Cringeworthy. Boring. Unfaithful. Ho-hum.
Those are the words that spring to mind when I think of the television adaptations of comic book properties that existed when I was growing up. Not the cartoons mind you, but the live-action shows. I know these tv shows and made for tv movies have their fans. I am not now, nor have I ever been, one of them. As a kid, I tolerated television movies like The Amazing Spider-Man in which the title character engaged in some truly yawn inducing adventures. Or the Bill Bixby starring Incredible Hulk, who bore little resemblance in appearance or power (seriously, he struggled to lift telephone poles) to his comic book counterpart. Plus, he didn’t leap. he jogged at a brisk pace (I think I’ve seen mall joggers move faster than he did). And while shows like Superboy were more faithful to the source material and featured a character that I recognized, there was still a cringe-factor. Perhaps it was the cheesiness or the fact that many of the villains were mundane rather than spectacular, but watching such shows often left me wanting more. More adventure. More excitement. More fun. Faithful adaptations. And there was something else I wanted from these shows. Something that I considered fundamental to comic books, and that was missing from the other tv adaptations: I wanted a shared universe. I wanted to see supporting characters interacting with one another. I wanted to see characters from show reference events in another show. And of course I wanted to see superheroes teaming up.
If 16 yo. me had a time machine, and used it to peer into the twentyteens, he’d be shell shocked. To see the fastest man alive zooming across the screen at Mach speeds would be exciting to him. Watching the last daughter of Krypton make a name for herself both as a reporter and a superhero would be thrilling. And I just know he’d have gotten goosebumps upon learning that the streaming service Netflix has teamed up with Marvel and given him exactly what he wanted.
A shared universe.
Oh, and superheroes teaming up on the small screen.
Now, 16 yo me would probably be at school on August 18, 2017, anxiously anticipating the end of the school day. But me? I’ll be planted in front of a television watching the debut of the Defenders. Check out the teaser.