It looks like Netflix went two for two with their Marvel TV shows, with the first seasons of both Daredevil (Metacritic rating 75) and Jessica Jones (Metacritic rating 81) getting positive reviews. Even with two more shows set to be released and a second season of Daredevil already being filmed, I bet it’s safe to expect more Netflix shows to come based on Marvel characters.
I’ve already seen talks of a possible Punisher spin-off, but rather than go a similar route and choose another street level hero like the rest of the Defenders (Marvel’s got loads of them – heroes like Moon Knight) I want Netflix to take a totally different direction and look at another property that fits their gritty and realistic take on superheroes: Supreme Power.
Cover of Supreme Power #1.
Way back in 1969, Marvel created a supervillain team known as the Squadron Sinister, which were essentially copies of four of the most popular DC/Justice League heroes. It was a cheap and quick way of doing an Avengers/Justice League crossover wherein the Avengers would emerge as the victors. I guess the characters were popular enough for Marvel to create a heroic version of this team called the Squadron Supreme, which in turn were popular enough to be granted their own 12-issue limited series that ran from 1985-1986.
The Squadron Sinister, Marvel’s versions of Superman, Flash, Green Lantern and Batman.
Supreme Power was a monthly comic book title written by J. Michael Straczynski (who was also behind the Babylon 5 TV show) and published by Marvel Comics under their Marvel MAX imprint from 2003 to 2005. This title featured alternate versions of these same characters, placing them in a universe that closely mirrors the real world. The realism of this series is, in my opinion, perfect for Netflix, and I’ll talk about some examples of this. SPOILER ALERT for those who may want to dig up back issues or TPBs of Supreme Power.
Let’s start off my examples with Hyperion, one of Marvel’s Superman knock-offs. Straczynski’s Supreme Power revolved largely around the character of Mark Milton, an extra terrestial who, like Kal-El/Clark Kent, was sent to Earth in an escape pod as an infant. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Kal-El was real and he was sent to our Earth, Supreme Power offers a good answer: Rather than being raised by the Kents, the U.S. government immediately took the alien infant into custody and raised him in a controlled environment complete with undercover agents posing as his parents. That’s quite realistic, right? For the government of a world superpower to be immediately on top of the crash of a mysterious foreign object?
Mark Milton, AKA Hyperion, Supreme Power’s version of Superman.
This realism extends to what is shown as Mark grows up. What could go wrong with a child who has the powers of Superman? What would be the realistic reaction of foster parents to seeing their adopted son accidentally incinerate their pet? These are touched on briefly in the first few issues of Supreme Power, but the meat of Mark Milton’s story in that series centers on his relationship with the U.S. government after he’s grown up. How would a man such as Hyperion act after discovering what the government was up to and what their plans are for him? And how would the government act once they realize that their soldier/weapon isn’t as loyal to them as they would like him to be?
An important event in the comic book series that would translate well on television is when Hyperion and other heroes battled their first real supervillain. This battle was intense and in my opinion, shows what could really happen if someone truly evil was trying to avoid capture – I don’t want to spoil any further details about this moment for those interested enough to pick up the comic book series.
Cover of Squadron Supreme # 1 (Volume 2), featuring the rest of the “heroes” of the Supreme Power universe.
Speaking of other heroes, another reason why I think Supreme Power is a good franchise for a Netflix TV series is because they’ve got other heroes that can spin off of Hyperion’s story. We have Nighthawk (Batman), a racist billionaire who is only concerned with crimes committed against African Americans; the Blur (Flash), a young man who initially decides to use his newfound powers for personal gain in a legitimate gain; the batshit-crazy woman known only as Zarda (Wonder Woman); and Doctor Spectrum (Green Lantern), a military special operative who is granted special powers by a prism-like jewel.
Finally, the Supreme Power universe has enough material to set the foundations for a solid TV series, but not a lot of it that would tie potential showrunners down with all the continuity that they need to follow. You see, Supreme Power lasted for 18 issues under the Marvel MAX imprint and was moved to the mainstream Marvel brand after as a new title called Squadron Supreme. I’m not sure what happened behind the scenes, but Straczynski stepped down soon after and left the series on a cliffhanger.
I loved this series a lot when it was still being published and I really think that it’s fits today’s world of television serials. To be frank, I also think it’s a legitimate way for Marvel to steal a little of DC’s Justice League thunder – producing a TV show is much faster than a movie so if this happens soon enough, a Supreme Power TV show could very well be streaming before the first Justice League trailer is even released.
Even if this doesn’t happen, I strongly recommend the Supreme Power series to anyone who likes the darker and more realistic approach that Netflix took with Marvel’s superheroes.
Are you familiar with Supreme Power? Do you have other suggestions for a Marvel/Netflix series? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment or two below!