the menacing Snarks. Super-powered kids fighting alien reptiles while keeping it all secret from their parents? Who doesn’t want to watch that?

Union Jack
Given that this is U.S. television, it’s probably inevitable that an adaptation of Union Jack would cast an American in the lead role — a California cousin of the Falsworth family, no doubt — if not change the setting entirely. But I can’t worry about that. Union Jack brings together so many terrific elements — a fantastic costume design, a legacy, espionage, the supernatural — that it’s a shame he’s not more popular in comics. Surely there’s a place for a vampire-hunting, Nazi-fighting masked adventurer/spy on television. It’s The X-Files meets MI-5/Spooks.

There were plenty of other candidates obviously, like Doctor Strange, Sentinel and Cloak & Dagger (although the latter has had a difficult time working outside of the original ’80s concept). What Marvel characters do you think would translate well to live-action television?

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Comments

  • Squashua

    They already had a live action Power Pack TV show – it aired in Canada, or at least the pilot did.

    Also surprised you didn't cite X-Statix.

  • Mr98

    Cloak & Dagger.

  • Christian

    New X-men/New Mutants
    Young Avengers
    Runaways
    Sentinel
    Mystique
    Thunderbolts
    NYX
    Marvel Zombies
    Alias
    Franklin Richards- Boy Genius

  • http://www.spinoffonline.com Kevin Melrose

    I mentioned the '91 Power Pack pilot.

  • Red

    I'd love to see a “Astro City” type of Marvel show, where the capes are not the focus but the way their actions impact the citizens of the Marvel universe is.

  • Rich

    So, MARVELS, basically? Same writer, and hit two years before ASTRO CITY.

  • E Scaduto

    They need to do an X-Men television show. There are sooo many mutants, and so much drama that's already in the books, it would be a perfect fit.

  • Ablescholar

    Personally, I think these characters could support a series:

    X-Factor
    Moon Knight
    Runaways
    Machine Man
    Werewolf by Night
    Union Jack
    Pete Wisdom

  • Pachanga323

    The as-of-yet unfinished series by JMS, The Twelve, has a great premise and could make for interesting TV…

  • Rogerio1408

    Black Widow, please!

  • Wojr

    What about The Pulse? Reporters in a world of superheroics

  • Artattack00

    How about , Moon Knoght, Rom, Strikeforce Morituri,

  • Jlmcyr

    Alpha Flight would be awesome.

  • NS317453

    Daredevil is perfect for TV.

    Effects/cost wise: His powers aren't overly flashy, minus some good stunt work. Most of his villains aren't overly powered either.

    As for the story, with his darker and more realistic corner of the Marvel U, a show like this could be a cross between Smallville and The Shield. If done right, serial killers like Bullseye, criminal leaders like the Kingpin, rapists/killers like the Purple Man, etc… It could be hit with older audiences. Of course, it would need a later airtime and a more daring company, like FX or HBO to really run with the ball.

  • Gambit

    RUNAWAYS!!!!!!!!

  • Richjb77

    damage control…comedy…no laugh track…

  • Erik

    Agreed. Most of the characters have relativley mellow powers, so it would be relativley cheap too.

  • Ahab

    Alpha Flight – definitely

  • http://twitter.com/crestmere J. A. Crestmere

    So your picks are a guy who fights Nazi vampires and a lot of properties that are disturbingly close to shows that are already on the air?

  • Ittousagi

    Exactly. Daredevil should never have been made into a film because he's too complex a concept to encapsulate within 2 hours.

    And if they leaned toward the trained-by-Stick background instead of the science-defying radioactive-enhanced super-senses they kept playing with in the film, it could bring a great sense of reality and keep production costs waaay down.

    If they wanted to introduce the superpowered set, they could include visits by Danny Rand, Luke Cage, and maybe even Steve Rogers. But not Galactus, et al.

