DC COMIC BOOK TV
On this page I have provided a summary on live-action TV shows and
TV movies that have been made based on DC Comic Book characters. The
list is not complete as I tried to filter out some of the lesser
recognized shows and highlight the more mainstream shows, but you
may see an occasional obscure show that I feel needs documenting. I do have a page on my site focused on DC animated TV shows
that you can visit by clicking here.
The one that started it all on TV for DC Comics was
The Adventures of
Superman show that ran from 1952 to 1958 starring the legendary
performances of George Reaves as the Man of Steel.
Every kid who watched that show wanted to be Superman. The opening
theme narration and visuals are iconic.
“Faster than a speeding bullet.” “More powerful than a
“Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”
“Look!” “Up in the Sky!” “It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!” “It’s
The show initially started as a movie called Superman and the Mole Men
in 1951 as a test to see how this version of a live-action Superman
would be received by the public as a prelude to a regular TV show.
It was an instant hit and the producers wasted no time in further
developing the series.
There were two actresses who portrayed Lois Lane, but Noel Neill is
considered to be the Lois Lane. Jack Larson starred as Jimmy Olsen
and Perry White was played by John Hamilton.
The show never featured any of Superman’s super-villains like Lex
Luthor or Brainiac, but rather crooks and thugs of the day with
Superman saving the day in each episode.
Kryptonite was featured in a couple of the shows as well as Martha
and Jonathan Kent and his inability to see through lead staying true to the Superman mythology.
X-Ray vision and bullets bouncing off his chest were regularly on
The show captured audiences for its duration with many of the iconic
Superman trademarks having been derived from this show.
Unfortunately the series was cancelled after its sixth season which
was soon followed by the tragic death of George Reaves.
The show remains one of the most popular series in television
history which are available on DVD.
In 1961 a pilot movie was produced called Adventures of Superboy
which would detail the life of young Clark Kent as a teenager
performing his amazing super powers as Superboy.
Superboy had made his debut in the comics in 1945 and following the
success of the Adventures of Superman series, the creators
thought it make a good show.
The pilot movie never received the necessary backing and was not
turned into a regular show. The pilot is not available in any form of media
for purchase. It remains another footnote in television
history of a show
that is forever lost.
Bat-craze mania hit America in the mid
1960s when Batman made its way to TV. The show ran essentially
two and half seasons from 1966 to 1968 with some of Hollywood’s most
recognizable actors and actresses appearing on the show either as
villains or as pop-in guests.
There was Jerry Lewis in one episode sticking his head out of a
hotel room window as Batman and Robin climbed up the walls using their Batarangs and Batropes amongst many familiar faces seen on the show
in the most unexpected times.
The show starred Adam West as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Burt Ward as
Dick Grayson/Robin taking on Gotham City’s crime world twice a week
The series is famous for having camp humor as the tone of the show,
but no Batman fan can deny that it had a tremendous impact on the
Batman world that has never been equaled.
Who can forget Cesar Romero as the Joker? Who can forget Burgess
Meredith as the Penguin? Who can forget Frank Gorshin as the
Riddler? Who can forget Julie Newmar or Eartha Kitt as Catwoman?
How about Yvonne Craig as Batgirl or Alan Napier as Alfred?
Who can forget Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson sliding down the
Batpoles at Wayne Manor to jump into their Batman and Robin
The infamous Batmobile from the show is
easily the most recognizable of all Batmobiles-even in the comics.
The series was a huge hit, but was very expensive to produce with
all of the gadgets and star power. After the show left the air ABC
had destroyed the Batcave set and NBC who was interested in
resurrecting the show decided against since they did not want to
spend the necessary dollars to rebuild a new Batcave.
The series remains one of television’s
most favorite shows albeit not for the way Batman fans had
envisioned their beloved superhero to be portrayed.
The show is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Wonder Woman became a pilot movie
starring Cathy Lee Crosby of That’s Incredible fame in 1974.
