Comic Book Adaptations That Deserve A Second Chance As A TV Series, Ranked
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.
- 1490 VOTES
Ghost Rider: Spirit of VengeancePhoto: Sony Pictures Releasing
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.
- 2416 VOTES
The Fantastic FourPhoto: 20th Century Fox
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.
- 3358 VOTES
X-Men: 'Dark Phoenix Saga'Photo: 20th Century Fox
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.
- 4349 VOTES
WatchmenPhoto: Warner Bros.
In many ways, Watchmen has already proven that a television adaptation can succeed where a movie has failed. Zack Snyder’s 2009 feature film didn’t come close to capturing the feel of the greatest graphic novel of all time, but Damon Lindelof’s 2019 sequel series on HBO achieved that remarkable feat - and it did so because it didn’t have to cram it all into a couple of hours.
Watchmen was always intended to be told in a slow-burning serial format, not in one big action-heavy plot. If the original story were ever to be adapted again, one would hope that Hollywood has learned that television is the way to go - and not another attempt at condensing it for the silver screen.
- 5332 VOTESPhoto: Warner Bros.
Jonah Hex is a lot more interesting of a character than just a cowboy with an ugly face, but unfortunately, that’s all most people know about him thanks to 2010’s 12% Tomatometer-winning Jonah Hex. Despite starring Josh Brolin, who would go on to star in two blockbuster superhero films in the same year later that decade, the adaptation failed on its own overbearing boredom - but that didn’t have to be the case.
In the pages of DC's comics, Jonah Hex is anything but a generic Western anti-hero. He’s a character with deep ties to the not-so-distant past of the DC Universe, and Gotham City in particular. A set of long-term Hex adventures could be a great way to world-build for Batman and also go a long way toward redeeming this sharpshooter’s reputation.
- 6348 VOTES
R.I.P.D.Photo: Universal Pictures
The concept and execution behind the comic series R.I.P.D., published by Dark Horse, is gripping - featuring deceased police stuck working cases in limbo until they can solve the mystery of their own demises. With a story that goes all the way back to the Wild West origins of one of the protagonists, R.I.P.D. really makes the most of its bizarre premise.
The 2013 film adaptation of R.I.P.D., on the other hand, is about as generic and bland as one can make using some genuinely unique source material - and an utter failure despite proven genre veterans in Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. The movie’s 13% Rotten Tomatoes score is further testament that police stories like this one - in which a bunch of little cases build up to an overarching mystery - really only work as procedurals.