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Thanks to the commercial and critical success of such series as Luke Cage and Supergirl, we’ll get to see more TV shows based on existing comic book properties in 2017 than ever before. With all the viewing options available, traditional TV networks seem to realize that simply putting superheroes on air isn’t enough to get fans to watch. As a result, this year’s slate of shows offer divergent takes on the genre that should intrigue a wide variety of viewers. Here are five comics to TV adaptations that we think will have people talking in 2017.
5. Iron Fist (Netflix)
The fourth series in Marvel’s mini television empire on Netflix, Iron Fist stars Finn Jones (Game of Thrones) as Danny Rand, an expert in the martial arts who wields a mystical power known as the Iron Fist. Within the pages of Marvel Comics, Iron Fist plays the El-P to Luke Cage’s Killer Mike with the two often teaming up as the Heroes for Hire. Incidentally, Fist and Cage will get a chance to join forces on the small screen as the two characters, along with Daredevil and Jessica Jones, will all appear in Marvel’s The Defenders series set to premiere in September 2017.
4. Black Lightning (Fox)
Of the five shows listed, Black Lightning is the one that’s on the least sure ground. As of this writing, a series starring the DC Comics hero hasn’t been confirmed. But with a pilot set to film in March that will be produced by Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl), there’s hope that the show will make it on the Fox schedule. Black Lightning also has an intriguing backstory–Olympic athlete turned high school teacher turned superhero–that would translate quite well to TV and would give audiences its second superhero series featuring an African American protagonist (with Luke Cage being the other).
3. Powerless (NBC)
Whereas most comic book based series focus on the guys and gals in tights, Powerless takes an interesting approach by featuring the non-powered characters behind the scenes. The series is ostensibly set in the DC Universe, with the workplace setting being Wayne Security (as in Bruce Wayne, aka Batman). The company specializes in products that protect the bystanders of super-powered battles, which should offer an intriguing comedic viewpoint on the genre. Audiences will also likely find a lot to like in the appealing Powerless cast, which includes Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical), Danny Pudi (Community), and Alan Tudyk (Firefly).
2. Cloak & Dagger (Freeform)
Technically, Cloak & Dagger won’t be airing until 2018 but since Freeform just confirmed the series was ordered to series, we thought we’d cheat and include it on this list. It was also announced this week that Aubrey Johnson (The Night Of) would play Tyrone Johnson, aka Cloak, and Olivia Holt (I Didn’t Do It) will portray Tandy Bowen, aka Dagger. The cult favorite Marvel Comics duo have all the ingredients for small-screen success, specifically an intriguing origin story as a pair of teenage runaways who gain their powers after being injected with street drugs. Also, you’re not likely to see many series that feature an African American male and Caucasian woman as its two leads, thus making Cloak & Dagger unique even in an increasingly diverse TV landscape.
1. Legion (FX)
Of all the superhero TV series listed, Legion is arguably the most unexpected. The character of Legion, aka David Haller, is a relatively minor X-Men villain with dissociative identity disorder, with each persona possessing a unique mutant power. He also happens to be the long-lost son of Charles Xavier, aka Professor X, although we doubt that Legion will ever feature an appearance by that quintessential X-Men character. In fact, judging from the trailers, the series seems to be fairly divorced from the typical superhero aesthetic. But Legion boasts an impressive pedigree, with Noah Hawley (Fargo) as show creator and producer and Dan Stevens (Downtown Abbey) as Legion. Legion also has Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) in a supporting role, so if nothing else that gives it a leg up on most TV shows in general, let alone superhero shows in particular.