It was a test pilot to see if Wonder Woman would attract enough
viewers to be picked up as a regular series.
The costume worn by Crosby was nothing like the iconic costume of
the Amazon Princess and during a time when DC was trying to reinvent
the character in the comics as a modern day Audrey Hepburn who
In the movie she takes on an international spy ring
and is almost seduced by the spy ring’s top henchman before subduing
the bad guys.
The movie is available on DVD.
During Saturday morning TV in the mid
1970s, CBS had several live-action shows produced in addition to
animated cartoons to entertain kids and Captain Marvel was the
subject of one of those shows.
Shazam! the TV series stayed on the air from approximately
1974 to 1976 featuring a teenage Billy Batson who traveled with an
elderly gentleman named Mentor in a large Winnebago vehicle trailer
traveled from town to town always encountering situations where
Billy would have to call upon the powers of Shazam and become
I remember the show fairly well with Billy about to say the magic
word and always looking up in the sky and then after speaking the
name a loud thundering sound
blasting over the air with lightning effects in the clouds and a
huge puff of smoke where Billy once stood with Captain Marvel now in
The flying effects were low budget, but for Saturday morning TV it
was as good as one could get for the time. The show was produced by
Filmation who were famous for producing the He-Man and the Masters
of the Universe show and Star Trek the Animated Series amongst many other
programs. It is available on DVD.
A spin-off of the Shazam!
show came in the form of Isis making its debut in 1975 which
was also featured on Saturday mornings and was part of a one hour
back to back show with Shazam!
Filmation wanted to have a female superhero counterpart to Captain
Marvel and created this character especially for that purpose since
they did not want to pay additional license fees to DC for the rights to
Mary Marvel for example.
The show was about an archaeologist
teacher who found an amulet that changes her into the ancient
Egyptian goddess Isis who can fly and has super strength.
The teacher Andrea Thomas would look up in the sky holding the
amulet and spoke the words “Oh Mighty Isis” and then the clouds
would immediately form and thunder and lightning and then she would
transform into a white short-skirted costume with an Egyptian tiara on her
It lasted 22 episodes and can be found on DVD, but was not produced
in large quantities so it can be expensive to acquire a copy on the
The series that all DC fans waited for and finally received came in 1975
with the true live-action version of Wonder
Woman. Wonder Woman
debuted as a TV pilot movie in 1975 starring
Lynda Carter as Wonder
Woman/Diana Prince and Lyle Waggoner as Major Steve Trevor.
The movie was set in the 1940s during World War II and stayed very
true to the origin of the character with Steve Trevor having crash
landed on Paradise Island where he is cared for amongst the
Amazonians and a competition is set to see who would be the one to take him back to the United
Diana's mother-Queen Hippolyte played
by Cloris Leachman initially tells
Diana that she is not allowed to compete however Diana wears a mask
and takes part in the tournament and here is where we see the first bullets and
bracelets feat performed by Wonder Woman in the series. She is able to deflect gun
shots by the use of her wrist bracelets.
Her competitor was
slightly wounded during her portion of the competition. Diana wins
and reveals her identify to her mother and
reluctantly is allowed to leave the island and take Trevor home
along with various accessories like her famous golden lasso and tiara
and dons the Wonder Woman costume for the first time.
The story then introduces us to her invisible plane with Wonder
Woman flying Trevor back to the US to take him to a hospital.
walks through the streets of 1940s Washington, DC
exploring this strange new world and ultimately getting roped into a
sideshow where she performs her bullets and bracelets skills again
for the scheming show owner.
The pilot movie was so well-received that it was given the green
light for a regular series. In the first year the show stays in the
1940s time period as Wonder Woman battled against the Germans and
other crooks and thugs of the day.
Carolyn Jones would take over the role as
Queen Hippolyte and a young Debra Winger
would be introduced to audiences as Diana’s younger sister Drusilla
and appears as Wonder Girl for a few episodes.
