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Superhero TV Shows Dominating the Airwaves

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Practically every weekday fall night when you flip on your TV, a superhero-based show is airing. You try changing the channel to see what else is on, but you find another superhero based program on a different channel.  Whether you put on the CW, FOX, Syfy, ABC, FX, Hulu, or even Netflix, our television sources are being dominated by superhero TV.

For comic-book and superhero fans this is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it gives superhero lovers a platform for their imagination to be transformed into reality. Additionally, since there are so many shows out there, regular, non-comic book lover viewers can enjoy some entertaining and thrilling shows that transport them to a world where villains of society are stopped by some man or woman in a costume.

Senior comic book reader and present-day superhero TV watcher, 75-year-old Lawrence Perry remembers when the first comic books came out many years ago, and today his imagination has come alive with the advent of superhero television shows and movies over the decades. Perry read the original Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and Captain America comic books.

“I had all the first-edition comic books and I loved them,” Perry recalls. “I grew up reading comic books, but one day my father decided to throw out all my beloved comics, which currently would be worth thousands and thousands of dollars. I can still remember how livid and upset I was to this day. I now get my superhero fix by watching superhero shows and movies with my grandchildren.”

One of the major networks that seems utterly subjugated by superhero TV is the CW network. In the past few years, it seems that comic book based shows are on the CW almost every night. The real question is why? Why would a channel like the CW rid itself of typical teen drama shows such as The Vampire Diaries or Reign to make room for superhero programming? Well, it partially involves Smallville.

Smallville was a show about the early days of Clark Kent before he became Superman. The show ran from 2001-2011 first on WB, which later became the CW. The legendary superhero was played by Tom Welling who essentially grew up on the show, as the beginning of the series discussed Clark in high school going through the ordinary and not ordinary life of being a super teen. Towards the climax of the show, Clark faced renowned foes and met new allies, and he became ever so close to reaching his destiny. The positive response and huge fanbase of the show resulted in the CW creating a show loosely based on one of the positively-replied characters and allies that Clark fought alongside with. This gave us the hero, Green Arrow.

In 2012, the CW released the show, Arrow based on DC Comic’s Green Arrow. Arrow deals with a man named Oliver Queen, a former billionaire playboy who took his rich life for granted until he supposedly became stranded on an island for five years. He watched his own father die right in front of him. On the island, he learned to fend for himself, and when he was rescued five years later, he was a changed man.

He came back to his city and sought to hunt down the criminals who corrupted his home. He donned a dark green hood and became the vigilante, Arrow. During the early episodes of the series, he was vengeful and was willing to hurt immoral people if it meant stopping them. However, later in the show, he changed and became more of the hero comic book fans know as the Green Arrow. In October, Arrow will begin its sixth season on its new night, Thursdays at 9:00 p.m.

After two seasons of Arrow aired, the CW fashioned a spin-off show based on the iconic and well- known crime fighter, The Flash. This is show is about a young forensic scientist named Barry Allen who gets exposed to the effects of a newly turned on particle accelerator mixed in with a bunch of forensic chemicals, and by a lightning strike all at once. This gives him the power of super-speed along with some other cool abilities.

Friends become enemies and foes become allies in this twisted show that impresses both comic-book fans and viewers. The Flash is not a show that stands by itself in its own universe; in fact, The Flash, Arrow, and other superhero shows on the network such as Supergirl and DC’S Legends of Tomorrow exist in what fans know as the “Arrowverse.” This means that whatever happens in one show can affect what happens in the other. It’s like a complicated, interconnected web of plot twists and characters that all have something to do with one another. The shows occasionally have large crossovers, where characters from one show appear in another. This typically excites fans as they love to see their favorite characters unite in one epic crossover.

And if all these shows aren’t enough, the CW plans to unveil a new superhero show titled, Black Lightning, which will be the CW’s first African-American main lead hero. Black Lightning will air sometime in 2018 during the winter lineup. It is obviously noted that the CW is making quite a hefty sum of cash by these shows and by making more of them, it stands to make even more money. The CW fundamentally took out all their low grossing shows and replaced them with higher appeal and moneymaking shows, most of which being associated with DC Entertainment.

Even Netflix is getting in on the action. In 2015, Marvel and Netflix combined forces to produce Daredevil, a series about a blind lawyer with super-hearing and excellent fighting reflexes who decides to suit up and fight the criminals wreaking havoc in Hell’s Kitchen, New York.  Daredevil was followed by Jessica Jones, a show about a former superhero who decides to rebuild her life by becoming a private investigator while occasionally protecting those who need her help.

Later on, Netflix released Luke Cage, which was about a black superhero with invincible skin who resolves to combatting the evils of Harlem, New York. After the success of all three shows, Netflix issued a fourth series called Iron Fist, which mostly failed to meet fans’ expectations. On August 18, 2017, Netflix came up with a show that combined all four shows as one: The Defenders. Despite some positive reviews from critics, it seems that The Defenders is the least viewed out of the four shows.

The recent superhero shows certainly take a darker and more grim side of crime fighting, as all the shows are rated for mature audiences. These shows are all connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe which means that they take place in the same universe as the Marvel made movies like The Avengers or Iron Man. What doesn’t make sense is why less and less people are tuning in on Marvel’s Netflix series. It’s not as if people have decided to stop watching superhero TV, so what is it? We’ll find out when Marvel’s new Netflix show, The Punisher hits the small red and white screen sometime this year.

ABC already has been airing Marvel’s Agents of Shield, a show set after the first Avengers movie in 2013. The S.H.I.E.L.D agents are sent to find and deal with foes that threaten the world. As the show progresses, new more dangerous and weird villains pop up, and it is up to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D to stop them. Recently, Marvel came up with Inhumans, a show that was released originally in IMAX theaters, but it was not very successful. The show, which premiered on ABC on Sept. 29, but with low ratings, it is unlikely it will last very long.

There are also a few scattered superhero-based shows on other channels. One channel, for instance, is FOX which starting in the fall will be home to three comic-book based programs, Gotham, Lucifer, and The Gifted. What is interesting is that these shows are not all made by the same people. Gotham and Lucifer are based on DC Comics and The Gifted is based on Marvel Comics’ X-Men series. These shows are not like the typical superhero programming; they are gloomier and do not necessarily have the traditional traits of heroism in them.

Other channels characteristically not known for producing superhero TV are trying to get their cut of this crazy, moneymaking business. Amazon released a comedy-superhero series last year titled The Tick, which is a comical spoof on superheroes about an accountant who meets a blue-costumed superhero, The Tick. On Nov. 21, 2017, Hulu will premiere a new show called Marvel’s Runaways, a show that follows the lives of a group of teenagers who find out that their parents are part of evil organization of villains. The teens unite to stop this organization from doing harm to the world. Additionally, Disney’s teen channel Freeform will release two superhero shows in 2018: Cloak and Dagger and Marvel’s New Warriors. Both shows will be directed at an adolescent age group.

All in all, the entertainment business is being dictated by superhero TV. With new advances in technology, pictures from the comic book pages come to life in a whole new way. As comic books progressed, animation got better and better, characters got more personalized, and history repeats itself for superhero programs today. Lawrence claims, “Back when I read comic books, the superheroes didn’t have much of a personality, except for just being heroic and saving the day. The shows now exemplify individual characters’ traits and prove that there is a real man behind the mask.”

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Superhero TV Shows Dominating the Airwaves