Editorial: It’s Time for Superheroes to Transition to TV

When I was a kid, there was nothing that I loved more than going to see the most recent Spider-Man or X-Men film. Seeing these characters in their cartoons on TV got me excited to see them brought to life in live action on a big screen. This was years before the phrase “Cinematic Universe” meant anything and before Black Panther and Doctor Strange became household names. Audiences were probably treated to one or two superhero movies a year. 

Today, we live in a different world. Just looking at Marvel Studios; 2021 had four superhero movies set in the same universe: Black Widow, Shang-Chi, Eternals, and Spider-Man: No Way Home. In addition, four limited series set in that same universe released on Disney+ with WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, and Hawkeye—not to mention MCU’s first venture into the world of animation with What If…?.

This year, movie releases have been hit or miss. Black Widow was available on Disney+ with Premier Access, though the other three Marvel films released in theaters, with only Spider-Man: No Way Home performing at pre-pandemic numbers. Conversely, Warner Brothers released both Wonder Woman 1984 and Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max to mixed feedback from viewers and critics. 

For me, I’ve had a hard time getting to movie theaters this year, and many people are in the same boat. But do you know what I haven’t had a hard time doing? Squeezing in an episode of Loki during a lunch break, or watching the premier of Hawkeye on my phone at 3:00 a.m.

And I think it’s time that Hollywood commits to making superhero TV shows rather than movies.

Why? I think there are a lot of reasons this would be amazing. Accessibility is huge. The more people who can watch, the better; and with TV shows, not only can people watch from home, but they can also watch whenever they want. Parents can wait for their children to go to bed rather than hiring a babysitter. Younger kids don’t need a ride from parents to the movie theater. Instead of needing to commit 2-3 hours to go see a movie, you only need 20 minutes to an hour at a time.

On top of accessibility, I think the stories we want to tell about these superheroes often lend themselves better to the episodic format of a TV show. Can you imagine if they had tried to make a show like WandaVision a theatrical movie instead? With TV shows, you have a new climax every episode, and each episode serves as a chapter in the story, similar to how issues work in the very comics that these stories are based off of. 

Finally, TV shows tend to have a longer runtime spread out across multiple episodes, helping lead to more depth and allowing a sense of familiarity with characters. You can go on longer, more satisfying arcs, and still have time to include B-Plots, or a secondary arc for the minor characters (which would be a great way to connect back to the movies!).

We’ve had great success with the episodic format even outside of MCU’s recent dip into Disney+. The loosely connected Marvel TV shows from Netflix like Daredevil and The Defenders, and more recent shows like The Boys, Invincible, and Watchmen have all found their own success. Even shows like Smallville from the 2000s ran for ten seasons.

I’m not saying that I want no more Superhero movies. Watching movies like Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: No Way Home in a movie theater were as close to transcendent experiences as I’ll probably ever have. I think these larger than life stories often found in so called “team up movies” deserve the big screen. But I’ve definitely had more fun watching the new episode of Hawkeye each week than I had sitting through Thor: The Dark World.

Imagine if a movie like Ant-Man had instead been a TV series, with different episodes focusing on assembling the team for the heist, practicing the heist, and exploring Scott’s training and preparation for the heist. There could have been more time to focus on Hank and Hope’s relationship or to explore the side characters of Luis, Kurt, and Dave (Scott’s ex-con friends who help with the heist). The events of Ant-Man and the Wasp could have made for an excellent second season. 

I really hope that companies like Marvel Studios and Warner Brothers realize the potential of Superhero TV shows going forward. Marvel Studios already has series planned on Disney+ for Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk, all of which I think will help further prove my point. Superheroes are more than welcome in the theaters, but their true home is with us in our living rooms on the small screen. 

Brad Melville is a junior writer for Boss Rush Network. Brad is a huge fan of video games, and loves relaxing with some TV or a nice movie when he can. Some of his favorite video games are Banjo-Kazooie, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Breath of the Wild. You can follow him on Twitter, where you can find him ranting about superheroes, complaining about tv shows, or hear his hot takes about Nintendo.

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