Over the course of the last decade, many successors to 'Smallville' have been mooted for the network (and its predecessor, The WB), from a rumored "young Batman" series to a failed 'Aquaman' pilot, the short-lived 'Birds of Prey' series and the more recent 'Raven,' which has seemingly stalled in development hell. Another iconic DC property, 'Wonder Woman,' just crashed and burned at NBC after the cheesetastic pilot stripped everything likable from the character, which further illustrates that name-recognition alone is not enough to sustain a show.
On the surface, 'Deadman' seems like a curious choice for a standalone series -- the character is little-known outside fan circles, and the storyline (murdered circus performer possesses others' bodies to bring his killers to justice, while helping those he inhabits to solve problems in their own lives) has already drawn inevitable comparisons to 'Quantum Leap'.
But a lack of brand awareness can sometimes be a blessing instead of a curse, allowing producers to forge their own path in shaping a character, rather than being married to fans' expectations as 'Smallville' was. In my mind, there are numerous other DC properties perfectly suited for a CW adaptation -- read on for my top five suggestions.
A few caveats before we get started: In a perfect world, I know we'd love for all of our favorite comic book projects to have 'Lost'-sized budgets and cinematic production values on a weekly basis, but we're talking about the limitations of The CW here, and while the network produces some of my favorite series currently on air (such as 'Supernatural' and 'Nikita'), it sadly can't rival Fox or HBO in terms of scale.
Because of this, you won't see any of my picks dealing with space or time-travel, though DC has plenty of intriguing heroes who are not of this earth or era. My choices reflect shows that The CW could feasibly do justice, given the network's budget and demographic, and I'll expect a check in the mail if any of them suddenly go into development ...
Likewise, as much as I'd love to see a show dealing with Batman or his extended superhero family each week, there are certain characters that are tied up with rights issues thanks to current movie franchises, or heroes whose backstories are just too convoluted to streamline into an hour-long drama -- thus, my dreams of a Nightwing show will likely always go unfulfilled.
That being said, here are five interesting and (generally) lesser-known heroes that I believe could be smart, entertaining additions to The CW's lineup.
Who He Is:An assassin-for-hire, Deadshot (AKA Floyd Lawton) is famed for the accuracy of his aim and his skewed code of ethics: in the comics, as long as he's paid in full for a job, he won't drop the case under any circumstances, but if his source of payment is somehow cut off, he's happy to walk away from the hit. Like all good comics characters, he has a tragic backstory -- his mother convinced Floyd's brother to kill their abusive father, and when Floyd tried to prevent his beloved sibling from heading down such a dark path by attempting to shoot the gun from his hand, he accidentally killed his brother instead. Though he's not technically suicidal, Deadshot has a great desire to die in a spectacular fashion and feels like he has no real reason to continue living, allowing him to throw himself into cases with little regard for his own well-being.
Why He'd Work: Thanks to 'Nikita,' assassins are back in fashion on The CW, although Deadshot is a far less empathetic protagonist than the femme fatale currently played by Maggie Q. Still, Deadshot has an intriguing history while remaining fairly grounded in reality (by comic book standards) which makes him a viable candidate, if the young, female-skewing network feels brave enough to dip into darker, anti-hero territory. A potential 'Deadshot' series could traverse the murky line between good and evil by having the main character accepting hits against both villains deserving of death and those who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, while hopefully allowing him to develop a conscience over the course of the narrative.
2. The Question
Who She Is:Though there are two equally viable iterations of this long-established character, I'm inclined to choose the current version; she is Renée Montoya, a former homicide detective with the Gotham City Police Department who is chosen by the original Question to assume the hero's mantle after he's diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. The Question is a vigilante and private investigator with contacts in an increasingly corrupt police department and a working knowledge of Gotham's seedy criminal underworld, thanks to her own time on the force. She's also a recovering alcoholic, the product of a devout Catholic upbringing, and a lesbian -- if those three factors can't make for good drama, I don't know what can.
Why She'd Work:Aside from the fact that network TV is long-overdue for an openly gay or lesbian character as a primetime lead (let alone one that's also a person of color) and The CW continues to garner praise from GLAAD for the diversity of its shows, The Question is mostly just a kickass character, albeit one who was somewhat under the radar until recently. Though it might frustrate Bat-fans to have a story set in Gotham without including Batman, the character could easily be transplanted to New York or Chicago and maintain her edge, mixing procedural elements with superheroics and including cameos from some of the DC universe's more grounded heroes and villains.
