CW’s Arrow has shown that DC Comics characters can work on the small screen. This season has gotten positive attention from both fans and critics and continues to build its world and introduce more characters and concepts from the comics. As well as Arrow, DC Entertainment has announced that there are Jim Gordon, John Constantine, and Hourman shows in development at Fox, NBC, and CW respectively. The first two characters are relatively popular, especially Jim Gordon, who was portrayed by Oscar-nominated actor Gary Oldman in the Dark Knight trilogy, but who outside die-hard Justice Society fans knows who Hourman is? In this articles, the Sound on Sight writers will show what DC characters and comics series should have their own series instead of Hourman and whatever his superpowers are.
John Constantine: Hellblazer by Cory Weddell
A lot of detective-style shows have been thrown around when talking about the DC small screen, and this one is no different, in a way. Fans of Constantine’s Vertigo series know him as a rough, sarcastic, supernaturalist, who takes nobody’s shit. Because of this, Constantine lends itself to today’s TV market. You need look no further than the success of shows like Grimm and Supernatural to see how a well-produced Constantine series will fare. DC will need to stay away from its New 52 relaunch storylines to draw in older fans, but the show leaves room for many fresh ideas, including a crossover event with WB owned Supernatural, and a number of appearances by fan-favorite Swamp Thing. The failure of Keanu Reeves’s 2005 film will make studio heads wary, but the right push in the right direction can forgive all sins. The Hellblazer series can either focus on the classic series, following the storylines with some creative changes, or follow John as he searches out various mystical artifacts. The only real keys to the show are John’s sarcastic wit, the mature content of the series (something even the CW doesn’t shy away from), and a strong lead. This means no Keanu Reeves, and preferably someone at least slightly English. Good luck DC, don’t screw it up.
Swamp Thing by Andrew Perez
Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run is rife with horror, violence, undying love, and copious coupling of the supernatural kind, making it a perfect fit for the more edgy cable networks such as HBO or Showtime. One must careful though when adapting Swampy (let alone any of Moore’s other dense and allusion filled works), paying careful attention to the balance between the gory good stuff and the romance between Alec Holland (Swampy) and Abigail Arcane that is at the heart of the story. Possible considerations for show runners and directors include: Frank Darabont (he already has one hit comic book adaptation under his belt), Darren Aronofsky (would bring the more trippy elements forefront and treat the love story right), Clive Barker (this stuff is right up his alley) Alan Ball (True Blood) and David Cronenberg (two words: body horror) just to name a few.While it would do the creators well to follow Moore’s story very faithfully, the character and his world have enough potential to spawn numerous new story-lines and could even garner a cross-over with jolly boy John Constantine. What is even more exciting is that we would finally be able to meet some of DC’s mystical realm characters (Deadman, Zatanna,hell even Dream and his sister Death) in the flesh (so to speak).
Batwoman by Logan Dalton
In 2006, a new incarnation of Batwoman was introduced in DC’s weekly 52 series. She is actually Gotham socialite Kate Kane and was DC’s first lesbian superheroine. Batwoman has a dark, compelling origin in Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams’ Batwoman Elegy that includes the death of her mother and sister, getting expelled from West Point because of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Act, and lots of partying. However, after she meets Batman, she decides to fight crime and become a soldier in her own way taking up the identity of Batwoman. The comic Batwoman has a very unique and beautiful visual style courtesy of its artist J.H. Williams. In the hands of a talented director, these comics could be turned into a wonderful television show. Even though she shares the Bat-symbol with Batman, she is very different from him and even works with shady government organization DEO.
Because she doesn’t have superpowers and doesn’t blast into space or anything, Batwoman could easily work for television. It would be a cocktail of relationship drama and secret agent show with elements of superheroes and urban legends. There could be a character wearing the bat on television without interfering with Warner Brothers’ plan for Batman vs. Superman. Kate Kane has a lot of emotional depth as a character, and with the right actor and writer, could be DC’s best female superhero lead on TV since Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman. The DEO throws some moral ambiguity and internal conflict into the mix, and other DC characters like Nightwing, Batgirl, or even Wonder Woman could appear on the show too. There is a dearth of LGBT and female leads on television, and a Batwoman show could solve this problem while providing a new twist on the superhero/vigilante show formula. Warner Brothers should give Greg Rucka a lot of money to write the pilot which could explore Kate’s past while starting with the Alice mystery as seen in Batwoman Elegy. My dream casting for Batwoman is Gemma Arterton. She has appeared in several mainstream films ranging from her turn as a redheaded Bond girl in Quantum of Solace to the recent Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Arterton is comfortable with action and also has the screen presence to pull off the beautiful, mysterious Kate Kane.
Gotham Central by Thomas O’Connor
Gotham City is one particular crime-ridden, Gothic hellhole populated by significantly insane people. However, we only ever seem to get one perspective of, that one guy who suffered a childhood trauma and implicitly declared himself king of the insane people and flounces around on the rooftops with impressionable teenagers. So it’s refreshing to see books like Gotham Central, a comic which models itself after crime shows, most notably Homicide: Life on the Street, that focuses on more or less normal people in Gotham. Well, as normal as you can get for someone who hasn’t decided to flee this madhouse moments after they leave the womb.
Being heavily modeled off cop shows, it would be no mean feat to reverse engineer Gotham Central back into a TV show. And when you look at the content you have to wonder why it’s never been done before: a team of tough, driven cops of various genders, ethnicities and sexual alignments work to solve crimes in a city where at least 25% of repeat offenders and major criminals think they’re Zeus or dress like Lewis Carroll characters and usually have access to weapons they probably bought off Gary Oldman’s character from The Fifth Element. It’s like The Wire, but if Brother Mouzone were actually a flaming green skeleton.
Given the success of Game of Thrones over on HBO and The Walking Dead at AMC, it seems like the best formula for successful TV is to take things nerds usually like, like dragons or zombies, and throw on a TV-MA rating along with all the violence, nudity, and gratuitous lesbian scenes that go with it. Add the occasional appearance by Batman to that formula and you have a recipe to print money and make Pirate Bay servers burst into flames.
And for the record, I know Warner Bros is developing a show called Gotham that will follow the adventures of a young detective named Jimmy Gordon. If I wanted another nine seasons of lead-up to Batman actually showing up, I’d just watch Smallville with the colors inverted.