Marvel TV: The Lost Shows We Never Got to See
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has long reigned as a titan of the entertainment industry. While their cinematic exploits have entranced millions, the small screen side of things has had its fair share of hits, misses, and ‘what could have been’ moments. With characters like Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four leading the charge in the early days, Marvel sought to bring its intricate world to life in various formats. In the labyrinth of development, some truly exciting TV projects never saw the light of day. Here, we delve deep into these captivating tales of the Marvel TV universe that remained confined to paper.
The Pioneering Attempts
The 1960s saw Marvel’s ascension as one of the leading comic publishers, driven by innovative characters that pushed the envelope. On the television front, early animations like The Marvel Superheroes, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man, served as a precursor to the later live-action adaptations. 1977 brought Spider-Man and the more successful The Incredible Hulk to TV screens. Decades later, MCU’s TV adaptations would range from Agents of SHIELD to the grittier Daredevil.
Namor’s Lost Voyage
In the 1950s, Martin Goodman, Marvel’s publisher, envisioned bringing Namor, the Sub-Mariner, to television screens. This ambition was perhaps fueled by the immense popularity of the Adventures of Superman. Aiming to bring back the submerged hero with actor Richard Egan at the helm, this venture unfortunately sank before it could set sail. However, Namor would resurface in the Fantastic Four comics in the 1960s, ensuring his legacy lived on.
Mysteries of the Unaired
- Daredevil and Black Widow’s Double Act: Angela Bowie’s portrayal alongside Black Widow hinted at another layer of the Marvel universe. But it remained an unexplored chapter.
- The Amazing Spider-Man’s Black Suit Revival: Nicholas Hammond’s Spider-Man was slated for a 1984 comeback, donning the iconic black symbiote suit. A proposed crossover featuring David Banner and The Hulk sounded promising but eventually got caught in the web of scheduling conflicts.
- Dr. Strange’s Unfortunate Reception: Despite getting a nod of approval from the stringent Stan Lee, the 1978 Dr. Strange movie couldn’t convert its magic into a TV spinoff, thanks to critical reviews and dwindling ratings.
Possible Universe-al Spinoffs
Marvel hinted at its shared universe much before the MCU’s grand orchestration. Hulk’s 1988 film, The Incredible Hulk Returns, paraded Thor with hopes of a TV series spinoff, and the 1989 edition introduced Daredevil with similar intentions. But like many of their peers, they remained in development limbo.
Animation Hopes and Disappointments
Captain America’s nearly greenlit animated series promised to be a tour-de-force, potentially standing shoulder-to-shoulder with iconic shows like X-Men and Spider-Man. Yet, the shield-wielding hero’s solo outing was abruptly halted due to Marvel’s fiscal challenges.
The Modern TV Wonders That Could Have Been
- Daughters of the Dragon: A potential early 2000s series focusing on Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, albeit with some character modifications. Though it wasn’t realized then, the duo made their mark in the MCU’s Netflix shows, keeping hope alive for a possible series down the line.
- New Warriors’ Comedy Respite: A comedic rendition of the New Warriors team seemed on the horizon, complete with a cast and pilot. Sadly, broadcaster issues led to its shelving.
- Marvel Era’s Animated Tribute: Intended as a celebration of Marvel’s 75th anniversary in 2014, this show promised vignettes across distinct decades and styles, only to be dropped amid management overhauls at Marvel.
- Damage Control’s Cleanup Operations: This series set in the MCU would delve into the behind-the-scenes cleanup post-superhero showdowns. While introduced in films like Spider-Man: Homecoming, the show’s concept was ultimately side-stepped for a different take in the cinematic outings.
Marvel’s foray into TV has seen a tapestry of successes, ambitious attempts, and missed opportunities. While the world got a taste of some legendary characters and tales, the chronicles of these unaired projects add another layer to Marvel’s rich legacy.