Television Heroes

Heroes and superheroes are popular topics for films these days, causing television to try to get into the act.  With the success of the X-Men and Avengers films in theaters and the series Arrow last season, others are jumping on the bandwagon.  Arrow is returning, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is starting, and there’s talk of a new version of The Flash potentially spinning off Arrow.  Even reality television is joining the party.  Over the summer, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson hosted a reality competition called The Hero, which tried to put ordinary people in situations that would make them face their fears.

Superhero series have generally not done well on television in recent years, often dying quickly.  Various people have looked at the reasons for their failure from a television critic’s point of view.  I would like to look at it from a fan’s point of view.

I admit it.  I have watched superheroes on television for most of my life.  When I was young, I used to rush home from school to watch Marvel Superheroes and a Japanese import called Danguard Ace, among others.  Since that time, I’ve seen a great many series come and go, with varying levels of success.  What makes me reject one series and embrace another?

  1. I like my superheroes to be heroic.  Sure, they need to have flaws and weaknesses to make them interesting characters.  They can’t go too far into the “dark side”, though, unless it’s a temporary condition caused by something done to them.  I shudder whenever the critics describe a show or its characters as “edgy” or “out-of-the-box”.  Generally, that translates to “I’m going to hate it”.
  2. The show can’t be too preachy.  The heroes stand for right and justice but they need to show that by their deeds, not through a bunch of boring speeches.
  3. The show needs to have a sense of humor.  Characters that are all business, all the time, are dull.  There needs to be a balance between the world-saving ‘big events’ and the interplay between characters.
  4. The show needs to stay true to the established mythology for the character, when there is one.  If it varies too far, unless there is a rational progression to the change, I will reject it.
  5. While I enjoy exploration of the mythologies, preferring it to the ‘bad guy of the week’ technique of story telling, the writers need to be careful about making the mythology so convoluted that it requires a written flow chart to follow.
  6. I do not want my superheroes either swearing constantly or jumping into bed with everyone in sight.  For me, these are not heroic characteristics.  Quite frankly, I have very limited tolerance for them in any show and I won’t put up with them in my superheroes.

I’ve told you my view of what makes a superhero series good or bad.  What’s your view?

I am a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and poetry. If you are interested in learning more about me or my work, check out my website at