It’s a good time to be a TV-loving fan of Marvel Comics these days. With Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuting on ABC at 8:00 PM EST tonight and talk of a period-piece Agent Carter show in the works as well, it’s only a matter of time before the whole family of Disney-owned networks is completely dominated by properties that grew up in the House of Ideas.
The general public might enjoy the blockbuster action of movies like Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor and The Avengers, but they’re not nearly as familiar with the smaller and darker corners of the Marvel Universe. It’s those more specific and specialized corners that could make for a solid line-up of dramas and comedies we’d like to see. It’s time to build an even bigger Marvel Studios Universe, and here’s how.
10. Millie the Model
Not every Marvel-based series has to revolve around people in crazy costumes running around beating the crap out of each other. Some of them can just be about normal people going about their daily lives. Or, wildly successful fashion models who happen to live on the same planet as genius inventors and super soldiers frozen since World War II.
We see one of two ways to go with this series. If you want a half hour comedy, set this show in modern times and just have fun with it. Round out Millie’s supporting cast, throw in a few Thor headlines and maybe even refer to the big alien invasion that almost wiped out New York. But, if you want something more dramatic and widespread, mix up the settings a bit. Show a young Millie struggling to make it happen in the 1960s, while also presenting her in the modern age running her own agency and working as the top designer for the growing number of heroes.
9. Howard The Duck
Anything have to do with Howard the Duck might take some extra effort considering a lot of people have pretty bad memories of the underrated 1986 film produced by George Lucas. But, the idea of an alien human-esque duck transported to Cleveland has plenty of comedic potential, especially if the show’s writers go back to Steve Gerber’s original run. Howard works best when he’s going up against space vegetables, rather than inter-dimensional threats that possess the principal from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Structure this one as a half-hour comedy harkening back to the days of shows like Lost in Space, My Favorite Martian and ALF, but with more modern sensibilities and you’ve got a lot of potential for a sci-fi sitcom renaissance.
8. Power Pack
Marvel cartoons like Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers Assemble and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. get pretty solid play over on Disney XD, but they all pretty much play in their own world, though they have strong ties to the Marvel Studios Universe. That’s not enough synergy. Disney XD also has a good deal of live-action shows with an action slant, so why not get Marvel’s premiere group of kid heroes, Power Pack, in on the live-action action?
Before the word tween was even invented, Alex, Julie, Jack and Katie Power were dealing with real world problems like bullying, homelessness and drug abuse all the while utilizing their energy-based superpowers. The beauty of a series like this is that it can actually grow with the audience, tackling more and more adult themes as it continues. Plus, it can also present a young audience with young characters who can appear later on down the line in their own films and even make their way upwards and onwards to other teams.
7. Night Nurse
The Avengers and the other agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have to get some pretty solid medical coverage, but what about your average level vigilantes just trying to keep their streets safe? They head to the Night Nurse, wherever her floating clinic for superheroes might be.
Though the comic book version of Linda Carter had her origins in a medical-themed romance comic from the early ’70s, she eventually turned into a far more interesting character who patched up heroes like Spider-Man, Luke Cage and Iron Fist after they got banged up in the field. Night Nurse has become a fan favorite thanks to her no nonsense bedside manner that’s kept Marvel’s vigilantes from bleeding out. Give her a staff, possibly based on her old pals from the ’70s Georgia Jenkins and Christine Palmer, and you’ve got House with heroes.
Punisher might be a little more edgy than ABC wants to deal with in prime time, but it’s not beyond reason to take Marvel’s number one bad-guy killer and give him his own series on a channel like HBO or Showtime where they won’t shy away from the necessary level of violence.
Ever since former soldier Frank Castle saw his family murdered before him in a gangland shootout, he’s made it his mission to eradicate evil from the world. Over the years he’s targeted everyone from typical mobsters to supervillains, meaning the show’s writers have a lot to work with. There’s plenty of source material to pull from, but also a perfectly simplistic springboard for all new episodes to be built upon. I’d like to see a slightly toned down version of 2008’s Punisher: War Zone that tackles some of the Punisher Max tales written by Garth Ennis as well as those classic Steven Grant stories from the ’90s. Plus, if the show goes downhill you can always turn him into an angel hunter or a Frankenstein monster, right? It’ll be like Baywatch Nights with more bullets and scowling.
