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Hero Worship – Super-Powered Television Makes The Bucks

By Jason McCall
Segment Producer

Comic books and movies have always been two mediums that go together like bacon and eggs. If the character works on the pages, it stands to reason that it’ll work on the big screen. While comic book films have made a huge rise over the decades, you may have realized the same thing happening on your TV too.

Flash and Arrow crossover poster. Photo courtesy by IGN
Flash and Arrow crossover poster. Photo courtesy by IGN.

Over the past few years there have been an increasing amount of television shows based on comic books. From “Arrow,” “The Flash,” to “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” comics are invading TV. In fact, if you were to count the amount of superhero based shows from last year and compare them to this fall, you’ll find the number has almost doubled.

Networks with proven comic book franchises decided it was time to continue their success and opted for more of the same. The CW found success with “Arrow,” and decided to make a series about the Flash. AMC has always done well with “The Walking Dead,” and now they aim to continue that success with similar programming.

So why this sudden increase in comic book programming?

Well, the answer is pretty simple: ratings. It may sound like a dull cliche, but it’s the truth. One of the biggest advantages to a network holding multiple comic book-themed shows increases the chance of crossover episodes. These special episodes are always a home run in ratings and typically leave fans wanting more.

It’s why The CW made sure to introduce their version of “The Flash” on “Arrow,” and why “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” ended their first season with a special cameo from Samuel L. Jackson AKA Nick Fury.

So is this some new trend? Is it a sign of how the television industry is changing? Well… no. In fact, it’s entirely expected considering this kind of programming has been going on since the ’60s.

In 1967 the “Batman” television series starring Adam West had a two-part crossover episode with “The Green Hornet.” These were the two biggest names in comic book TV back in the ’60s. So it just made sense to have Batman and Robin fight the Green Hornet and Kato. The event was a hit with viewers and critics. It caused not only increased viewership for each series, but even inspired Kevin Smith to write the “Batman ‘66” comic book series.

Superheroes can’t be ignored; that’s why they’ve been reused over the years. Now that superheroes have grown in popularity, so has the demand for more TV shows and crossover events.

The television world has seen far more success than film superheroes ever will. Here’s a chance to bring a lot of characters and ideas to the table that just wouldn’t cut it in a multi-million dollar movie. From Booster Gold, to the Injustice League, to maybe even a Squirrel Girl series, who knows what to expect for the future of comic book characters on TV.

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