Eventually the show would be set in the modern day calling itself
the New Adventures of Wonder Woman with her taking on current day bad guys.
The show has been enduring to all fans who watched it live during
the 1970s and has picked up quite a following in re-runs and with its release on
DVD. It lasted for three seasons and remains a classic.
It can be found on DVD as individual seasons with
the pilot movie included in the season one version or as a complete
Two 1-hour specials called the Legends of the Superheroes
made its way to TV in 1979 and here the producers brought in several
DC superheroes and super-villains with Batman and Robin at the
center of the shows.
Adam West and Burt Ward reprised their infamous roles as the
Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder with the likes of Captain Marvel,
Green Lantern, Black Canary, Hawkman, Flash, Huntress along with a
gaggle of super-villains like Weather Wizard, Sinestro, Riddler, Dr.
Sivana and Solomon Grundy.
The first show had the heroes taking on the villains with small
skits showing the hero in contrast to the villain while the second show
having all characters sitting on a stage in front of a live audience
while Batman and Robin were guests of honor for a roast.
The tone of the shows were campy and sometimes comedic
in nature and are nostalgic for those who remember watching them live.
The shows can be found on DVD.
Ilya Salkind one of the
producers of the original Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve
took his production to television in the form of The Adventures
Superboy in 1988.
The show lasted until 1992 and remains somewhat of an enigma since
it went through two actors portraying young Clark Kent and Superboy
and to have a court challenge that may have contributed to its
Warner Brothers sought to have the rights back for Superboy from the
producers since they were essentially leased for the previous
Superman films that Ilya and Alexander Salkind had produced.
After years of rankling Warner Brothers regained the rights and the
show was promptly canceled.
During the show Superboy is beautifully played by both
actors during their time as the Boy of Steel and took on the likes of Lex Luthor, Bizarro, Mr. Myxztplk and Metallo.
The first season is only season at
this time that is available on DVD and is worth acquiring in this
somewhat of a prelude to the Smallville series that would make its
way to TV a decade later. The other seasons are available on
Amazon.com video on demand.
couple of low-budget movies the Swamp Thing was turned into a
television series that ran for a couple of years with a total of 72 episodes
with Dick Durock returning as the Swamp Thing.
His major villain Arcane would be a regular on the show always
plotting to do away with the Swamp Thing.
Each show was self-contained with the story resolving itself in that
episode. The Swamp Thing would encounter various crooks who would
hide themselves in the swamp only to be rooted out or he would meet
good citizens who happen to wander into his domain where lessons were
taught and learned. It was a solid series that can be found on DVD.
The Scarlett Speedster made his way to television in the series
called The Flash in 1990/91.
John Wesley Shipp played the Flash going against the likes of the
Trickster played by Mark Hamill of Star Wars fame, Mirror Master
played by David Cassidy of the Partridge Family TV show and Captain
Amanda Pays appeared as Tina McGee, a Star Labs scientist who assists
the Flash in his crime fighting.
The pilot movie stayed true to Flash’s origin as Barry Allen is
accidentally hit by a combination of lighting strike power surges and chemicals in his
police laboratory and begins to find that he has super speed
The producers took some license from the current comic book series
featuring Barry’s nephew Wally West in that the Flash replenishes
his ability by consumption of food and sometimes Barry’s powers are
lessened by the sheer fact that he’s low on fuel-food.
The special effects were dead-on to provide audiences the
visualization of the Fastest Man Alive zipping and zagging through
Central City. His costume was padded to add musculature which was
an enhancement to the comic book Flash who was slender.
Due to the production costs and not so great ratings the show was
cancelled after 1-1/2 seasons. The complete series of 22
episodes is available on DVD.
In 1993 producers decided to create a Superman show primarily
focusing on the everyday lives of Lois Lane and Clark Kent with some
action on the part of Superman when needed.
