It’s a shame that many will now be too young to remember the campy delights of the 1966 Batman series, starring Adam West. It was brimming with colourful costumes, elaborate and nonsensical death-traps, tongue-in-cheek dialogue and superimposed onomatopoeia throughout the dynamic duo’s various fights. The show was beloved by many; even viewers who themselves weren’t that fond of super-heroes.
Like Batman, the superhero genre has since undergone a drastic make-over. Those crazy sixties capers are gone, and super-heroes, while still fun, are now a serious property for television studios. Characters like the Joker are no longer a laughing matter.
But the change has been gradual. For decades, super-hero shows have been dominated by DC and their parent company Warner Bros. The majority of these shows took the form of animation, and although superhero cartoons are still vibrant and well, live-action super-heroics seem to have found their place on the small screen.
Although some would argue that the superhero genre found itself with the debut of Fox’s X-Men movies in 2000, there really is no denying that the current boom was cemented by 2008’s Iron Man and the following Marvel Studios films. But before audiences were willing to believe in a billionaire flying around in a suit of armour, they were being lured in by seemingly everyday people with hidden abilities, as seen on shows such as Smallville and Misfits. It was at this time that Tim Kring brought us Heroes. It was gripping, emotional and full of suspense, with compelling characters and a very serious threat for them to contend with.
But while the world saw super-heroes as an uncertainty when Heroes premiered, the world it has been Reborn into seeing them flourishing in the public spotlight. A spotlight where, fortunately, producers have grasped that not every mainstream super-hero show has to be about Batman or Superman.
And now, with programmes like Arrow and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. having appeared following the release of Iron Man, comic adaptions have escaped from being a niche sub-genre of science-fiction and have become their own revered category. This no doubt speaks to the nature of the source material. Comic books are a form of serial fiction that spans a wealth of genres. They offer something for fans of any category; whether that be action, horror or romance. As such, it makes sense that television producers would strive to recreate that in their own medium, which so closely matches comics.
If you don’t agree, take a look at The Walking Dead.
There are, of course, a few downfalls in attempting to replicate the success of comic books on the small screen. While producers have the bonus of having decades of stories at their disposal to adapt, a high quantity of that material comes with a lot of things that are perhaps too fantastical for a television budget.
There is also the issue that if film producers have their eye on a property, it can limit its use on the small screen; something Arrow currently faces with several of its characters in lieu of the upcoming Suicide Squad film.
And then, even with those factors, there is just so much to adapt and not all of it necessarily deserves its own adaptation.
Comic publishers Marvel and DC alone have debuted eight new shows based on their properties since the start of 2015; six of which are superhero-based, with another two set to premiere this year.
The super-hero boom is such that Damage Control; a comedy about the people who clean up after the super-heroes in the Marvel Universe; is currently in production.
If that’s not a sign the world has gone superhero crazy, then I don’t knows what is.
Fortunately, unlike the world of film, the sheer volume of television programmes produced each year can still be avoided if you’re so inclined, meaning television hopefully won’t suffer from superhero fatigue, that cinema runs the risk of, anytime soon.
Heroes Reborn is out on Blu-ray and DVD on 9 May from Universal Pictures (UK)