Right now, the hot property, aside from connected universe franchises, is quickly becoming television shows based on comic books. Currently, fans can check out shows like The Walking Dead, Flash, Arrow, The Strain, Agents of SH.I.E.L.D., Constantine, and others I'm probably missing like Gotham. On the horizon, even more are coming out as well. Comic book fans are in a pretty special age of television right this second.
With so many television shows based on comic properties currently airing and set to come out, many people are wondering when the comic book bubble will burst. I say we're not even close. We're so far from that happening. I really think we're about head into a golden age of comic book television. Am I way too hopeful? Probably. Am I way out of line for thinking like this? Not at all. Let's take a trip back to the magical world of 1998.
Back in 97, comic book films were seen as risky endeavors by fans after Batman Forever and Batman & Robin got all neon and filled with "hilarious" puns about temperature (sadly, "Ice to see you" wasn't one of them. That was McBain). Batman had two incredibly brilliant movies but couldn't keep the formula going, which is the formula of putting big name actors in a movie as villains and slopping together a plot that consists of "bad guys be bad, good guys be beating them." That saddens me. Let's listen to some Seal.
During that time, Marvel already had a film in the works based off one of their C-List heroes, Blade. Technically, it was New Line Cinemas, not Marvel. They took a risk by taking a step away from the source material and just grabbing the essence of a character. They turned this rated R film into something a bit more realistic (aside from the vampires and super-powers) and made it gritty. And because it was a much less expensive film, compared to those Batman movies, it made some money, enough to get a couple of sequels. This was really the beginning of the contemporary comic book film.
From there, we go the two Spider-Man films directed by Sam Raimi, and the one Sam Raimi film/musical which had Spider-Man in it. We even got a couple sweet X-Men films, and one that was basically insanity. We also got films based on graphic novels like Road to Perdition, 300, Sin City, and the list continues. I call that section "the boom of comic book film." Now, we're at a place where films are interconnected, with Marvel and DC, and in a sense, they're beginning to tell a larger story. I'm really just guessing with DC, since the only film to come out of their connected universe is Man of Steel. Comic book films, for the most part, are actually good films. Seriously, watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier again. It's brilliant.
Let's jump over to television now. Back in 2001, a show aired on the WB Network (Now called the CW, which I'm pretty sure stands for something like "Candle Waxer") called Smallville, which followed a young Clark Kent in his hometown of Smallville. We got to grow up with Kent and see him use his powers. Sure, there were super-hero shows before (The Flash, Adventures of Lois & Clark), but Smallville was much like Blade: the start of the contemporary comic book television show by giving taking the property and giving its own different spin on it.
Right now, however, we live in the boom. Sure, we have a ton of shows, and some are good and some the exact opposite, but we're on the cusp of getting some really rad stuff thrown our way. Television and film aren't on the same timeline with each other. Film is a bit ahead. We're basically at a point where we could have the Avengers of television thrown at us in the next year. Could that be the Netflix bombs Marvel is about to drop on us? Could it be I, Zombie or Supergirl? Who knows?
Here's the thing. People in the television business see that shows like Walking Dead, Arrow, The Flash, and Gotham are working insanely well and they want to get on that bandwagon, much like movie execs saw when both X-Men and Spider-Man did well because they had already forgotten the Blade Trilogy was a thing. Take a look at what's going on right this second with 12 Monkeys. Ok, I know it's not a comic, but it's science-fiction and it's an adaptation of a sweet Terry Gillam movie, which was heavily inspired by the short film La Jetée. Syfy has been a joke. Monster + Monster = Bad movie which 100 people on Twitter talk about for a week. That seemed to be their gameplan. However, 12 Monkeys really reopens the door for Syfy, which feels like it closed when Battlestar Galactica ended. The show is actually really good. Even the pilot was good and pilots tend to be, as the commenters in forums put it, "meh." And for a Syfy show, ratings wise, it did pretty good, and they're not stopping there. They're currently developing a slew of new comic book related television shows and if they can all stay on par, quality-wise, with 12 Monkeys, I will faint from fanboy excitement.
We have a lot of other potential shows coming down the pipeline too from various networks. Powers will be hitting the PSN network in the next couple of months. Back in September, we gave you a rundown on a lot of the television shows that were in the works, and it's a ton of stuff from Image/Skybound, Oni Press, and Vertigo. While some of these projects will never see the light of day, we're on the verge of seeing a ton of comic book television hit the market. That combine with the upcoming Marvel Netflix Bomb is going to put us in a new era of television. I'm excited. How about you?
Understandably, just because comic book films exploded the way they did doesn't mean television will as well, but let's face it, television has run out of new ideas for police procedural shows. This is the obvious next step. And then, in 10 years, when the comic book bubble has burst, people can then look forward to whatever trend is popular then, and I'm pretty sure that will be television based off of board games. You thought Ouija the movie was thrilling? Wait until you see the tv show, based off the movie, based off the game, based on lying to your friends.
We live in a great time for comic books, movies, and now television. The things many of us dreamed of as kids are now a reality. How many people, aside from me, played with their Toy Biz X-Men figures, everyday (and into their 30s) and wanted the silly little stories of Wolverine beating everyone, including Magneto, to one day be on the big screen? We live in the era of childhood fanboy dreams, It's awesome, and I truly believe it's only going to get better from here.
Make sure to check in with me next year, when I write "What Happened? Why I was wrong about comic book television." Where do you hope comic book television goes in the future? What are some of your favorite things currently happening with comic book tv?