It’s a universal truth that there’s strength in numbers, and it applies just as much where superheroes are concerned. When teams like The Avengers, the X-Men, and the Guardians of the Galaxy can share the weight of a comic book story, the odds of success seem to scale with the size of the ensemble.
Now that there’s word that DC and WB are considering the Legion of Super-Heroes for film, developing Titans for TNT, and wasting no time in crossing Arrow over with The Flash, it seems superhero teams are the next big thing. And that’s gotten us thinking.
Exactly what Marvel has planned for Netflix is still a mystery, but WB is wasting no time in getting their properties on TV. We’ve already offered our list of DC Comics heroes primed for a TV show, but the potential of team-based titles has us considering the ensemble comic casts that could bring something genuinely new to the TV comic book world.
See which of our 5 DC Comics Teams That Deserve TV Shows you would most like brought to life.
There’s no more obvious way of telling a superhero story than through a traditional ‘origin’ tale – it’s why most films and TV shows have followed that same formula. It’s also the reason shows like Supergirl are rumored to be trying something different. But if a network wants to truly branch out into uncharted – but incredibly promising – territory, we would have to highlight Infinity, Inc., a team made up of not just metahuman heroes, but second-generation crimefighters.
By setting a show in a world where superpowered vigilantes are the norm (not unlike our own), the chance to tell the story of those heroes’ children or proteges, deciding whether they’re ready to take up their mentors’ mantle, could be a refreshing change (without the potential baggage of Titans). The show could adopt any version seen in the comics (or a new one altogether), perhaps introduce Natasha Irons, niece of ‘Steel.’ Even the child of a supervillain looking for redemption could be thrown in to shake things up.
As our previous pick showed, both film and TV will need to start reflecting the world of their audience if they want to stay ahead of the curve; meaning that pretending superpowers or heroes are unheard of will get old fast. So why not adapt a series like Stormwatch, originally published under DC’s WildStorm imprint. And in a world filled with superheroes, this team is one of the best kept secrets.
DC’s New 52 relaunch depicted the team (starring Apollo and Midnighter, clear riffs on Superman and Batman, who were married in the original iteration) as the strike team of a thousand-year-old secret society charged with protecting the world from the shadows. Besides the obvious potential for superhero action and occult mystery, the chance to cast the world’s known heroes as oblivious to the real threats of the world could offer some meta commentary for any comic fan.
Comic book fans will know that the Justice Society of America is something of a mirror image of DC’s Justice League, but even casual audiences will be familiar with one or two of their past members, thanks to appearances in other comic team-ups as well as TV’s Smallville. There’s even evidence that The CW was looking to make one of its core roster a solo TV star. We haven’t heard about that project in a while, and from our point of view, the members of the JSA are simply stronger together than they are apart.
Heroes like Hourman, Mister Terrific, Citizen Steel, Doctor Mid-Nite, Liberty Belle and Damage are all beloved characters, but admittedly lack the name recognition and ‘leading man/woman’ status needed to sway skeptics. But combine their forces into essentially a club of costumed heroes, and fans could get the chance to see how well they make the transition to TV. And we know The CW is considering more spinoffs, so a foot in the door could be all some of these members need.
As we’ve stated in the past, DC Comics has more than just their heroes to turn to for comic book TV shows, and both Vertigo and WildStorm are ripe for adaptation. In particular, the series and group known simply as Planetary, created by Warren Ellis and artist John Cassady. The pitch for the series is a simple one: imagine a well-funded team uncovering the most iconic figures, heroes, villains, urban legends, and the tropes of literature as a whole for the very first time.
The team boasts superpowers ranging from super strength and speed to the ability to control technology itself, but their mission is simply one of curiosity. Stumbling on the likes of a real-world island of Kaiju movie monsters, a flesh-and-blood Tarzan, Doc Savage, and even clear stand-ins for DC heroes one by one, the old is made new again. Whether people grasp the investigation’s riddle along the way or only at the last second, what better way to bring families together over some of the oldest stories the modern world treasures?
The final entry on our list, strangely, seems to be both the most and least likely to be next up for The CW. There may have been a plan to get the Suicide Squad into movie theaters years ago, but when that plan fell through, the team was given a second chance on The CW’s Arrow. The TV version of the imprisoned-criminals-turned-strike-team lacked some famous faces, but the reception from fans was positive nonetheless.
Now that the president of the network has claimed that more spinoffs are being planned, a weekly series following a team taking on suicide missions is as reliable a formula for TV as you can get. The news that WB is moving forward with a Suicide Squad movie may demand some changes or selective casting, but if a spinoff is coming in the immediate future from the Arrow/Flash universe, the Squad seems like the frontrunner. Especially if a standalone series brought in some of DC’s more iconic villains.
That concludes our list of DC Comics teams that we feel could make the most out of the TV format. There’s a possibility that some could appear in film instead (or as well), or that non-comic properties will develop shows along the same lines. Hopefully, there’s enough room for all, but as Fables (a series that would have been a hit on TV) has shown, the comics that inspire TV networks don’t always get their shot in the spotlight.
However, we’re confident that our list has the potential to not just offer something new for TV audiences who may not be sold on the sudden flood of superheroes, but add a new chapter to comic book TV in general.
What are the comic book teams, organizations, and families you hope to see DC and WB develop for TV next? Think Marvel needs to start moving their smaller titles onto the small screen beyond Netflix? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.