3 Comic Book Characters That Deserve TV Shows

Arrow is a hit for The CW. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has altered the ABC network's Tuesday night fortunes. And The Walking Dead? That show may as well have changed television completely. And all three were inspired by stories first told in comic books.

Welcome to the new world, Fool. A world in which comic book nerds like us have singular sway over the fortunes of the world's major media companies. Notably, Marvel parent Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) and DC Entertainment overlord Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) .

They and their peers are responding by giving us more of what they think we want. For example, Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ: FOXA  ) is right now at work filming Batman prequel Gotham as Warner and The CW shoot Arrow spin-off The Flash. AMC Networks (NASDAQ: AMCX  ) , for its part, plans to add to its lineup of comic book adaptations with Preacher, to be written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg in concert with Sam Catlin, who helped take Breaking Bad from on the bubble to breakout hit.

Our point? Some of the industry's most talented writers and producers are developing shows around comic book characters fans know and love. And yet we don't think it'll stop there. We think there's room aplenty for second-tier characters with rich histories and even richer stories to tell. Here are three, in particular, that we expect Hollywood's profit patrol to target:

Hush could bring the Bat legend to non-comics fans who enjoy character-driven horror shows such as Dexter. Source: DC Entertainment.

Leo Sun: Hush will wreak havoc on Batman, and delight viewers in the process
My top choice would be Hush, also known as Dr. Thomas "Tommy" Elliot -- Bruce Wayne's childhood friend who grows up to become one of Batman's most dangerous adversaries.

Tommy's big beef with Bruce is that his father, Dr. Thomas Wayne, saved his mother after he tried to murder them both by slashing their brakes. As a result, Tommy ends up in a Norman Bates-like relationship with his mother until he eventually murders her. When Tommy grows up, he plays the part of Bruce's best friend and becomes privy to his big Bat secret. Then, as a master surgeon, he ends up carving up his own face to take on the guise of several people, including Bruce, to take his revenge.

A Hush TV show, with Tommy Elliot as a main character, would be brilliant for several reasons. Audiences already love serial killer shows such as Dexter, Bates Motel, and Hannibal. Now combine those elements with the bleak plastic surgery elements of Nip/Tuck, and you would have one deliciously twisted show.

Since Hush loves to manipulate the players of Batman's Rogues Gallery, it would be a fun chance to see him team up with some notable Bat-villains, then double cross them for his own nefarious ends.

The beauty of a Hush TV show is that it could take place in the same Man of Steel universe that Time Warner is constructing, much like Marvel is doing with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This is something that Fox's Gotham would never be able to do.

Could The Punisher be next in Netflix's lineup of Marvel-sourced TV shows? Credit: Marvel Entertainment.

Steve Symington: The Punisher might end the reign of competing vigilantes
My vote goes to Marvel's Frank Castle -- or, as most people recognize him, The Punisher.

But to do it right, Marvel needs to wholeheartedly embrace The Punisher's dark nature and avoid putting him on network TV. This wouldn't be anything like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC -- which I've made clear I thoroughly enjoy, by the way -- but rather needs to find a television home that allows the gritty, violent, adult-oriented character to shine. A perfect example is the way AMC Networks has effectively hooked viewers' attention by bringing The Walking Dead's gruesome storylines to life.

There is one downside: This could mean The Punisher wouldn't be able to completely showcase his terrible talents in the comparatively tame Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, this would play beautifully into Disney and Marvel's partnership with Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  ) , which currently involves developing four potentially dark TV series featuring Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Specifically, The Punisher's close ties in the comics with Daredevil could provide the perfect avenue for a crossover and, eventually, his very own show.

This also means we could be waiting a while considering the initial four series won't air on Netflix until 2015. But I'm sure I'm not alone in saying The Punisher would be worth the wait.

Moon Knight melds street level weirdness with high superhero action. Credit: Adi Granov/Marvel Entertainment.

Tim Beyers: Moon Knight could bring a welcome glow to Hell's Kitchen
Moon Knight gets my vote because he also gets the nod from two of Marvel Studios' go-to writers: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The pair recently singled out the character in an interview with Den of Geek. "I think you could make an awesome Moon Knight movie," Markus said.

Maybe, but as Steve points out above, the Street-level weirdness that former mercenary Marc Spector deals with as Moon Knight may be more suitable for Marvel's next stable of Netflix shows, especially when you consider the setting and the company. Hard-boiled heroes such as Daredevil and Luke Cage, operating in the dark crevices of New York City's underbelly.

Moon Knight also appeals to the current pop culture fascination with the macabre. Grimm fans surely wouldn't mind seeing him battle the Werewolf by Night, or the death-mask-wearing merc known as Bushman. Or, as in Warren Ellis' brand-spanking-new adaptation, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent gone loony.

