26 August 2011

Will Deadman be DOA on the CW?

In what has become an annual tradition, the CW has announced development of a series based on a DC Comics superhero.  As first reported by Deadline, Supernatural’s Eric Kripke has been charged with producing the hourlong live-action drama based on the character Deadman.  First appearing in 1967 in the pages of Strange Adventures #205, circus acrobat Boston Brand became Deadman after being murdered during a trapeze performance. In order to obtain justice his spirit was granted the ability possess the living and to correct wrongdoings while tracking down his killer.

Although Deadman is not yet a household name, he did gain some notoriety during a pair of animated appearances in the Justice League Unlimited episode “Dead Reckoning” as well as in Batman: The Brave and the Bold’s “Dawn of the Deadman!” This is also not the first attempt at propelling Brand into the live action arena. According to Variety, in 2000 TNT put Deadman on the fast track for development.  That project hit a dead end as did plans for a “Crow-esque” Guillermo del Toro produced feature film based In the character in 2009. Deadman was also a central character is DC Comic's recent Brightest Day storyline and is set to be a star in the forthcoming Justice League Dark.

One element that may have turned executives’ attention toward Deadman are its ties to the circus. Over the past several years TV execs seem to have had a fascination for superhero carnies. In 2008, Variety reported the development of a potential Smallville replacement for the CW  based on the pre-Robin days of Dick Grayson. The series pitch had a young “DJ” Grayson facing challenges including “first loves, young rivals, and his family.“ The project did not make it beyond the script stage. In 2009, grasping for fresh ideas the fourth and final season of Heroes involved a travelling carnival comprised of “freaks with extraordinary abilities.” In 2010, it was the short-lived series The Cape which had the hero taking refuge among a gang of circus performers with questionable morals. Whether Deadman’s carnie roots prove a boon or a bust remains to be seen. 

On the other hand, DC Comics superheroes have had a difficult time making it to the small screen. Since 2000, Just two series have actually made it into full production, Smallville in 2001 which ran for 10 seasons, and Birds of Prey in 2002 which lasted just 13 episodes. Over that same period Aquaman (AKA Mercy Reef) in 2006 and Wonder Woman in 2001 scored pilots, but neither series was picked up. Other project that never made it beyond the script stage include a series based on a young Bruce Wayne,  from which the idea for Smallville sprang in 2000 and Starman in 2002. As mentioned earlier, plans for The Graysons crumbled in 2008, test footage for a Blue Beetle series leaked and plans for a Raven series based on the Teen Titan were announced in 2010. Although less concrete, rumors for Green Arrow, Supergirl, and Justice League spin-offs  also persisted after welcome receptions by the respective characters on Smallville. 

Lastly, let us not forget that Kripke himself, up until the Deadman announcement, was attached to the development of The Sandman based on the character from DC's Vertigo imprint. Do you think Deadmad has a ghost of a chance of getting made? Is this a good choice for a TV series? Make sure to leave your comments below.


  1. It won't happen. It could be fun, though, with a 'Quantum leap' meets comic book superheroes vibe.

  2. Anyone who thinks this will fail didn't watch Seasons 1-5 of Supernatural. Eric Kripke knows how to write this stuff.

  3. No question it could be good. And I sure wouldn't even mind a new Quantum Leap-esque series, the question is if the project can gain any traction. I have my fingers crossed.