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Comic to TV Adaptations that Failed to Thrive Part 1   3 comments

With the coming of shows like Arrow to fill the Smallville void, the possible announcement of the Marvel Universe TV series, and the ongoing success of Walking Dead,  it would seem that comic book to television adaptations are a continuously viable option for small screen success.  But this is not always the case. Plenty of comic book to TV adaptations fall flat and never see the light of day and others get a few episodes before getting the axe and disappearing from the screen.  So let’s take a look at part one of the sad and funny world of Comic to TV Adaptations that Failed to Thrive

Aquaman – 2007

The CW attempted to recreate their success with Smallville by adapting the story of Arthur Curry, the half Atlantean King of the Ocean known as Aquaman, for the small screen.  The show made it all the way to a complete pilot before anyone realized that no one really gives a shit about Aquaman and that no amount of sexy bikini babes or Ving Rhames was going to save a show about a guy who’s most well known super power is the ability to talk to fish.

“Fish want krill.”

Despite positive reviews and heavy promotion the CW decided to pass on the series.  The single episode is available for $1.99 on iTunes and you can watch the trailer here:

Wonder Woman – 2011

David E. Kelley produced the pilot for an NBC Wonder Woman series that never made it to the air waves.  The series envisioned her living three lives, which are described by io9.com as:

The world knows that Diana Themyscira, CEO of Themyscira Industries, is Wonder Woman. There’s no secret identity there whatsoever. Diana Prince, as far as I can tell, is not actually Diana Themyscira’s fictional assistant, but is actually just a fake name Diana uses to rent a mediocre apartment “so she can live like a normal person” with a cat and watch chick flicks and eat ice cream at night.

The article states that it caused the reviewer to become horribly ill.  Kelley apparently had some difficulty preparing the project, having never worked in the superhero genre before, but worked through this to create a pilot that will rightfully never see the light of day.   Footage from the show has been pretty much wiped off the internet, but you can enjoy this fan made trailer for the series that was not meant to be:

Birds of Prey – 2002

With thirteen episodes on The WB before getting cancelled due to a sharp drop in ratings, Birds of Prey was one of the more successful failed shows on this list.  The series stars Huntress, the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, who teams up with several other super heroins to protect New Gotham after her father skips town.  According to Laeta Kalogridis (via Comic Book Resources), who helped develop the series: I was pushed off the project shortly after the pilot was shot (and I was unhappy with elements of the pilot as well,) I felt the direction the show took didn’t come close to the potential it had.  The show was all around pretty lack luster and failed to keep the Dawson’s Creek era’s audience’s attention, but it has been release on DVD for anyone interested, and the webpage still stands.

Dazzler – 1979

Back in the magical year of 1979 Marvel comics decided that they needed a character that reflected the times and the crazy disco music that the kids loved so much. Their answer was Dazzler, shortened from Disco Dazzler, a mutant in the X-Men comics who had the power to turn sound into light.  Later that year Marvel was approached by Casablanca Records with the idea to produce a half hour animated musical special for TV starring their musicians as Marvel characters with the hope of launching an “Archies” like animated band.  Jim Shooter was tasked with putting together a script treatment that would incorporate Kiss, The Village People, Cher, Donna Summer, and actors Robin Williams, Rodney Dangerfield, Michael McKean (Lenny) and David Lander (Squiggy).


The Marvel Comics Hollywood representative was so impressed with Shooter’s treatment that he wanted to make it into a full length film rather than a half hour animated special.  Not long after, Casablanca Records was in the process of being bought and the Dazzler project was effectively shelved.  Marvel decided to go ahead with it on their own, seeing as they owned the rights to all of the characters and  Casablanca had no legal claim to the project. They started making real headway when Bo Derek singed on to play Dazzler, causing studios to go nuts bidding on the rights to produce the film.  But according to Shooter, who’s blog recounts the whole story, the script for the project ignored all of his treatment and was terrible. Derek insisted that her husband, John Derek direct or she would leave the project.  Interest in Dazzler the Movie suddenly plummeted and the project was dead.

Seems like a lot of work for an idea that started as an Archies rip-off.  You know who else had a failed TV pilot?

Archie – 1990

This made for TV movie was intended to be a back door pilot for an Archie live action TV series, where the Riverdale gang is 15 years out high school and generally doing quite poorly.  Betty is being abused by her boy friend, Jughead is divorced, Veronica is a four times divorced sex maniac and Archie is… well he is doing fine having been recently engaged.  That is until he gets all feisty with Betty and Veronica again and his fiance leavs him. GO TEAM!  The gang get back together after years apart to save the town from… exploding? That’s what it looked like in the trailer, anyway.  Also to do cool 90s rap remixes of Archies songs.  No one watched the movie and the envisioned series never came to be.  Currently you can watch it nowhere, since there was never a DVD release, but you might be able to piece it together from youtube clips.

That is it for part 1! Stay tuned for part 2 in a few days!

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3 responses to “Comic to TV Adaptations that Failed to Thrive Part 1

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  1. What do you think of Gina Carano as Wonder Woman?

    • Carano is a great fighter and she has the right look, but I do not think she has the acting ability it takes to head a TV series. At least not yet. But, I haven’t seen Haywire, so I couldn’t really say for sure.

  2. Pingback: Comic to TV Adaptations that Failed to Thrive Part 2 « AtomicSam

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