More broadly, and as any fan who sat through the 2003 dud Daredevil can attest, grounded vigilante stories rarely appeal to moviegoers who want their escape to the theater for a two-hour epic adventure. TV is a better format for this sort of tale, as good ratings for The CW's Arrow proves.

We expect to see more TV producers experimenting with the format in the coming years. In the meantime, and as far as we're concerned, few of the available comic book characters would work better than Hush, The Punisher, or Moon Knight.

Your turn to be an analyst
Now that you know what our choices are, it's time for you to sound off in the comments section below. Which comic book characters do you think would make the most money for their rightholders?  Not sure how to answer? We have just the thing: The Motley Fool's free guide to getting started investing in top media names such as Disney and Warner. Click here to get your copy now -- it's 100% free.


Read/Post Comments (32) | Recommend This Article (11)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 11:24 AM, Lauranna wrote:

    Cloak and Dagger would also make a nice gritty show.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 11:28 AM, leobowdyo1 wrote:

    okay first off arrow works because you don't have to waste alot of money because it is a closed "sandbox"..videogamers will get that reference...meaning you have the whole damn city/the whole DC universe to explore/plenty of minor characters you could easily introduce without resorting to bringing in big time heroes with flashy power/expensive special effects/tons of CGI or exotic locals to boost your ratings.

    I call it the doctor who effect..where the guts of the show lies in the writing and characters without all the frills.

    Throw in an angst ridden good looking dude that runs around without a shirt on ( to get the female audience to watch) and you have a hit.

    Agents of shield on the other hand is an open sandbox...they hint at alien technology..so yeah I want to see CGI aliens..I want to see the avengers.

    Putting in a second stringer hero character doesn't fit the bill after the movie

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 11:38 AM, hectoruno wrote:

    Does DC not have any gritty charters that would make a good show? What about Lobo, Starman, or Fate with the knife.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 11:40 AM, hectoruno wrote:

    Gritty shows from Marvel could include the Runaways or X-23

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 11:42 AM, Richardragan wrote:

    Moon Knight would be a great TV show .Punisher would be ok if they give him his skull costume it looks cool.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 11:45 AM, leobowdyo1 wrote:

    I really think DC is on the right track with the likes of the oracle/black canary/the huntress..

    You have "katnis Everdeen" sorta empowered women fighting crime.. it's is a proven hollywood formula for success right now.

    Your gonna get the horn dog men watching the show just for the women..

    None of the ladies have expensive powers that require big budgets/lots of cgi or special effects.

    It is a closed sandbox..you dont' need batman/superman to make a guest appearance every third episode to keep the ratings up...these women/their story lines are good enough without outside interference.

    And the show can just be a good damn...without any expectations or pressures that OMG since it contains women with superpowers it has to have it's own movie!!!!! ( the wonderwoman effect I call it) I can only imagine how big a flop a wonderwoman movie would be!

    The oracle ( barbara gorden aka batgirl)/black canary and the huntress have been staples of the DC universe for over 10 years easily...so the comic book fanboys know them and want to see them on tv.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 11:51 AM, PAJohnDoe wrote:

    Strangely enough, a lot of the best Punisher story arcs in recent years have played him as almost more of a supporting character in his own book, focusing more on the villains that will ultimately get their comeuppance, even though they're positive that THEY'LL be the ones to take Frank Castle down this time. I think that it would work well on TV as almost kind of an anthology series, because there just aren't a lot of recurring characters in the Punisher's world. Tie a few of these stories together with one big overall scheme, interspersed with some stories of Punisher showing that he's very much Marvel's equivalent to Batman, ending in the introduction of Kingpin or someone like that, and you'll have yourself a fine first season! If not on pay cable or Netflix, I think it would be a good fit on FX.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 11:53 AM, leobowdyo1 wrote:

    why does the show have to be gritty? buffy the vamp slayer/firefly/angel were all great successful shows without being gritty..

    The punisher would never get made.. it would be shot down for it's overt love of guns and gun violence.

    I really think they hit on the right formula with arrow...

    single hero/mid range powers or abilities/fighting the gritty city.

    So I'm, gonna suggest salina kyle the cat woman

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 12:04 PM, leobowdyo1 wrote:

    The catwoman would make a great show...salina kyle is a wonderful character..

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 12:15 PM, Richardragan wrote:

    Another good show would be John Jameson aka Manwolf .They could have him slowly evolve into Stargod .DC could come out with a Robby Reed Dial H for hero . A different hero every week that would be cool .

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 1:05 PM, DrFated2 wrote:

    Poor choices in my humble opinion.

    My top picks for TV series would be Deadman, The Spectre, Phantom Stranger, Doctor Fate, the original Doom Patrol or James Robinson's version of Starman.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 1:10 PM, pseudodragon wrote:

    Hey, they didn't say it had to be a Marvel or DC character. Here are a few suggestions from other publishers:

    1. John Sable Freelance - Mike Grell's classic First Comics character was once slated for his own TV show, but it didn't get off the ground. He's a former game warden/mercenary. Done right, this could be an excellent storyline.

    2. Ghost - Dark Horse Comics femme fatale. CGI might be a barrier, but with her noir setting and mystical nature, I think it would greatly appeal to the supernatural fans out there.

    3. The Elementals - A great super team, but their powers might be too big of a budget breaker for a TV show.

    4. Grendel - An assassin with an exotic twist. This would have to be on cable TV or Netflix, not network TV. Still, Grendel is one of the most engrossing characters from the indy comics of the 80's!

    I could do this all day. I love superheroes and would give any of the posted series suggestions a try!

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 1:11 PM, pseudodragon wrote:

    Oh, I would also love to see "Death" from Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, get her own series. Sandman would be better suited for a movie, with the huge FX budget it would command, but Death could be pulled off quite nicely on the small screen, I think.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 1:17 PM, Richardragan wrote:

    Drfated,I think they are comming out with a show with Deadman,Spectre,Phantom Stranger and Doctor Fate allready it sould be cool. As for the Doom Patrol that would be nice but i think it will cost too much to be put on TV. I would love to see Starman on TV.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 1:35 PM, yokonashiwa wrote:

    Punisher would be awesome on a channel like HBO or Starz. I know not everyone watches those channels, but look how successful Spartacus and the Sapranos did there. Moon Knight would be great for USA or Spike. Not sold on the Hush TV show though. There just isn't any interest in this character even in the Bat universe. I think a show based on Nightstalkers or Johnny Blaze after his time as Ghost Rider would be great. Make it follow the vain of Supernatural. Booster Gold might make for a few good seasons before you have to think about bringing in Blue Beetle.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 1:49 PM, Kieselsbeard wrote:

    McFarland made some very cool dark heroes , Pitt would probably be able to go along way as a show . He is huge and a monster and you know that everyone love huge monsters that have issues with their temper . Look how many fans the hulk has. I do like the Idea of the Punisher as long as the studio doesn't forget that he is always pissed off and if he feels that someone needs to be dead , he makes them be dead. Hawkman may be able to draw an audience to because kids love that stuff , but originally Hawkman was a very very violent warrior and would totally smash peoples heads with his mace. *(AWESOME)

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 4:36 PM, Storman1977 wrote:

    For DC, Nightwing and his adventures in Bludhaven would be a good, gritty addition to the universe line up. Direct ties to Batman (good for guest appearances of various Bat villians and allies) and an easy tie to the Arrow world as well.

    Marvel needs to open up the Xavier Institute for Education and bring in the Generation X for a better treatment than what they got on the short lived Fox show. And, it would be easy to tie in to the upcoming 'Xmen: Age of Apocalypse' movie in 2015/16

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 7:04 PM, Turrican wrote:

    Anything from the 2000AD universe would be very welcome.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 7:41 PM, Droppo wrote:

    Cloak and Dagger with cool cinematic tricks would be awesome.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 7:52 PM, Ravenor wrote:

    I want to see Hush as a silver screen antagonist to Batman. I am tired of the recycled Rogues Gallery in the games and movies.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 9:35 PM, GStrange wrote:

    I only have one suggestion. Someone should adapt Mark Gruenwald's Squadron Supreme into a miniseries.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 10:48 PM, Ravenor wrote:

    Hugo Strange would be another choice.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 1:09 AM, Squidbob wrote:

    Classic Phantom Stranger- dark, mysterious, always having something to say, walking unseen, seeing what no one else sees, and very mysterious.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 3:26 AM, elfess wrote:

    The problem with this whole story idea thing is the cost and difficulties of putting any sci-fi type of show. Everyone demands great special effects and they don't come cheap. They tried a Flash tv show in the 90s and the special effects issues killed the show because they couldn't get them ready in time. That's why any show couldn't have a character that had major super powers that would require all kinds of special effects. That's why Arrow and SHIELD are doing so well, they don't have any major powers that have to have major special effects. It will be interesting to see if Flash works for CW. Sci-fi shows have never been huge draws in the US. Maybe super hero shows will work better but I'm doubtful they will do much unless someone can find a way to do major special effects that will wow viewers in the time frame of doing a weekly show.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 8:23 AM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    @leobowdyo1

    >>It is a closed sandbox..you don't' need batman/superman to make a guest appearance every third episode to keep the ratings up...these women/their story lines are good enough without outside interference.

