Comic book television is in something of a golden age right now. DC has their expanded universe on the CW, populated by Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. Marvel has made a home on Netflix beginning with Daredevil and Jessica Jones last year, and will continue on with more very soon. And all that’s without factoring in Agents of SHIELD on ABC (as well as the recently-canceled Agent Carter), and Preacher on AMC. Suffice it to say, there’s no shortage of superheroes on TV across a variety of networks.
Even so, that hasn’t slowed the train of planned shows that have yet to air. Hollywood knows how important it is to capitalize on the trend while it’s still in vogue, and that’s led to a fair amount of fast-tracking across the board. Everything from Fox’s X-Men universe to even more from DC and Marvel is getting a collection of new TV shows, making this the peak era for the genre by a longshot. So what’s coming down the road? Here are the highlights.
1. Luke Cage
[Update, 8/2/16: Added SDCC teaser for series]
Luke Cage is the next show on Marvel’s Netflix calendar, and the second one from them this year following Season 2 of Daredevil. It stars Mike Colter as our titular hero, possessing mysterious powers that make him nigh indestructible. Based on the blaxploitation hero by the same name, he came into play in comics right around the time the genre was gaining popularity in the early 1970s. This gives Netflix all sorts of room to play in terms of making the series an insightful commentary on race and heroism. Given the deft touch they had concerning themes of sexual abuse and consent on Jessica Jones, we have few doubts as to whether Marvel can hit a home run in making Luke Cage a profound (and much-needed) racial statement on superheroes. [Update, 10/3/16: Read our review of ‘Luke Cage’ here.]
2. Hellfire / Legion
Hellfire and Legion are actually two separate shows, but it’s worth mentioning them both since they’re both collaborative X-Men projects brought forth from a partnership between Marvel and Fox. The former will focus on the club we last saw in X-Men: First Class, originally led by Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). The team has since been disassembled, meaning we’d see a brand new lineup of mutants intent on global destruction. For Legion, the story will focus on a single mutant with multiple personalities battling for position. Simon Kinberg is signed on as a producer, and has even gone so far as to call it “the Breaking Bad of superhero stories.” Color us intrigued.
[Update, 8/3/16: Per Variety’s sources, ‘Hellfire’ is no longer in development at Fox.]
DC is tripling down on the Superman back-story on TV, having already casted the Man of Steel on the CW’s Supergirl. They’ll be going even further back into his origins for SyFy’s Krypton, focusing on his distant ancestors on his home planet. The list of characters includes a confusing amount of El and Zod family-members, tracking their feud back generations. Led by showrunner David Goyer (Da Vinci’s Demons, Constantine), it’ll at least be in steady creative hands, albeit from the guy who also wrote the screenplay for the widely panned Batman v Superman. Regardless, it looks to have the potential to either be intensely interesting, or horribly confusing and boring.
4. Teen Titans / Young Justice
Here’s where things go from “these shows are definitely coming” and “all signs point toward a solid ‘maybe.'” Teen Titans was originally slated for a live-action adaptation on TNT, before it was unceremoniously pulled from the schedule, with network head Kevin Reilly claiming that “we decided it wasn’t quite where we wanted to go.” It’s led to all sorts of speculation about where the Titans could potentially land instead, with many pointing toward the CW as an ideal home. That said, it seems just as likely that a Young Justice series could take its place. The groundwork has already been laid, with the CW introducing multiple members of the original team, including Arsenal, Kid Flash, Superboy, and Miss Martian. It’s really just a question of the network taking full advantage for a new series.
5. Static Shock
Here we have another show that’s far from a sure thing. Still though, we were hearing casting rumors as recently as a year ago, linking Jaden Smith to the lead role. The original animated show was incredibly popular for its brief time on the air, and the revived comic series carved out a considerable niche at DC. Bringing him back for a full-blown series would make a whole lot of sense, and given that Legends of Tomorrow star Franz Drameh admitted that he’d love to see Static at least appear at some point, it seems entirely within the realm of possibility.
6. The Punisher
Daredevil‘s second season was more than simply a continuation of the show’s popular story. It ended up also turning into a sort of backdoor pilot for a standalone Punisher series. Jon Bernthal stars as Frank Castle, the violent vigilante with few hangups about murdering his way through Hell’s Kitchen to enact revenge on the criminals that killed his family. We’ve seen two feature-length films portray the character before to middling success, but Netflix’s own version of Castle already seems to be the definitive one in TV and cinema. We’re not sure on an exact release date, but we can’t imagine it’ll long before we hear more from Marvel.
7. Black Lightning
With the exception of Gotham (and to an extent, Lucifer), DC has all of their eggs in the CW basket for their collection of TV shows. Soon though, FOX will be adding a new series in Black Lightning. Arrow and Flash mastermind Greg Berlanti is even attached as one of the producers, alongside Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil. As for the titular hero himself, Deadline runs us through where the series has him.
He made his choice: He hung up the suit and his secret identity years ago, but with a daughter hellbent on justice and a star student being recruited by a local gang, he’ll be pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend Black Lightning.
Sounds like a pretty appealing show, at least in concept. We don’t have a solid release date, but it’ll be exciting nonetheless to see Greg Berlanti continuing to expand his superhero repertoire.
Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest