From Judge Dredd to Hawkeye: 5 comic-book characters worthy of their own TV shows

With 'Loki' already winning over fans, here are some more notable comic-book favourites that will – or should – grace the small screen

Marvel's Loki only debuted its first episode last week, but it looks set to establish itself as a firm TV favourite.

The Disney+ series, starring Tom Hiddleston as the titular villain, racked up an impressive 96 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes before the second episode even aired.

In recent years, comic books have been firmly established as the king of cinema, exemplified by Avengers: Endgame smashing a decade-old global box-office record on its release in 2019. Now, their superheroes are taking over TV, too.

Marvel and Disney+ are by no means the only players in town. Amazon's The Boys (2019) and HBO's Watchmen (2019) were euphorically received, while Netflix was ahead of the game in 2015 with a clutch of successful Marvel adaptations including Daredevil and The Punisher, before Disney snatched its Marvel TV rights back in preparation for the launch of its own streamer.

There's no sign of things letting up, either. Netflix swiftly recovered from its Marvel break-up by signing deals with Dark Horse Comics and the Millarworld franchise, giving us shows such as The Umbrella Academy and Jupiter's Legacy, while Disney+ has a Marvel feast lined up and Amazon is bringing more from The Boys.

Here are some of the comic-book adaptations we will, could or would love to see gracing TV screens soon.

'Judge Dredd'

Sylvester Stallone's 1995 incarnation of 2000 AD's cold-hearted future lawman is best ignored, but Pete Travis's 2012 film is ripe for further exploration. Nine years of social-media campaigning for a sequel suggests fans agree.

The film was a commercial flop, though it was hampered by its UK distributor's insistence on releasing only in the polarising, and overpriced, 3D format in its home market. Positive reviews, fan adoration and huge home sales have since cemented Dredd as a cult favourite. Karl Urban has repeatedly stated he'd love to return in the lead role, and writer Alex Garland already had a sequel script ready when the film was released.

Could a TV series provide the solution? The longer format would certainly allow more time to explore the comic's political subtext, which was overlooked in 2012 in favour of ultra-violence.

'Hawkeye'

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Marvel Studios/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5886221t)
Jeremy Renner
Captain America - Civil War - 2016
Director: Anthony Russo / Joe Russo
Marvel Studios
USA
Scene Still
Action/Adventure

This Avengers spin-off is one we'll definitely see, with Jeremy Renner reprising the titular role in “late 2021", according to Disney+. The actor revealed on social media that filming concluded in April.

Hawkeye is something of a running joke among Marvel fans (and scriptwriters) owing to the fact that, in contrast to his flying, lightning-wielding fellow Avengers, his main superpower is that he's quite good at archery.

There's plenty of scope to continue the comic nods to Hawkeye's perceived wimpiness, but also the potential to go darker with his alter ego Ronin, a vengeful assassin we saw hints of in Endgame.

Hailee Steinfeld joins Renner in the Disney+ show and, although plot details are predictably thin on the ground, it looks like Renner will be training her character, Kate Bishop, to take on his Hawkeye mantle.

'The Sandman'

An adaptation of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman has been "in development" for various studios since 1991, but looks like it might finally reach screens soon thanks to Netflix.

Gaiman confirmed that filming began in October 2020 on Twitter, with Wonder Woman writer Allan Heinberg producing, Tom Sturridge in the lead role, and Gwendoline Christie and Charles Dance among an impressive supporting cast.

It's understandable that it's taken time to get the comic to screens. The title character is the “anthropomorphic personification of dreams” and goes by at least 13 different names. The action takes place between the dream world, the waking world and other realms such as the fairy world, Asgard and the wider DC Universe.

It's the kind of complexity that has Hollywood producers running for the door but, if done well, could be incredible.

'Ms Marvel'

Hollywood may be all about diversity come 2021, but comic books were always one step ahead. Disney has been lauded for bringing Ms Marvel, the "first Muslim superhero", to screens, but the character first appeared in Marvel's comics in 2013, long before Hollywood's bid for inclusivity and representation.

Canadian-Pakistani actress Iman Vellani will play Kamala Khan / Ms Marvel in the Disney+ series, landing in "late 2021", before reprising her role in 2022 film The Marvels. The show will mark Vellani's first acting credit.

In the comic book, Khan develops polymorphous powers owing to "inhuman" genes and takes over the former identity of her hero Carol Danvers (Danvers drops the Ms Marvel moniker in the Marvel comics after taking on the mantle of Captain Marvel in 2012). She has the ability to shape shift and has powers of elasticity.

'Fables'

If ever a comic book was tailor-made for TV, this is it.

The premise of Fables, which ran for 13 years from 2002 in DC's Vertigo Comics, is that all our favourite fairytale characters were run out of fairyland centuries ago by the mysterious "Adversary" and have been secretly living in New York City since. They're all here, from Sheriff Bigby Wolf to hard-partying socialite Cinderella.

Each issue tells the story of a different character within the wider community, ideal for series treatment, and there's even a local angle when Sinbad brings an Arabian delegation to town to discuss an alliance against the Adversary.

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