    I want to believe this, but history says you can do it wrong. "Birds of Prey" failed as a TV series in 2002-2003, ending after just 13 episodes on The WB. (Precursor to what we know today at The CW.)

    Foolish best,

    Tim

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    TMFMileHigh in CAPS and on the boards

    @milehighfool on Twitter

    http://about.me/timbeyers

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  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 8:27 AM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    @DrFated2,

    >>My top picks for TV series would be Deadman, The Spectre, Phantom Stranger, Doctor Fate, the original Doom Patrol or James Robinson's version of Starman.

    Thanks for weighing in. Several of your choices would rely heavily on visual effects, which makes them less likely candidates for the more modest confines of TV.

    Having said that, we know from interviews that Guillermo Del Toro is a huge Deadman fan. I'd love to see DC and Warner give him the greenlight to develop an ongoing series.

    FWIW and Foolish best,

    Tim

    --

    TMFMileHigh in CAPS and on the boards

    @milehighfool on Twitter

    http://about.me/timbeyers

    http://timbeyers.me

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 8:31 AM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    @pseudodragon,

    I like these A LOT. Jon Sable, in particular. One of my best friends collected that comic way back when. You're right, a great representation of Grell at the top of his game. (Although matched by The Longbow Hunters, in my opinion.)

    FWIW and Foolish best,

    Tim

    --

    TMFMileHigh in CAPS and on the boards

    @milehighfool on Twitter

    http://about.me/timbeyers

    http://timbeyers.me

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 8:34 AM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    @Storman1977,

    >>For DC, Nightwing and his adventures in Bludhaven would be a good, gritty addition to the universe line up. Direct ties to Batman (good for guest appearances of various Bat villains and allies) and an easy tie to the Arrow world as well.

    I'm hoping to be able to ask the "Arrow" creators about this at San Diego Comic-Con or before. I agree that there's a lot of potential for cross-over, especially with all the Bat influence we're seeing in the "Arrow-verse."

    Foolish best,

    Tim

    --

    TMFMileHigh in CAPS and on the boards

    @milehighfool on Twitter

    http://about.me/timbeyers

    http://timbeyers.me

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 9:33 AM, bkhamilt wrote:

    I think a team concept would generate viewer interest. With that in mind, I would do either The Rogues or The Inhumans. Both would be awesome. The Rogues could concentrate on the group dynamic and their moral struggles as the bounce between light and darkness. The Inhumans could be the galaxy spanning series with the focus being on their leadership of the Kree Empire and could have a Battlestar Galactica feel. I would also LOVE to see a WATCHMEN series, but it would need to be on HBO or another cable network to be effective.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 11:06 AM, TMFSymington wrote:

    @bkhamilt, I think The Inhumans could be great on the small screen, too...though Stan Lee did list it as a one of several prospective Marvel movie projects last September so could be reserved for the big screen.

    Then again, a little over a week ago Kevin Feige did shoot down speculation Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were going to be Inhumans in Age of Ultron, so you never know.

    And yep, Watchmen could be interesting but, like The Punisher, would need to be dark.

    Thanks for reading and Fool on!

    Steve (@TMFSymington)

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 11:31 AM, JCee wrote:

    I have always wanted to see Marvel's "Strikeforce: Morituri" adapted into a movie or show. Considering that the characters dying unexpectedly is pretty much a given due to the story, a movie always seemed the easier sell. But look at what HBO has done with Game Of Thrones. Noone is safe on that series, and fans of George R.R. Martin's books know this well. Yet, because of the strong material and excellent production, it is still a huge hit. If Morituri received a similar commitment by an HBO or Starz, it could hit as well.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 6:50 PM, maineiacle wrote:

    The Punisher is the most boring, over-rated character in comics. Yea, we get it. he likes to kill. Seems you're more invested in street level heroes that would make for 10 episode runs before being cancelled. There really is no wide spread appeal to the characters you listed and I doubt very much that any of them could carry a successful show. At least not on a network. As was pointed out Birds of Prey lasted a couple of months because contrary to what YOU appear to think fanboys won't watch a show just because of a couple of scantily clad chicks in it. Have ya seen the internet??? Plenty of half naked women all over the place,. I doubt too many are getting their "spank material" from some tame show. just because it has a comic hero in it..

    Then again, The Motley fool changes their minds and opinions like I change underwear. Tomorrow, you'll be writing about the downfall of Shield and Arrow.

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