In just a few short years, comic book properties have drastically altered the television landscape. Every network is itching to get their hands on the next big hit. While AMC has made great strides with The Walking Dead and Preacher, the CW network is focused on broadening the DC world with the Arrowverse and Marvel is continuing its domination with the extension of the MCU through its collaborations with both Netflix and ABC.
With all the hoopla over which comic adaptation will be next, it can be hard keeping up with all the series heading to TV. That’s why we’ve collected some of the best productions from comic book origins that will be gracing the small screen. There have been many major series announced, some which are already well into the developmental stages and others that are still far from becoming a reality.
We’ve excluded all shows which have either stalled or are currently stuck in development hell. Whether it’s a horror story or superhero teen drama, these are 18 Upcoming Comic Book TV Shows to Get Excited For.
It’s okay to let your inner geek take over. We won’t blame you.
18. Luke Cage
We kick things off with the show everyone will be talking about for the next few months. Luke Cage doesn’t premiere until September 30, but early word of mouth already has everyone praising Netflix’s latest Marvel series. Mike Colter impressed binge-watchers the first time around as the near invincible Cage in Jessica Jones and fans were left wondering what kind of tone his story would take. The series’ showrunner, Cheo Hodari Coker, has compared the final product to The Wire, with its layered themes and hip hop vibe. We’ve received a similar feel from the trailers and must admit we’re pumped.
Luke Cage is undoubtedly a big step forward for Marvel and Netflix. The character, who first appeared in comics in 1972, initially called to mind the Blaxploitation films of the time. He was an ex-con from a black neighborhood who had a rough upbringing. Over time, he had many things go wrong, from being experimented on to his wife being murdered. All the misdeeds will come to a head when Cage answers the call to action in the series, taking his strength to the streets of Harlem and putting an end to the criminal organizations that run the community.
17. Tales from the Crypt
For those who grew up on Tales from the Crypt in the late ’80s to mid-’90s, little convincing should be needed for this entry. During the show’s initial seven season run, many notable directors and actors stopped by to have some fun stretching their imaginations of the macabre. It’s that kind of fan fare that a channel like HBO could use again. Unfortunately, this version will not be returning to the premium cable channel it once called home, which is why we’ve ranked it low on our list of comic book hopefuls looking to make an impact on the television audience.
The TNT channel has greenlit the show based on the 1950s EC Comics title in order to anchor its 2017 horror block, which will be curated by M. Night Shyamalan. While Shyamalan’s name isn’t typically indicative of high quality storytelling, he has been trying to slowly work his way into the good graces of critics with efforts like The Visit and Wayward Pines. With reports suggesting the iconic Crypt Keeper will not be returning to host the series, however, we have our reasons to remain skeptical. Until the pilot airs, we’ll keep our fingers crossed for this adaptation.
Although not based on any specific comic book properties, Powerless has the potential to be a standout for NBC, due to its fresh take on the DC Comics universe. Set in the office setting of Retcon Insurance Co., the series will follow the everyday work antics of the company’s employees as they deal with the claims related to the destruction DC’s superheroes leave behind. Star Vanessa Hudgens (Spring Breakers) has already spilled the beans on the pilot episode, revealing the first claim of the show will revolve around an accident caused by none other than Wonder Woman, setting the tone for the season.
While DC hero Crimson Fox has already been spotted on the set as a supporting character, we wouldn’t rule out the possibility of some other significant superheroes making a surprise appearance sometime in the future. As of yet, there has been no confirmation that the half-hour comedy will connect to any known universes, but if nothing more, at least NBC can claim to be the first to test the uncharted waters of sitcoms when it comes to superheroes. That’s enough to give Powerless a shot when it premieres during the midseason sometime next year.
15. Cloak and Dagger
The superhero love story between Tyrone Johnson, better known as Cloak, and his other half Tandy Bowen, also known as Dagger, would be higher on out list if we weren’t so uncertain about the channel tbat picked the show up for a straight-to-series order. The ABC-owned Freeform, formerly known as ABC Family, has entered the race for Marvel content with Cloak and Dagger and, while these two fan favorites will finally see the light of day, viewers shouldn’t expect to see a mature adaptation anytime soon.
