As someone who grew up on comic books, the day and age in which we live always makes me smile. To see everyone from Captain America to Wonder Woman recreated, and recreated well, on the big screen is fantastic! I love it! As a kid, the television adaptation of Wonder Woman was only good because Lynda Carter had the God-given ability to pull boys through puberty just by showing up. I watched her faithfully. As a result, I’m no longer in puberty.
I also remember the night when a commercial came on saying that Captain America was going to be the CBS Movie of the Week! I geeked out. I made plans to be home and watch that epic show. My favorite comic book character was going to come to life! Dear Lord, that proved false. That horrible show, starring Reb Brown, got everything wrong. The origin was wrong. The back story was wrong. The costume was wrong. The shield was plastic. You could see it wave in the wind, for goodness sakes. He "threw" his motorcycle over a wall. The wires were quite visible. It took me 2 minutes to just be totally pissed off about how wrong it was. Thankfully, today we have corrected many of those errors.
To that end, I have been watching a couple of new “super” shows recently: Marvel’s The Inhumans on ABC and Fox’s The Gifted. These are two shows that have gone two different directions. I want to share my thoughts on them and will do my best to avoid any spoilers.
The Inhumans seems to be banking on old comic aficionados like me to keep their show on the air. They start, seemingly assuming that we know Black Bolt, Medusa, Karnak and the others and that we are desperate to just watch them on screen. The action is slow and methodical. The characters are underdeveloped. Crystal’s hair is the same as the comics with those weird black markings. Only on the show, they look like someone used a can of spray paint to tag her with them. The main plot line so far is a coup. I kind of hoped that the coup would quickly be successful, so this show could be put down. But even that is about as fast paced as a tortoise. Maybe, like the tortoise, it will wind up winning. But for now, that seems highly unlikely. Thank God for Lockjaw. He’s the best part of the show and he’s rarely “on camera.”
And then there is The Gifted. Fox has done a spectacular job with this show. It has several marginal mutants that only those versed in the comics culture would recognize. Fox was smart enough to keep marginal characters marginalized. They made a family who is struggling through the revelation that their children are mutants in a post X-Men/Brotherhood of Evil Mutants world the focus of the show. It took about ten minutes to care about what happens to the Strucker family. It took a couple of episodes for me to start caring about Thunderbird, Polaris, and Blink. Their struggle makes me want the world to be a safe place for both humans and mutants. The interpersonal relationships between the characters, the staunch need to hate the mutants by society and the discovery and mastery of mutant powers are all on point. I care about what happens on this show.
The story telling on The Gifted is infinitely better than The Inhumans.
Stop and think about the television shows, movies, and comics you love best. What is your connection? Good story telling. For the most part, The Inhumans have been telling what had the potential to be a very good story in Ben Stein’s Ferris Beuller’s Day Off voice. The Gifted has been telling an exciting, passionate story since the opening credits. In the end, good story telling is all that matters to a great show.
Unless you have 25 year old Lynda Carter.