Monday, September 23, 2013

Heroic Trends: Super-powered Edition

The second season of Warner Bros.’ “Arrow” will debut on the CW this fall alongside the premiere season of Disney’s “Agents of Shield.” Superheroes on TV are not a new thing, but what these studios have in mind for them are far from what old shows like “The Incredible Hulk” or the campy legend of Adam West’s “Batman” could ever hope to amount to. This current trend of superhero TV, I think is due in part to the superhero craze sweeping Hollywood right now. Disney and Marvel pulled all the stops and release the hero ensemble “The Avengers.” The blockbuster success of the movie signaled to the studios that superheroes are here to stay and that everybody loves them.
A small detail that many superhero fans are ecstatic about this fall is that “Arrow” will debut The Flash as a secondary character. Then The Flash will get a spin off series of his own. This has lead to many fans theorizing that this could be the start of DC’s universe in order to compete with the juggernaut that is Marvel. While Marvel, riding on the astronomical success of “The Avengers,” is debuting their own TV series to expand on their own universe.

The two TV shows are being released because TV as a medium offers another way to expand the never ending universe of superheroes. TV is an inexpensive, compared to movies, way to elaborate on character stories or bring in minor ones without spending huge amounts of money on a single film only to fail at the box office, we have the Green Lantern movie and numerous others to thank for that little lesson.

TV offers writers and producers more freedom than movies to expand on an existing narrative. Shows today average about an hour per episode while movies clock in around 1.5 to 2 hours. So think about it, given that movies have much higher production qualities than tv, would you watch a story that lasts about 2 hours in one chunk or watch about 20 chunks of the same story about an hour each? TV gives producers that. They can flesh out characters’ background and give them more screen time, instead of glossing over them, what many movies tend to do for the sake of time. The structuring of TV itself seems like the most natural home for comic book heroes. Shows play out like issues of a comic book, new episodes every week.

Andy Greenwald points out that the trend could also be in contrast to all the bad guy shows popping up. Many of the most beloved characters of today’s TV are villains like Walt from “Breaking Bad” and these superhero show are adding a little variety to today’s picks. Who doesn't like a good guy they can get behind and save the day? Or are we all too mature now and want the character whose morally ambiguous, where not everything is black and white.

Andy also points out that all these superhero shows could be a bad idea. He thinks that they will burn out too quickly. Citing shows like “Heroes” or “No Ordinary Family” to prove his point. I mean, sure they won’t look as good as the movies but one key component that TV does very well is that it can tell stories. HBO and AMC has shown that they can make high quality TV that could be argued are much better than some of their cinematic counterparts. If one of these studios produced a superhero show along the likes of “Breaking Bad” or “Game of Thrones,” you can be sure that I would be ready with my bucket of popcorn.
ABC seems to agree with me that superhero TV will be a big hit this coming fall. “The network is so confident ... against TV's top-rated scripted show, CBS' crime juggernaut "NCIS." (Baker and Richwine).ABC seems like it is banking on the billion dollar success that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.In the article, ABC says that it did well in the tests audiences and hopes to attract a new younger audience that is different from the older demographic that watches NCIS. I think this is very doable. This is a special case because Marvel has already proven that they can sell stuff couple that with the media giant that is Disney, it is hard to think that this series will fail.

Another thing that this has going for it is that Joss Whedon is writing for it. This guy has proven that he can write one hell of a narrative. Hits that are under his belt include Buffy the vampire slayer and Firefly. There is no doubt that this guy can write a great narrative and as talked about earlier, I think that TV shows win over movies because of their ability to have deeper narratives.

These two series are on the verge of a soon to be wave in television. In the past superhero TV has proven to be lackluster to other genres of shows but that was before. Now these two shows are coming off the backs of their cinematic big brothers and they show no sign slowing down.

Works Cited
Baker, Liana B., and Lisa Richwine. "ABC Bets TV Viewers Will Marvel at Superhero Show." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 14 May 2013. Web. 16 Sept. 2013. <>.
Greenwald, Andy. "Exiled in Smallville."

ESPN Internet Ventures, 08 May 2013. Web. 15 Sept. 2013.  


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