After watching Wonder Woman (Feel free to read that review here), I was talking with a friend who said that she was just tired of all the superhero movies. That took me by surprise a bit even though it probably should not have. Superhero movies used to be an odd occurrence — a X-Men here, a Batman there, the odd Spider-Man now and again and the new Superman is here. You would even get some lesser-known property like Hellboy, Judge Dredd or The Mask occasionally popping up out of nowhere or non-superhero comic adaptations like Road to Perdition or A History of Violence.
But that is no longer the case. The top-rated show on TV is a comic book adaptation (The Walking Dead) and there’s other properties like The Flash, Supergirl, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on TV. Netflix has the Marvel Defenders properties like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Meanwhile the movie theaters are literally brimming with superhero films. Just this year we’ve had The LEGO Batman Movie, Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 and Wonder Woman. We still have Spider-Man: Homecoming, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League to go this year. 2018 will bring another 9 including Black Panther, Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War.
OK, OK, so maybe — just maybe — we are reaching saturation point and audience fatigue has to be a concern. I mean, we are nowhere near the volume of cowboy movies or the Biblical/sword-and-sandals epics that used to permeate movie screens in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. But that doesn’t mean that superhero properties won’t reach a point where even the biggest fans won’t be bored by them — specially if all they’re getting is origin story after origin story.
So with that said, I was thinking of what would be some comic book properties that I’d love to see adapted — whether movie or TV screen — before this current wave dies off. Not Marvel or DC properties as I’m sure they’ll try to get stuff out before it is all over. So I went back and looked at stuff I liked from the other publishers that I hope get adapted. Just some ideas:
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Though originally created in 1954, the version I’m most familiar with is the one that Valiant Comics released in the 1990s as it spawned an interesting series and one really awesome video game for the old N64. The story focuses on Turok and Andar, two young Native American hunters who fall into a cavern one day while out exploring and end up in the Lost Lands; a place out of time where all sorts of creatures reside. Everything from dinosaurs to robot warriors and alien creatures live there, trapped and unable to escape. Though eventually they would escape, the tale of two young men, desperate to find their way home and using everything possible to fight bionic dinosaurs would be awesome!
Harbinger. My second of three Valiant picks. Harbinger, at first, may look and sound like a X-Men clone. The story of teenagers waking up to super powers? A team of good guys versus a team of bad guys battling it out? The difference is in the details. Imagine if Professor X instead of being altruistic was more like Doctor Doom and you have the main antagonist, Toyo Harada. He thinks the only way to ensure peace is if he’s in control of the world. And the only people standing in his way were a group of young, unsure outcasts, led by Pete Stanchek, who have power but no training and are on the run from him and his own minions. There are twists in the story that would make it a great TV show.
Shadowman. Last Valiant recommendation and I had to pick the one where the New Orleans musician becomes a crime fighter. (Of course I did). Jack Boniface is a jazz musician who, after a one night stand, finds himself with a strange mark and a desire to bring vengeance on evildoers. He becomes a figure who can traverse both the real world and the world of spirits — which eventually brings him into direct conflict with the powerful and dangerous Master Darque. While bringing in mysticism and voodoo practices might reek of cultural appropriation, I think it would give an opportunity for a different sort of crime fighter and a way to speak about other traditions, cultures and ideas in a far better light.
The Savage Dragon. Switching over to Image Comics, I cannot think of a superhero property that would be more bonkers than the Savage Dragon. A nigh-impervious, super-strong amnesiac is found in the remains of a burning building. With the rise of super-powered villains all over Chicago, he agrees to join the Chicago PD to help stop them. Thus starts the tale of the Dragon, the Vicious Circle, the Overlord and Officer Wilde among others. Combining hard action with some great comedy and the occasional “WTF is that?” insanity, Savage Dragon retained its following well into the new century. Not as serious as some other tales but not quite kiddie, Dragon would be like combining 80s-era Bruce Willis with Wolverine — and a giant freaking fin.
Saga. This might be the toughest comic to adapt — or the second most. The short, short version is this: two warriors on opposing sides of an intergalactic war, Alana and Marko, fall in love, defect and have a daughter. Their defection forces their peoples to send all sorts of bounty hunters, warriors and killers after them. Their running through the galaxy with their newborn daughter, Hazel, puts them in constant danger. To say the comic is imaginative is an understatement. It combines sci-fi, magic, fantasy and adult themes and is compared as “Star Wars meets Game of Thrones.” But at its heart is not the winning over evil or battling foes. It’s a quest for peace and for love.
Supreme. Let me differentiate. In the 90s, Rob Liefeld created a superhero he dubbed Supreme and he was meant to be his gritty, bloody take on Superman. Somewhere along the way, he convinced Alan Moore to take over the book and he agreed, on condition that he be able to change the story entirely. Liefeld consented and Moore’s Supreme — a take on the Silver Age Superman — was born. And this is the story I’d want to see. One of a man who discovers he’s the most powerful superhero ever and knows he’s a superhero because he was living in a story that is always changing. So he even gets a chance to meet other versions of himself who have been Supreme and whose stories are over. The meta-commentary alone is interesting here.
Rex Mundi. Explaining this comic might be tough but imagine an alternate world where magic is real, Europe never rose out of feudalism and is ruled by secret societies and the Catholic Church remained powerful in a political and military sense. In the middle of all of this, Dr. Julien Sauniere begins seeking for an ancient scroll; one which could potentially lead him to the Holy Grail. To say this book is out there is saying something. But the ability to combine a mystery quest, alternative history and magic would make for an intriguing tale. Rumors of a movie have swirled for a decade but, so far, not a peep.
Madman. There’s something that’s both comforting about Mike Allred’s classic series about Frank Einstein, a man brought back from the dead by two scientists who fights the good fight despite being an amnesiac with blue skin and horrible wounds. In many ways, this story is what would happen if Frankenstein’s Monster (notice the name) had not been rejected by society, but instead allowed to find his place. It’s at times silly, at times exciting and fun, but it is so unique that it really deserves to be seen by audiences. This is another that’s been in development hell for ages.
Grendel. I’ll admit: this is one of those titles that always sort of scared me when I was young. The art of it was never easy and it always seemed to speak of dangerous things. In essence, Grendel is a secret identity that people take from time to time to overcome obstacles or battle enemies. The catch is that to become Grendel is to become more and more aggressive until it all ends in tragedy. This could be another project that could reflect on the nature of heroes and warriors and what it’s like to turn to violence to resolve problems. Did I mention Grendel might also be an evil entity?
Sandman. I’ll correct myself here: THIS might be the toughest story to adapt. Death. Destiny. Desire. Despair. Delirium. Destruction. Dream. The Seven Endless. But of them, it is Dream AKA Sandman who regales us with tales and stories, even as he lives his own immortal one. To say it is heady is an understatement. Neil Gaiman’s magnus opus is dense and refuses to be adapted into an easy tale. Part of me wishes it just become a series on prestige TV budget but to adapt it would be intense. It’s not a straightforward story (dreams never are) and it weaves and wanes and takes side trips all the time. Still, this is the project I’d love most to see. It’s funny, sad, poignant, maddening, frightening and, in the end, damn near perfect.
So that’s my list. Any you’d love to see before we grow tired of comic books and move onto board games or video games to adapt?