5 Comics We Want To See On The Screen – Planet Hulk, Secret Six, Drafted, 100 Bullets, and Damage Control

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Comic books have had a long and storied relationship with televised media from almost the beginning, for good or ill. From the serials of the 1940s, through Superman‘s radio-turned-television show, the campy Batman in the 1960s, the questionable shows of the 1970s, up to the marketing genius of the current slate of interconnected Marvel movies.

It took many decades, but comic based movies and television shows are big business right now. Three of the top ten highest grossing movies of all time are based on comics, and that isn’t counting movies based on other geeky properties. The Walking Dead is an unstoppable behemoth for AMC, breaking ratings records with every new season. Even Arrow and Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. are doing pretty well for their respective networks. If you had told me this in my formative years, I’d never have believed you. It would have sounded like the ravings of a mad man.

Back then we didn’t have much. Sure, Superman: The Movie was a hit decades earlier, but we didn’t have much else worth mentioning until Tim Burton’s Batman hit in 1989. That movie was a game changer. It showed that comic based movies could not only be taken seriously, but could take in serious box office. Batman was everywhere you looked at the time. T-shirts, coffee mugs, Happy Meals, action figure playsets, and even breakfast cereals. But that was pretty much all we had, and after Joel Schumacher got his hands on the franchise we didn’t even have that anymore.

Although Batman did pave the way for the fantastic fun of The Rocketeer and Dick Tracy, and the less successful, but worth mentioning, The Shadow, The Phantom, and Spawn, as well as the cult favorite yet critical and financial flop The Mystery Men. 1998 saw the release of a film we never saw coming, one that spawned an improbable franchise lasting for two more films and a television show: Blade. The nineties were good, and the future looked pretty bright for comics on film.

The new millennium hit, but things weren’t looking much better until Sam Raimi released the first Spider-Man film in 2002. It was a critical and financial hit, and paved the way for a whole slew of comic based movies in the years to follow. There were hits, and there were misses, but with films such as The X-MenDaredevil, Hulk, Hellboy, The Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, some left field hits in the form of V For Vendetta and the “unfilmable” The Watchmen, and even Ghost World, based on the comics of indie favorite Daniel Clowes, we knew comics were here to stay on the big screen.

Two of the biggest comic franchises, Nolan’s Batman films and the Iron Man films, also had their beginnings in this decade, and these films changed the way comic films were made, yet again. Both of these films not only set up a franchise, but an all-encompassing complete film universe where other comic films intermingled, our favorite heroes coming together to battle menaces they couldn’t handle on their own. The Avengers, and the upcoming Superman/Batman film, are changing the game yet again! It is a natural progression, an inevitable evolution, just as it had happened in the comics decades earlier.

But it wasn’t all just superheroes. We had the aforementioned Ghost World, plus the fantastic American Splendor, A History Of Violence, Road To Perdition, Men In Black, Persepolis, From Hell, 30 Days Of Night, Sin City, and 300. It seems as though more and more films and television shows based on comics are released every year. Even Netflix is getting in on the game, releasing, in conjunction with Marvel, four new series based on more street level superheroes such as Daredevil and Iron Fist, eventually culminating in a mini-series called The Defenders.

The future is looking bright again for comics in other media, so here are five comic story lines ripe for film or television treatment, based on nothing but my own opinions. Some of them are cape and cowl books, others not so much, but all five of them could be viable properties if put in the right hands.

5. Planet Hulk

PlanetHulkNow don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge fan of this particular story line, but if handled correctly it could be not only a huge hit, but a brilliant restructuring of the faltering Hulk franchise. Sure, it’s been done in animated form, and there would have to be major cosmetic changes to make it work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it could be done, and done well.

The way I see it happening is at the end of The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, after the Hulk wreaks havoc in the line of duty, and without a cinematic version of Marvel’s Illuminati available due to licensing, Nick Fury’s S.H.I.E.L.D. makes the call that the Hulk is just too dangerous, and with the help of The Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, they exile the Hulk out into space, to a world thought uninhabited, and the story then plays out basically the way it did in the comics. The end of that film would see an angry Hulk return to Earth to exact his revenge on those responsible, setting up the World War Hulk story line for the next Avengers film.

Mark Ruffalo has stated on numerous occasions that he would love to star in a Hulk solo movie, and what a movie this would be! You have action, intrigue, romance, gladiatorial battles, tons of new alien species to introduce, and at the heart of it all, the beginnings of a revenge scheme budding in the now intelligent Hulk’s mind. There really isn’t even much, aside from not using the Illuminati or the Fox owned Silver Surfer, that would really need to be changed. I’d say to drop the Skaar story line though, as I don’t know if mainstream audiences would be into it.

Other than those minor tweaks, I think this would not only be a natural progression for the character and his universe, but a great direction for the MCU in general. Bring in characters from the S.H.I.E.L.D. series, and it could even bring the shot in the arm that show desperately needs.

4. The Secret Six

Once DC/Warner Brothers get their collective heads out of their butts, and finally starts taking their films seriously, after Superman/Batman, Justice League, and Wonder Woman are firmly established, the Secret Six would make a great movie. The concept is so simple, a group of amoral villains going wherever the money takes them.

If they start with Gail Simone’s run with the characters, in which a contract has been put out on the lives of the team members, all while they try to retrieve Tarantula from Alcatraz Island, and find a “Get Out Of Hell Free” card which she stole from the mysterious “Junior”, it would be a blast! The ultimate heist picture in the vein of Ocean’s 11 or The Italian Job, but with super-villains! What’s not to love?

