The superhero genre has expanded over many years in television and film. Thanks to a vast history of comic books over the past 80 or so years, producers and screen writers have had almost an endless amount of stories to adapt from the comic pages to the big screen, expanding into universes that very few comic book fans could have imagined possible just a few decades ago .
One of the best examples is what Marvel Studios has done with the traditional library of Marvel comic books characters. Starting with the 2008 film ‘Iron Man’, the company began to create an entire Cinematic Universe (MCU) in phases until its grand finale with ‘Avengers: Endgame the highest grossing film in cinematic history which it used as inspiration for several television series. While Avengers which can be watched on Disney+ did feature classic characters such as The Hulk, Captain America , Thor and the Scarlet Witch not all of Marvel’s major properties were included in this massive undertaking. Previous licensing deals made with Sony Pictures and FOX have prevented them from including all of its superheroes under one cinematic universe. These confusing distribution deals have spilled into the now crowded field of streaming services available .
While Warner Bros. has not had the same cinematic success with its own intellectual properties from DC Comics the individual character series based on its characters such as Batman’s Dark Knight trilogy are some of the most popular movies today, a popularity which helped them expand into several TV comic book series.
Superhero Series and their adaptations have, in recent years, become a constant in film and television. This has been fueled in part by Warner’s and Disney’s plans to exploit as much as possible of DC’s and Marvel’s properties, creating TV universes that have given us extremely popular series from each respective comic book universe.
Aside from the previously mentioned household names there are also newer entries such as HBO’s “Watchmen”, “Doom Patrol” and some original superhero shows such as The Boys, and “Umbrella Academy”, which are leading an explosion in this genre the most popular shows are still those based on classic characters.
Daredevil (Netflix) is a great superhero series, mostly because the series not only features Matt Murdoch’s alter ego but also ties into other Marvel tv series such as Luke Cage , Iron Fist and Jessica Jones and The Punisher it also references events that are happening in Marvel’s cinematic universes. Many of the heroes from these series make cameo appearances with some showing up in each other’s series with all of the heroes coming together for the Defenders miniseries.
Many traditional Marvel characters can not be found on Disney+ since Marvel doesn’t own the film rights to all of its properties. Like the previous example with Netflix having its own slew of Marvel series other properties can be found on different streaming services like Legion ( HBO ) , The Gifted and Cloak & Dagger ( HULU ) and Mutant X (AMAZON).
Warner Brothers on the other hand controls most of its intellectual properties, the most popular of which is the CW’s group of DC’s shows called ‘The Arrowverse” featuring classic DC characters such as The Flash, Green Arrow, Super Girl and Superman to name a few. Unlike Marvel’s Netflix series which was exclusively released for streaming the CW’s superhero popularity was born from traditional network television programming with shows such as Smallville paving the way for today’s hit series. The combination of the superhero genre with that of classic CW love shows like Dawson’s Creek makes for a very addicting formula that most new streaming superhero shows have tried to emulate. That is not to say that all of Warner Brothers related TV shows are available exclusively under one streaming service, despite owning the cinematic and TV rights to all of its characters we have seen that other networks and streaming services not owned by Warner Brothers have been able to license out their own DC superhero shows such as Batman entities like “Titans” ( HBOMAX ) and Gotham ( NETFLIX ) .
Recently Disney has acquired FOX’s entire film library in an effort to bring together the profitable X-MEN with the Avengers and the rest Marvel pictures universe Disney has also formed a partnership with Sony Pictures in order to incorporate Spiderman into future Marvel movies . We will see this trend continue as streaming companies begin consolidating their owned and operated properties and slowly but surely many of the respected comic book characters will begin to fall under two or three streaming services ( Disney+ and Warner owned HBOMAX respectively) but only time will tell how consolidated these super hero shows will get.