Between Marvel, DC Comics, and lesser-known imprints, comic book stories have been fully embraced by the TV medium, translating onto the small screen the huge success comics have enjoyed in cinema.
It’s really not hard at all to stumble upon a television show that was based on comic books. Whether they enjoy huge ratings (such as The Walking Dead), connect an entire universe (like DC’s Arrow and The Flash or Marvel’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones), or even focus on telling a completely separate story (which is the case with Legion and Preacher), comics-based TV series are everywhere.
Besides all of the options we already have, even more television shows based on comic books are coming in the near future – some already with release dates, others still being developed. After ABC and Netflix, Marvel is expanding its lineup of series to Hulu and Freeform. Fox is injecting even more X-Men projects onto its networks. HBO, Syfy, and Amazon Prime Video are joining the party. And DC Comics is even attempting to launch its own streaming service with original live-action content. Needless to say, TV is getting even busier with comic book-based properties.
These are the 16 Comic Book TV Shows You Didn’t Know Were Coming.
16 THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY
In 2007, My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way published a comic book series via Dark Horse Comics: The Umbrella Academy. Like everything that had to do with his band, the series is dark, gloomy, and involves children in adult-related problems.
The Umbrella Academy received a lot of praise from critics and fans, and a film adaptation was optioned by Universal Studios shortly after the comic book series was published. However, Universal seemed to give up on it as a film, and in 2015, the studio began talking about a TV show instead – an idea that also fell through.
In 2017, Netflix announced that it would adapt The Umbrella Academy as a series to join its lineup of original shows. There are no reports that confirm whether Gerard Way is involved in the adaptation, however.
15 NEW WARRIORS
A television adaptation of the Marvel Comics’ New Warriors is set to premiere on the Disney-owned cable network Freeform (formerly known as ABC Family) in 2018. The New Warriors team of heroes was first introduced in a 1989 The Mighty Thor comic book, and have often served as a young counterpart to the Avengers – mimicking the dynamics between New Mutants and the X-Men.
The New Warriors TV show – which will be a live-action half-hour comedy – will feature heroes such as Squirrel Girl (Milana Vayntrub), Mister Immortal (Derek Theler), Night Thrasher (Jeremy Tardy), Speedball (Calum Worthy ), Microbe (Matthew Moy), and Debrii (Kate Comer). The series is supposedly going to take itself less seriously than other Marvel television projects such as Netflix’s Luke Cage and the ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
Image Comics’ miniseries turned graphic novel Happy! is poised to receive a live-action TV series treatment by cable network Syfy, which has recently been investing heavily in comic book properties.
Happy! was created by Grant Morrison (who has written stories for Batman, Superman, and Justice League) and Darick Robertson (mostly known for having originated the comic book series The Boys), who are both veteran comic book writers. It tells the story of Nick Sax, a corrupt former police officer who becomes a hit man and meets a small blue-winged horse named Happy.
Actor Christopher Meloni has been cast as Nick Sax, and Saturday Night Live alum Bobby Moynihan voices the character of Happy. The cast also features Mad Men’s Patrick Fischler, The Get Down’s Zabryna Guevara, and Ritchie Coster, who appeared in The Dark Knight.
DC Comics is working on launching its own digital streaming service – which still doesn’t have an official name – in 2018, and one of the flagship exclusive shows on the platform will be Titans, based on the Teen Titans comic book series.
Titans was originally meant to be a TV show on TNT, and a pilot was even written by Akiva Goldsman. After years of no further developments, the network announced that it was no longer interested in the project, and DC Comics’ Geoff Johns clarified that other plans for the series were already taking place. In 2017, it was finally announced that this television adaptation had found a new home in DC’s soon-to-come streaming service. It's set to starting shooting in Fall of 2017.
This DC Comics streaming platform will also feature the third season of the animated Young Justice TV series, which previously aired on Cartoon Network.
