In the past couple of weeks, especially since CW Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff confirmed that the network has "started to talk about if there are other DC comic book adaptations" that could be done, fan speculation has gone into overdrive over what could be the next Smallville. Some suggestions have been fantastic; others have left me scratching my head. (Catwoman as Mr. Miracle as spin-offs from Smallville?Really?)
In the past, I've listed DC and Marvel properties I think that could work on TV, but this time, I'm going to limit my focus to eleven properties that I think could work really well using Smallville as a springboard. The qualifications are that these are either characters that have already appeared on the show, or are at least characters that could easily exist in the Smallville "universe." I'm not ready for the franchise to end either, so I'd gladly welcome any of these projects. I'll also list why these might or might not do well.
Keep in mind there may be Smallville Season 10 spoilers within.
And here they go, in no particular order:
1. The Blue Beetle
Why It Could Work: This seems to be one that Geoff Johns is big on, going so far as to have test footage done. Johns is bringing this character in as well as Booster Gold for an episode to air at some point in the upcoming Smallville season. As a bonus, the Jaime Reyes character has a fantastic ready-made supporting cast in his family; the diversity in Jaime's background might appeal to a group that is largely under-represented on network television. The history of the character, dating back over 60 years, could give the show an instant mythology. Throw in the kids who know the Blue Beetle from Batman: The Brave And The Bold and you could have a hit. After years of a costume-less hero on The CW, having a costumed hero might be something very cool for them. Why It Might Not: The effects to transform the Beetle every week could get expensive, and some people might even make unfavorable comparisons to The Tick. Bonus: If Geoff Johns is involved, or co-creator Keith Giffen, it'd be even more memorable for TV. Comic writer and current Leverage producer John Rogers also deserves a comic booky TV project at some point after Global Frequency never happened; it's probable that he'd be too busy with Leverage, but it still would be a treat.
2. The Justice League (though you can give it another name if you must)
Why It Could Work: Two of the best additions to Smallville over the years have been Justin Hartley as the Green Arrow and Phil Morris as John Jones. Get them, and any assortment of heroes that have come and gone for the show over the years, and bam, there's an instant show. The cast could rotate based on availability of actors. I'd love to see characters such as Bart Allen/Impulse, Carter Hall/Hawkman, AC Curry/Aquaman, Zatanna, Black Canary, Cyborg, even the Wonder Twins rotate in and out. It'd make a great show. Why It Might Not: People might view it as a poor substitute if conveniently Superman is never available to appear. Also, The CW could have/should have jumped on this idea years ago, when "Justice" got record ratings for the network. Would they even try now? The "Justice League" name might be a non-starter too, as inevitably DC will want to bring in the League to fend off the Avengers. Bonus: So many characters are already cast, and a rotating team could allow to bring even more characters to the DC TV universe.
Why It Could Work: Before seeing the title of Episode #10.5, I didn't even think this would be a possibility; I also assumed that the TV rights for Isis belonged to Lou Scheimer's company or something. (Maybe they do, and the conclusions made about an "Isis" episode are just those.. conclusions). If Isis is indeed a DC character ripe for TV, it's a perfect opportunity - a heroine young female viewers could identify with, right up The CW's target demographic, but with a superhero angle and an attractive lead that male viewers could latch on to. If you can't have Wonder Woman, this could be the next best thing. Why It Might Not: Maybe this is one TV heroine DC/Warner Bros. might not have the rights to do more with. And I still have this fear Smallville's "Isis" episode might just be "Lois gets super powers," instead of introducing a new heroine into the world. Bonus: Actor cameos from the original Secrets of Isis would work great for Sweeps!
4. Captain Marvel/Shazam!
Why It Could Work: A movie project for Captain Marvel hasn't really panned out, and this character once eclipsed Superman in popularity in the 1950's. Get a young teen heartthrob to play Billy Batson (please no Justin Bieber, but you get the idea) and you're set. Why It Might Not: Maybe I watched too much Andy Griffith Show growing up, but I think the word "Shazam!" is stupid and makes me think of Gomer Pyle. They seriously need to rethink what to call such a project if it ever were to happen. Plus, we already sort of got the whole Captain Marvel thing with the Smallville episode "Warrior." Bonus: Getting a Captain Marvel/Shazam! TV series off the ground sooner rather than later might be a good thing, in case Marvel is planning on doing something similar to exploit their newly-acquired but similar Marvelman property.
5. Green Arrow
Why It Could Work: Okay, I already suggested the idea of Green Arrow as part of a team in a show, but if that's not good enough, why not spin off Justin Hartley into his own series about Oliver Queen? Past inconsistencies with the character could be solved, and I know Hartley could carry a show if it was his own, and not just "Green Arrow starring in Smallville" which has unfortunately happened a few times. Why It Might Not: "Chlollie" fans might wonder where Allison Mack is, and might be infuriated if/when the Black Canary would make an inevitable appearance. Bonus: Maybe Tess Mercer could make the leap onto a Green Arrow show too...