3. Hawk and Dove
Who They Are:The original incarnation of this much maligned team features brothers Hank and Don Hall, siblings who are complete opposites in terms of temperament and ideology. Older brother Hank (Hawk) is hot-headed and agressive while Don (Dove) is a patient pacifist. They are given superhuman powers by the Gods of Order and Chaos, and must learn to fight together despite their differences in order to bring balance to the world. As an agent of Chaos, Hawk's powers are more offensive, including super-strength and claws, while Dove's are more defensive, such as super-speed, healing, and enhanced senses.
Why They'd Work: Despite the fact that Hawk and Dove considered to be pretty lame by many comics purists, The CW is known for being the network of hot brothers -- spanning from the early days of Lucas and Nathan on 'One Tree Hill,' to heroic Sam and Dean on 'Supernatural' and brooding Stefan and Damon on 'The Vampire Diaries' -- so Hawk and Dove would be a good fit thanks to their fraternity alone. Remove the campy costumes and frame the story as a tale of two brothers learning to accept one another for their differences (while dealing with supervillains, natch) and it could be a natural successor for 'Supernatural' when the cult hit finally drives off into the sunset.
4. Resurrection Man
Who He Is: Perhaps the most obscure hero on this list, Mitch Shelley has a fairly unenviable super power -- whenever he dies, he is resurrected with a new ability or characteristic, usually related to the manner in which he was killed. For example, if he dies in a fire, he can come back with the power to generate fire from his hands; if shot in the chest, he returns with the ability to shoot out blasts of compressed air. He's been known to resurrect as a shapeshifter, a living shadow, a Hulk-like creature with super-strength, and even as a woman. He's been around for a while, but we know that he was once a lawyer in the employ of the mob in South Carolina, before finding himself an unwilling test subject for regenerative nanotechnology that granted him immortality, just not the kind you'd want. (Step aside, Jack Harkness.)
Why He'd Work:In the comics, we first meet Mitch as an amnesiac trying to piece together his identity and his abilities, which would make a compelling introduction to a series. The ever-changing aspect of his powers (and the possibility for multiple inventive deaths) would ensure that the writers would have plenty of ways to keep the material fresh, and if the original star ever wanted to leave, they could always turn him into a woman or a different man (hey, it works for 'Doctor Who'). It has been suggested that Mitch has lived many past lives stretching back to the dawn of man, which would allow the show to tackle flashbacks to various periods in time, something that The CW has managed to pull off very successfully with 'The Vampire Diaries'.
Who He Is:Better known to mainstream audiences as 'Constantine' thanks to the lackluster 2005 movie of the same name, John Constantine is a trenchcoat-wearing, chain-smoking demon hunter, exorcist and magician -- if that's not a perfect fit for Eric Kripke and 'Supernatural,' I don't know what is. He's a con-artist, a manipulator and undoubtedly an anti-hero, with a twisted history that involves deals with the devil, journeys into Hell and time in a mental institution. If we go by the source material, he's also from Liverpool, and in order to wash the sour taste of Keanu Reeves from our mouths, I'd suggest he stays that way.
Why He'd Work:Aside from the aforementioned similarities to one of The CW's most successful shows, the themes of magic and the occult are also a good fit for what the network is trying to establish with 'The Vampire Diaries' and 'The Secret Circle,' although 'Hellblazer' could certainly skew towards an edgier, more adult demo. Despite its reliance on frothy, frivolous teen dramas like 'Gossip Girl' and '90210,' The CW's most highly-rated series have always been their genre entries, and the network would do well to cultivate more of the same. Then again, if rumors about an unwanted 'Constantine' sequel are true, the character may be tangled up in movie contracts for a few more years, d'oh!
And while I'm putting together a wishlist, I'd like to see the network rework 'Wonder Woman' into something less terrible -- preferably far away from the hands of David E. Kelley, since he turned one of the most powerful and self-assured women in pop culture into a neurotic, man-obsessed thug with no moral code, and Adrianne Palicki deserves much better. If The CW wants a superhero franchise as sustainable and profitable as 'Smallville,' 'WW' would probably be their best bet, if it's done respectfully, with a showrunner who understands the nuance and heroism inherent in Diana Prince.
I have my reservations that 'Deadman' can fill that niche any better than the stalled 'Raven' script could, mostly because the mysticism and carnival culture so integral to 'Deadman' doesn't seem like it could translate to the small screen without coming across as cheesy (one only has to look at NBC's failed superhero drama 'The Cape' to understand why). Then again, Eric Kripke did create one of my all-time favorite shows in 'Supernatural,' so I'm rooting for him to succeed.
Which DC comic book characters are you itching to see on the small screen? Do my choices sound reasonable, or are you still desperate for a live-action Batman series to rival the animated version or Nolan's movies? Share your suggestions below!
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