The recent announcement that the Freeform cable channel has ordered an adaptation of Marvel Comics’ Cloak and Dagger to series came as a surprise to many. Even though the channel is owned by Disney, it was expected that any new Marvel superhero series would have found a home at either ABC or Netflix.
In hindsight, the news probably shouldn’t have been quite so much of a shock. After all, the programming at Freeform (formerly known as ABC Family) is more oriented towards teenagers and young adults. That’s exactly the sort of audience that the likes of Cloak and Dagger — a pair of teenaged runaways in the comics — should be targeting. Keeping that in mind, there are a litany of other young Marvel characters that are deserving of their own adaptations. Assuming that Cloak and Dagger doesn’t prove to be a complete failure, a new door for these heroes may have been opened over at Freeform. Of course, we must remember that mutants and Spider-Man-related characters are off-limits due to rights issues. For now.
Whether they have down-to-Earth gripes or are off saving the galaxy, here are the 12 Marvel Superheroes Who Should Get A Series On The Freeform Channel.
One day, Chris Powell discovered a mysterious amulet at an abandoned amusement park (where else would you find such a trinket?) that transferred his consciousness into an android body called Darkhawk that he controlled, while his body resided in another dimension. Now possessed with superpowers like strength, agility, flight and energy projection, Darkhawk launched a promising career as a crimefighter and even unofficially joined the New Warriors before becoming a security chief at Project PEGASUS.
Darkhawk would be an interesting TV series on Freeform if it were to happen. Sci-fi and comic book fans would surely enjoy the story arcs that would be devoted to exploring the enigmatic nature of the Darkhawk armor, which isn’t tied to the usual culprits in the Marvel Universe. At the same time, for those wanting some teenage drama, the show could explore his strained relationship with his father, a corrupt police officer, as well as other family dynamics.
Originally, Nomad was another costumed identity created by Steve Rogers when he was disillusioned with the U.S. government – a story element that came about back during the Watergate era. The identity has since been taken by other adventurers, like Jack Monroe. He was essentially a 1950s version of Bucky Barnes, who was placed in suspended animation and revived in modern times. After teaming up with Captain America for a spell, Nomad took off on his own to explore the country with his adopted infant daughter.
One theme that can be explored in full with Nomad that was largely glossed over in the Captain America films is the man-out-of-time motif. In the movies, there were so many (awesome) things going on that barely any screen time was devoted to showing Steve Rogers trying to adapt to modern times. Understandable, but a lost opportunity for the character. A Nomad TV show can take advantage of this as Monroe struggles to fit in with modern society, a struggle that would be right at home on Freeform.
10. Star Brand
Some may remember the original Star Brand from the failed 1980s New Universe line of comic books from Marvel. Despite the failure of that would-be comic book franchise, this superhero concept had enough merit to be reborn in the proper Marvel Universe. Now, the Star Brand is possessed by Kevin Connor, a hapless college student who is nearly overwhelmed by the immense powers granted by a cosmic tattoo-like mark. After meeting another New Universe reincarnation, Nightmask, the two fought the Avengers, then ended up aiding the team and were subsequently asked to join their ranks. Later, the two young men left the team in order to attend college and deal with life as superpowered beings.
The latter premise is tailor made for a TV show on Freeform. College headaches and gripes mixed with superpowers on a grand scale may sound a bit silly on paper, but that’s the premise of the current comic book Starbrand & Nightmask, and it works. So, why not on basic cable?
9. White Tiger
Perhaps best known for the Ava Ayala incarnation in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, there have been other versions of the White Tiger dating back to the 1970s. Ava is the teenage sister of Hector Ayala, the original White Tiger and Marvel Comics’ first Hispanic superhero. He derived his power of enhanced strength, agility, speed and martial arts mastery from these mystical tiger amulets. After his death, Ava inherited the amulets and assumed the White Tiger identity with the same powers, plus some nifty razor-sharp claws. She was first seen in Avengers Academy #20 and later joined the New Avengers (more on them in a bit).
