Having just watched the first two episodes of Arrow, the failed Wonder Woman pilot episode, and the horrible Justice League TV movie that never aired I started thinking about what DC and Warner Brothers have done right and what they have done wrong. Where to begin? We all remember George Reeves, the first iconic Superman. People loved him as that character. But even then there were issues with that franchise. Superman Vs. The Mole Men is the perfect example. There was also The Adventures Of SuperPup. Thankfully that never aired. I don’t know if the world will ever be ready for the adventures of Bark Kent. Cut to years later Alexander and Ilya Salkind had such a tyrannical way of doing things that Gene Hackman refused to work with them and wouldn’t come back for Superman III: The Fall Of A Franchise. He came back for the fourth installment but the movies had turned into a big joke by then. Plus there was the Superboy television series around that time. Terrible. And Lois & Clark, more Moonlighting than Superman. Not a bad show but it made Superman into a joke just like the last film. Then there was Superman Returns, a worthy effort but overall weak and incredibly expensive. There were also all the scripts they paid writers for and didn’t use, pay or play contracts with Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage costing them millions. Superman Returns had such a hefty price tag before one bit of it was shot it was destined to be a disappointment. Then there’s Batman. Right now he is DC’s heavy hitter thanks to Christopher Nolan and company. But just a few short years ago we had the Joel Shumaker debacle. Batman Forever was only an okay movie. Batman & Robin killed the franchise with its horribleness. But even before that DC said okay back in the 60’s to having the Batman television series air. It was so campy that it changed the tone of the comics up until Frank Miller brought in the darkness with Year One. Wonder Woman had a hit television series back in the 70’s and 80’s starring Lynda Carter. The show was a product of its time but didn’t really do a disservice to the character. The movie starring Kay Lenz (I’m not even positive it was her so don’t quote me there) did. I already devoted a whole blog entry to the horrible 2011 version that never aired so I’m not going into it here. Let’s just say it sucked and move on. The Flash. He’s long been one of my favorite characters in the comics. They haven’t done much with him but they did make a season of episodes for CBS back in the early 90’s. It wasn’t bad, not good either, but not bad. Green Arrow. After years of talking about making a movie called Super Max where Green Arrow was locked up in prison with the worst of the worst super villains Warner Brothers scrapped the idea and went with a television series. And it’s good. Give it a shot. You will like it. Let’s talk about other good things. Nolan’s Batman trilogy – amazing, Burton’s first Batman – awesome, Superman I & II – great, Smallville – uneven but good, the animated shows and movies – all solid entries. I think overall Warner doesn’t know what they have or how to handle it. It’s sort of like Disney and Science Fiction. They don’t know what they have till they lose money on it. Can anyone say Green Lantern?
I’ve been on this kick lately of trying to find things that were never officially released to watch. That led to my curiosity about the failed Wonder Woman pilot episode that never aired. Sure, we all saw the pictures of Adrianne Palecki in the costume and probably thought this was a sure fire hit no matter how bad it sucks. Thankfully we were all wrong.
First off, what was the deal with Diana being called Diana Themyscara? And she owned a giant corporation? And everyone knew she was Wonder Woman? And she kept an apartment under the name Diana Prince where she would get away and watch romance films with her cat? What the hell?
I get why Palecki did the show. She’s an up and comer who is still looking for that big break. And GI Joe: Retaliation isn’t it. That movie was a bigger piece of garbage than this. It’s no wonder they wanted to pull the movie from the Summer line up and do massive re-shoots. Tracie Thoms also starred in the pilot episode. She has been in bigger stuff like Rent, Death Proof, and another failed television series close to my heart – Wonderfalls. The cast was rounded out by Cary Elwes as her advisor or something. It wasn’t made clear what he did exactly. And the other big name was Elizabeth Hurley as the main villain. Even with this impressive roster of actors and being written and produced by David E. Kelly it was still a giant mess.
I think David Kelly was out of his comfort zone with this project. I don’t know why Warner Brothers handed this over to the guy behind Ally McBeal, Picket Fences, Boston Public, and The Practice. That doesn’t make me think, “This guy would be the perfect fit for a show about an Amazon princess who fights super villains”.
After watching Arrow recently (which we talked about on the latest episode of The Gorram Nerd Hour) and seeing how they got that pretty much right in tone and structure I can’t imagine what they were thinking with this. Oh well, at least it never aired. That’s something, I guess.
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I’ve never had the chance to go to Sand Diego Comicon. I don’t know if I want to anymore. It’s grown to a point where it is more a giant marketing machine than a convention for people who care about comics and genre films and television. Hell, a couple years ago they had a Glee panel. That’s as far removed from what a Comicon should be as you can get.
But there still is a lot of exciting news that comes from the SDCC every year. There should be a lot of it this year too. Marvel has yet to completely unveil their plans for their next wave of movies. Will we hear news on Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man he’s been teasing us with for a couple years? Will there be news on the reported Black Panther movie? Or will there be even bigger news of other studios allowing crossovers for Spider-Man or the X-Men to appear in the next Avengers? Who knows? At this point it is nothing more than speculation. But with the con about to begin we should be getting some big news soon.
Maybe DC will have a big announcement or two themselves. We know they want a Justice League movie fast tracked. We know they want to do The Flash and Wonder Woman. We also know they want to compete with Marvel on the movie front in a big way. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have some big news coming soon.
Then there’s the other things like Kevin Smith. Maybe he will announce something regarding his final film, Hit Somebody. There’s so much to speculate about that I can’t wait to hear what is announced, even if I don’t want to be there.
For years, long before Hollywood’s love affair with adapting comics to movies, we have seen numerous failed attempts at making television shows based on these properties. For every Smallville there are 10 shows based on comics that come and go too quickly.
When I was younger I remember how excited I got at the idea of The Flash having his own hour long drama on CBS. Then I saw it. Lois & Clark quickly became a muddled mess more like Moonlighting than Superman. Human Target limped its way through two seasons. The Crow: Stairway To Heaven is a show better left forgotten. A live action version of The Tick, although very funny, was pulled after airing on a few episodes.
The funny thing is that comic books and television seem tailor made for each other. You have characters, some of which are nearing their 100th anniversary, with so many stories to choose from. These stories are serialized monthly for us already. It would be so easy to take these books and adapt them to the small screen. So why is it so hard to get the networks to pull the trigger?
Recently Fox paid for a pilot of Joe Hill’s quirky horror comic Locked & Key. It was screened at the San Diego Comicon and people loved it. Fox decided not to bring it to series. Similarly, Powers was set up at FX and that show is in limbo, most likely to never see the light of day. Then there was the horrible new Wonder Woman that thankfully didn’t get picked up despite how great Adrianne Palecki looked in the costume.
Guillermo del Toro has been slowly working on a new series based on The Incredible Hulk. Who knows if that will ever happen. Half the time when del Toro puts his name on something it doesn’t happen. Then there’s Garth Ennis’s amazing comic book series, Preacher, that was optioned by HBO at one time. Writers were hired and a director was attached. Then it all fell apart, despite the fact that people like Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Smith had expressed interest in directing episodes.
With Arrow coming soon to the CW and The Walking Dead being such a big hit for AMC I hope the trend turns around. I would love to see some of my favorite comics adapted to the small screen. Jason Aaron’s Scalped would he amazing. Preacher, Y: The Last Man, even Crossed would be cool. Let’s hope the networks figure things out soon and give us what we want.