Last week, inspired by recent viewings of the new Marvel Disney+ TV offerings, I highlighted five Marvel characters who should have their own TV show.
This week, well, we’ve got the recent announcement of the shitty, diluted, Jack Kirby sleepwalking through a contract, pale Inhumans clone, The Eternals coming to the movies, and, well… look, I’m just going to say it: Hawkeye. Scarlet Witch. White Vision. Mockingbird. War Machine. Hank Pym. USAgent. Moon Knight’s coming in 2022….
Yeah. The West Coast Avengers are all in the MCU, and you heard it here first.
So, as a companion piece to last week’s set of individuals, let’s look at five teams who could make the MCorTVU a better place. Better than the frigging Eternals, anyway……
5 for Friday: A Better Pikarus than Ikarus.
A society of mutant outcasts living in the sewers and abandoned spaces beneath New York City, unable to pass as human and therefore rejected by the world above them. Then, one day, they drop the baby Leela on the orphanage door… okay, wait. So this has been parodied like crazy in Futurama, but let’s take a quick glance at the festering pit of racism, intolerance, and vacuous vanity that is a) The USA, b) The MCU, c) most of the Western World, or d) All of the above. There is social commentary here, especially in the notion that the purest expression of Charles Xavier’s noble dream of humans and mutants peacefully co-existing only happens in a place where they have to be, literally, cast out of ‘regular’ society to the unwanted fringes to do so.
It’s often been said, truthfully so, that the X-Men books are about social issues, particularly social justice around race relations. Well, here’s the Flint, Michigan version of that issue. Here is where your comic book Watts Riots will take place. The Morlocks are the disenfranchised, forgotten, underbelly of the Marvel genetic dream. Tell me something important and compelling can’t be done with that.
S.H.I.E.L.D. = global security.
S.W.O.R.D. = extra terrestrial security.
Well, the hint is in the acronym: Alternate Reality Monitoring and Operational Response. Yep. These are the guys who protect against the slavering hordes of the unknown, the alternative realities where we’re all zombies, or tenticular monsters, or K-Pop bands. This is the Marvel equivalent of the BPRD: the guys who don’t get to wear shiny spandex, or tell each other to Assemble! or get invited to the Superhero Wedding of the Year ™. They’re knee-deep in tentacles, clearing the Swamp Planet of Alligator People. Staffed by the likes of Machine Man, Morbius, and Jocasta, they’re the Ugly Squad, and their adventures run to the same. As an antidote to the epic adventures of The SHIELD Crew That Never Get Their Spandex Dirty, and The SWORD Team That Get All The Toys, there’s a lot of fun to be had here.
Ever noticed how many teenage superheroes there are? Ever spent any time at all with teenagers? Ever stopped to realise that hormonal, bad-decision-making, shut-up-you’re-not-my-real-Mum emotional wrecking balls are maybe not the ones you want deciding the fate of the planet? Ever wondered what sort of emotional and psychological damage is done to developing minds by forcing them to dress as sex toys and fight grown-ups, and monsters, and Gods?
The Loners is about a support group for teenage superheroes who are asking themselves those very questions, as well as for those addicted to the superhero life: an AA for spandex addiction. Of course, they’re still superheroes, so superhero stuff comes calling, but these are reluctant — and all too eager — superheroes, thrown together out of a shared need and then driven to do the thing they’re trying to escape for one reason or another. There’s a triangle of narrative conflict in the idea before you even reach the first page, and provided the show could maintain that triangle, it could be a very effective exploration of the nature of power and responsibility, both wanted and unwanted.
Five immortal female assassins who have served generic-ninja-organisation-as-required The Hand for a thousand years.
And let’s be honest, you don’t really need much more than that. Elevator pitch complete.
Except, let’s be honest: the best two Marvel TV shows by a country mile had women protagonists. And yet, somehow the majority of the Marvel Visual Tsunami remains a sausagefest. Even when the girls are allowed to play as part of a team– looking at you, Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy…. and Black Panther…. and Falcon & Winter Soldier… and Ant Man… and, well, you get it… — they’re a sassy sidekick, or a sassy love interest, or a sassy victim-to-be. Here’s a show about five women, no men required, who act as a team of equals, who can occupy the same street-level territory as the plumbed-out Daredevil/Jessica Jones/Luke Cage/The Shitty One We Don’t Talk About oeuvre, and who can deliver (literally) the kicking of heads and arses on a weekly basis.
I shall await my finder’s fee.
Oh, we’ve come so close with these guys. So close. A sorta kinda version shows up in Spiderman: Homecoming, as the government group who step in and drive Adrian Toomes and his cohort out of work. And ABC ordered a pilot for a live-action series half a decade or so ago, but… nothing.
And yet it’s such a great idea. Damage Control are the guys who come in after Thor and Iron man and the Thing have finished flattening the skyline, and clean up. They’re the ones who clear away the rubble, wipe up the radioactive spills, humph the strange glowing meteorites into their containment units, get the insurance waivers signed, straighten the signage, bitch and grumble about insensitive spandex jerks… when Hercules has drunkenly knocked over a building again, he does a stint with Damage Control to make up for it. When the Wrecking Crew are paroled, they go to work for Damage Control. When the Hulk destroys everything, clean up and rescue comes down to Damage Control.
This is as close to a genuine sitcom as Marvel has come. The books are self-aware, funny, and shine a cynical side-eye on the fantastical goings on of the spandex generation. As an ongoing TV show, this would work like crazy.