Only James Gunn could have pulled it off. Those effects, the star cameos, blood, violence and, somehow, an emotionally charged journey that makes you love this group of misfit warriors – none of whom are actually superheroes, but mere mortals finding their moral centers. Will the team be reassembled – figuratively and literally for a second season? According to writer-director James Gunn, the answer is a resounding yes!
Unfortunately, Gunn has to finish his other misfit series – Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 at Marvel before he can jump back into writing the return of Peacemaker and Task Force X, 2.0 – or are they ARGUS now? So, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 superhero/misfit team shows to check out while you’re waiting for John Cena to don the ‘Dove of Peace’ again.
Loved the blood and violence of Peacemaker? The behind the scenes machinations of Amanda Waller? You’ll appreciate the on-screen version of Garth Ennis’ darker take on the superhero tropes and stories. And I do mean dark. The series launches with the death of a civilian from a Supe – who is insulated from consequences by Vought – the company who “owns” him and has a significant pull in the government.
In this universe, superheroes are privatized – and not really doing a lot of good. The series plays out the theorem, ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ But it’s also about the disillusioned who see behind the curtain. The Boys is Hughie, whose girlfriend was killed, Billy Butcher, whose wife was raped by one of Vought’s “heroes,” and Frenchie, a killer for hire, who discovers he has a heart.
Throughout the series is challenging, angry, persuasive, and painful to watch – as we see the Supes breaking the law unchecked and both the good guys and bad guys self-destructing. (It’s also not for the kiddos.) The first two seasons of The Boys and a gap web series, called Seven on Seven are all streaming on Amazon Prime. Season 3, with Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles joining the cast, debuts June 3, 2022.
Streaming on Prime Video
Nobody expected two of the biggest shows on DC Universe (now shifted to HBO Max) to be the sidekicks and the misfits. But comic fans love the underdog. Titans, the comic, of course, started out as Teen Titans – made up of Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Speedy and Aqualad – expanding the roles of the teen companions to the primary DC heroes. Over the 50 years of their history, they’ve had numerous members, including five different Robins, and seen several of their cohorts take on the reins of the main character they shadowed.
When DC decided to launch their now-defunct streaming service, Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns, and uber-producer Greg Berlanti decided to raise the stakes from the previous CW DC shows, also overseen by Berlanti, and show a different side of the DC world. Titans pick up with Grayson still wearing the Robin identity, but chafing against it, and the team scattered after the death of Aqualad. Raven shows up looking for Grayson, we meet Starfire in a spectacular way, and slowly the team starts to come together. The first season is a lot of road trip, rebuilding a team, including a runaway Jason Todd (also Robin) and a stop off at Gar ‘Beast Boy’ Logan’s original superhero home, Doom Manor.
Streaming on HBO Max.
Doom Manor is home to the most unlikely group of superheroes – a mismatched group of misfits who all got their powers in freak accidents. The original Doom Patrol comic, as well as the show, takes great delight in deconstructing superhero tropes – not only are the members of the Patrol all accidental superheroes, they all literally hate themselves and the idea that they could show their broken, well, mostly faces to help anyone else. Beast Boy was a member at one time, but now has healed enough, emotionally, to join the Titans.
Doom Patrol is easily the most bizarre of DC shows – yes, even trumping Peacemaker – and every season, the writers delight in mining more and more of the most obscure and outrageous storylines. I mean, they literally did Honey I Shrunk the Kids and then sent them to perform as a carnival sideshow – and that’s one of the tamer storylines! Episodes bounce around between various timelines, revealing pieces of the character’s dysfunctions, while slowly advancing the present day. Yet, somehow, you manage to love these antiheroes who loathe themselves. It may take a couple of episodes to dig in, but once you’re hooked, you’re along for the ride.
Streaming on HBO Max.
The Guardians of Justice (Will Save You)
If you thought Peacemaker was dark and violent at times, wait until you get a look at Guardians of Justice. Haven’t heard of it? No surprise – it was originally developed for HBO, but for whatever reason, they released it and it finally found a home on Netflix. You might not know the name Adi Shankar, but you’ve likely seen his work. Not only is he a producer for legitimate films, like The Grey and Dredd, he’s also the creative mind behind The Bootleg Universe – his immensely popular unauthorized, R-rated fan films like Power/Rangers, Punisher: Dirty Laundry, and Venom: Truth in Journalism.
While he’s keeping the details close to the vest – no trailer has yet debuted, and the IMDb page is slow to update – you can be sure Shankar’s got both storytelling and style on his side. The official description on IMDb is “After keeping the earth at peace for 40 years, alien superhero Marvelous Man leaves a mission up to both his bitter, violent lieutenant Knight Hawk and idealistic The Speed to stop nuclear war.”
