MARVEL COMIC BOOK TV SHOWS
This page is devoted to
live-action TV shows and TV movies that have been made based on
Marvel characters. I have
provided a quick summary on each. It may not be
complete as I tried to list primarily main stream shows. There
may be an occasional obscure show on this page as I felt it needed
to be listed. I do have a page on
my site focused on Marvel animated TV shows that you can visit by
Marvel Comics has had more success with their animated TV shows than
their live-action ones, but there are some programs that have become
classics and are worth watching and owning.
CBS Television was the first to adapt Marvelís characters into a
television series by producing the Amazing Spider-Man show
starting in 1977. The show ran through 1979 with off and on
scheduling and re-runs appearing frequently to keep the show in
front of viewers.
It started as a two-hour pilot starring Nicholas Hammond who was
famous for appearing in the Sound of Music as one of the Von
Trapp children. He played Peter Parker and wore the Spider-Man
costume for 13 episodes. The eyes on the costume were big and
somewhat metallic which reflected of bright lights while Hammond
looked lanky in the suit.
It stayed true to the comic with Spideyís web shooters worn as wrist
bands that shot his webbing as opposed to the Tobey Maguire films where it was
part of his genetics and came out of his wrists itself.
The pilot movie told Spideyís origins of being bitten by a
radio-active spider and then him going through changes and
discovering he could climb up walls when a runaway car kept coming
at him in a dead-end alley. The runaway carís driver was
mind-controlled by the pilot showís bad guy. He also fashioned his
suit and web shooters in the pilot in almost comic book resemblance.
The effects in the show were low quality, but effective for TV.
There were times when you could see a tethered rope holding up the
stunt man as he climbed buildings to replicate Spidey crawling up
walls. He would also use the same kind of rope visible for the show
to simulate Spideyís ability to swing from rooftop to rooftop or to
take out bad guys.
There were no super-villains from the comics in any of the shows, but
J. Jonah Jameson was a regular character and Parker
worked at the Daily Bugle as a photographer.
I recalled the pilot movie had gotten some news coverage as it
required the stuntman to climb up a tall building and then walk
along the catwalk which drew a large crowd below during the filming.
The show was also produced in a couple of made for TV movies
with one called Spider-Man Strikes Back in 1979 where three
students at Parkerís university were able to construct an atomic
bomb with the villain-a millionaire trying to get his hands on it in
order to blow up the World Trade Center. Parker is suspected of
creating the bomb and has to clear his name.
The second made for TV movie came in 1981 called Spider-Man:
Dragonís Challenge. It was actually two regular episodes
combined into a two-hour movie where Spidey helps a Chinese official
from being charged for corruption by finding three marines who can
testify on his behalf.
The show and movies
was representative of 1970s TV which had a mix of drama and comedy
with no reality TV on the horizon for a few decades. Overall it was
a low-budget and low quality produced show, but in those days where
live-action comic book shows were at a premium we were all happy to
get what we could.
The show actually rated very well in the Nielsen ratings, but due to
production costs and issues at CBS the show was not renewed and
was canceled. The show and some of the movies are available on VHS
from that time period. Some comic book shows may
have a seller or two that have copies for sale so you may
want to check out a local show. I've provided a couple of
Amazon.com links below for some of the shows. They're a
little pricey, but these are obscure items and limited.
The seminal Marvel Comic show came in the same year as the
Amazing Spider-Man on CBS was The
which ran from 1977 through 1982. A total of 5 seasons were
produced starring Bill
Bixby as David Bruce Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. Jack
Colvin played investigative reporter Jack McGee who was a mainstay
on the show as he continued to track down the Hulk throughout the
The origin of the Hulk is told in the pilot movie in a different way
than in the comics where Banner attempts to tap into a humanís inner
strength and purposely zaps himself with gamma radiation.
Never before have we seen a transformation as was portrayed in this
The most shown scenes taken from the pilot and used regularly in the
opening theme of the show takes place during a sequence where Bruce
becomes the Hulk as he is in a hurry in his car and
experiences a flat tire and has to change it in the pouring rain
when he accidentally jabs himself with the crowbar/jack and his eyes
begin to dilate and his clothes begin to tear apart. He becomes the
Hulk and angrily growls and shoves the car over the embankment.
The show continually has Banner moving from town to town trying to
find a cure for his condition and escaping McGee who is always on
his heels. Banner and the Hulk encounter new experiences with each
travel and new stories are told in each and every show. You never
get bored with what comes next in this series.
Most viewers believed that Bixby became the Hulk without any CGI or
other special effects. Once Bixby became angry, his eyes dilating,
his shirt splitting open and his pants shredding you were into it.
The show has had great success during its run and is fondly
remembered as one of Marvelís best TV shows. It spawned into a few
made for TV movies in the form of The Incredible Hulk Returns
in 1988, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk in 1989 and The
Death of the Incredible Hulk in 1990.
