comics that need to be TV shows

Every week in /Answers, we attempt to answer a new pop culture-related question. This week’s edition asks “What comic book or graphic novel needs to be adapted into a TV series?” As always, we have submissions from the /Film writing crew and podcast team.

If you’d like to share a comic that you think would make a great television show, please send your thoughts to slashfilmpitches@gmail.com for a chance to be featured on the site. Find our choices below!

comic book tv shows black hole

Jack Giroux: Black Hole

Almost a decade ago, Bratt Pitt’s Plan B was producing an adaptation of Charles Burns’ Black Hole for director David Fincher and writers Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary. That right there was a movie I wouldn’t have missed on opening night. Burns’ pitch dark, horrific, and sometimes emotional graphic novel needs an uncompromising filmmaker, like Fincher, to make a truly faithful adaptation. Fincher wanted his film to “challenge your idea of the human body,” which the comic does in some unforgettable ways. It’s a great teen drama and a piece of body horror that could work great as a two-hour movie or as a television miniseries. I wish Fincher or Alex Aja (Horns) could’ve made Black Hole because both of their sensibilities felt right for this story. Hopefully, one day soon a filmmaker will come along and do Burns’ story justice. Whoever gets around to making Black Hole needs to find a way to evoke Burns’ incredible artwork.

comic book tv shows ex machina

Karen Han: Ex Machina

Far be it from me to suggest that we mess with perfection, but Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris’ Ex Machina would make for incredible TV. The comic follows the rise of Mitchell Hundred after an accident gives him the ability to communicate with mechanical devices, making him the world’s first and only superhero, known as “The Great Machine.” The series is an alternate history for more than the obvious reasons; Hundred uses his powers to prevent the second tower from falling on 9/11, and is elected Mayor of New York soon afterward. It’s a plot point that could easily seem gauche or exploitative, but there’s nothing about Ex Machina that can be considered so careless. This isn’t superheroes for superheroes’ sake; it’s using the fantastic as a lens through which to view the real. In this case, it’s a way of inspecting peoples’ relationships with their government and their proximity to power, both themes which have become all too relevant in the last year. And last but not least, Tony Harris’ art is an absolute dream, and it’s hard to imagine anything else that would translate so beautifully on screen.

comic book tv shows hawkeye

Hoai-Tran Bui: Hawkeye (Matt Fraction and David Aja)

If you’ve only seen Hawkeye in the MCU movies, het gets the title of being one of the famed Avengers, but is widely accepted as the sort of useless member because, you know, he’s arrow guy. Without any superpowers, without a real role in the team and without a solo movie, Hawkeye seems pretty replaceable. But Matt Fraction’s brilliant Hawkeye series (2012-2015) explored the archer’s struggle with irrelevance and insecurity, and proved just how important Clint Barton is. And it would make for great TV.

Following Clint’s adventures during his “off-hours” from being an Avenger, Hawkeye is a funny, mundane and whimsical series about an everyman hero who just can’t stop saving people — or dogs. Equal turns quippy action-comedy and touching character study, Hawkeye explores the complex human being that is Clint Barton — who really is just a big mess of a human being who cares too much. He’s given a fantastic foil in the “other Hawkeye,” Kate Bishop, a young, bratty protégée who proves to be a much more competent hero than Clint. Where Clint is hot-headed and self-destructive, Kate is cool and collected, even getting her own arc striking out as a solo Hawkeye in L.A. for a few issues in the series.

The two Hawkeyes’ comfortable repartee, misadventures battling with Russian mobsters who say “Bro” after every sentence, and their dealing with Clint’s troubled past would make for some of the most compelling superhero TV today. Fraction’s smart and snarky storytelling — elevated by David Aja’s eye-catching minimalist visual style — is made for a Netflix miniseries, and would be offer a refreshing breather from the heavy, violent Defenders series.

Plus, we all know that Lucky, AKA Pizza Dog, would be the best character on TV.

comic book tv shows lazarus

Jacob Hall: Lazarus

It’s tempting to go with a beloved comic series that has been patiently awaiting a proper adaptation for some time now (Y: The Last Man or Transmetropolitan, anyone?), but when I look at the modern television landscape and what people are responding to at the moment, there is one comic book series that feels like it demands a television adaptation: Lazarus.

Created by writer Greg Rucka and artist Michael Lark, the series takes place in a dystopian future where the governments of the world have collapsed and the world is run by a small group of wealthy families, who treat the ruined world as a new feudal society. If you aren’t a “serf” working directly for a family in some capacity, you’re simply “waste.” Although the series explores every nook and cranny of this terrifying world, the bulk of the action takes place within the Carlyle family, who rule what used to be the western half of the United States. Specifically, we follow Forever Carlyle, the family’s “Lazarus,” a genetically modified bodyguard who is specially trained to serve the family’s more violent interests.

In addition to being an incredible (and incredibly complex) story filled with intriguing characters, thoughtful plotting, and action that leaves your stomach hanging around your throat, Lazarus can’t help but feel like an amalgamation of concepts that are just plain hot right now. With all of the political intrigue and distinctive, warring families, it often feels like a science fiction Game of Thrones. With its harrowing view of a future where the wealthy few have replaced governments entirely, it recalls politically charged genre tales like The Hunger Games and The Handmaid’s Tale. And at the center of it all is a badass female hero whose femininity is allowed to shine through at all times, even when she’s slicing and shooting her way through her family’s enemies. It’s a perfect storm of genre ideas, presented in a package that is compelling and entertaining and alarming enough to make you ponder what the next century has in store for the world.

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