Originally when I wanted to write this article I was only going to talk about Powerless, but then I watched the premier episode of Legion and the article basically wrote itself in my head. It’s been said that we’re living in the “Golden Age” of comics in film and TV, and with the Berlanti-verse on the CW and the MCU bleeding over into TV with Agents of Shield or the Defenders-verse on Netflix it’s not hard to see why. With that in mind, both DC and Marvel have debuted new series in the past couple of weeks and they couldn’t be more different. There isn’t a ton to go off and I don’t like judging a series by the first couple of episode, but I’m going to give my impressions based on what I’ve seen so far.
This show isn’t exactly what I expected when I watched the trailer, but at the same time it is exactly what I expected. It’s a completely different take on the “comic” inspired TV show. By that I mean that it’s littered with references to DC comics characters, but you’re never going to see anyone actually appear on screen and I’d wager to guess that we’re probably not going to see the “heroes” that do appear in the show getting their own comic run anytime soon. To me this show is a mash up of The Office and Community with comics thrown in as flavoring. I like the basic premise of the show, that Wayne Enterprises has a separate division set up to design products to protect “powerless” people. The idea that the people of Charm City, invented for the show, are so used to things being destroyed by superhero/villain activity is a great touch and something that I hope they play up a bit more throughout the series.
The cast is great. Vanessa Hudgens as the wide-eyed optimist that wants to make a difference. Dani Pudi and Ron Funches more than hold up their comedic end of the bargain as the lead engineers and Alan Tudyk as Van Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s cousin, is great as the inept boss that just wants to get to Gotham City. I think that Marvel is probably kicking themselves over this series as “Shield” would have given them the perfect premise for this show. I was a bit disappointed that Adam West, who did a nice voice over/narrator intro in the first episode wasn’t kept on for the whole season.
If we’re being honest, Powerless would work with or without the DC connection and if the second episode is any indication I think that the show-runners probably know that as well. The references to Bruce Wayne are fun and I really like the idea of a “superhero fantasy league”, but this kind of felt like a bit of a cheap way to mention the names of various DC heroes. This is a straight-forward sit-com, it’s funny, and if you like DC comics you’ll have those OOOh moments. For me it was the anti-joker venom injection. Do I think this series will get picked up for a season 2? I don’t know, right now I’m going to say no. It’s good, but I don’t know if it’s good enough to hold on to an audience.
Where do I start with this show. Let me start off by saying I’ve never read any of the Legion comics and I went into this show completely without expectations. Like Powerless, this show isn’t like any other comics based show on TV. I don’t even really know what I could compare it to and after trying and then erasing it 3 times I’m not even going to try. At this point, I’m going to be honest with you and say that I tried to find out more info about the characters/plot of this show and just gave up as what I read doesn’t really seem like what was going on.
The cast is good and I’m interested to see how much the characters with the exception of Dan Haller, the main character, are given a chance to develop. We get introduced to a lot of people in episode 1 and if IMDB is any indication we’re going to see some of them more than others as the series progresses. I like Aubrey Plaza. I think she was amazing in “The To-Do List” and she was the best part of “Bad Grandpa”. Dan Stevens is a new face to me but I think his acting in the first episode was great, especially given the various aspects of his character. The rest of the cast doesn’t really have a chance to shine in the first episode, despite it being over an hour long.
Visually and Musically this show is amazing. The soundtrack for episode 1 was full of classic rock tracks and some weird synth, stolen from Stranger Things. The thing that really grabbed me is I have no idea when this show is supposed to be taking place or where for that matter. Every time I thought I had an idea something would come along and I’d have to start back over from square one. The clothes that the characters wear and the overall furniture/appliances made me think 1970’s. Then I see what looks like an iPad and a suitcase that is clearly modern. The ambiguity is great and adds to the overall strangeness of the show.
Much like with Powerless, I don’t know about this show. I’m much more engaged and interested in trying to figure out what the hell is going on with Legion than I am with Powerless. I really think I need to watch episode 1 again, because I’m sure I missed a ton of stuff. At the same time I think that Powerless has the much broader appeal. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t laugh a single time when watching Legion.
So that’s my take on the newest offerings from DC and Marvel. What do you guys think? Are either of these “must see TV” for you? Let me know in the comments.
Image from www.nbc.com