The Lois & Clark: The New Adventures
of Superman series debuted and lasted for four seasons-a total
of 87 episodes starring Dean Cain as Clark Kent/Superman and Teri
Hatcher as Lois Lane in the part that made her famous first before
her spot on Desperate Housewives.
appealed to a wider audience as it was not really a superhero show,
but rather a witty and somewhat comedic adult oriented show. Superman would
still have his main antagonist in Lex Luthor, but Clark Kent was
more front and center in the show and often visiting his parents on
the Smallville farm for advice on how to deal with his burgeoning
romance with Lois.
The show has lasting appeal and charm that most will come away with
a refreshed feeling. All four seasons as well as the complete
series can be found on DVD.
seminal show telling of young Clark Kent’s life in his hometown came
in the form of Smallville in
The series lasted 10 seasons
with heavy drama and action. No other comic book show lasted
Tom Welling starred as young Clark Kent growing up on the Kent farm
and raised by Jonathan Kent-John Schneider and Martha Kent-Annette
O’Toole all the while trying to understand his destiny on earth and
facing new and different challenges.
His friend and eventual arch-nemesis Lex Luthor-Michael Rosenbaum
and father Lionel Luthor-John Glover continued to pursue the truth
and secret of Clark and throughout the series engage in a plethora
of experiments and projects aimed at satisfying their own
gratification at the expense of the Smallville and Metropolis'
citizens-Chloe Sullivan-Allison Mack,
Lana Lang-Kristin Kreuk, Lois
Lane-Erica Durance, Oliver Queen/Green Arrow-Justin Hartley, Jimmy
Olsen-Aaron Ashmore and the Kents.
The series would slowly over time bring in many characters from the
Superman world and DC Universe like Martian Manhunter, Supergirl,
Brainiac, Bizarro, Aquaman, Cyborg, Black Canary, Metallo, Toy Man, Dr. Fate,
Darkseid, Booster Gold, Lara-El, General Zod and Doomsday.
The series was spectacular with one of the best season
finales at the end of season 2 with Clark attempting to destroy
the ship that he was sent in to Earth by his Kryptonian father Jor-El which
has major consequences to those around him.
Each season has a definitive theme with the season finale ending as
a cliffhanger to the next season.
Fans would wonder if we would ever see Clark don the Superman
costume, but we would be rewarded. The series is available on
DVD by individual seasons and as a complete series.
comic book series by DC was adapted into a regular series with the
Birds of Prey in 2002/2003. The show featured Helena
Kyle-Huntress, Barbara Gordon-Oracle and Dinah Lance-Black Canary.
The Huntress as in the comics was the offspring of Batman and
Catwoman. Together the three female heroes come together as a team taking on
It had a great look and feel that had similarities to the Batman
films in its dark city scenes and images. Unfortunately this did not
carryover into the ratings and was canceled after 14 episodes.
The show can be found on DVD.
As a spin-off of the successful
Smallville series came
Aquaman in 2006. Justin Hartley who played Green
Arrow/Oliver Queen on Smallville was cast to play Aquaman in the pilot movie.
The origins were similar to the comics in that his mother was from Atlantis while his father was a normal human. Young
Arthur Curry-Aquaman begins to learn his true heritage and fends off
a female warrior from Atlantis who has been ordered to find and
The movie has the same qualities of the Smallville series and
could’ve been a very good series had it been picked up. The pilot
movie was available on DVD and added into one of the Smallville
seasons as a bonus. It is also available on Amazon.com video
In 2011 NBC had produced a
Wonder Woman pilot movie written
by David E. Kelley starring
Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman in a costume that is reminiscent of
full blue spandex tights.
The show had the character based in modern
day, but due to reasons only the network knows the show was never
released on television and is not available on DVD.
Inspired from the Smallville series and created as a spin-off
series came Arrow
in 2012. The show features Green Arrow the Emerald Archer and
his mythology of characters and world with additional characters
added in. Using similar aspects of the origin of Green Arrow
in the comic books, Oliver Queen was stranded on an island and
returns to his home city to fight crime as a masked archer.