In The Incredible Hulk Returns we see the Mighty Thor for the
first time in live-action. Banner is closed to curing himself of
the Hulkís disease, but his cure is stolen along with his girlfriend
needing the combined strength of the Hulk and Thor to rescue her.
The device however is lost in the process.
In The Trial of the Incredible Hulk we see Daredevil for the
first time in live-action. Rex Smith-former teenage heartthrob
plays Matt Murdock and Daredevil and represents Banner in a case
where he is accused of a mob crime. Wilson Fisk-John Rhys-Davies
also known as the Kingpin makes his live-action debut in the movie.
Itís a good show and Daredevil is shown beating up some of Kingpinís
men before getting subdued later by Kingpinís deadly audio
vibrations with his men moving in for the beating. The Hulk as
usual shows up in a timely manner in the movie to save the day.
In The Death of the Incredible Hulk,
Banner is once again closed to curing himself of the Hulkís disease,
but the labs where he has been doing his experiments has been
damaged by spies and Banner gets in deep with one of their
compatriots. Banner's temporary partner however is functioning in this capacity only
to help her sister escape who is being held hostage by the group.
The two work to help her escape and the story ends leaving things
open-ended. Did the Bruce Banner and the Hulk really die?
All Incredible Hulk shows and movies are
available together or separately on DVD and are
The Living Legend got his chance for live-action TV in 1978 and 1979 with two made for TV movies.
Captain America starring Reb Brown as Steve Rogers/Cap
made its way to TV screens with a two hour special.
Reb Brown was a pretty large person and filled out the suit, but his
acting chops was not his strength.
Like modern comics of the day Steve was an artist so the movie
played true to that, but that was well after World War II and after
his defrosting from an iceberg in the comics.
In this rendition Steve is almost killed and is on the brink of
death after trying to find out his late fatherís secrets and is
injected with a serum which gives him amazing strength and power.
The government outfits him with the Captain America uniform and
motorcycle and a clear shield with red and white mixed in which he
fits onto the front of the motorcycle when he travels and uses as a
bullet proof device when ramming through a nest of bad guys. His
head gear is a motorcycle helmet painted in the same colors as his
costume. Cap goes into battle to find those who were responsible.
The movie was successful enough that a second Cap made for TV movie
called Captain America II: Death Too Soon in 1979 with Reb
Brown returning as Cap was produced.
This time Cap is sent to visit a small town to find a missing
scientist and finds that all of the people are aging dramatically
all due to a villainís plot to poison America unless his demands are
I remembered both movies fairly well with the sound effects when Cap
made some kind of power punch or leap along the same par as what you
hear on the Wonder Woman show when she leaped into the air to reach
high places. I also recalled Cap doing daredevil like stunts on his
motorcycle, throwing his shield which came back to him like a
boomerang and throwing the bad guys around like the Six Million
I thought Capís look was a little corny with that motorcycle helmet
and visor and felt the movies were dated. You wonít find the Red
Skull in any of the shows so you have to get used to him battling
normal bad guys. If youíre curious, then you can find the
movies on VHS
The next Marvel character on live-action
TV came in the form of a pilot movie in 1978. Dr. Strange
starring Peter Hooten as Dr. Stephen Strange and Jessica Walter as
The movie somewhat references some of the comic books in that
Strange is the Master of the Mystic Arts and battles other sorcery.
There is a Wong who appeared in the comics who was Strangeís
Strange battles Morgan LeFay of the same namesake from the Camelot
days of King Arthur and Merlin the magician. The effects were
lackluster at best and those who watched it live like me did not
want to remember it anytime soon and obviously due to a lack of a
follow up show most agreed. If you find yourself inclined to
want to view this movie, it can be found on VHS and DVD.
One of the mutant titles was produced into a made for TV movie
called Power Pack in 1991. I missed this movie when it
originally aired and I donít see it available in any format to be
purchased. There was a family of mutant kids that Marvel created a
title for in the early 1980s that ran to the early 1990s that was
geared towards younger audiences which I did not collect. The
principles listed are Alex Power - Julie Power - Jack Power - Katie
Power and I believe their parents Dr. James Power and Margaret
Power. I donít have much to offer on this movie, but if you happen
to have additional information I can update my summary.
With continued interest in mutants at an all-time, television
producers decided to produce a movie called Generation X in
The movie focused on a teenage set of mutants to appeal to younger
viewers. They trained at Professor Xís School for Gifted Students
and come to the rescue for one of their kind from a mad scientist.
Emma Frost-The White Queen and Banshee are the mentors for the young
mutants. Jubilee is also featured in the movie. The effects were
good for the time and effective on TV however the movie did not lead
to any continuing series. I donít see anywhere that this is
available for rental or purchase, but possibly you can inquire at a
local comic book show in you area.
Before Samuel L. Jackson appeared as Nick
Fury at the end of the Iron Man movie, another actor portrayed the S.H.I.E.L.D
leader. David Hasselhoff of Baywatch fame starred in the made for
TV movie pilot called Nick Fury: Agent of Shield in 1998.