The mystical nature of the White Tiger and her youth would be a good complement for Freeform, since a White Tiger TV show would appeal to several of the channel’s demographics. As in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, Ava would be ideally be newcomer to the superhero game — a gig that typically comes with a pretty steep (and relatable) learning curve — similar to CBS’ Supergirl.
Vance Astro has had a long and convoluted history in the Marvel Universe. Once, he was an astronaut that was revived in the distant future and founded the original Guardians of the Galaxy. After time-traveling to his childhood, he changed his personal history and developed telekinetic powers, becoming Marvel Boy instead of an astronaut. Following a long stint with the New Warriors, where he battled his insecurities and developed his powers further, Astro joined the Avengers. Once on the team, he changed his codename to Justice as he grew more confident with himself and his abilities.
Some tinkering would need to be done to this character before a TV series gets the greenlight. To start, all references to his being a mutant would have to be excised, assuming that’s possible without Fox (who own the rights to everything mutant in the Marvel world) getting involved. His elaborate history involving meeting his future self would also have to be streamlined, though the possibility of seeing a futuristic version of the Guardians of the Galaxy on the small screen is too good to ignore.
Hands down, Speedball is one of the goofier superheroes in the Marvel Universe. Co-created by Steve Ditko in the late 1980s, Speedball is actually teenager Robbie Baldwin, who gained strange superpowers after a lab accident that allowed his body to absorb and expel kinetic energy in the form of bubbles. Soon after, Baldwin fought crime and joined the New Warriors.
In many ways, Speedball is a more modern, fun-loving version of Spider-Man or the Flash. His early stories were lighthearted and full of energy. However, the events of the Civil War mini-series changed him. Feeling responsible, Baldwin adopted the identity of Penance and was boringly morose for a while before reassuming the Speedball identity in recent times. A Freeform TV show based on Speedball should aim for the more lighthearted approach which has been successful for The CW’s The Flash, since the two heroes share more than a few similarities.
6. Power Pack
At first glance, it’s easy to assume that Power Pack would be better suited for adaptation on Disney XD, since the superhero team is made up of young children. However, the Power Pack comic books usually dealt with more mature themes like drug abuse, bullying, and parental issues, and could fall right in line with what’s often featured on Freeform.
The children are four siblings, Alex, Julie, Jack and Katie Power, who were given superpowers by a dying alien trying to save the Earth. Afterwards, the children turned to fighting crime and dealing with headaches like keeping their superhuman identities secret from their parents and fully harnessing their powers.
A live-action TV series on Freeform would not be the first time these young children received the live-action treatment. Back in 1991, Marvel tried to sell a Power Pack TV series for NBC to join the network’s Saturday morning lineup. The development got as far as the pilot stage, but was eventually canned. Hopefully, the Power siblings would have better luck on Freeform.
5. Ms. Marvel
The latest incarnation version of Ms. Marvel is actually a shapeshifting Inhuman called Kamala Kahn, and her comic book is stunningly successful, earning universal praise and several impressive accolades, including a Hugo Award. Being a Muslim-American, Kamala struggles with a sense of self, family life, religious duties and earning respect as a superhero.
Ms. Marvel’s popularity and fame not just among comic book fans, but with the general public make her an obvious choice to be featured in a TV series on Freeform. The TV show simply has to emulate the style of the comic book series, as Kamala goes through the typical teenage tropes of finding her inner voice and cultural identity, while rejoicing in being a superhero. Better yet, her Inhuman background will also tie in neatly with ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., since that show has recently shown a vested interest in the Inhumans (unlike the film universe, that is). We may have even floated a casting possibility a few months back. Make it happen, Marvel.
Created back in the 1970s, Nova was originally Richard Rider, a teenager patterned after Peter Parker down to working-class surroundings and teenage angst, but with an origin story more reminiscent of Green Lantern. Rider meets a dying alien who bestowed upon him the uniform and powers of a Nova Centurion – a soldier in the intergalactic Nova Corps. After several Earth-based adventures, including some time with the New Warriors, Rider left for the stars.
