Comic book adaptations have been on a bit of a high recently, with properties big and small now receiving spin-offs and TV shows. Disney+ is riding high with Mrs. Marvel, loki, and the upcoming She-Hulk. Meanwhile, HBO is looking to expand on The Batman with several spin-off shows. While fans naturally gravitate towards big-name Marvel and DC shows, many quality comic book adaptations go unappreciated.
It would be a real shame to ignore the hard work, skilled writing, and talented performances that went into some terrific shows that failed to receive widespread appreciation. While these shows often achieve niche or cult popularity, they go unnoticed by the wider fanbase.
10 The Batman Is A Unique Approach
Batman has no shortage of quality adaptations: Batman: The Animated Series, The Dark Knight Trilogyor the Arkham game series to name a few. While it’s hard to deny the impact of these adaptations, it’s a shame that 2004’s The Batman is typically forgotten in discussions about Batman animated television.
The Batman by no means has the same power as Batman TAS. It’s a completely different show that takes a more experimental approach with its characters. The Joker, Bane, and The Penguin may look very different from their traditional depictions, but the show makes good use of these characters nonetheless.
9 Cloak And Dagger Is A Thoughtful Adaptation Of An Obscure Property
New superhero shows on Disney+ have been at the forefront of Marvel’s TV output, and it’s easy to see why. But one humble Marvel series that slipped through the cracks was the 2019 show Cloak And Dagger.
Cloak And Dagger is based on a more obscure Marvel series of the same name, and audiences and critics had much to praise about the TV adaptation. The premise explores two teenagers who both find themselves with superpowers that seem mysteriously linked. Critics not only praised the action and the dramatic moments but gave the show a lot of credit for being more thoughtful than the average superhero affair.
8 Green Lantern The Animated Series Understands The Mythos
Green Lantern is a very creative and interesting superhero. Unfortunately, he’s never been that lucky with adaptations. The one major exception is the 3D animated show, which premiered in 2012
The Green Lantern Animated Series received much praise from both fans and critics for its dazzling adventures, thoughtful characterization, and fun animation. It gave fans a great interpretation of the Lantern Corps, Hal, and Kilowog. The show’s characters all get exciting and engaging arcs, and its galaxy-spanning adventures are quite different from the popular street-level affairs of many superhero shows.
7 Constantine Captures The Protagonist Perfectly
John Constantine is a foul-mouthed British detective who deals with the dark world of the occult. Most fans know his name from the 2007 movie Constantine starring Keanu Reeves, and while that has received mixed to positive reviews, it’s not the most accurate adaptation.
The CW’s short-lived show of the same name was never the most popular comic book show, but what it lacks in scale it makes up for in story and characterization. Matt Ryan’s depiction of John Constantine is pitch perfect, and fans were happy to see him return in other adaptations. Furthermore, the show’s loyalty to Hellblazer‘s early issues were much appreciated by viewers, and the show did a lot to explore its characters considering it only aired for one season.
6 Black Lightning Was A Pleasant Surprise For Audiences And Critics
Black Lightning is a relatively obscure DC hero with bioelectric powers. A ton of talented creatives have worked on the character, but he has never received a lot of multi-media adaptations. Thus, when the CW announced a live-action series based on the vigilante, fans were skeptical.
However, upon the release of its first season, fans and critics had high praise for the show. Since then it’s aired four seasons, boasting a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. The first few episodes aren’t a typical origin story but they do a good job of establishing the characters and the return of the titular superhero. Critics heaped praise on both Cress Williams’ performance and the villains of the show.
5 X-Men: Evolution Packs A Big Punch For A Kid’s Show
X-Men adaptations can be quite hit and miss, but here’s no denying the popularity of the X-Men trilogy and the 1990’s X-Men: The Animated Series. The mutants have received a few more animated outings since then, though.
X-Men: Evolution is a fun, modern update from the 90’s cartoon, and fans were happy to see the show last four seasons. The characterization of the core X-Men received good feedback from critics and fans, and many were happy with the show’s back-to-basics approach. The animation also lends itself well to action, and the underlying message of peace and tolerance was also well communicated in a show for kids.
4 Swamp Thing Nails The Dark Atmosphere Of The Comic
Like his fellow DC Vertigo character Constantine, Swamp Thing has never quite made the leap to mainstream success. The gruesome anti-hero received some campy 1980s film adaptations, but they weren’t particularly memorable. The Swamp Thing TV show is a different story altogether.
Swamp Thing nails the dark grimy atmosphere of the comic. With terrific practical effects and great performances, it brings the world of Swamp Thing to life brilliantly. Swamp Thing only received one season, but that one season will definitely go down as one of Swamp Things’ best adaptations. The show’s loyalty to Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing comic run also did much to please DC fans.
3 Superman And Lois Perfectly Modernises The Man Of Steel
Superman and Lois receives very respectable viewing figures and much deserved praise from fans and critics. That being said, it still receives a lot of unfair bashing and dismissals from both CW critics and fans of Snyder’s darker take on Superman. However, Superman and Lois more than does enough to silence these criticisms.
Superman and Lois in no way steps on the feet of Cavill’s Superman. It revolves around Clark and Lois’ family (their two sons), and it does a great job at balancing superheroic action with domesticated drama. The performances, especially from the leads Tyler Hoechlin and Bitsie Tulloch, are absolutely spot on, and the show really did its research when it comes to Superman’s mythology. Superman and Lois has great action, fun characters, and very engaging weekly adventures that are a must-watch for any DC fan.
2 Doom Patrol Is Off-The-Wall And Brilliant
The Umbrella Academy has been enjoying a lot of popularity lately, and any fan of UA should absolutely check out Doom Patrol. It has a similarly fun but deep approach to its characters, and it’s also a terrific adaptation of Gerard Way’s source material, with some Grant Morrison in there too.
Doom Patrol revolves around a bunch of outcasts who largely live as shut-ins within the mansion of eccentric genius Niles Caulder. They are a great bunch of characters but they’re not exactly the Justice League. As well as terrific writing and well-rounded characters, the show is perfectly cast, with the likes of Brendan Fraser, Matt Bomer, Timothy Dalton, and April Bowlby forming the main cast.
1 Legion Takes A New Approach To The Mutants
Legion is a gem, but not one that’s widely known about. This is thanks in part to the fact that Legion is not a typical comic book adaptation. Legion starts out as a thought-provoking social commentary before revealing that it’s actually an X-Men show.
Legion may not revolve around Professor Xavier, Cyclops, or Wolverine, but it’s a great example of how to adapt a well-known comic in a new creative way. The writers clearly have a meaningful story to tell, and they’re simply using the X-Men universe as a means of telling it. Critics and fans appreciated this, and also had very high praise for it Legion’s thought-provoking storytelling and great characterization.
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