The 2013 film Snowpiercer was received with critical acclaim, but general audiences actively ignored it once it came out in theaters. Based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, the movie starring Chris Evans only found its footing later as viewers caught up to it on streaming services such as Netflix.
Because Snowpiercer tells a story that was so well-received by critics, TNT decided to order a TV series based on the comic book that is meant to capture the level of commercial success that the movie didn’t seem to find. Josh Friedman, who is better known as a writer in the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles television show, will be TNT’s Snowpiercer showrunner. Also attached to the project are Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs, Requiem For A Dream’s Jennifer Connelly, and Frances Ha’s Mickey Sumner.
11 BLACK LIGHTNING
The CW is getting yet another DC Comics-based TV series in 2018: Black Lightning.
Jefferson Pierce is an Olympic decathlete from the Southside of Metropolis who decided to fight crime under the name Black Lightning. He has the physical strength and endurance of a great athlete, but is also capable of shooting lightning bolts and ionizing the atmosphere. In the comics, Jefferson has had two daughters: Anissa Pierce (who would later become the superhero Thunder) and Jennifer Pierce (who later became the Justice League superhero Lightning).
Even though this series will join The CW’s lineup of superhero shows that consists of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl, it is not believed that Black Lightning will be part of the Arrowverse – at least not initially.
The Watchmen graphic novel was brilliantly adapted as a live-action film by director Zack Snyder in 2009, following the success of the 2005 cinematic adaptation of V For Vendetta. Most recently, however, it was announced that Watchmen would get the TV series treatment, and that it would air on HBO.
Spearheading the project is Damon Lindelof, who is known for writing Lost, The Leftovers, Prometheus, and Star Trek Into Darkness. As HBO is desperately looking for a blockbuster TV series to succeed Game of Thrones – which is ending soon – Watchmen seems to be a property on which the premium cable network is willing to bet.
Zack Snyder, who directed the Watchmen film, was briefly attached to the TV series but is no longer part of its production team.
9 THE TICK
Besides HBO, Amazon Prime Video is also getting involved in comic book-based TV shows. The online retailer’s streaming service arm will adapt The Tick comic book series into a television show with ten episodes. While the pilot premiered in 2016, the rest of the first season is only coming out in August of 2017.
The Tick’s premise is mostly a spoof of comic book superheroes. The title character is mostly powerless but pretty insane, and has a former accountant named Arthur as a sidekick. Fox aired a TV show based on The Tick between 1994 and 1996. After that, the character was adapted in a short-lived live-action series (also on Fox) featuring Patrick Warburton as Tick.
Amazon’s take on The Tick features Peter Serafinowicz as the title character.
8 Y: THE LAST MAN
FX has been enjoying major critical success with Legion, and now the network is on its way to introducing a second comic book-based TV show to its lineup: Y: The Last Man.
Created by Brian K. Vaughan – also responsible for the comics Ex Machina and Runaways – and Pia Guerra, Y: The Last Man was published in 2002 by Vertigo and became one of the most critically-acclaimed comic books of the last decade. The series is set in a post-apocalyptic world and follows the young man Yorick Brown and his monkey Ampersand, who are the last male mammals alive on Earth.
According to the most recent reports, Michael Green will be the showrunner in FX’s adaptation of Y: The Last Man. He previously created the NBC television show Kings and worked on Everwood, Smallville, Sex and the City, and Heroes. Additionally, Michael is the co-showrunner with Bryan Fuller for American Gods.
Krypton is Superman / Kal-El’s home planet and one of the most important locations in the DC Comics universe. The Krypton television series will follow Seg-El (Kal-El’s grandfather) and his girlfriend Lyta Zod, as well as their respective relatives. During the years that the TV show will cover, the House of El was filled with shame and had an awful reputation, which prompted Seg-El to try to make amends in his family’s name.
6 THE GIFTED
20th Century Fox is interested in taking FX’s success with Legion to Fox, its main broadcast network. To achieve that, the company brought in Burn Notice’s showrunner Matt Nix to create yet another X-Men property to television: The Gifted.