Years later, on Earth, teenager Sam Alexander became the new Nova after he learned his father was once in the Nova Corps. After receiving training from Gamora and Rocket Raccoon, Nova engaged in a ton of adventures with space-based heroes and the Avengers. The distinctive-looking Nova has appeared in the animated series Ultimate Spider-Man, and would do fine in a solo live-action program. Unlike Rider, Sam is more arrogant and immature, given his young age, which would make a Nova series distinctive from other young superhero TV shows.
3. Young Avengers/Avengers Academy
At first glance, these young heroes may seem to be knockoffs of the original Avengers — or just Marvel’s answer to DC’s Teen Titans. However, the Young Avengers have gained a respectable following thanks to their incredibly well-rounded characters. More or less younger counterparts of their more famous predecessors, the team is comprised of Kate Bishop (the new Hawkeye), Hulkling, Iron Lad, Patriot (the grandson of Isaiah Bradley, an early recipient of the super soldier formula), Wiccan (inspired by Thor/the reincarnation of one of Scarlet Witch’s children), Miss America, Speed and more.
The Young Avengers have become an integral part of the Marvel Universe ever since their debut in 2005. The potential TV show’s premise could be about them in training to become superheroes as part of the Avengers Academy. This would ideally involve a cameo or two from an A-List Avenger, and could also co-star one of the lesser-known actors of the Marvel Universe (like say, Cobie Smulders). The new Avengers base established in upstate New York at the end of Age of Ultron seems like an ideal setting for the series, doesn’t it?
If you’re interested, we had some casting ideas for this one as well.
2. New Warriors
Most fans these days would probably deem the New Warriors as being partly responsible for the Marvel Comics mini-series Civil War. This is inarguable, but before the infamous Stamford incident that led to the Civil War between Captain America and Iron Man, the New Warriors filled the role in Marvel Comics of being younger versions of the Avengers. Their original roster boasted young adults and teenagers such as Nova, Night Thrasher, Namorita, Speedball, Marvel Boy and Firestar. Of course, Firestar and Namorita will have to be replaced in a TV show thanks to those pesky and aforementioned rights issues.
The Civil War event directly affected the team as they dealt with guilt and being pariahs. It needs to be pointed out that only Speedball survived in the comic book version of Civil War, but that can retconned for the show of course. A New Warriors TV series can follow the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War or try a different concept altogether. In the comic book version of Civil War, the New Warriors were a part of a reality TV show about superheroes. With comic book series getting more and more bold concept-wise, there’s no reason this wouldn’t work.
Gertrude Yorkes, Alex Wilder, Chase Stein, Karolina Dean, Nico Minoru and Molly Hayes are five teenagers (and a preteen) who discovered that their parents were actually supervillains plotting against humanity. Horrified, they banded together against their parents, and went on the run. Soon after, they either developed their own superpowers or accessed super technology, magic and even a genetically created dinosaur that served as a loyal guard dog.
The Runaways are unique in that they don’t use codenames or costumes. Instead, the stories focuses on their interactions and inner-workings, which is why they resonated with readers. The popular young superhero team was actually supposed to receive their own film during Marvel Studios’ Phase One, but the runaway (pun intended) success of The Avengers curtailed those plans. As a TV series, Runaways has so much potential and can strike a chord with viewers if properly executed. Just retcon Molly Hayes into being an Inhuman instead of a mutant, and the series is good to go on the Freeform channel.
While a film adaptation may still be in the cards — and is certainly something we’d love to see — a serialized take on the Runaways may be an even better fit for these badass youngsters. How they’d manage to create a realistic CGI dinosaur for the small screen, though, is another question entirely.
Do you have any more suggestions for a Freeform-based Marvel series? Would a Runaways or Nova adaptation be a bit too expensive for TV? Let your voice be heard in the comments section.