Arrowed: Deadman

The feature inspired by great cosplay and fan art where I imagine various DC properties taken to the small screen and wonder aloud just what their shows would be like. Today's pitch: Deadman.
Fan art by: White Lemon (on DeviantArt) with Javier García Mediavilla as Deadman and Florencia Sofen Muir as Madame Xanadu, photography by Jonathan Duran

Constantine hasn't fared to well, but my idea for a supernatural-themed DCU series is Deadman. First, there's a built-in arc story there, with Boston Brand looking for his own murderer, which connects to the League of Assassins from Arrow, and uses a "hook" (I kill me) similar to Gotham's. In other words, the assassin need not be the same as in the comics, and regardless, who put out the hit? The arc could last a good two years as we inch closer to the truth. It was the high concept that sustained the Deadman strip originally, and the character never really manage to be an effective headliner after it was over, so start there, definitely, and milk it for all it's worth. Unlike Constantine, Deadman has a superhero-y element that makes it more obviously a comic book series, riding that wave of popularity in ways Constantine might have failed to capitalize on with the "not-we's". Being more fantastical, Deadman would allow for more extreme characters and concepts to bleed through, yet would still work as a "possess & help" weekly action show.

Deadman's powers are fairly easy to achieve on a TV budget, mostly floating and transparency. To keep our main actor in the role, I'd probably go Quantum Leap with his possession power, and Boston, out of fright make-up, and in the possessed body's clothes. Probably some juddering effect to remind the audience every so often he's in a particular body (not just the mirror trick), and probably a maverick stunt in the pilot or finale where he jumps bodies during a sequence, with all the costume changes that would entail.

As the above picture suggests and inspires, Deadman would also be our link to the mystical side of the DCU, fulfilling the promises made in Constantine (Dr. Fate's helmet in that show's pilot, for example). Madame Xanadu as the psychic who can see him and love him? That's a good start. Having Constantine appear? That'd be nice. I'd love to see some Jason Blood and Etrigan as well. Obviously, anyone in Justice League Dark could become a recurring character (yes, I know a film has been rumored, but such things haven't stopped the Suicide Squad or various Justice Leaguers from appearing on TV). One thing I'd do away with is Nanda Parbat and Rama Kushna. Just writing down those words provided cognitive evidence that they wouldn't play well on TV. It never worked for me in the comics either, the Eastern mysticism an odd fit for a ghost characterized as an American everyman. So keep that stuff out, though I know DC's answer to Shangri-La has been referenced on Arrow.

Magic, mystery, romance, and a huge chunk of the DCU rife for exploitation. What would YOU do with it?


Jeff R. said...

I sort of don't think that you can really do the Quantum Leap gag for anything other than Quantum Leap. But not doing it gives a TV show a real problem; you can't cast a lead role and then have them not there most of the time (See The Human Target).

Then there's the general creepiness/violational character of Deadman's main power on top of that. And that there are lots of other DCU vehicles that would work even better for mystery-of-the-week+mythology big mystery formats. (The Dibnys and The Dobbs-Belmonts, to name two,) I think I'd want someone else for the Vertigoid corner of the DCU. I'd go with The Demon, but I don't trust TV writers to handle a Rhyming Demon properly and don't want any other version of Etrigan. Maybe Shade. Or Spectre, who basically gets you everything you want from Brand but without the technically and ethically problematic possession schtick.

Jamdin said...

I would rather have a Madame Xanadu series with Deadman as her boyfriend and supporting cast member. Would love to see either of them on the small screen regardless.


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