The second episode to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (AoS) is airing tonight, and like most superhero enthusiasts, I’m fairly excited to see it. While the series’ successful is definitely a big headline of the past week, possibly far more intriguing are the news of in-development television series based on comic book properties.
Initially, a week before AoS debuted, rumors started circulating about a potential deal in the making for an upcoming Agent Carter television series. To those unfamiliar to the character, she was portrayed by Hayley Atwell in 2011 Captain America: The First Avenger as the female lead/love interest, and was the focus of a Agent Carter, short for the Iron Man 3 DVD, which I have not seen, but heard great things about. Considering the series would likely pick up after Captain America’s “accident”, and before the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D., one can see why Marvel would look to the property as a valuable connective property. This would allow the rather exciting opportunity of having a prequel to AoS airing at the same time as the Clark Gregg-lead show.
There has been no indication, as of yet, what network would pick up the series, or if Holly Atwell is involved in any capacity, but ABC would be the logical choice, considering it is already the home for AoS.
I won’t gloss over the most important aspect of these news, however, as the series would represent a major comic-based television property headed by a woman. Neither Marvel nor DC have had a major female-lead film since 2005’s Elektra, and 2004’s Catwoman, both of which proved to be major box office and critical flops and seemed to scare producers away from superheroines. This series being aired could be a major push in the right direction.
Not to be forgotten, DC also announced a new television series. They are already preparing a back-door pilot for a Flash television series in the form of Arrow‘s season 2 finale, but they are evidently determined to not be out-done in a week where Marvel is dominating television news. Originally, early last week the buzz on the internet spoke of a long-talked-about Gotham Central series, based on the comic by Ed Brubaker. The actual news is that a show based around a young Jim Gordon, as a Gotham city detective, currently entitled Gotham is currently in production. There are very few details available at this time, but the most interesting piece is that the series commitment is at Fox. This is puzzling, as Arrow and The Flash are both airing on CW, owned by DC’s parent company Time Warner. Before this announcement, it appeared that DC was setting up a separate continuity for their CW shows, but it is difficult to imagine any sort of tie-in with the Fox-based Gotham series.
The surprise was doubled when yet another network made a deal for a DC character last week – namely, NBC bought, under penalty if the pilot doesn’t air, the rights to a John Constantine television series (currently titled Constantine). It is difficult to speculate what direction the television series will take, but considering the timing, it is reasonable to expect that it will take its tone from the currently running comic by the same name. John Constantine is my all-time favorite comic book character, but it’s the older Hellblazer incarnation that I’m a huge fan of. The newer version regularly has disproportionately powerful magical abilities, which I suppose is the major complaint I have about the currently running series. As a consequence, the character is lazier, brashly rushing into situations with little preparation. Where he does prepare, it’s used by writer as nothing more than deus ex machina: “I was prepared for this! I totally was! I cast a spell before I showed up!” Somewhere along the line, it was forgotten that John is absolutely not a superhero, but a supernatural conman. He doesn’t like to get his hands dirty, and certainly doesn’t have any D&D wizard-type spells, he deals in trickery and forethought. I was heartbroken when Hellblazer, at that time the longest-running comic for either Marvel or DC, was cancelled after issue 300. Few things would make me happier than a good Constantine television series, but I’m cautious to say the least.
The television series is not the only Constantine project currently in the works – Guillermo del Toro is reportedly working on a Justice League Dark film, in which the chain-smoking magical conman is set to appear. Del Toro said that “Constantine is our lead… the guy who leads us in and out of the plot.” He also said in a different interview that “Constantine is such a great character, so dry.” Once again, those quotes give me hope. Maybe del Toro does get the character, and maybe he’ll do a fantastic job! The series he’s basing the movie on, however, Justice League Dark, is sadly not great. It’s one of those series I keep returning to because of the characters, only to be disappointed every time with stories I fail to find even remotely compelling. Guillermo is notorious for juggling numerous projects at once.
The proposed television series is, once again, at NBC, which is yet another network that is set to air a DC-based show. It seems very unlikely that any sort of continuity would ever be established between these competing companies’ offerings, but maybe that’s not a terrible thing. I believe Arrow and The Flash could benefit from the shared continuity. In fact, I’m almost always in favor of continuity. Constantine, however, along with Gotham, may actually work better as stand-alones. AoS and Agent Carter presumably will share a world, along with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unless DC has some as of yet unrevealed plan for an overarching universe, it seems they are content with simply using their characters as before, while placing all of their hopes into the upcoming Man of Steel sequel. Which, I won’t argue, is looking cool.