  • http://twitter.com/T_Lawson Trey Lawson

    Moon Knight would be perfect for a tv series.

  • Philosophermax

    I would love to see Devil Dinosaur and Moonboy as an animated series for all ages…although some parents would probably protest anything with “Devil” in the title.

  • Supergirl's Pal

    I would love to see a live action She-Hulk TV series, but please use an actress to play Shulkie instead of a CGI model.

    A Spider-Girl series from the MC2 universe would be cool, but I like your idea of a Black Widow series also. Casting an actual Russian actress would be a plus.

  • Brian from Canada

    An X-show wouldn't work because references counter the movies' contract. This would have to be something completely separate.

    Hence why I think characters that could work include Moon Knight, Werewolf By Night, Power Pack, Cloak & Dagger, Master Of Kung-Fu, or Heroes For Hire.

    To me, Heroes For Hire would work best because it requires the least amount of special effects and is more human interaction-based. It would have a nice soap opera-like romance on top of the action. And they could spin Shang Chi off it easily enough.

  • Mike

    Law and Order + The Shield + Smallville = DAREDEVIL!

  • SC

    I think that Power Pack would make a better animated show; you don't have to worry about the kids aging.

    The rest are good choices, though. I'd add Daredevil, which would make a great TV series; it's got legal/police drama, the villains are mainly street-level and would require minimal special effects, etc.

  • Cho-od

    the Starjammers…X-men meets Firefly.

  • Todd

    I think Power Pack would be perfect as a Disney Channel TV series. Strikeforce Morituri would make a great TV series. I think a Daily Bugle series could definitely work as Marvel/Disney's answer to Smallville. I would definitely try to recruit Paul Dini and Bruce Timm to develop animated programming.

  • Bruce_F

    How about a S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show? There's lots of possibilities there – Maria Hill, LMD's, Sharon Carter, Leonard Samson, Both Black Widows, Jimmy Woo, Dum-Dum Dugan, and almost anyone ever affiliated with the agency.

  • demoncat_4

    definitly would love to see cloak and dagger for those two would work as another buddy film. plus spider woman would also work like black widow. since no one has her film rights . and the hulk would be better on tv though if that happen would mean red hulk.or better tv would work well for the defenders to get some loving. and also would save some work on doing a separate doctor strange and hulk shows though think the studioes only own the movie rights not the tv rights .

  • demoncat_4

    Rom Marvel can no do for they do not own the rights to the character. and strike force morituri was for a while being developed for the sci fi channel.

  • dumbsaint

    Hercules w/ Cho would be awesome for TV.

  • Powervolume46

    Daredevil is the perfect property for television: it melds a lawyer series/soap opera with martial arts-based ass-kicking.

  • NickPheas

    Who the heck is Sentinel?

  • NickPheas

    “So your picks are a guy who fights Nazi vampires and a lot of properties that are disturbingly close to shows that are already on the air? “

    That does seem to be how TV works

    (sorry, can't work out how the Reply works)

  • Alex H

    I'd agree with Daredevil, but I'd make sure to go out of my way to make sure it was good and not just a tie in.

    Also, I'd say that pretty much any of Marvel's lower selling critically acclaimed ongoings could easily work as TV series:

    X-factor, Immortal Iron Fist, Captain Britain, Guardians of the Galaxy (possibly animated?)

    Hercules should really be in there, but runs the slight risk of looking like the tacky sort of 'ancient hero is alive now!' sort of thing when there is no context for it.

    What I'd really like to see Marvel do is have the TV series' be part of Marvel's film continuity, so as to lay the groundwork for characters that might turn up later in the avengers.

    Also – animated Nextwave anyone?

  • Servando Gomez

    Of the list, only Union Jack stood out to me. he should be more famous in comics.

  • stevelabny

    Power Man / Iron Fist, Runaways and Cloak & Dagger have all been mentioned. But the most obvious live-action Marvel hero is…

    Wonder Man

    With all the filming you can do on the backlot/studio without actually having to worry about sets? Cost efficient and easy to understand.

