Short Lived Superhero Shows

Well it’s official folks, Deadpool is a smash hit at the box office raking in over $100 million in its opening weekend. It definitively blew away all the competition which included the third entry in the Jack Black animated favorite, Kung Fu Panda, and the Ben Stiller fashion-centric comedy sequel, Zoolander No. 2. It’s hard to believe that studios were initially reluctant to bring the character onto the big screen after its initial appearance in the nauseating spinoff X-Men Origins: Wolverine seven years ago. Thankfully for everyone, it all worked out in the end and showed Hollywood that an R-rated Marvel flick could actually make some serious dough *cough*Punisher*cough*. I highly recommend it.

Now that’s not the only Marvel related live action roller coaster that’s experienced a ton of success recently. Acclaimed Netflix series, Jessica Jones, starring Krysten Ritter as a former superhero turned private eye was a huge hit for the online streaming service. Even though superhero films usually experience great success, there are some that aren’t as great. Deadpool himself, Ryan Reynolds, knows this firsthand after the colossal bomb known as The Green Lantern bored theatergoers everywhere back in 2011.

You may remember awhile back where I discussed the top five less than stellar Marvel films. Well, there are also superhero related television programs that didn’t last long on the airwaves for various reasons. Let’s look over a few. Some you may recognize, some you probably forgot existed, and some you may never have heard of.


Generation X (1996)


Though Fox has found success recently with the DC comics series, Gotham, it was 20 years ago when they first decided to climb aboard the superhero train and produce a show based on Marvel’s X-Men franchise. Sure, they aired the popular eponymous Saturday morning cartoon in the early 1990s but it was time to aim for something a bit more realistic and mature. Four years before the debut X-Men film hit theaters, the network had high expectations for a 90 minute feature length pilot on the Generation X comic books. Premiering in 1996, the appropriately titled Generation X did not feature households names such as Cyclops or Gambit but it did star Emma Frost and Banshee leading a team of young mutants, the most notable being Jubilee, the only live-action appearance of the character to date (well until X-Men: Apocalypse is released later this year). Both characters would later appear on opposite sides of battle in X-Men: First Class.

The movie was low-budgeted, cheesy, and wasn’t favorably reviewed which caused Fox to scrap the entire idea for an X-Men live action series. That’s pretty hard to fathom back then due to the immense popularity of the franchise today but the writing and effects just weren’t there. Generation X has never been commercially released but can seen in its entirety through the annals of the internet.


The Tick (2001)


Before Wade Wilson’s big mouth caused all sorts of hilarity for fans, The Tick’s dim-witted charm won the hearts of many in the animated world. Based on the 1980s comic book character of the same name,The Tick aired on Fox Kids from 1994 to 1997. It portrays the zany adventures of the big blue crime fighter and his sidekick, Arthur, who would race around town stopping all forms of evil. The show’s highlight was its mature humor that blurred the line between kid’s programming and racy sitcom. Knowing that, it was then realized that The Tick’s humor would translate well to prime time and as a result, a live-action adaptation of the character aired in on the network in 2001.

Actor Patrick Warburton was stuffed into a blue spandex suit and carried the same tongue-in-cheek humor that his predecessor possessed. It ran for nine episodes before its premature demise despite critical praise. The show’s high production costs and Fox not having 100% creative control over it caused them to pull the plug. Our big blue hero turned around and went home, never to be seen again.


Birds of Prey (2002)


Now here’s a goodie. Today, the CW is home to the two most popular comic book series on television, Arrow and The Flash. It was also the home to the Superman series, Smallville, for ten years. In the early 2000s though, it attempted to piggyback on Smallville’s success with an equally popular DC franchise, Batman. Set in Gotham City, Birds of Prey shifted focus away from the caped crusader and instead tried something fresh. Though Batman makes brief appearances in flashbacks, a trio of ass-kicking females assumed the program’s attention and set out to showcase that woman can be compelling heroes too. It debuted in 2002 and featured the femme fatales fighting crime all over the city; each distinguished by different special abilities. These ladies were Helena Kyle, the daughter of Batman and Selina Kyle aka Catwoman, who has abilities similar to her mother, Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl and the daughter of close Bruce Wayne confidant, Commissioner Gordon, and telekinetic, Dinah Redmond. Their arch nemesis is none other than the Joker’s equally psychotic main squeeze, Harley Quinn. Although me and many other fans adored the show, it did not translate into ratings and was cancelled after one season. It would take over a decade before Batman would return to prime time television.

Birds of Prey has since become a cult classic and I suspect the show’s lack of staying power was due to the lack of the Dark Knight himself. Despite that, other Batman favorites such as Helena’s mother, Catwoman and The Joker, show up throughout the course of the show. Numerous settings in Gotham City such as Arkham Asylum are on display as well.


Blade: The Series (2006)


Blade is the Marvel series that I feel never got the proper respect as other, more popular titles. I mean, It was no Iron Man or Captain America but c’mon, the concept of a half vampire/half human slaying the undead is just so cool and reminiscent of Alucard (Dracula’s half-human son and one of my favorite video games of all time). Yeah I know, it had its own trilogy of films and while they range from good to god awful, they made tons of money. Still, it’s hard to find the character mentioned in the same breath as other Marvel favorites. Well, the prosperity of the movies carried over to Spike TV in 2006 for a short-lived television interpretation.

Rapper Sticky Fingaz starred as the sword wielding vampire hunter and while it showed promise with the highest rated debut in the network’s history, it was quickly canned after two months. Geoff Johns who currently writes for Arrow and The Flash lent his writing talents to the show in addition to David S. Goyer who actually penned all three Blade films. After 13 episodes, the series was never heard from again.


Written by Matthew Reine

is a New Yorker with a strong passion for film and television. Also the biggest Keanu Reeves fan you know.

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