With the success of the X-Men and Spider-Man franchises, it seems that every second Marvel Comics superhero has a film in planning stages. However, Marvel’s other superhero teams have a slight hurdle: they share their names with another popular Hollywood subject: fondly-remembered TV shows. Let’s tell them apart…
On television: Quirky series from the sixties, in which the terribly British John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and various offsiders, including Cathy Gale (Honore Blackman) and Emma Peel (Diana Rigg), battled various sci-fi goofballs. Best villains: the Cybernauts, a bunch of homicidal robots.
In the comics: Superhero group, published since the sixties, most often led by the proudly American Captain America. Every Marvel superhero save the X-Men seems to have been an Avenger at some time. Best villain: Ultron, a homicidal robot.
Prospects: The comic book was spun off into a popular animated TV series, but since the awful 1998 movie (based on the TV show), the name “Avengers” is probably box-office poison.
On television: Riveting 1960s courtroom drama, featuring a father-son defence team.
In the comics: Riveting 1970s and 1980s superhero comic, featuring a bunch of guys who would hang out together, fighting mainly supernatural bad guys.
Prospects: Some of the comic-book Defenders (including the Hulk and, coming soon, the Sub-Mariner and the Silver Surfer) are already movie heroes. If they are successful, a team-up is the logical next step.
On television: Maximum paranoia, ’60s style. David Vincent (Roy Thinnes) had to run away from aliens who wanted to take over the world, disguised as humans, while trying to warn a disbelieving Earth population.
In the comics: Marvel’s greatest heroes of World War II – namely Captain America, the Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch. While they were all popular back in the 1940s, they only worked together in a nostalgic series, first published in the seventies.
Prospects: How about a crossover? Aliens invade Earth and battle superheroes during World War II? Hey, it could work!
On television: Silly (but fun) British superhero series of the sixties.
In the comics: Los Angeles-based superhero series of the seventies. One of the first teams to be led by a woman (the Black Widow, a defected Russian spy), along with Ghost Rider, Iceman and others.
Prospects: Neither of them lasted long. If a successful TV series (like The Avengers) or comic book (like Captain America) can bomb at the movies, who’d want to film one of these also-rans?
On television: The adventures of Sydney Bristow, high-school student cum superspy. First shown in 2001; cancelled 2006.
In the comics: The adventures of Jessica Jones, superhero cum detective. First published in 2000; she retired in 2005.
Prospects: Either would make a good starring role for Jennifer Garner. Time to get started!