It's still a little weird to say out loud, but The CW's Green Arrow show Arrow is good. Like, really good. Like, a perfect match of superheroics, accessibility and non-superheroic drama for mass audiences, and with no need for budget-busting special effects. It's possibly the perfect superhero TV show, and it got us thinking: What other superheroes could benefit from the same treatment? Because Arrow does have a treatment — it's following three rules that any comic-based TV series would be wise to obey:
• It can't be too special effects-heavy, i.e. too expensive.
• It can't rely too heavily on comics mythology, i.e. too off-putting for non-nerds.
• It has to have something other than the superhero stuff for mass audiences to get into.
With these in mind, here are seven superheroes that could utilize –- but also deserve — their own Arrow-esque TV series.
Let's address the giant Bat-logo in the room, shall we? Batman — or Nightwing, or Batgirl, or even one of the Robins — would make the best superhero TV show ever, primarily because Batman and his co-workers requires no CG superpowers . But let's start with just Batman. Sure, a few of his villains like Clayface and Poison Ivy might need SFX, but all the Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman need are outfits and a bit on clown-white make-up, meaning the CG-heavy villains could show up ince in a while, or even never, since Batman still has plenty of other baddies to deal with. Using Batman: Year One as a template for a TV show would allows viewers to easily enter the story (although this would primarily be for Hollywood execs, because it's doubtful anyone really needs to be eased into Bat-lore at this point). Add a bit of Bruce Wayne and his attempts to create his cover as a shallow socialite among Gotham's elite — kind of like Arrow is doing — and you have ratings gold. Alas, DC/WB is still too worried about diluting the public's desire for Batman movies by making a new Batman TV show, which is stupid, because while there may be a limit to how much Batman the public wants, we're not even close to it yet.
2) Nightwing, Batgirl, or Robin
So DC/WB isn't going to make a Batman TV series. What's the next best thing? Batman Lite — i.e., a show focusing on Nightwing, Batgirl, or even Robin. Then you have the benefits of having a show basically about Batman, but without using the Batman name (which, again, is phenomenally stupid, but how Hollywood thinks). A series about any of these three members of the Bat-family should show them starting out — more necessary for these three than Batman, obviously — so Nightwing would arrive in Bludhaven in his first episode, Batgirl would do her Year One, and Robin could perform his first solo missions. While some comics fans would cry foul, these shows would need some non-superheroic drama for those mass audiences, meaning Nightwing would likely be in college, Robin in high school, and Batgirl in either, to give them larger casts and scenes that don't require martial arts choreography. But the best idea would to be to have a show featuring all three — Nighting, Batgirl and Robin — with Batman as a looming, behind-the-scenes presence and occasional guest star.
With the possible exception of the S.H.I.E.L.D. show that's actually getting made, Daredevil is absolutely the greatest TV series Marvel could be – and should be — doing. Think about it. His superpower is that he's a blind guy that can see — a power well within a TV show's SFX budget (hell, all you really need is a guy who can parkour and a good martial arts choreographer and you're done). His two biggest foes are a fat crimelord and an assassin who throws things very accurately (also cheap, SFX-wise). He mostly fights street crime at night, and in the day he's a lawyer, meaning a Daredevil show is basically a police procedural and a law procedural at once, two of the most popular TV genres ever — it'd be like Law & Order, but with a superhero! Have Matt Murdock just graduated from law school and beginning his practice, add a few cow-workers, friends, love interests and foes in both the courts and the streets, and you have ratings gold (…as long as you don't cast Ben Affleck, obviously).
4) Power Man and Iron Fist
One guy is strong and indestructible. The other is really, really good at martial arts. Neither of these superpowers is too difficult to portray on screen, but a show about two superheroes for hire who take different cases every week? That's a show that would work. It's a standard action-comedy series, where one of the heroes is bullproof and breaks things more easily than most people — imagine Burn Notice, except with superpowers, and if there were two Bruce Campbells. Unless you wanted to show Luke Cage and Iron Fist meeting and forming Heroes for Hire — which would be okay, but probably a little tedious — the smart thing to do would be to have PM and IF hired by someone in the pilot, solve her problem, and then hire her to run the business portion of Heroes for Hire (budgets, payroll, taxes, etc.) to give us a point-of-view into their world.
5) Wonder Woman
The CW is currently working on a Wonder Woman in high school TV series, which may work, but frankly sounds terrible. While it gives WW an easy access point for new viewers, I can't imagine anything a high school setting would add to Wonder Woman, and I can imagine many ways it would diminish her. So my thought: go ahead and base a show on Brian Azzarello's amazing New 52 Wonder Woman relaunch. Begin the show with Wonder Woman finding out she's the daughter of Zeus, and entering the world (and family drama on PCP) of the Greek gods. Heck, add Zola, the mortal woman who's pregnant with another of Zeus' kids and have Wonder Woman try to protect her while Hera trying to kill her, to give mass audiences and an even more accessible point-of-view. The TV show probably wouldn't be able to match Cliff Chiang's fabulous Greek god character designs, but they could be played by regular humans without really losing anything; and while WW might not be able to visit places like Hades, a few good writers could still present equivalent scenes without breaking a TV show budget. Look, if Supernatural can basically showcase the entire Judeo-Christian pantheon on a CW budget, any network should be able to make this work out fine.
There have been few ideas in the comics world more TV-ready than Dan Slott's "Single Green Female" run on She-Hulk. Bruce Banner's cousin Jennifer Walters is hired to work in the Superhuman Law division of the New York firm of Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway, where she takes on the bizarre legal troubles of the Marvel universe. Even assuming Fox and Sony would keep the rights to Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four, that leaves pretty much everybody else for Shulkie to defend/sue. And by keeping it in the courtroom, not only is it a law procedural, but it means there's no need for Jennifer to go green, except for maybe one or two brief action sequences per episode. Plus, it could be a mix of drama and comedy like David E. Kelley's legal shows, which have done quite well for themselves (and hey, maybe this is what he needs after the Wonder Woman pilot debacle).nObviously, mass audiences would hardly understand Marvel minutiae like Starfox's "love pheromones" and accompanying trial for sexual assault, but if you keep the mythology light and focus on the cases more than the character, there's still plenty of entertainment to be had watching a lawyer try to defend people wearing spandex costumes.
7) Wolverine and the X-Men
There is absolutely no way Jason Aaron's excellent, hilarious, insane Wolverine and the X-Men — in which Wolverine is headmaster of the rambunctious young mutants of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning — as awesome as that would be. So forget about the son of Krakatoa the Living Island attacking, forget about field trips to the Savage Land, and just focus on the premise: A bunch of kids, with powers ranging from the awesome to the bizarre, in a weird boarding school together. The drama writes itself —romance, hate, jealousy, friendships — the whole gamut, especially if they arrive during the school's opening year. While Wolverine would instantly get the show some attention (and eyeballs), any X-Men could be used as teachers and school staff. Because of the presumably large cast — each of whom would have their own unique mutant power — a Wolverine and the X-Men series would likely be the most expensive show discussed in this list, so it would likely live and die based on whether writers could make it entertaining without spending $2 million in CG per episode. Hard, but not impossible.