One of the things about comic books that makes them so addictive is that most of them, like TV, are produced to fill a short period of time on a regular schedule.
That is what makes so many comic book films fall flat: trying to adapt an ongoing, serialized world into the relatively small box that is a 70-to-180-minute feature film, and failing to carry over many of the elements that define the property in the eyes of fans.
Audiences have already figured this out, with some gravitating more toward The CW's DC shows and Marvel's Netflix series than the feature films put out by their respective companies. But the gold standard still remains making a good, feature film.
Sometimes, though, the movie doesn't work the way you had hoped, or even if it does, it doesn't hold up to scrutiny or sequels. Why? Well, often it's something that could be worked out in the longer-form storytelling of TV.
Big Hero 6, Watchmen, Snowpiercer, and more have already come to their senses and started developing TV counterparts. What's next?
...Well, we've got a few ideas if you want.
(Apologies for the lack of Marvel entries on this list; for the most part, they have not made movies that would be materially improved by a TV adaptation, and most of the ones that would count, have already made their way to TV.
The world of Tank Girl is a wild, bizarre, stylized, sexy, violent world -- and the movie that came out remains one of those films that is somewhat hurt by being too loyal to the source material in ways that made no sense to casual fans, and not loyal enough in ways that the hardcore audience would have appreciated.
A lot of the film's shortcomings boiled down to trying to do too much stuff -- worldbuilding, design, exposition, whatever -- in too little time, with too little money.
It's the same problem Watchmen had, to an extent, and as we noted above, HBO has already seen the wisdom in giving Watchmen another, longer swing.prevnext
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
While Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is considered one of Warner Bros. Animation's best DC movies and likely one of the better all-around experiences on this list, hear us out.
In the comics, Geoff Johns and company had dozens of issues to flesh out the world of Flashpoint and, as one of DC's more interesting Elseworlds spaces in quite some time, it still felt like it did not get all of the exploration it could have.
Double, triple, multiply that by a factor of ten for the movie version, which had to only wink and nod at high concepts that the comics at least had an issue to explore, and to mention in passing characters who appeared in one or more comics.
An exploration of the world of Flashpoint might be finite by design -- but there is nothing wrong with TV which is finite by design, and there is enough mythology to explore and deepen the world if the audience was there for it.
Toss this one on the DC Universe app alongside the planned Harley Quinn series and you've got a small block of animation for adults ready to roll.prevnext
Since we lost Chuck, there has been a pretty serious lack of spy TV with humor and humanity -- and Kingsman feels like a property that could fill the gap.
Like most spy thrillers, the world-building is done for you, so you don't even have to recast your main leads from the movies; just shift focus to other spies existing in the same space.
While the first Kingsman movie was great, and a hit, the second was neither, and there is not much inherent to the idea that demands a feature-film budget or production schedule. Making a Kingsman show should really be fairly little different to making something like Chuck or maybe 24.
The idea of satellite/affiliate branches like we saw in the second film, and of bigger, more elaborate conspiracies to unwind and stop, could make this an easy transition to the small screen.prevnext
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Look, we did not say every entry on this list was going to be a movie people didn't like. In fact, most of them are pretty popular.
We say this because with a film that has a hardcore cult following like Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, saying something like "it would have worked better as a TV show" is bound to raise some hackles among people used to defending the movie, which earned great reviews but little money at the box office.
It's an understandable impulse, but as with most of the films on this list, the reality is not that we are saying there is anything wrong with the movie -- just that if it was given more time, space, real estate, and a broader mandate, it would have had more time to really stretch its legs.
Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim graphic novels have a very particular sensibility to them, and in a lot of ways, that did not come through in the film becuase in order to cram in all of the evil exes and all of the plot, it relied on a manic energy that plowed on through to the other side.prevnext
Why? Well, in part -- because it's entirely character-driven.
Ghost World -- both the comic and the film -- are largely situational. You could drop Enid and Rebecca into more or less any situation and get a good story, some good humor, and some interesting moments out of it.
The film's exact sensibilities might be hard to recreate -- after all, Terry Zwigoff is an auteur -- but the premise is similar to Clerks, which has proven an elastic property whenever Kevin Smith has decided to radically reinvent it.prevnext
There is nothing to say a good Western movie cannot be made. Obviously that is far from true.
That said, Warner Bros. sees Jonah Hex as a DC property with Western trappings, meaning that it is unlikely we will ever get a straightforward Western movie about the scarred bounty hunter.
A TV series, though? There could be promise there.
Even if it didn't spin out of the Arrowverse (which, given how good Johnathon Schaech is in the role, would be a waste), a mature-audiences Jonah Hex series that follows the gunfighter from town to town doing one-and-done stories with maybe an over-arching connective tissue could prove as effective on TV as it did in the classic comics.prevnext
One of the most beloved comic strips of all time, and a cool, experimental comic book in many forms, became one of the most widely-derided comic book movies ever.
How? Well, mostly because Frank Miller -- a personal friend of The Spirit creator Will Eisner, even if the pair rarely agreed on anything in terms of craft -- took hold of one of Eisner's most personal projects and ran it in the other direction, making it a strange clone of Sin City, Miller's successful movie based on his own comics.
The movie itself was bafflingly awful, which begs for a reboot, but going to TV in particular would be a solid idea given the nature of a comic built on a history of strips: The Spirit often fought evil in short bursts punctuated by the occasional longer arc to tie things together.
A movie that, in hindsight, features a muderer's row of superstar talent about five years before most of them broke, The Losers is far from a bad movie -- but it spent most of its time setting up the world and the premise, seemingly sure of its own prospects for a sequel that never came.
Like many of the properties on this list, making an adventure/military show is not extremely expensive, and its potential for broad appeal speaks for itself.
Peppering that military unit with a colorful cast of characters who pushes it into M*A*S*H/Scrubs territory should be enough to make it feel different from the dozens of similar properties out there.prevnext
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Another Alan Moore property.
This one kind of speaks for itself. Like Sin City or Hellboy, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen have starred in what amount to an ongoing series of miniseries.
That lends itself perfectly to TV's format of seasons: resolve one miniseries worth of story in a season and then move onto the next.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen also starts with a leg up on other similar properties because using public domin characters who are instantly recognizable to most literate audiences means Moore has built a familiar franchise even to people who have never heard the words "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen."
Which, if the box office on the movie version is any indication, is almost everyone.prevnext
At one point, Lionsgate was talking about making a RED TV show, along with series based on The Expendables and Twilight, in order to keep intellectual property alive after it had seemingly run its course in theaters.
While that sounds incredibly crass and likely to result in some terrible TV, we have to admit that the prospect of adapting RED -- a film about a retired secret agent who is forced to return to action fighting against a faction within his own previous employer -- into an ongoing series feels like an easy, almost obvious, transition.prev