  • Christian

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentinel_%28comic_

    Sean McKeever and Udon from 2002, i really liked it

    From Wikipedia

    Sentinel is the story of Juston Seyfert, a normal human teenager tormented by the seniors at Antigo High School in Wisconsin. He is dirt poor and lives in his father's junkyard with his little brother named Chris; their mother walked out years ago. Being poor, Juston must find his own fun, and spends the days playing in the salvage yard. He finds the remains of a giant robot programmed to exterminate mutants: a Sentinel. Rebuilding and reprogramming the Sentinel, Juston attempts to give himself a better life while avoiding the government agents that are quickly following his trail. After the CSA discovers his big secret, Juston decides to run away and use the Sentinel's DNA Detection skills in looking for his long-lost mother

  • Mark_whittington0607

    Why should a UJ series have to feature a yank. Surely Marvels TV dept could co-produce with the BBC and keep the national identity of the character intact?

  • Stannish

    The Pulse!!! – would be perfect

    Punisher
    Daredevil (if they can get the rights)
    Moon Knight
    Heroes For Hire
    Black Panther
    – or all of the above in a Marvel Knights format?!

    all would need an HBO style budget/production and all would be teen+ or however you age rate things in the states.

    for the family audience is trickier…
    Howard the Duck – would be awesome although i'm sure it would bomb like the movie…
    Runaways – should work need good kid actors though

    mostly they should concentrate on animation though ( a la the excellent Spectacular Spidey)
    where the budgets don't have to be so outrageous to get over standard comic book action – some more teen orientated cartoons would work too (would love to see a long running X-Men cartoon that could get as grim as the books).

  • redvector

    I wouldn't be surprised if Fox decided themselves to move Daredevil to TV rather than as a feature film. But they may only be limited to movies not TV. If that's the case Fox could partner with Marvel's TV divison to get a Daredevil show on the air.

  • Dmgallagher

    Runaways and NYX would both make for great live-action shows.

    You could possibly do a good live-action show based on The Hood, too, sticking more closely to BKV's original than Bendis' integration.

    Nova, if done in a big sci-fi epic sort of way, could work as well.

  • Ozymandas

    The general idea of Machine Teen has been seen on TV a few times already; I forget what those shows were called. For Black Widow we've had, as mentioned, Alias & several versions of Nikita (one upcoming). Any comics-to-TV projects should offer something new that can't be done with original characters, IMHO.

  • Ozymandas

    The general idea of Machine Teen has been seen on TV a few times already; I forget what those shows were called. For Black Widow we've had, as mentioned, Alias & several versions of Nikita (one upcoming). Any comics-to-TV projects should offer something new that can't be done with original characters, IMHO.

  • Mwedmer

    DareDevil should be the first one they adapt.
    The show should be a cross between L.A.LAW or the Practice with a good mix of The Shield and 24.
    The effects would be the most cost friendly out of any of their properties. You could guest Star Black Widow AND the Heroes for Hire and lay the groundwork for a spinoff series.
    The show could fit primetime Network TV just like 24 did, or it could hit USA or FX.

    I would start there and then start bringing out more characters with powers.
    Also, They could once the character is established on TV and has an Audience, could bring out Theatrical release films of him to better success.

    Doctor Strange would be good also. but he needs to be modernized into something like the Dresden files meets Warehouse 13.

    The Pulse would be good to develop the greater Marvel Universe.

    Lets not forget the cosmic stuff either.
    Silver Surfer vould be Interesting. So could Guardians of the galaxy. Both can be made on a TV budget.

  • Mwedmer

    Machine Teen has been done already. Its called Kyle XY
    Punisher would not work on TV. The character is a cold blooded killer with very little humanity. the audiance would not be able to realate enough to him.
    Runaways could work well. Just adapt the comic exactly.

