Business is still booming for film adaptations of comic book superheroes. And it looks like made-for-TV adaptations aren’t far behind. Two of TV’s most successful live action comic book series are returning to the small screen — along with the odd choice of Cloak and Dagger still in the works. The Incredible Hulk and Wonder Woman both enjoyed successful runs during the 1980s and producers are no doubt banking on the same success this time around. Linda Carter and Bill Bixby, along with Lou Ferrigno, were extremely popular incarnations of the comic book heroes. Generating interest for either show shouldn’t be a problem. The upcoming Avengers feature film will also lend publicity and visibility to the Hulk. But the Marvel duo Cloak and Dagger is an unlikely adaptation for a TV series.
All dates are pending while Marvel Television head Jeph Loeb, writer/producer on Lost, Heroes, develops their story for the small screen. The story of Tyrone “Ty” Johnson (Cloak) and Tandy Bowen (Dagger) first appeared in 1982’s Spectacular Spider-Man #64. The story of two teenage runaways that meet in New York are forced to be guenia pigs for a new form of heroin. Fantastic powers emerge. Cloak gains intangibility and the ability to link to the “Darkforce Dimension.” He can use this dimension to teleport himself or even multiple people. Dagger’s projects light that can be used as throwing daggers. The light drain a person’s vitality of can heal to some extent even curing drug addictions. The connection to the Darkforce dimension leaves Cloak with a hunger for light which he can satisfy by banishing people there or by absorbing the light projected by Dagger. With their new powers Cloak and Dagger have sworn to fight drugs and drug dealers.
The network currently considered to air the show is just as odd. A story filled with drugs, revenge, and a dysfunctional super powered relationship may sound suited to late night broadcast television or cable. Instead ABC Family is the front runner. The channel’s history and present suggest it will be unlikely for this show to stay true to the original comic books. ABC Family originally launched on April 29, 1977 as the CBN Satellite Service, an arm of Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. It has since been renamed multiple times: CBN Cable Network, The CBN Family Channel, The Family Channel, Fox Family Channel, and now ABC Family with the “Family” portion forever a requirement per the original Robertson sales deal. This hampers the channel from remarketing itself outside of “family” orientated programming. Currently the channel is enjoying success with teen dramas like The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Pretty Little Liars.
While these teen dramas address some less than family friendly issues like teen pregnancy and beyond the grave interactions, it will be interesting to see how much of the Cloak and Dagger comic book story makes it to the small screen. Young vigilante, super-powered, run away, inter racial uncommitted couple, drug dealer killer, high school drop outs who sleep in churches should leave much to be worked out for a “Family” channel original series. Cloak and Dagger have made numerous guest appearances in popular Marvel titles along with multiple limited series releases of their own, but a comic book title of their own failed to to poor sales. Attempted three times from 1983 to 1991 the longest running being last attempt, making it only to 19 issues. An already existing and eager fan base is a luxury that they do not share with the Hulk and Wonder Woman both of which have comic book titles running for decades. Both have history in television to draw on as well. A Cloak and Dagger series may be the beginning of bad super hero television. The choice of a teen age duo that couldn’t keep their own comic title running and a channel currently in and expanding on the teen drama genre makes it difficult to hope for quality television. Hollywood is throwing increasing less popular comic book characters at us and like with the current vampires trend, television seems to be looking to catch up while the trend is still lucrative.