With plenty of action, intrigue, twists and turns, double and triple crosses, and such colorful protagonists as Catman, Scandal Savage, Deadshot, and Rag Doll, this movie could easily tie in with Warner Brothers’ highly successful TV series Arrow, and bring a whole new audience to both. It could be a little bit dark, as that’s the direction in which Warner Brothers comic based movies seem to be going, but with plenty of humor and little character development moments to keep it grounded.

With Jason Statham as Catman, Timothy Olyphant as Deadshot, Christina Hendricks as Knockout, and Doug Jones as Rag Doll and you’ve got a brilliant cast who could truly bring these characters to (larger than) life. With Marvel bringing such out of left field teams as The Guardians Of The Galaxy to the big screen, and mainstream audiences seemingly excited for it, why couldn’t The Secret Six work?

3. Drafted

Now, to the small screen, a very active hub of comics and related genres lately. Along with the aforementioned current shows, as well as those coming from Netflix, we also have the Arrow spin-off The Flash, the James Gordon-centric Gotham, Constantine, and possibly more. Television is quickly becoming the place for comic inspired drama.

Science Fiction has been missing from the television in recent years, minus a few exceptions, and many of those are soft sci-fi, like the fun as hell Warehouse 13, Alphas, and Fringe, all very grounded on Earth. That’s all well and good, but what we need is a sweeping space opera, some science fiction with teeth. With Battlestar Galactica off the air, and no chance of more Firefly episodes or the long-rumored Star Wars television series, the greatly under-appreciated Drafted fits that bill perfectly.

Based on the better than it deserved to be Devil’s Due Productions comic series that saw humans putting aside their pettiness and banding together against a common enemy, this series would be full of epic space battles against alien forces, with little moments of intimate human drama to temper the action. It’s like Independence Day crossed with Starship Troopers, with a solid helping of V.

One World. One People. One Purpose. The tagline says it all.

After massive earthquakes kill hundreds of thousands, and as people struggle with the aftermath, aliens appear and draft the human race into their ongoing intergalactic war. What a great premise! This story is so full of twists and turns that you never really know who the bad guys are from month to month, and that’s good drama! The aliens are intriguing, and just mysterious enough to keep us guessing as to their motives.

The sprawling cast is full of diverse, well developed characters, each with their own distinct personality, from a convenience store clerk, to an anti-Taliban rebel, and everyone in-between. Even the President of the United States gets in on the action, fighting alongside everyday people struggling to understand this new world they’re thrust into. Regardless of sex, age, political standing, or socio-economic background, everyone has to band together and fight for their planet lest it become the battlefield.

There are also the Sons of Abraham, three spiritual men of differing faiths trying to find their place in the new paradigm. There are so many places this story could go, with cultural commentary being a brilliant built-in angle. In these days of political strife, a show like this is just what we need to show that nothing is impossible if we work together.

2. 100 Bullets

With AMC losing Breaking Bad, and soon to lose Mad Men, they will need a new addiction for the huddled masses, and 100 Bullets seems right up their alley. This series is begging to be made into a weekly television show, and AMC has shown they’ve got the chops to make it work.

People love hard luck stories, down-and-out characters, revenge scenarios, and political intrigue all on their own, but put those disparate elements together and this series could rule the airways. A series of compelling morality tales, with well thought out, complex, and intriguing characters, this show would grab viewers by the balls, and leave them saying thank you sir, may I have another.

Fans of long-form drama such as Lost, The X-Files, and Breaking Bad would love the call-backs to earlier episodes, the Easter eggs hidden along the way, and trying to figure out the mystery behind the attaché case and its provider, Phillip Graves. With all of the double crosses, back stabbings, and in the shadows deals, this show is pure, intense drama.

A complicated, and over all deadly revenge plot that drags every character into its tangles, this series would monopolize water cooler conversations every week, as viewers trade theories as to what may really be going on. These types of shows tend to have a long life ahead of them, and if done well, 100 Bullets would be no different.

The series could start out with done-in-one character specific stories, and as it goes along it could start delving into the conspiracies, becoming much deeper with every episode, keeping the viewer ever trapped in its web of intrigue, ensuring a very long life for 100 Bullets.

1. Damage Control

Easily spinning out of Agents Of  S.H.I.E.L.D., essentially the clean-up crew of the Marvel Universe ready to take care of the mess left behind in the aftermath of World War Hulk, Damage Control is perfect for television. Remember all of those times that Law And Order crossed over with Homicide: Life On The Street?

It could be like that, two completely separate shows that share thematic links, Damage Control being called in by S.H.I.E.L.D. to clean up after a big battle the Avengers had with A.I.M. forces, or repairing a building damaged in a Hydra terror plot. Fin Fang Foom sat on the Stock Exchange? Call in Damage Control. It may seem like a silly concept, but if handled correctly it really could be amazing and fun.

The basic cast of the comics are pretty cool, especially for what was basically a joke that went on for too long, but if you fleshed them out a bit like S.H.I.E.L.D., you could even sneak in comic references or smaller characters that aren’t being used elsewhere, the sky’s the limit.  How about Damage Control being sued, and She-Hulk’s alter-ego Jennifer Walters showing up to represent them? Hell, she could even be a regular cast member, because trust me, Damage Control would need a lawyer on hand.

How about a billboard in the background for Heroes For Hire? What a great nod to the upcoming Netflix produced Luke Cage and Iron Fist series’. There are so many directions Damage Control could go. If they handled the comedy, with just enough drama to make it interesting, Damage Control would be a really great show, and a wonderful, more lighthearted counter to Agents Of  S.H.I.E.L.D. This is the perfect type of show for S.H.I.E.L.D. showrunner Joss Whedon, with a lot of the elements that have made his shows such fan favorites.

This truly is a golden age for comics in other media, and as long as these films and shows keep upping the ante, and thinking outside of the box, I have a feeling they will be sticking around for a while.

 

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