Monday, October 07, 2019

Four Comic Books That Deserve A Streaming Series (Beyond Marvel and DC)

"Superhero cinema" may have ruled the 21st century so far, but we shouldn't overlook the fact that streaming platforms are also proving to be quite adept at adapting comic book heroes:

Netflix alone had quite a few shows revolving around individuals with superhuman abilities, including "Jessica Jones", "Luke Cage", "The Punisher" and "Daredevil". 

DC and Warner Bros. launched "DC Universe" with "Titans", plus more new series from Marvel Studios/Marvel TV will debut via the forthcoming Disney+ streaming platform.

But what may be particularly exciting about streaming services in this vein as we move forward into the next decade is their ability to adapt less mainstream comic book heroes (and villains). At this point, it's a given that Marvel and DC can (and will) adapt anything they like. But with streaming services throwing money at ideas ranging from Adam Sandler rom-coms to epic fantasies, it would seem that there's room for some alternative superhero material as well. Here are four superheroes from outside the Marvel and DC spheres that might be perfect for streaming series: 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Making a series on a streaming platform about the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" seems like a no-brainer. The pizza-loving, anthropomorphic turtles have stolen the hearts of millions since they made their first appearance in a 1984 comic book by Mirage Studios. Nostalgic millennials would be sure to tune in to see more martial arts adventures, as well as just to enjoy the familiar dynamic between 'Leonardo', 'Michelangelo', 'Donatello' and 'Raphael'.

Due to the fact that these crime-fighting teenage turtles have already headlined a few blockbusters, this adaptation would need to be handled carefully in order to feel like something original. If done correctly, a gritty reboot may be the way to go. One can just imagine a successful series more in the Christopher Nolan superhero style. On the other hand, a more lighthearted take, perhaps with more of a "Guardians Of The Galaxy" tone, could work as well. Really, it would all come down to the writing and direction.


In the early 2000s, comic book aficionados absolutely loved the adaptation of "Witchblade" that aired on TNT. Despite the show’s success, however, it was canceled in 2002 after just two seasons. It's important to note though that the network did not pull the plug due to a lack of viewership. Rather, series star Yancy Butler had reportedly been admitted to a rehab facility, making continuation all but impossible at the time.

Needless to say, "Witchblade" deserves a reboot - particularly given that now, more than in the early 2000's, there's palpable enthusiasm for female-driven superhero TV and movies. (Look no further than 2017’s "Wonder Woman", 2019's "Captain Marvel", and the upcoming 'Harley Quinn' film, "Birds of Prey".) There’s little doubt that people would be captivated anew by the adventures of 'Sara Pezzini'.

Judge Dredd

Much like the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", 'Joseph Dredd', aka "Judge Dredd", has already made his mark in mainstream media. Within the past 25 years the comic book character, created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra, has had two theatrical adaptations: "Judge Dredd" and "Dredd". Both Sylvester Stallone and Karl Urban have portrayed the judicial officer, and both iterations garnered what we tend to call 'cult followings'. The character has also appeared in numerous console video games over the years, and is featured currently among some of Canada's PayPal-supported slots online. There, 'Dredd' is largely a theme, but the fact that his mere image is used to draw people to a slot game says something about his enduring popularity.

He's certainly not as mainstream as the likes of 'Iron Man' or 'Batman', but 'Dredd' is ultimately quite well known compared to most non-Marvel or -DC characters. And given the above examples, as well as the fact that fans of the Urban film have petitioned for a sequel or reboot, there would seem to be a healthy appetite for a streaming series.

The Shadow

"The Shadow" has also received some unfair treatment. The character has been around since the 1930's, and is actually said to have inspired the 'Batman' comics. And although this character's own comics have been made into quite a few films and television shows over the years. none of them have been particularly successful. The most recent adaptation was the 1994 film starring Alec Baldwin - but unfortunately for fans, it was critically panned (though Roger Ebert didn't hate it!). It’s about time that this old classic comic book was given an adequate adaptation.