Primarily described as a love story between an interracial superhero couple, this teen drama will likely keep things skewed younger to please its young adult audience. Following the story of the comics, the couple were originally kidnapped and experimented on by criminals looking to make their own superhumans. Tyrone is left with the ability to summon darkness while Tandy is given the power to channel light into daggers. It’s unclear exactly how the show will be connected to the MCU, if at all, but if it does fit with the rest of the universe, it will be much smaller in scale than the Marvel we’ve grown used to seeing.
14. Damage Control
Not long after the announcement of Powerless on NBC, Damage Control was picked up as a similarly-themed project for the MCU. While the two plots are uncanny, ABC’s series does have the advantage of being based on a previous property and being a potential tie-in to the Marvel universe, giving it the higher spot on our list. Ben Carlin, a former executive producer for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, will act as producer along with writing the pilot episode. Although no premiere date has been set, we can expect news on casting to arrive soon.
The half-hour sitcom will focus on the blue collar workers of a company that goes about cleaning up the messes of Marvel’s heroes. While the difference in superhero cameos should be enough to set Damage Control apart from its NBC counterpart, it’s also worth noting that the clean-up company took a darker turn in its later depictions, resulting in conspiracies that led to the deaths of innocent civilians. If the network decides to go that route, the show could lean towards a dark comedy, giving it a unique perspective in a genre where ideas can occasionally blend together.
While Archie has long been revered as a wholesome comic series geared towards a younger demographic, the characters have recently experienced a maturation, embracing a new modern makeover that openly accepts Riverdale’s teens as social media-loving millenials. Now with the CW taking over the reins with this new drama, the network is hoping to inject some of its quality teen angst into the characters, all while bringing a gritty edge by exposing the surreal world of Archie’s small town lifestyle.
Mysteries will plague the students of Riverdale High, casting an unexpected shadow over the students while romances have their ups and downs and new love triangles blossom. It’s everything you’d expect from the CW, and interesting casting decisions like making Josie and the Pussycats an all-black, success-driven tween group should bring in more than enough curiosity to keep viewers’ attentions. With the promise that Riverdale will bring a fresh, new perspective to the decades old series, we’re intrigued by the bold re-branding and we’ll be tuning in when the pilot makes its mid-season premiere sometime next year.
WGN America isn’t a channel most viewers are familiar with in terms of original content, but if Scalped proves the ratings success they’re hoping for, all that could change very soon. Making a push into comic book territory, WGN America is working closely with writer Doug Jung (Banshee) as well as DC Entertainment Creative Chief Geoff Johns to bring Jason Aaron and R. M. Guéra’s critically acclaimed comic to the small screen.
The story will follow a Native American undercover FBI agent named Dashiell “Dash” Bad Horse as he navigates the treacherous land of the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in South Dakota where he grew up fifteen years earlier. Investigating the deaths of two fellow agents who supposedly died at the hands of Lincoln Red Crow, the Sheriff of the Tribal Police, more than three decades ago, Dash soon learns that the “Rez” and its Oglala Lakota inhabitants aren’t as inviting as he’d hoped. The pilot has already been picked up by the channel and casting is reportedly underway for an all Native American cast.
11. Harrow County
Featured on our list of the 12 Comics That Would Make Great Horror Movies, Harrow County is a dark coming-of-age tale centered around a 17 year old girl named Emma. She learns that she is the reincarnation of a witch that was sentenced to death the day she was born. Living in a small town surrounded by the mythical woods containing creatures of all kinds, she comes to grips with her past as she battles the townspeople who wish to condemn her to the same fate.
With its fairy tale roots, this Dark Horse comic features a variety of monsters and ghosts as well as just enough Southern Gothic mystery to keep the viewers coming back for more. Picked up as a series by the SyFy channel, production for this twisted fantasy is scheduled to begin soon, meaning casting rumors should be arriving in the near future. Writer Becky Kirsch (12 Monkeys) is set to take over showrunner duties. Expect magical things when this supernatural gem finally lands on a television screen near you.
Prequels can be a mixed bag, especially when the story precedes the origin of a popular hero like Superman. It can be a chore to not encroach on a fan-favorite character with plots that predate the stories comic readers are familiar. It’s even more difficult to create a story that introduces new characters to an already existing world. David S. Goyer will look to defy the odds when he tackles the life of Superman’s grandfather Seg-El years before the collapse of his home planet in the SyFy series Krypton.
