Comics and TV, Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

Pat Kanney
Managing Editor

 

 

 

Comic books, with their never-ending story lines, expansive universes and continuous stories, are the perfect medium to draw in fans generation after generation.

Grandparents who grew up with the original Batman have the ability to connect with their grandchildren over the same exact character. On the opposite side of the spectrum, television shows and movies have a very limited time zone to reel in fans.

What was once Adam West’s light hearted Batman has evolved tremendously into Christian Bale’s Dark Knight. Many factors have to be considered when bringing a comic book character on the big screen, including actors and their age.

Batman has been played by five (not counting Ben Affleck because we have yet to see him in the cape and cowl) separate actors, while in the comics Batman has been one man, Bruce Wayne (not counting Dick Grayson’s small reign as the Caped Crusader).

With that said, TV and movies make it easier to broadcast a character to the public. Comics, as fantastic as they are, have a very pigeon holed fan base, which is why there are always TV and movie adaptations.

However, over the past five or six years there has been a frenzy of TV shows and movies based on or related to comics and graphic novels (which are basically longer comic books).

Networks like FOX, the CW, AMC and ABC have grasped onto the concept that comics have great story arcs and, when done well, can be very successful in pop culture.

Some of the most successful comic book shows in recent history have been the CW’s Smallville and Arrow, AMC’s the Walking Dead and ABC’s Marvel’s: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Each one of these shows, however, has its own dynamic and makes being a fan of the series that much more fun. Arrow and Smallville, for example, have had so many DC comic superhero and villain cameos and appearances that fans are left waiting to see who shows up next.

Plus, the casting in both shows, in all these shows really, are spot on for what the producers want. Going off the Dark Knight Trilogy, Arrow’s producer, Greg Berlanti, made Oliver Queen more secluded and vengeful instead of the jokester that fans knew from the comics.

The cool thing about Marvel’s: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is it connects to the big screen Marvel movies. For example, after Thor 2, there was tons of destruction throughout London and the show directly after that movie’s release, had agents cleaning up the streets and calming down citizens.

That puts an interesting twist on the whole Marvel Universe concept. Now, instead of bringing together movies, what Marvel has done is combined both the big and small screens. Which, in turn, combines both fan bases.

This strategy has proven successful for Marvel as fans are falling in love with their never-ending line of movies that continually add to their universe. Marvel has set the bar high when it comes to comic books being placed in other forms of media.

The Walking Dead, on the other hand, has a very different twist when it comes to a television series. With a spinoff in the works, The Walking Dead has no end.

As of right now, the graphic novels have yet to find a resolution or fix which could possibly lead to an end. From what writers and producers of the show have stated in interviews, the show is headed down the same road.

They did not even hint at a resolution for future seasons. The problem with this is that endless TV shows are very much frowned upon. Look at American Idol or Law & Order, long lasting shows eventually fall off the face of the earth.

Fans of the series would hate to see their beloved characters killed over and over again. Now, The Walking Dead may not be headed in such a direction, but it’s a possibility.

With shows like Arrow and The Walking Dead thriving on TV, one thing remains clear: Comic books have endless amounts of material in them and (when done right) can be adapted to any sort of medium. But when will the “comic book to TV” boom end?

For now it looks like never but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Even before the 2000 comic book characters were on TV and in movies. Fans of series will always be there and that is exactly why writers keep going back to the comics.

As long as the material is fresh or twisted differently, nothing will ever get too old for any type of fan base. That leaves the question, which comic is next?

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