    Regarding MASTER OF KUNG FU; MARVEL, I know your reading this so pay close attention and do as I recommend.

    Hire Tony Jaa to direct, Choriagraph, and star in the film. He's the best Martial Artist working in film today. He showcases multiple styles including weapons based ones, and the action would be very dynamic. Just watch Ong Bak 2 for proof. He wrote, Directed, choriagraphed and starred in it.
    and it rocked. He is ripe for a Big Budget film.

  • Red

    Yeah essentially but not necessarily a adaption of that story as the rights to some characters are likely not available to Marvel.

  • I_Captain Blanco

    True. And that way, if it got canceled prematurely, it would even be true to the source material! :)

  • Stannish

    Totally agree with you about Tony Jaa being a good shout for Master Of Kung Fu – although i would much rather see an Iron Fist movie or show.

    As for Punisher – why not? In as far as he's a “cold blooded killer with very little humanity”, that hardly stopped the comic being successful. I could point to Dexter as being a show that succeeds on those terms. I mean i get your point but at the same time if you play up his backing cast (microchip, the cops that hunt him, etc) and make him a fugitive on a mission style character why would that not work?

  • CharlieRomeoBravo

    Moon Knight! A dark gritty Moon Knight series on FX would be my dream super hero series :)

  • CharlieRomeoBravo

    You'll get nothing but agreement from me about Daredevil on TV. He could be fit for a good movie but a TV series would be a better format for the character. They could let the drama and character development breath properly in a weekly TV series.

  • Mcdropkick

    Not going to mention anything X-Men related or any other movie properties, since I think most of them aren't available. Here's my pics.

    She-Hulk: Someone else mentioned this and it sounded like a no-brainer, especially if you go off the Slott run of having superheroic-themed lawyer comedy mixed in with some ass-kicking. The only problem would be finding a fairly tall actress to pull it off. Also, Awesome Andy or we riot.

    Book of the Darkhold: Stuff like this is popular right now, and I think a series centered around the Darkhold that draws on the rest of Marvel's roster of boogeymen and creepy creatures would be good.

    Madrox: Skirts by the X-Men rule by sticking to the first pre-X-Factor mini series. Simple and interesting power for television, and the detective hook is great as well.

    Agents of Atlas: I wonder if you could use a real gorilla for Gorilla Man, only do a bit of CGI along the face? Either way, I just want more talking Gorilla's on TV.

    Defenders: I really loved that Giffen and DeMatteis (I know they were riffing on their old JLA style, but still, it ruled). You probably couldn't do this as a series, maybe a mini-series or TV movie or something. Dr. Strange is an arrogant jerk, Namor is a pompous jerk, Hulk is a giant idiot (and Banner is a smarmy jerk), and Silver Surfer is a hippie. Make it happen!

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/K25V4LEQMU2IJ4M42SN6WLMEBM Sandman

    X-23, spun out of the Wolverine Movie

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/K25V4LEQMU2IJ4M42SN6WLMEBM Sandman

    X-23 solo series, since Wolverine is saved for big screen

  • CutterMike

    The Watcher — Make it an anthology/tryout show for the Marvel characters. You could have stories about the heroes and “Marvels”-type stories about how living in a world with super-powered individuals affects the normal humans. Almost anything could be tried and anything that tested well could be brought back/spun off on its own. In financial terms, it would mean that the studio would have pilot episodes paying for themselves.

  • http://jaystarr.net Jstarr187

    I'd say that Heroes for Hire would be closer to Shaft meets Big Trouble In Little China.

  • triumphant

    Front Line or Night Nurse. Don't argue.

  • Mwedmer

    Dexter works because we the audience gets to see him as a normal person with a Family and a job trying to not be a monster.

    The Punisher and Dexter have one thing in common and that is that they both only kill bad guys. Dexter has more humanity, and I enjoy both characters.