5. Avengers Academy
Kids have flocked to teen heroes going back to 1940, when Robin made his first appearance. Since then, teams like the Teen Titans and New Mutants have given younger readers something to relate to and older ones something to look back fondly on. Like its teen-based predecessors, Avengers Academy brought together young people who didn’t know each other and threw them into a school setting where they not only have to learn history and math, but also how to be a legit superhero.
Even though the book isn’t around anymore – and neither are some of the characters – it’s still a great launchpad for a show aimed at the teen set that could air on ABC Family. It’s a simple formula really: teens plus drama plus powers plus school plus super-powered teachers equals a surefire hit. Plus, if it proves successful, you’ll have a new crop of characters who can go on to fuel the Marvel movies in Phase 28.
All those criminals S.H.I.E.L.D. catches have to go somewhere, right? The Raft seems like as good a place as any. And, as comic fans know, the Raft also happens to be the one-time home of the Thunderbolts. While the team’s mission has changed several times throughout its history – from the original villains-disguised-as-heroes concept to the fight club for villains thing – the one that might have the most steam in the Marvel Studios Universe is the one that takes its cues from The Dirty Dozen and The Suicide Squad: give some bad guys a chance to redeem themselves by playing hero and actually doing some good on ridiculously dangerous missions they might not come back from.
Strike a solid balance between the prison side of the show and the rehabilitation-through-legally-sanctioned-violence aspect and you’ve got a series unlike anything we’ve seen on TV. Think of a less intense Oz with some Breakout Kings, but with super villains and you’ve got a pretty good idea where we’re coming from. As an added bonus, the revolving door nature of the missions could make for some cool guest appearances. Tom Hiddleston anyone? Thunderbolts writer Jeff Parker had former jailbird and current hero Luke Cage lead the team, which could work unless the next suggestion goes to series…
3. Heroes For Hire
Groups like The Avengers might have only formed recently in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but if we learned anything from Captain America: The First Avenger, it’s that Iron Man wasn’t the world’s first science-based hero to come along. So, it’s not beyond reason to assume that other such experiments were going on after the obvious success with Cap, possibly ones that turn prisoners into men with impenetrable skin like our good friend Luke Cage. Basically, this is a long way of saying that we want to see a Heroes For Hire show set in the ’70s – just like the original comic starring Luke Cage and Iron Fist with Misty Knight, Colleen Wing and maybe even Shang Chi along to round out the squad.
Not only could this version of Heroes For Hire bring some street-level awesomeness to the Marvel Studios Universe, but it could also fill in some of the history between WWII and Tony Stark getting blown up circa 2008. Get the set designers from ABC’s Life On Mars remake together with a really killer fight coordinator plus some writers who know how to have fun with the concept and it’ll be Sweet Christmas all year round!
Hulk might not even have his next solo feature film set up yet, but that doesn’t mean his cousin can’t star in her own TV show. As the story goes, Bruce Banner’s cousin Jennifer Walters needed a blood transfusion and Bruce was the only one who fit the bill. After that she started turning all huge and green when she gets mad, which can really get in the way of her day job as a lawyer. But her loss can be the television watching public’s gain!
Dan Slott’s meta take on the character might be a little difficult to present in a TV series, but there’s a lot of material to be mined there for a series. Plus, did anyone read Marta Acosta’s The She-Hulk Diaries? That book read like a novelization for a show that doesn’t exist yet. The book finds Jen Walters balancing her days working for a prestigious law firm with Shulkie’s need to party, bash skulls and hook up with superpowered dudes. Plus, this would give them another opportunity to cross characters over by having Jen defend some bad guys from S.H.I.E.L.D. and the other shows or movies. To keep costs down, we’d even go with the old school Incredible Hulk set up and have one person play Jennifer Walters and another much larger woman play Shulkie all green-ified.
Jeremy Renner’s probably too big a deal to do network television on a regular basis these days, but the actor had some complaints about not being able to really explore his character in The Avengers. Maybe getting him to shoot one of those limited series that are suddenly so popular with networks will help fill in some of the gaps for both the actor and the character who audiences have only seen on screen for a brief time in Thor and then again as a mind-controlled zombie in Avengers.
As far as source material goes, they could easily dive into the excellent work that Matt Fraction is doing with the regular monthly series drawn by David Aja. The book keeps things pretty low level as far as powers go, but still has all the character moments and drama audiences have come to expect from these characters. Bring younger heroine Kate Bishop into the fold and you’ve got a built-in spinoff that could continue these types of adventures while also appealing to a younger audience.
Previously by TJ Dietsch