The series has been a couple years in the making for Goyer, who first planned the show as a way to explore parts of Superman’s history that were left unanswered in Man of Steel. The series will unfold two generations before Kal-El became Metropolis’ savior, showing exactly how the House of El came to lose its power, leading to the devastation of Krypton and Superman’s eventual departure. The pilot has been ordered with Colm McCarthy (Peaky Blinders) set to direct. Only time will tell if the show will measure up to the CW’s Supergirl, but for now we’re just excited to have more Kryptonians coming to television.
9. Deadly Class
Teen life can be a drag during your high school years. There’s the bullies, the crushes you can’t talk to. and the rigorous training to become an assassin. Anthony and Joe Russo, the brother duo most well-known for taking over the directing duties for Avengers: Infinity War, are set to bring yet another comic book property to life. The popular Image Comics series Deadly Class is being adapted as a show by Sony Pictures TV with writer/creator Rick Remender on board to help pen the project.
Following the comics, the show will revolve around the character of Marcus Lopez, a typical high school student growing up in 1987. Like any teenager, he has to deal with the embarrassments of young adulthood, only there’s one small catch. His school is a host for the sons and daughters of the world’s top crime families. Killing isn’t a joke at King’s Dominion High School and Marcus is about to learn just how serious it is. There’s no date yet for Deadly Class, but if the Russo brothers’ track record is any indication, this will be one series worth the wait.
With so many comic book properties making their way to the small screen, networks and streaming services alike are clamoring to adapt a beloved story for the TV audience. Hulu is picking up on the trend with Runaways, a story which has been a priority for Marvel Studios ever since the introduction of the MCU. With Gossip Girl’s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage stepping up to the plate as showrunners, this teen based superhero drama should prove a worthy entry among the already crowded genre.
After discovering their parents are members of an occult-based criminal organization called The Pride, six teens with various powers come together to atone for their family’s mistakes. While the young adults adjusting to the superhero lifestyle will help lure in a younger demographic, viewers shouldn’t expect a strictly teen show from Hulu. If the series is faithful to its roots, there should be enough occult rituals to go around. Sadly, this series spells the end of Marvel’s plans to bring the comic to the big screen, but we’re hoping Schwartz and Savage will find a way to write the characters into the MCU, leaving a chance for some crossovers further down the line.
7. The Boys
For a long time, Garth Ennis’ comics have been floating around as potential sources for TV shows. Building a cult following thanks to series like Hellblazer, Punisher, and Preacher, it seemed like a no-brainer to adapt his stories. The only problem was the scatological humor and acts of violence made his comics nearly unfilmable for audiences, but now the rules have changed. Preacher has become one of the hottest new shows on AMC thanks to producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and the two will team up once more to bring another Ennis’ comic, The Boys, to the small screen.
The Boys can best be described as a spiritual successor to Preacher. Set in a world where superheroes are out-of-control celebrities, a group of superpowered humans are recruited by the CIA to stop the worst of the worst from causing too much chaos. Teaming up with Supernatual creator Eric Kripke, Rogen and Goldberg will premiere the show on Cinemax, giving them more creative control to let loose with the gritty material. If done right, it should become another faithful adaptation that proves no comic is unfilmable with the right minds behind it.
6. The Punisher
While the MCU will be pushing into newer territories with Doctor Strange later this year, Marvel is continuing its focus on organized crime with its Netflix series. Jon Bernthal has already proved to be the most capable version of Frank Castle to grace the screen and, with Luke Cage and Iron Fist already on their way, his version of The Punisher should provide a grittier vigilante with a much bleaker outlook than his Defenders counterparts.
Bernthal has been teasing fans as of late by saying the Frank Castle of Daredevil’s second season wasn’t the fully realized anti-hero the spinoff series will explore. Given that Castle was still reeling from the tragic loss of his family in the series, he hasn’t quite found his place among his heroic constituents as a man of justice yet. He will have plenty of time to find his place among the Marvel elite once his show finally makes its way to the streaming service, but it could be a while before we see Bernthal don the skull across his chest again. The Punisher is currently set to premiere sometime after the first season of The Defenders.
5. New Warriors
Of all the superhero names making the rounds of Hollywood, few have garnered more attention than Squirrel Girl. While she is occasionally the butt of the joke, Doreen Green has built a reputation as being unbeatable due to her impressive list of fallen foes, which include names like Thanos and Doctor Doom. So while actresses like Anna Kendrick and Stranger Things’ Shannon Purser have expressed interest in the role, we’ve waited patiently for any news that would suggest the character would actually come to life on screen. Our wishes finally came true with the announcement of New Warriors.