    Punisher comes out monthly and is taken in small doses. He can fill our inherit need for revenge that way
    A TV show is on weekly and is therefore more immediate. The character would wear thin to quickly because of it.
    Also, WAR ZONE was as close as you will ever see to the Punisher in the comics and people still complained.

    Also @ Sandman, X-23 actually spun out of that X-MEN Evolution cartoon from a few years ago. Not from the films.

  • Lioness

    X-Factor of course. The psuedo-noir detective genre is perfect for television.

  • Dmgallagher

    The character would only wear thin if the writing wears thin, and there are plenty of ways to keep that from happening. Chracters like Vic Mackey on “The Shield” or even Jack Bauer are just as cold-blooded and at points irredeemable, and they've both worked quite well on a weekly basis. You'd just have to highlight the fact that the Punisher is not simply a killer; he truly believes that he's seeking justice, and that the only justice available for these people is death. The audience doesn't necessarily have to sympathize with him; they just need to understand him.

  • Jemini

    Runaways for sure, Nick Fury/Shield, Punisher, Strikeforce Morituri, Squadron Supreme (from the original 12 issue maxi-series), Hawkeye & Mockingbird, Captain America, Machine Man, Ant-man, and the list goes on…

  • Decarabas

    I have a twelve-year old niece, so to say that I am familiar with the Disney Channel is an understatement. With that in mind, I can not figure out for the life of me why there isn't a Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane already in production.

  • Shamachu

    Not the Hulk but she hulk would be an interesting and funny take on the green skin on tv

  • Shamachu

    x static and power pack pilots???? for real??? think theyll show on torrents?

  • http://twitter.com/kaine23 Chris

    Nextwave.

    Already has a theme song.

  • Ethan Shuster

    I think Power Pack could really be great as a cartoon series, but still done seriously and for kids at the same time.

  • Veu

    I would love to see a live action

    X-Men and Avengers and all X-Men and Avengers spinoffs.

    I love to see live-action Tv series about superhero team.

  • veu

    I would love to see a live action

    X-Men and Avengers and all X-Men and Avengers spinoffs.

    I love to see live-action Tv series about superhero team.

  • Zenbryo

    Darkhold Redeemers!

    Hehe. Some real suggestions: Hannibal King, Original Human Torch, Gambit, hell even Damage Control would be a great show.

  • Wade365

    Please, PLEASE don't waste “Black Widow” on a television budgeted program… ugh. That would be the last straw…

  • Mwedmer

    There are to many shows that have attempted to make an Irredeemable character and none of them have worked. Jack Baur and Vick Mackey don't support your argument wither because like Dexter, there is another side to them. The loving family man. People can relate to that part of them, and then escape with the wild animal side.

    Punisher works only in short doses. There are no redeeming qualities to the character.
    I say that as a big fan of the character.
    You can tell some great stories with him, but at te end of the day, he is a psychotic.

  • Symson

    Here's a peak at the short film I'm directing featuring Misty Knight and Colleen Wing.

    It's a teaser vignette.

    http://www.youtube.com/DODborderclash

    Watch it in glorious HD!

  • Stuaker

    Daredevil would be a good show, shame about the rights status at the moment. I honestly think the best way to go would be to do a “street-level” show, ie Punisher/Daredevil/Heroes for Hire/Runaways/X-Factor, and centre it on the Alias or Pulse concept, with different Marvel heroes coming in for different story arcs. X and Daredevil (and possibly Punisher?) would be off limits until their license was up, but you have all of the Alias/Heroes for Hire cast, Spider-man is useable for TV, Runaways would be great, Cloak and Dagger, Dr Strange and Voodoo if you really wanted to go there, Black Widow and Cap for espionage stuff… and of course you could reference Stark Industries and all the movie stuff. Maybe they could even convince Downey or someone to have a cameo to try and gain more viewers at the beginning of the show

  • Edward 123

    black widow live-action tv series

    please