I can tell you, from seeing some of the scripts and chatting with Shankar on set – his idea was to do a darkly told restructuring of the classic DC heroes if they existed in the modern world. A starker, more realistic take on what Alan Moore did with The Watchmen, complete with a lot of blood and guts. Both Swamp Thing’s Derek Mears and former wrestler Diamond Dallas Page signed on early, just on the power of the script, and there are more surprises in store.
The first (and so far only) season of The Guardians of Justice will hit Netflix on March 1, 2022.
Streaming now on Netflix.
Speaking of Watchmen… I don’t always sing the praises of Damon Lindelof, but he hit this one out of the park. Instead of directly using Alan Moore’s seminal comic from 1986, as Zack Snyder did for the film, Lindelof pushed the story forward about 30 years. In his words, the comic is the Old Testament, and his 9-episodes – the New Testament. The comic and its events still exist – in fact, some elements come back to haunt the modern-day folks by the end – but he wasn’t beholden to it.
One of the biggest, and most successful, moves that the HBO series did was to illuminate how the past informs the present – and how sometimes it should, even if we don’t want to remember it. The comic was set in an alternate universe in 1980’s America, informed by the history we know, but twisted. The HBO show echoes that by showing an event most Americans were unfamiliar with – the 1921 Tulsa massacre – one of the worst outbreaks in racial violence in US history.
The show managed to educate and enlighten while entertaining, one of the historic cornerstones of the Warner Bros. brand, and it did it while telling a deeply thematic and currently relevant story. Although Moore is famous for hating every on-screen version of his comic work, in this instance, I think he’d actually like it.
All 9 episodes of Watchmen can be streamed on HBO Max.
Streaming on HBO Max.
You might be inclined to write off Marvel’s What If…? as a throwaway series of cool, alternate universe stories, much like the original comic. But if you’ve seen the Dr. Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness trailer and wondered who the other Dr. Strange is at the end, you need to catch up on What If…? Yes, the show is animated, and starts with what appear to be stand-alone episodes, it certainly doesn’t stay that way. And without revealing spoilers, I can tell you that What If…? is just as important to deepening the MCU we know and love as WandaVision, Hawkeye, and Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Plus, even before things start crossing over, you get some spectacular, fun animated tales of other worlds, similar to our own, where just a minor shift leads to a whole new adventure. The characters are largely voiced by the original actors, schedule permitting. And that alone is a reason to check the show out – it is literally the last work Chadwick Boseman did – and he’s in four of the eight episodes.
Season 2 of What If…? has been announced, but no air date set yet. Until then, you can enjoy the first season on Disney+.
Image credit: Disney
Streaming now on Disney+.
No list of misfit hero TV shows would be complete without mentioning maybe the most bizarre of them all. Noah Hawley, who shepherded Fargo onto TV and is currently working on the Alien prequel series, dug deep into his love of cinematic auteurs to create a show about a schizophrenic who comes to find out that he’s been blessed with mutant powers.
You can be forgiven for not immediately realizing that Legion had comic roots. David Haller was introduced in Marvel’s New Mutants #25, with only Moira McTaggert being aware that he was Professor Xavier’s son. Professor X himself doesn’t find out until the next issue, when he goes head to head with one of David’s more than 1000 personalities, one that also has mental powers.
Without spoiling anything, Professor X and the traditional X-Men don’t really play into the storyline – much. He is sought by a government group called Division 3, and ends up in a special facility to help him deal with his extreme Dissociative Identity Disorder and mutant abilities – which range widely, depending on which personality is in control. The show is also a visual treat, with the imagery drawing comparisons to Stanley Kubrick, Terry Gilliam, and David Lynch.
Streaming now on Hulu and FX.
So how are you going to spend your time waiting for John Cena, Steve Agee, and Jennifer Holland’s return?
More From Wealth of Geeks
- ‘Peacemaker’ Season 1 Spoiler Review (And Unpacking THAT Cameo)
- Netflix’s Marvel Series Were Gritty, But Far From Perfect
- 10 of the Best Marvel TV Shows to Watch After ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’
This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Image Credit: HBO Max.
Paul Rose Jr has worked as TV News Producer, Forensic Analyst, and Train Conductor, among many other things. He’s the former TV Editor for Infuzemag.com and owns more books, DVDs, and comics than most people have seen in their lifetimes. When he’s not writing articles, he exercises his creative muscle writing screenplays and acting in film and television in Los Angeles, CA.