With the recent news that ABC is still considered the flagship network for Marvel TV, many fans are wondering when they will make good on that claim. With Netflix set to have six Marvel shows by the end of the year and Freeform set to premiere two of their own with Cloak & Dagger and New Warriors, ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is certainly looking lonely. And while there have been rumors for years of new shows like Damage Control and Most Wanted and never-ending talk of a John-Ridley-produced series, nothing has manifested.
Luckily, ABC is still vociferously pursuing potential Marvel TV shows. We recently learned the network is looking to finally bring the first full-blown Marvel comedy to TV. Meanwhile, word broke that a Jessica Jones-esque show is in the works. As ABC attempts to court new demographics, it looks as if Netflix’s most popular Marvel series will be used as the model for another female-led superhero show. But which of Marvel’s many powerful women will the new show focus on? We have a few ideas.
The Sensational She-Hulk
Whenever the idea of a new Marvel TV show makes the rounds, a few names are inevitably thrown into the mix. But when it comes to an ABC drama focused on a female Marvel character, She-Hulk is the first that comes to mind. Introduced in 1980 in The Savage She-Hulk #1, the character was created by Stan Lee to avoid The Incredible Hulk TV series from making their own female Hulk and owning the rights to her. Despite those beginnings, she soon developed her own unique place in the Marvel Universe thanks to her decidedly different approach to being a Hulk.
Born Jennifer Walters, She-Hulk is the cousin of Bruce Banner. Following an accident that nearly killed her, Walters is given a blood transfusion by Banner. The results see her able to turn into a Hulk, creatively dubbed She-Hulk. Known occasionally as ‘Shulkie,’ the hero has remained prominent in Marvel events thanks to her power, charisma, and residence in New York. Over the years, however, she’s been given a bit of a makeover that would make her perfect for a new type of superhero TV show.
Starting in 1989, the Savage She-Hulk became the Sensational She-Hulk for a book of the same name by writer and artist John Byrne. This version of the character became more meta, even knowing she was a character in a comic book. Over time, this aspect was dropped, but She-Hulk’s irreverence has remained. Thanks to recent work by Matt Fraction and Mike Allred on FF and Charles Soule and Javier Pulido’s run on She-Hulk, the character has moved more in line with comics like the modern Howard the Duck and Patsy Walker, Hellcat. Those characters have also made regular appearances in She-Hulk’s like as an attorney, where she also regularly crosses paths with Matt Murdock.
All told, modern takes on She-Hulk read as a super-powered attorney, made all the more interesting as she constantly remains in Hulk mode. Unlike Banner, Walters never complains about her abilities or treats them like a burden. Instead, She-Hulk is her default, something that’s incredibly useful in the courtroom. With a She-Hulk show, Marvel could go darker like with Jessica Jones, or they could go in their proposed comedic direction. Either way, a courtroom drama starring a Hulk is something TV audiences desperately need.
AKA Kate Bishop
While a Marvel TV show called Hawkeye that didn’t star Jeremy Renner would be too confusing, Kate Bishop is the perfect candidate for a Jessica Jones-esque show. Though her story is less dark, her history as an Avenger and her past as the daughter of a criminal could offer similar shades while exploring a complicated, heroic, and snarky young woman. The series could even homage Jessica Jones with the title AKA Kate Bishop.
Originally, the ‘also known as’ abbreviation was attached to Jessica Jones to mirror her first comic book, Alias. Given the show of the same name—on ABC no less—that was a no-go. Eventually, the ‘AKA’ was dropped, but it could be revived. By avoiding ‘Hawkeye’ in the title, the new name could reference the character’s alter-ego and Jessica Jones while setting up a series about a woman living a double life.
Introduced in 2005’s Young Avengers #1, Bishop was soon given Hawkeye’s bow by Captain America following the temporary death of the archer. She really got the spotlight, however, in Matt Fraction and David Aja’s seminal Hawkeye run beginning in 2012. There, she and Clint Barton shared Hawkeye duties, with plenty of jokes and drama thrown into the working class superhero story.
Eventually, Kate would strike out on her own in LA, putting her skills to work to hunt down Madame Masque and serve as a private eye. By focusing on Kate in LA, the show could distance itself from the MCU while still existing within it. We could even see a modern Madame Masque arrive, as a villain paying tribute to the character from Agent Carter. Many of the elements from Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye that will never be in the movies could even appear, like Lucky the Pizza Dog.
Given all the hints Renner has made about appearing in a Marvel TV show, what better place for the actor to cameo and flesh out the put-upon humor he’s known for in the comics. Kate Bishop may not have the name recognition of some other Marvel heroes, but she has a devoted and growing fan base and is a character that’s tailor-made for a fun and thrilling series.
The Mysterious Spider-Woman
Like She-Hulk, Spider-Woman has a similar origin and is often a name brought up when new Marvel projects are mentioned. There's been some confusion over whether Spider-Woman is owned by Marvel, Sony, or if she falls into a gray area like Quicksilver does with Marvel and FOX. Either way, Marvel's recent deal with Sony of Spider-verse rights - and the fact that we're talking about television (not movies) - makes much of that confusion a moot point. While there have been rumors that Spider-Woman will appear in Sony’s Silver & Black, other character rumors have pointed towards Marvel-owned heroes and villains showing up as well. As such, it’s not clear how much of a barrier there is to a Spider-Woman TV show.
Introduced in 1977’s Marvel Spotlight #22, the character was soon retconned from her origin as a being evolved from a spider. Like with She-Hulk, Spider-Woman was created in an effort to avoid someone else trademarking the hero first—namely, DC Comics. Given that, however, she has virtually no connection to Spider-Man (which is the reason many have speculated that her ownership rests with Marvel).
When Marv Wolfman took over on the character, he developed her backstory as Jessica Drew, a HYDRA-trained operative given new abilities when her father used irradiated spider blood to save her life. Like Peter Parker, she gained super-strength, agility, and senses, along with wall-crawling powers. She also gained a powerful pheromone that can control those with male biology, along with an electricity-based discharge that can be used to great offensive effect. She even has the ability to fly, making her wall-crawling sort of inferior and redundant.
While Jessica Drew was popular during her initial run, she began to fade until Brian Michael Bendis revived her as part of his New Avengers team in the aughts. The latest Spider-Woman comic by Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez, meanwhile, has given the character a bit of a reinvention. She becomes a private eye, working alongside Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich and D-List character Porcupine. This series finally redesigned Spider-Woman’s costume, giving her an outfit perfect for the MCU. It also features more irreverence and includes an arc where Jessica becomes pregnant—perfect fodder for a TV series.
The early incarnations of Spider-Woman even featured supernatural villains and a mystic atmosphere, with taglines like “To know her is to fear her!” If Marvel could throw some of these ideas in with the more character-driven humor and drama, they could craft something truly unique. Regardless of which iteration of the character is used, there's no shortage of great Spider-Woman stories to choose from for a potential TV show.
From Ms. Marvel to Moon Girl, there are dozens of other characters who ABC could be eyeing for a TV show. She-Hulk, Kate Bishop, and Spider-Woman, however, seem the most likely to mirror the success and style of Jessica Jones. All three shows would combine humor, pathos, and superheroics, and each would be able to offer plenty of winks and nods to their more well-known counterparts in the MCU. No matter what character ABC chooses to pursue, it’s sure to be a hit if it stays true to the hero’s roots the way Jessica Jones has so far.