With Daredevil set to debut on Netflix—with Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and The Defenders to follow—the time is now for Marvel, DC and other comic book adaptions to capitalize on this mainstream popularity. The Flash and Arrow have enjoyed critical acclaim as well so the appetite for superheroes and comic book heroes remains unquenched. While movie adaptions have been hit or miss—although Marvel Studios appears to be securing a stranglehold in that department with consistent efforts—TV series have proven to be a viable breeding ground for heroes to get their due on-screen.
Netflix has been releasing exclusive television series aplenty these days and with their reputation only increasing, they provide a logical platform for lesser-known superheroes or characters from comic books to get their due. Marvel has dipped into their reserves recently—hell, even Agent Carter has her own series—so it’s clear there’s an appetite for secondary characters that could transition into marquee names. Even if that’s not the case, there remain prominent names that have yet to debut on-screen or get the respect they deserve. Even though we didn’t add him to the list, an anti-hero like Venom is a prime example of a comic book character that deserves proper representation on-screen.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at 10 comic book characters that deserve their own show, whether it’s to erase a putrid memory or to create a new one. So sit back, pop in your favourite superhero movie and read on!
10 The New Avengers
As a television series, The New Avengers would likely set ratings aflame. It would leach the popularity from the mega successful The Avengers and at least get people to give it a shot in the early-going. While the series would have to stray from such superheroes as Iron-Man, Captain America and Spider-Man for obvious reasons, there’s an expansive cast to choose from that would make for great entertainment. With Iron Fist and Luke Cage both set to debut on Netflix in the near future, perhaps they’re natural fits to create a bigger world. Spider-Woman, Thing and Hawkeye are also solid potential additions to the team.
9 Moon Knight
If Guardians of the Galaxy taught us anything, it’s that obscure, lesser-known superheroes have a place on-screen. Marc Spector is a mercenary with a background in the CIA, U.S. Marines, and as a heavyweight boxer. That backstory alone gives Marvel plenty of material to run a TV series in his name, unraveling his transformation into crime fighter Moon Knight. With a dark past and questionable ethics, Moon Knight could be a hit as a gritty TV series, perhaps best suited for Netflix. He draws many comparisons to Batman, sure, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing if Marvel wants to popularize his name.
Magneto has appeared in six X-Men films to date, so his presence on-screen has been well established. Still, seeing Michael Fassbender nail the role in the new trilogy has been a treat, and one has to wonder how a standalone TV series might fare. While a marquee name like Fassbender is unlikely to be attached to such a long-term project, it would be interesting to explore Magneto’s past throughout several hours. Centering on a complicated villain like Magneto would be a fresh take on the television medium, and he’s an established name so there’s no worry about selling the idea from Marvel’s perspective.
7 Jonah Hex
Jonah Hex was a terrible, rotten, no good movie. That’s precisely why the DC Comics cowboy deserves another shot on-screen, perhaps as a TV series. If he’s going to be represented accurately, however, he needs to thrive on a network willing to embrace his anti-hero roots. While he has no superpowers to speak of, that’s not such a bad thing if he’s being portrayed in a series. He’s an expert marksman with reflexes as quick as most DC characters, so presenting the revolver-wielding Hex as a grounded character exploring the Wild West seems like an easy sell. He really deserves it after that abomination of a film.
6 Mitchell Hundred
Mitchell Hundred is the protagonist of Ex Machina, a comic book series created by Brian K. Vaughan. Hundred is the first and only superhero in this universe, having the ability to control mechanical devices—anything from guns, vehicles, electricity, and so on. As a superhero, he is known as “The Great Machine,” but as Mitchell Hundred he is the Mayor of New York City after his heroic actions on 9/11. This is a TV series that would write itself, really. Ex Machina would boast political drama as well as superhero action, and seeing Hundred fly around in his jetpack firing ray guns would be something special.
5 Green Lantern
Green Lantern didn’t have such a great debut on the big screen. The movie was lambasted by critics and series fans and was quickly discarded in the bargain bin. The planet Oa was barely explored, abandoning much of its sci-fi elements. If Hal Jordan were to be brought to television screens on a weekly basis, DC could explore his adventures on both Earth and Oa. Embracing the exposure of the latter planet, in particular, could make for some top notch television that is unconventional from other superheroes. While Green Lantern is set to reappear in a reboot on the big screen, there’s no harm in exploring the character further in a standalone series.
Nightwing is a superhero that needs some love on-screen. His comic book series was excellent and Dick Grayson has proved to be a marquee hero post-Robin. He utilizes two electric escrima sticks as his signature weapons while also using various gadgets and detective abilities. While Grayson has moved on from the Nightwing mantle in the comic book series, he’s the natural selection should DC explore the possibility of granting Nightwing his own television series. Separating Grayson from Batman and his Robin background would go a long way in establishing his name and presenting him as one of DC’s best superheroes.
3 The Punisher
The Punisher has appeared on the big screen twice now, both finding little success with critics and audiences. For my money, Thomas Jane absolutely nailed the role as Frank Castle and seeing him don the skull once again would be a treat for fans of his work. The Punisher is one of Marvel’s most popular anti-heroes and, if a network or streaming service is willing to embrace his dark roots, he could garner considerable buzz if presented on television. Netflix, in particular, seems like a natural fit as fans could simply binge watch the entire season instead of wondering how his debut on television might pan out over the course of several weeks.
2 Yorick Brown
Y! The Last Man is another series created by Brian K. Vaughan. Yorick Brown is the protagonist of the series and is supposedly the last man on Earth in a post-apocalypse setting. The sarcastic lead is an amateur escape artist and frequently uses his abilities to escape all sorts of danger, whether it’s ninjas, bandits, or even his own sister. The series is ripe for television with 10 graphic novels in its name and plenty of memorable set pieces to recreate. The story unfolds at a breakneck pace and would benefit from a weekly format should a network pick it up. This needs to happen.
1 Ultimate Spider-Man
Spider-Man is set to have his third reboot on the big screen, which even as a diehard Spidey fan seems a little excessive. While seeing the wall crawler in action is never a bad thing, audiences might be understandably weary of Peter Parker and his origin story. It’s time to explore a new Spider-Man, and that’s Miles Morales. The half-African American, half-Latino student reluctantly becomes the new web slinger after Peter Parker dies,—in the Ultimate universe— feeling guilt for not helping despite possessing his newfound powers. With Peter Parker well-represented on the big screen, perhaps it’s time for Morales to get some love, too. Seeing how it’s a different universe than Parker’s, Marvel can have some fun with the idea—a future team-up!?