Why We're Worried About The New Superhero Shows In 2016

We are living in a time some critics refer to as "peak television." For comic book fans, that phrase couldn't be more true. Multiple networks are attempting to cash in on the public's love for superheroes by sending wave after wave of characters to the small screen. The danger is that all waves end up crashing at some point, and trends invariably become victims of their own success. In the next year alone, there are four television shows that are looking to expand an existing universe or establish a brand new one. Could 2016 be the year that starts the decline of shows based on superheroes? Here's some reasons why we think it might be.

Iron Fist

Stop us if you've heard this one before. White guy goes to a mysterious land inhabited by another culture and kung fu. White guy out-kung fus everybody else to become the other culture's greatest warrior and guardian of their greatest weapon. A tale as old as timeā€”and that's the problem (i.e. Dances With Wolves, Avatar, The Last Samurai, etcetera). While Marvel has been improving its record (albeit slowly) for being more inclusive in the kinds of stories and characters it's creating and promoting, this feels like a major white-washing step backward on the order of Cameron Crowe's Aloha. And besides, isn't there already a white dude running around New York with martial arts skills and super powers who fights ninjas?

Legends of Tomorrow

What do the ATOM, Captain Cold, Heatwave, Firestorm, Rip Hunter, Hawkwoman, Hawkman (ugh), and the Murderer Formerly Known as Black Canary have in common? Nothing. And that's a problem. You would need some kind of backward-speaking magician in tights and a top hat to tie all of those personalities, backstories, and powers into a coherent whole. If Joss Whedon was tied to this thing, you could maybe give it half a chance. Although any reasonable person who saw Avengers: Age of Ultron could see that even JW was having trouble carrying so much character baggage and also trying to have a discernible plot. In any event, Legends of Tomorrow is on the CW, which has the Flash (awesome) and Arrow (not so awesome). Too many characters, no consistent tone, and questionable writing add up to a lot of ways that this show could the CW's efforts to wade deeper into comics. But really, no one ever, ever needs more Hawkman.


How's this for an elevator pitch? A small town minister from Texas with the power to command others to do what he wants wanders the world looking for God since the man (or woman) upstairs took off once the offspring of a demon/angel love tryst named Genesis decided to possess said clergyman. On top of all that, there's an Irish vampire and a suicide survivor named Arseface. So, what we're saying is that sometimes there are concepts that are too big, too broad, or too crazy to move from one medium to another. Remember Zack Snyder's shot-for-shot adaptation of Watchmen? Remember how awesome, groundbreaking and mind-blowing that comic book was? Remember how none of those words could be used to describe the film? And not for nothing, but there's a reason this property has been in development since 1998. The campaign to get this story from page to a screen is old enough to drive a car. It just goes to show you that just because people want something to happen doesn't mean that it should.

Luke Cage

Sweet Christmas. Saturation anyone? Just how many shows can Marvel expect to generate and still keep up a decent level of quality? Doesn't this feel like an expansion-obsessed sports league? And doesn't common sense suggest that with every new addition, you run the risk of watering down the product as a whole? Thus far, Jessica Jones and Daredevil have mentioned "The Incident" that nearly destroyed most of Manhattan; you know, the one featured as the climax in The Avengers. However, when you start adding all of these "street level" characters who work on the same scale, there are bound to be some characters and stories that get watered down for the sake of the larger narrative. One of the things that makes Marvel's shows as good as they are is the massive canvas they have to draw on. Yet another character in the same location and geared to the same kinds of stories is going to create diminishing returns at some point. Aren't there any superhero crimefighters in Los Angeles?