6. The Suicide Squad
Why It Could Work: A superpowered "Dirty Dozen" of former villains, could do for the comic book genre what The A-Team did for mercenaries in the 1980's. And these characters are showing up on Smallville soon. Why It Might Not: It might not hit The CW's target demographics. And if the casting for Rick Flag, Deadshot, and company doesn't turn out too well, there might not be much interest. Finally, the title might be a bit too depressing... though that is kind of the point. Bonus: Tess Mercer would fit in well in this environment, too.
7. Justice League International
Why It Could Work: Booster Gold is showing up on Smallville this season. If the right actor comes along, people might want to see more, and a series based on the "sillier" Justice League might be just what the doctor ordered. The recent Justice League: Generation Lost comic book series, featuring most of this incarnation of the team, has been better than the main Justice League comic book lately. Why It Might Not: I'm going to just be blunt and say this. As much as I liked Gil Bellows in Ally McBeal, he was a miscast, humorless Maxwell Lord. Not what I expected from the character at ALL. If he can be retconned as "not the real Maxwell Lord" and be replaced by an actor who can do the evil kind of funny, then great. Also, CBS tried to do a semi-humorous Justice League years ago, and the pilot was so bad it never aired on television in the United States. Finally, the idea of a Justice League International TV series without Guy Gardner (who is surely wrapped up in Green Lantern movies) would be a whole lot less fun. Bonus: If No Ordinary Family and The Cape are hits, there's going to be an interest in more light-hearted superhero TV drama, and this one's ready made.
Why It Could Work: Everyone loved Laura Vandervoort when she first came in as Kara. "Bloodline" had one of the highest ratings of Season 8, and now she's returning again for a Season 10 episode. Laura is definitely a star who could headline her own show, with that right mix being attractive without being off-putting to female audiences. Why It Might Not: For starters, Laura Vandervoort is busy starring as Lisa in ABC's V. There's also the matter of the Kara character possibly being unrelatable, unless a complete reboot is done to her to make her less alien. We'd definitely need some kind of a different angle so it's not just "Smallville with a girl," and there'd have to be some kind of excuse for why she's not flying around every week, because that would get expensive. Still, there's that connection to Smallville and the Superman lore that might be appealing as its own show. Bonus: A Supergirl spin-off series would only work if cousin Clark came in for occasional appearances. Hopefully Mr. Welling would be up for it.
And three we'll probably never get, because of movies, but I'm throwing them out there anyway...
9. The Flash
Why It Might Work: The Flash is one of the ultimate legacy characters of the DC Universe. Not only is there Smallville's Bart; there's also Barry Allen (who could just now be becoming the Flash), or Wally West, who is my own personal favorite Flash. Exploring that legacy on a weekly television series would be far more interesting to me than seeing it in just a two-hour movie. Why It Might Not: The DC movie people seem to want to keep this one on the big screen. Which is sad, because I think it's a big enough name that it would be a quick hit for television. Bonus: Get John Wesley Shipp to star as Jay Garrick and it'd get even better. The Flash has a fantastic rogue's gallery and supporting cast as well, so they'd translate fantastically to television.
10. Wonder Woman
Why It Might Work: Years of trying to make a movie, and there's still nothing. People of all ages know who Wonder Woman is and if cast well, people would flock to it. WW is right up there with Superman and Batman on the popularity list. And you can't get much more "butt-kicking female" than Wonder Woman. Why It Might Not: Movie people, again. And if anyone was cast but Bridget Regan from Legend of the Seeker, I'd be very disappointed. (To your right you can see how "Kaliweir" envisioned a Bridget Regan Wonder Woman... Perfect, right?) Bonus: Joss Whedon was at one point attached to do a Wonder Woman movie; once he's done with The Avengers, maybe he'd want to helm a TV show again?
11. Young Bruce Wayne
Why It Might Work: Yeah, I said it. Arguably, there is only one DC character who would make as much of an impact with a prequel series as Superman has with Smallville, and that is Bruce Wayne, aka Batman. Have him appear first in Smallville, or dust off the Tim McCanlies series bible from years ago, and DC characters could be on TV for another decade. (Despite the image used to go with this, I would imagine Bruce Wayne in a series would be Clark's age) Why It Might Not: Warner Bros. (or more specifically, Chris Nolan's camp) seems to think that a movie and television franchise can't exist at the same time. Which never stopped Smallville from co-existing with Superman Returns, and never stopped Batman himself from having various different animated, comic book, and video game projects running concurrently with the movie stuff. TV viewers aren't stupid; we know the movies and the TV aren't the same thing, and it's really disappointing that one division of the company can put a block to another like that. And hey, it's not as though another Batman movie will be out for another 2 or 3 years anyway, though when it is, I'm sure it'll be something fantastic, don't get me wrong. Bonus: After ten seasons, to see Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne meeting would be one of those great moments we've waited years to see happening.
Not on this list, though I'd like to put them out there, would be The Phantom Stranger, Deadman, Dr. Thirteen: Ghost Breaker, Adam Strange, the Teen Titans, Warlord, The Legion of Super-Heroes, and Rip Hunter: Time Master. Not sure if any of those characters would work in a Smallville episode to launch from, but I'm just throwing them into the hat.
Hopefully we'll have some good news about a spin-off happening while Smallville is still on the air, so we have something to look forward to weekly starting Fall 2011. Thanks for reading! If you want to leave feedback you can find me here.