Unlike Legion, The Gifted seems a lot more accessible to mainstream audiences. The TV series will tell the story of a family that is on the run after finding out that their children are mutants, and like many X-Men stories, it will focus on young people learning to deal with their special gifts.
It will be Fox’s first superhero TV series since the release of Gotham and Lucifer, and it will place the network in the quite unique position of having both DC Comics and Marvel Comics properties within its lineup of television adaptations.
Initially developed as a Marvel Studios film that would be part of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Three with a 2018 release, Inhumans was downsized to an ABC television show which will have two episodes premiere first on IMAX screens.
Inhumans will feature Anson Mount as Black Bolt, Serinda Swan as Medusa, Game of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon as Maximus, Eme Ikwuakor as Gorgon, Isabelle Cornish as Crystal, and Ken Leung as Karnak. Scott Buck, who has written for Rome, Dexter, Six Feet Under, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Iron Fist, will serve as a showrunner.
The Inhuman species was first introduced on ABC and in the MCU in general during the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which also airs on the network. The decision to scrap the Inhumans film and turn it into a TV series reveals that the original plans from Marvel to explore these characters have probably changed significantly.
4 DAMAGE CONTROL
It’s been a long time coming for Damage Control to become part of the MCU, and even though a television adaptation was announced in 2015, it finally only happened during 2017’s Sony/Marvel Studios film Spider-Man: Homecoming – which is fitting, since those characters appeared often in Spider-Man comic book series.
From all we know, the plans to develop Damage Control as a comedy series for ABC are still very much alive, and their presence in Homecoming should indicate that the TV show is coming sooner rather than later. Ben Karlin, who is famous for his work on The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, was appointed as the showrunner, but there are no set-in-stone reports in regards to the show’s cast and release date.
3 CLOAK & DAGGER
Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger will be a 10-episode TV series premiering in 2018 on the Disney/ABC-owned network Freeform. It will follow Tandy Bowen (Dagger) and Tyrone Johnson (Cloak) – two teenagers who fall in love in the midst of gaining superpowers.
Cloak & Dagger seems like a very intentional move from ABC and Marvel to compete with the teenage-friendly DC Comics television shows currently enjoying a lot of success on The CW: Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow. However, unlike their DC counterparts – which are not part of the greater DCEU continuity – Cloak & Dagger is most definitely set within the MCU.
This ABC television series was created by writer and producer Joe Pokaski, who has written for Marvel Comics and NBC’s Heroes.
Cinemax is developing a TV adaptation of Marvel Comics’ Scarlet, a comic book series that was created by Brian Michael Bendis and ran irregularly from 2010 to 2016. Brian is known as one of the main architects of the Ultimate Marvel and as someone who was responsible for 2004’s New Avengers. He is also one of the co-creators of the Jessica Jones character and the long-running comic book series Powers.
Scarlet Rue is a young rebel from Portland, Oregon who is credited as starting a new revolution in the United States. Scarlet has been often compared to The Punisher, and is known for graphic violence, complex emotions, and mainly adult themes.
Scarlet would be Cinemax’s second comic book-based adaptation, following the success of Robert Kirkman’s Outcast TV series.
Marvel Studios has enjoyed great success in its partnership with Netflix to produce original shows such as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and The Punisher. Now, Marvel is going to a different streaming competitor – Hulu – to develop a brand-new superhero TV series: Runaways.
This Marvel/Hulu television show will feature the characters Alex Wilder, Nico Minoru, Karolina Dean, Gert Yorkes, Chase Stein, and Molly Hernandez, and seems to be completely different from the Marvel/Netflix tone since it will tell mainly a lighthearted, teenage-friendly story about kids who find out that their parents are evil.
Like Inhumans, Marvel’s Runaways was originally meant to be a film, but those plans were scrapped in 2013. The TV show’s first season will consist of 10 episodes that are scheduled for a winter of 2017/2018 premiere.
Which upcoming comic book TV show are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments!