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The Popularity of Superheroes on Our Screens

In the Last Five or So Years, Live Action Superhero Shows Have Become a Staple of Television

Superheroes have been popular for years. From the Greek myths of old to Superman debuting in 1938. The likes of Batman, Spider-Man the X-Men, Wonder Woman, the Hulk and many more have entertained readers. Over time we have seen these characters and other characters appear outside of the printed page and make their way onto our screens.

Film has long been home to such characters with 1978 being an important year. While serials and the like had been a thing before, this was when superheroes reached the big screen proper. “Superman” debuted in cinemas and was a massive success that would spawn follow ups. Despite this, there wouldn’t be a major superhero film until 1989. “Swamp Thing” and “Howard the Duck” were flops, but “Batman” in 1989 took the world by storm, which spun-off multiple sequels.

It looked like superhero films had dropped off from popularity as the 1990s went by, but “Blade” in 1998, then “X-Men” in 2000, followed by “Spider-Man” in 2002 revitalized things. This has led to superheroes dominating the cinema ever since, especially with the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with “Iron Man” in 2008. DC would follow suit in 2013 with “Man of Steel.”

Video games have been another home for superheroes for as long as there have been video games. Batman alone has appeared in various games over the past thirty years, with many different genres under his utility belt. There were classic side-scrolling beat ’em ups that tied in with the movies, 3D action with “Batman: The Rise on Sin Tzu” and in 2009 with “Batman: Arkham Asylum,” the first in the franchise that has gone on to earn millions. Some other types of game include “Batman: The Telltale Series,” which is an episodic story based game, a slot machine game based on the Dark Knight films from Lucky Nugget Casino and you can have fun building and battling in the “Lego Batman” games.

Live-action television of course has been showcasing the battles of good and evil between superheroes for many years. “Batman” from the 1960s starring Adam West and Burt Ward was a smash across the globe. “Wonder Woman” starring Lynda Carter and “The Incredible Hulk” with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno in the 1970s were also popular. There have been several Superman series over the years such as “Superboy,” “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” and “Smallville.”

In the last five or so years, live action superhero shows have become a staple of television. Starting with “Agents of SHIELD” in 2012, the floodgates have been opened, with interest and budgets allowing heroes and villains to thrive on the small screen. Marvel have had several hit programs through Netflix, these being “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist,” with the team-up series “The Defenders” airing in August of this year. The networks of Fox Television has started bringing the X-Men to TV with “Legion,” followed by “The Gifted,” which recently debuted.

DC has been no slouches either, with their own expanding TV universe. “Arrow” debuted in 2012 and “The Flash,” both on The CW, soon followed. These series, set in the same world were contrast with each other, giving audiences something different in each. “Supergirl” would be developed into her own show, first for CBS and now airing on The CW, and was folded into the “Arrow”-verse. The CW’s “Legends of Tomorrow” features several characters from the shows working together and cross over episodes are common. Sitcom “Powerless” and drama “Constantine,” both on NBC, were cancelled after one season based on DC properties, with the title characters of the former appearing in various other shows since.

Some more recent and upcoming superhero TV includes “Inhumans,” “The Punisher” and “Runaways” from Marvel and “Black Lighting” from DC, with many more too, showing you how much the public loves superhero. None of this even covers the dozens of animated programs we’ve seen aimed at children and adults that have been on our screens for decades. These characters and stories resonate and entertain us unlike any other and so will be appearing as long as there’s medium for them.

Long live the small screen superheroes!

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  1. Actually, there isn’t a single superhero show that have been popular or successful.

    Superheroes are popular with executives who seem to think that a few hundred fan boys (and girls) at Cons means that they’re surefire hits (or in the case of Disney, Bob Iger has to try and blow a smokescreen to cover the failure of his investment in Marvel…)

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