Today, not only are high-quality superhero movies being produced, but Arrow and The Flash prove tip-tier superhero television shows are feasible, too. However, like superhero movies, superhero TV shows haven’t always had success.
There have been many attempts over the years to bring original or classic superheroes to the small screen, but only recently have some found success. Many superhero shows fail to connect with audiences because of the writing or because TV’s lower budgets can affect the show’s production value and overall quality. These factors ultimately lead to cancellations.
By 2011, the superhero movie craze was in full swing so NBC decided to capitalize on it with their original character The Cape. On the show, a police officer is left for dead and is given a special cape that he can use to simulate superhuman abilities and fight crime as The Cape; the name comes his son’s favorite comic book character.
Unfortunately, superheroes not based on any pre-existing material are a risk and the show failed to draw an audience. NBC reduced the number of episodes and finally cancelled the show, airing the final episode on their website instead of on television. However, the show became notable because it would often be mentioned on Community where Abed expresses his love for The Cape and disappointment over its cancellation.
On the heels of the unsuccessful sequel RoboCop 3, original RoboCop screenwriters Edward Neumeier and Michael Milner brought RoboCop: The Series to television. Being that it’s on TV, it lacked the first two films’ graphic violence and instead followed the PG-13 tone of the 3rd movie.
The pilot was a TV movie that utilized an unused script for RoboCop 2. Original actor Peter Weller was even in discussion to return to the role but ultimately didn’t and Richard Eden took the part. Unfortunately, RoboCop was a very expensive show to produce and the ratings didn’t justify making such a costly show; so it was cancelled after only one season.
Night Man was a television show based on the Malibu Comics character of the same name. Malibu Comics was eventually purchased by Marvel Comics so he’s technically a Marvel superhero. Matt McColm played saxophonist Johnny Domingo, who gets struck by lightning that makes him a permanent insomniac but gives him the ability to hear evildoers’ thoughts.
However, the show never caught on, possibly due to Night Man not being as recognizable a character as Batman or Superman, and the show only lasted for 2 seasons with 44 episodes. The comic it’s based on is no longer in print, as well.