What's in a Name - Marvel Super-Heroes vs Classic TV Shows
by Mark Juddery
With the success of the X-Men
and Spider-Man franchises, it seems that every second
Marvel Comics superhero has a film in planning stages.
However, Marvel's other superhero teams have a slight
hurdle: they share their names with another popular
Hollywood subject: fondly-remembered TV shows. Let's
tell them apart...
AVENGERS On television: Quirky series
from the sixties, in which the terribly British John
Steed (Patrick Macnee) and various offsiders, including
Cathy Gale (Honore Blackman) and Emma Peel (Diana Rigg),
battled various sci-fi goofballs. Best villains: the
Cybernauts, a bunch of homicidal robots. In
the comics: Superhero group, published since the
sixties, most often led by the proudly American Captain
America. Every Marvel superhero save the X-Men seems to
have been an Avenger at some time. Best villain: Ultron,
a homicidal robot.
Prospects: The comic book was
spun off into a popular animated TV series, but since
the awful 1998 movie (based on the TV show), the name
"Avengers" is probably box-office poison.
DEFENDERS On television: Riveting 1960s
courtroom drama, featuring a father-son defence team.
In the comics: Riveting 1970s
and 1980s superhero comic, featuring a bunch of guys who
would hang out together, fighting mainly supernatural
Prospects: Some of the
comic-book Defenders (including the Hulk and, coming
soon, the Sub-Mariner and the Silver Surfer) are already
movie heroes. If they are successful, a team-up is the
logical next step.
INVADERS On television: Maximum
paranoia, '60s style. David Vincent (Roy Thinnes) had to
run away from aliens who wanted to take over the world,
disguised as humans, while trying to warn a disbelieving
Earth population. In the comics: Marvel's
greatest heroes of World War II - namely Captain
America, the Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch.
While they were all popular back in the 1940s, they only
worked together in a nostalgic series, first published
in the seventies.
Prospects: How about a
crossover? Aliens invade Earth and battle superheroes
during World War II? Hey, it could work!
CHAMPIONS On television: Silly (but
fun) British superhero series of the sixties. In
the comics: Los Angeles-based superhero series of the
seventies. One of the first teams to be led by a woman
(the Black Widow, a defected Russian spy), along with
Ghost Rider, Iceman and others.
Prospects: Neither of them
lasted long. If a successful TV series (like The
Avengers) or comic book (like Captain America) can bomb
at the movies, who'd want to film one of these
television: The adventures of Sydney Bristow,
high-school student cum superspy. First shown in 2001;
In the comics: The adventures of
Jessica Jones, superhero cum detective. First published
in 2000; she retired in 2005.
Prospects: Either would make a
good starring role for Jennifer Garner. Time to get