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Comic Book Adaptations That Deserve A Second Chance As A TV Series, Ranked

List RulesVote up the comic book adaptations that deserve a small screen second chance.

We're definitely in the golden era of comic book films, but the world had to suffer through a dark period of terrible comic movies to get here - and a bunch of storylines and characters had to sacrifice themselves to lackluster adaptations so that future filmmakers could learn from their mistakes. Unfortunately, that’s left a long list of comic book properties that are deserving of another onscreen look but that Hollywood has already been scared off of.

Luckily, there’s another avenue for adaptation - television. Comic book stories are told serially, which typically makes them a better fit for TV than film anyway. So, there’s really no reason not to take some of the worst superhero movies ever and give them a second chance on cable or streaming services - though some are undoubtedly a better fit for home viewing than others. 

  • 1
    641 VOTES

    Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

    Ghost Rider is one of the Marvel Comics characters with the deepest lore, but one wouldn’t know it if their only exposure to the character came from Nicolas Cage’s two infamous big screen portrayals that scored 26% and 18% on the Tomatometer, respectively. There have been Spirits of Vengeance since the dawn of humanity in the Marvel Universe, and that’s quite a bit of untapped story potential just waiting there for the taking.

    A Ghost Rider series on Hulu, set to star Gabriel Luna as Robbie Reyes, was just canceled - but perhaps centering any show on one singular Ghost Rider is a mistake. Instead, a limited series could center on the legacy of the character across the centuries, with each episode taking place in an entirely different era. 

    Deserves a second chance?
  • 2
    556 VOTES

    The Fantastic Four

    Though most of the derision is focused on 2015’s Fantastic Four reboot - it of the putrid 9% Rotten Tomatoes score - the truth is that Marvel’s First Family has never enjoyed a competent film adaptation. Given the legions of multiverse-spanning tales that have been told of the FF in the pages of Marvel Comics, it’s an absolute travesty that no one has managed to find one that works on the big screen, and it’s especially egregious that three different failed attempts have been made at retelling the team’s clean and classic origin story.

    When they made their debut in 1961’s The Fantastic Four #1, they weren’t the tight-knit crew fans are familiar with today. What made the FF special is that Jack Kirby and Stan Lee gave them time to grow - to fall apart and come back together again and again, just like a real family - over dozens of memorable journeys to every corner of the Marvel Universe. The Fantastic Four are, after all, adventurers are heart, so trying to tell their origin in one-and-done fashion is never going to be satisfactory. 

    And perhaps a Disney+ series might be the best way to integrate the FF into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not another feature film.

    Deserves a second chance?
  • 3
    468 VOTES

    X-Men: 'Dark Phoenix Saga'

    On the whole, Marvel Comics’ mutants may not have been as fortunate as their colleagues over at Marvel Studios in terms of film adaptations, but they’ve still been a lot better off than most others - there are, after all, at least a handful of good X-Men movies. Not among their number, however, is either of the two attempts at recreating "The Dark Phoenix Saga," and that’s a real shame considering its status as the high-water mark for X-Men comics.

    2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand (57% on Rotten Tomatoes) was a disappointing end to the original film trilogy, but 2019’s Dark Phoenix (23%) flamed out even harder. Both movies suffer from the presence of a Jean Grey that jarringly transitions from hero to villain in the span of about 15 onscreen minutes. In the comics, Jean’s transformation into the Dark Phoenix takes years and dozens of issues - and that’s something that could only really be captured via a television series.

    Deserves a second chance?
  • 4
    324 VOTES

    The Losers, which ran for 32 issues at DC's Vertigo imprint, was loosely based on an old WWII adventure series, but it carved out a reputation for itself based on its updated setting of the War on Terror. When it came time for the 2010 film adaptation, the cast of ex-Special Forces now working against the CIA featured such future comic book adaptation talents as Chris Evans, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan - and yet it still failed with just 48% on Rotten Tomatoes.

    The film may have captured the violence of the book, but not the charm of the core team - built up over a series of missions in exotic locations. Misfit squads like The Losers need time to come together - more time than a feature film can provide. A TV series has always been a better fit for this property. 

    Deserves a second chance?