DC properties have a long history of success on the big screen, but some of the brand’s less popular works may have worked better as TV series.
- DC movies based on comic book properties are sometimes better suited for TV series due to their episodic nature and long-form storytelling structure.
- TV adaptations can fix problems of overstuffing, poor pacing, and lack of character development found in some DC movies.
- DC movies like Watchmen, Justice League, Suicide Squad, Jonah Hex, Green Lantern, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen could have benefited from being conceived as TV series to explore their narratives more effectively.
SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
DC properties have a long history on the big screen, and while several have become iconic parts of the superhero genre, others feel like they may have found more success as TV series. While comic book properties have dominated cinemas for the last decade and a half, the genre’s characters almost all got their start in short, episodic stories. By their nature, comic books are usually structured more like long-form TV shows than movies, making the format a natural fit for live-action adaptations.
Even some of the best DC movies may work better on the small screen, but problematic films have even more to gain. TV can help fix problems around overstuffing and poor movie pacing, giving writers more time to explore their narrative worlds. With that in mind, these ten DC movies may have worked better had they been conceived as television series.
Related: How To Watch DCEU Movies In Order (By Release Date & Chronologically)
With several interweaving narratives spread across multiple mediums, it’s understandable that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen graphic novel was long considered unfilmable. Director Zack Snyder actually did a fairly good job with his 2009 film of the same name, but its flaws do highlight how much better the story could work as a limited series on TV. HBO did a fantastic job with its Watchmen limited series, but as it tells a sequel story to the source material, an adaptation of the original could still happen.
Watchmen seems much better suited for TV than the big screen for several reasons. First, the neo-noir narrative is a slow burn that loses impact when it has to resolve in around two hours. Furthermore, it’s much more possible for a TV show to explore some of the narrative tangents and the Black Freighter story-within-a-story in a way that flows better than a movie. All in all, Watchmen simply needs room to breathe, and a 10-episode limited series would be perfect to let it do just that.
5 Zack Snyder’s Justice League
The fact that Zack Snyder’s version of Justice League even exists can still feel a bit surreal, but while the movie is a marked improvement over the theatrical release in nearly every way, it feels much more like a TV show than a movie. The film’s 4-hour run-time is daunting, and as the project is already broken up into six segments, it may have been more palatable for audiences if the story was marketed as a six-episode miniseries. This wouldn’t change anything in terms of the actual story or content, but perception matters, and the movie may have lost viewers unwilling to commit to an unusually long traditional film.
4 Suicide Squad
The DCEU’s Suicide Squad seemed promising when its initial trailers teased a fun, colorful adventure with DC villains and anti-heroes. However, the final project left a lot to be desired and still inspires calls for a director’s cut from the outspoken David Ayer. Interestingly, if the movie was instead retooled into a TV show, a lot of its biggest complaints would have likely been addressed.
Arguably, Suicide Squad‘s biggest problem is its choice of villain and her world-ending threat. A street-level villain seems much more thematically appropriate for the team, and a TV budget may have inspired the story to go smaller. Moreover, the opening of the movie played more like an extended trailer than a proper exposition, breaking away for each member of the squad’s backstory. This could have been handled much better in a multi-episode series in which different members could have had their backstories explored via flashbacks at more narratively appropriate times instead of all being pressed so tightly together.
3 Jonah Hex
2010’s Jonah Hex was released shortly after Iron Man reinvigorated the superhero movie genre, but it failed to find much of an audience despite an interesting premise. The movie mixes a largely grounded Wild West setting with elements of the supernatural – such as Jonah’s ability to speak with the dead. Given that Jonah operates as a bounty hunter, it seems like a natural fit for episodic storytelling. The Hex vs. Turnbull conflict and quest for revenge works well as an overarching narrative, but smaller stories in each episode could do a better job of world-building DC’s Weird West setting – something that’s far too unexplored in film and TV.
2 Green Lantern
Ryan Reynold’s Green Lantern has been famously mocked by the actor himself in real life and on-screen. While some of the movie’s problems come down to plain bad decisions, others were the result of having to introduce so much backstory in a short movie. Green Lantern is rightly criticized for doing too little with its most interesting element – the diverse Green Lantern Corps on Oa. A TV series would have more time to develop members of the Corps and showcase Hal Jordan’s growth as a powerful cosmic superhero. Luckily, the new DCU seems to agree, and Lanterns is set for release on Max in 2025 or 2026.
1 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
In a way, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was The Avengers before the MCU dove into its shared universe. Though no other movies set it up, the critical flow brought together iconic characters from classic literature to take down a common threat. Like many team-up movies, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen suffers from problems that are easier to deal with in a TV series than a single cinematic outing.
In short, too much of the movie is dedicated to assembling the team, which means they don’t have enough time to operate together – which is the most fun part to watch – and the villain is taken down too quickly. On TV, the team could be formed over the first few episodes; then, there would still be several hours of storytelling to follow the group on missions as they work their way towards the overarching big bad. If DC wants to experiment with shows based on their publishing imprints, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is rife with small-screen potential.
Key Release Dates
- Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Release Date: 2023-12-20
- Joker: Folie a Deux Release Date: 2024-10-04
- Superman: Legacy Release Date: 2025-07-11
- The Batman – Part II Release Date: 2025-10-03