Some characters of the comics have been brought to life in the
series like Black Canary, Speedy and Deathstroke and has blended in
well. The look of the show is similar to Smallville but with a
darker and tougher tone. The show continues to draw rave
reviews from fans and has completed over 5 seasons. It is
available on DVD and Blu-Ray in individual seasons.
Further expanding the DC TV universe came The Flash in 2014.
The show is a compliment to the Arrow series and uses aspects
from the comic book as well to first re-introduce us to the
character's origin where Barry Allen has suffered a lightning strike
and goes into a coma for several months. He wakes up and
discovers he has the ability to travel at super speeds.
Many of the Flash's Rogues Gallery have been incorporated into the
show. Some have never been adapted into a live performance
before. We get to see Gorilla Grodd for the first time in
addition to long-time enemies Captain Cold, Heatwave, Trickster,
Mirror Master and Professor Zoom-Reverse Flash. We even have
Barry's love interest Iris West in the show and the Kid Flash.
The Flash and Arrow have crossed over into each other's show and
helped to spawn a third series called Legends of Tomorrow.
The show has completed over four seasons and is
available on DVD and Blu-Ray in individual seasons.
Lasting only thirteen episodes
came in 2014. The show was about a detective who goes up
against supernatural forces. John Constantine would travel
across the country battling evil entities from harming innocent
It aired on NBC and although the comic books have had a following,
the show never found a strong viewership. It is however
available on DVD and Blu-Ray as a complete series.
One of the grittier series based on DC Comics characters came in
2014. Gotham focused on the early days of the Batman
world before there was a Batman. Gotham City and its
distinguished citizens are at the heart of the series. We
start off seeing a young James Gordon well before he becomes police
commissioner and a young Bruce Wayne. We see the very
beginnings of Batman villains such as the Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman,
Poison Ivy, Two Face, Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Hugo Strange, Mad
Hatter and Ra's al Ghul as they come up and infiltrate Gotham City's
The dark and well lived in look from the 1989 Batman movie are
incorporated into the set designs. The series has been well
thought out and well written in addition to strong performances by
all of the cast and guest appearances. The show has been
running for over three seasons. It is on DVD and Blu-Ray as
Appearing originally on CBS in 2015 was Supergirl.
Superman's cousin gets her first TV series after having had her own
motion picture and appearing in the Smallville series.
This series uses the a good portion of the comic book origins to
tell of young Kara Zor-El who has been sent to Earth by her parents
to help protect her cousin-Kal-El before he becomes Superman.
Due to unpredicted circumstances her craft veers off and does not
arrive on Earth for another couple of decades. By that time
Kal-El has already become Superman.
Kara finds that she has superior powers as well and works to adjust.
She will encounter some of DC's and Superman's high profile
characters such as the Martian Manhunter, James Olsen, Lucy Lane and
Mon-El. Wonder Woman actress Lynda Carter joined the cast as
the President providing an interesting twist of nostalgia.
The series has moved from CBS to the CW and we have seen the Barry
Allen character from the Flash series making guest appearances to
help link the DC series together. Of course Superman has also
made appearances. The show has been running for over three
seasons. It is on DVD and Blu-Ray as individual seasons.
Set in the same DC Universe as
Arrow and the
Flash came Legends of Tomorrow in 2016. The
producers of those series created a live action superhero team
consisting of some of DC's long-time heroes like Rip Hunter-Time
Master, the Atom, Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Villains Heatwave and
Captain Cold would be converted from their previous criminal ways to
join as members of the team.
The group battles the Legion of Doom amongst other threats and we
get to see appearances from Arrow, the Flash and Supergirl in a few
episodes to battle alien menaces.
The series is unlimited in potential tapping into its science
The show has been running for over two seasons. It is on DVD
and Blu-Ray as individual seasons.