The series, which is still being shopped to networks, is being kept under tight wraps for now with no other known members of the superhero team being reported. As for the focal character of the show, it’s still unclear how Squirrel Girl will be connected to the group as she’s never been a member in the comics. Early signs seem to indicate that Robbie Baldwin, AKA Speedball, could make the cut given his romantic connection to Doreen, though the rumors are purely speculative. Expect a much lighter, teen-focused series when New Warriors finally hits the air sometime in the distant future.
4. Black Lightning
Another project from Arrowverse producer Greg Berlanti, Black Lightning is the latest comic to make the rounds as a possible extension of the small screen DC universe. Alongside the husband-wife producer combo of Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, who have produced such notable shows as The Game and Being Mary Jane, the series will follow former superhero Jefferson Pierce, who gives up the mantle of Black Lightning in order to raise a family. When gangs begin terrorizing his neighborhood, he returns to his old habits in order to protect the streets where he lives.
The show is just another step for Berlanti in bringing as many members of the Justice League to television as possible. In the comics, Pierce was an underprivileged boy who grew up in Metropolis’ Suicide Slum, but managed to overcome great obstacles by becoming a star athlete and eventually a college professor. It’s his daughter, however, who convinces him to return his attention to his superhero persona when he’s needed the most. The show recently found a home at Fox so it remains to be seen if it will ever cross over with shows like The Flash or Arrow, but for now the possibility isn’t looking too good.
3. Iron Fist
You’ve seen the trailer. You’ve heard the casting rumors. Now it’s official. Iron Fist is a go over at Netflix and Finn Jones of Game of Thrones is set to stun New York City with his martial arts mastery. As a member of the Defenders, Danny Rand’s series will be the final lead-in before the superhero group finally comes together. Although the story is still vague, we do know Danny will return to New York after a years long absence, where he will assume his superhero role and fight against the criminal organizations of the city.
Danny receives his training from the mystic city of K’un-Lun, but it’s unknown exactly how much of the comics will remain in the adaptation. By far, Iron Fist is the most bizarre member of the Defenders, as he gained his powers from fighting an immortal dragon. It’s unlikely we’ll see too many mystical occurrences, but what we have been promised is a focus on martial arts sequences and more villains than any other Marvel/Netflix series so far. We can expect to see Iron Fist sometime next year, after the premiere of Luke Cage, as Netflix continues with its plans to bring everything together.
While other superhero cinematic universe are doing their thing, the X-Verse is finally branching out on its own. Names like Bryan Singer and Simon Kinberg have put in work to keep the continuity of the X-Men focused universe intact, even if the timeline has gotten convoluted past the point of explanation. Earlier this year, it was Deadpool making a splash with audiences thanks to its R-rated Merc with a Mouth delivering his sarcastic puns and fourth wall breaks. Now fans are being promised another radically different perspective with the introduction of Legion on FX.
The series will feature the story of David Haller, better known as Legion. A diagnosed schizophrenic, he is Professor Xavier’s mentally ill son whose multiple personalities turn out to be different personas with powers of their own. Shifting mood swings put him at odds with other mutants as he switches back and forth between hero and villain. Overseeing the production is Noah Hawley, who successfully brought the Coen Brothers’ Fargo to the small screen as a miniseries. Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) will take the lead while actress Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) will have a supporting role. Legion is scheduled for release sometime next year.
1. The Defenders
Since the announcement that Netflix’s first four Marvel series would come together to form a super team, it’s been easy to write off The Defenders as TV’s version of The Avengers. While it’s true the MCU will get bigger, the series’ showrunners Marco Ramirez and Doug Petrie aren’t sweating the comparisons. They believe what made The Avengers so popular was the conflicting character dynamics and that’s a trend they’re hoping to continue once the show finally hits the streaming service.
It’s hard to know how the burgeoning personalities of the four members will create conflicts. Although we’ve yet to see the first episodes of Luke Cage and Iron Fist, we’ve already had a glimpse at Cage and Jones’ relationship, while Daredevil will likely continue to be the lingering conscience for the members with his no killing philosophy. We’ll continue holding out hope that the series will remain more down to earth than it’s MCU predecessors, but we’re still keeping our fingers cross that the Defenders and Avengers will pair up in the future.
Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist will come together for the television event next year. Expect no less than greatness when it all finally falls into place.
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