In it Fury takes on Hydra who are
attempting to destroy America with a deadly virus. I only saw brief
portion of the film when it originally aired and what I saw was
pretty good for a made for TV movie.
Unfortunately it did not spawn into a regular show, but I thought it
would make a good series. Hasselhoff plays the character tough and
does show some of his Knight Rider fighting skills.
The movie is available on DVD. It is expensive
due to its obscurity.
In 2001 a series on mutants was produced called Mutant X. It
ran three seasons and was very similar in context to the X-Men.
Their leader was a socially conscious individual who watched over
the team and had their best interest at hand. The team consisted of
young members needing guidance in using their powers and making
their way in society while the villain of the series was basically
out to use them for his own purposes. The series is available on
DVD in individual seasons or as a complete series.
In 2006 the vampire slayer Blade was turned into a TV series called
Blade: The Series with rapper Kirk ďSticky FingazĒ Jones
playing the role that Wesley Snipes made famous in the movies.
It kept some of the same tones and action from the films, but only
lasted only 12 episodes. It is available on DVD.
Spun off from the successful
Avengers Movie into a TV series came in 2013 called Marvel's
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D starring Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson
reprising his character. Gregg's character had died in the
film, but was revived for the series and heads up a division of
S.H.I.E.L.D (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and
The team Coulson leads initially
battles unusual cases which eventually is revealed to have a Hydra
connection. S.H.I.E.L.D will be comprised and destroyed and
Coulson works to rebuild and institute the services of several
super-powered beings. The show essentially does what the
Marvel Studios films have been building on and that is expanding the
Marvel Comics Universe onto the big screen. Here this show is
slowly building up characters onto TV. We get to see the
Inhumans and Ghost Rider. The show has been building a good
following and is available on DVD and Blu-Ray as individual seasons.
Inspired by the character in the
first Captain America movie was turned into a TV series in 2015.
Marvel's Agent Carter starring Hayley Atwell reprising the
character of Peggy Carter whom she played in the film. She
continues her work as a secret agent during the 1940s and encounters
enemies to the United States. The show was well-written and
had a lot of charm with Atwell's character portrayal that had wit
and humor. Unfortunately the series only lasted two seasons
before ABC canceled the show. It is available on DVD and Blu-Ray
in individual seasons.
Debuting on Netflix in 2015
was Daredevil. The show follows the exploits of blind
lawyer Matt Murdock in his battle against crime in New York City's
Hell's Kitchen. The show is
set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and stays very true to the
comic books as Daredevil battles the likes of the Kingpin and his
members and other criminal elements. Daredevil also has to
deal with the Punisher and the return of
his former girlfriend Elektra an assassin. Additional characters in the Daredevil mythology are
also featured such as Karen Page and Foggy Nelson. Daredevil
will be a part of Marvel's The Defenders team/series also on
Netflix. The portrayal of Daredevil is similar to the
comic books and with the association with the Defenders team will
further expand on the direction of the show. The series
has completed over two seasons and is available on DVD and Blu-Ray
as individual seasons and on Netflix streaming.
Also in 2015 on Netflix was Jessica Jones about a former superhero who has opened
her own detective agency and encounters individuals with
extraordinary powers. The series stays within the Marvel
Cinematic Universe which allows it to interact with other
Marvel characters and potential future movie projects. Luke Cage
from the comic books is part of the
regular cast and both characters will lead into Marvel's The Defenders
team/series. The series has completed one season and is
available on DVD and Blu-Ray and on Netflix streaming.
Spinning off from the Jessica
Jones series was the Luke Cage series televised in 2016 on Netflix.
Luke Cage is about a former convict with superhuman strength and
unbreakable skin who now fights crime. The character's powers
are similar to those found in the comic books as well as the setting
in New York's Harlem district. This series
stays within the Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity which allows
it to interact with other Marvel characters. Marvel Studios' hope is
that the character(s) are popular enough that they can
eventually be made into motion pictures. The series has
completed one season and is
available on Netflix streaming.
Affiliated with the X-Men
film franchise was Legion in 2017 about a mutant who is the
son of X-Men founder Charles Xavier. The show appeared on the
FX channel and follows the character who has telepathy and
telekinesis powers similar to his father and how he goes through
life dealing with these abilities. Not your typical superhero
series as it dives into the mental aspects of the character, but
there are visuals. The show has completed one season and is
available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Another addition to the Marvel
TV/Marvel Cinematic Universe connection came in 2017 in the form of
Iron Fist on Netflix. Daniel Rand is a martial
arts expert who has the ability to call upon the ancient power of
the Iron Fist. He returns to battle crime in New York City
after being presumed dead for many years and will become a part of
the Defenders team/series. In the comic books Iron Fist
routinely was teamed up with Luke Cage and the dawn of the Defenders
team the duo become a part of a larger group. The series has
not gained the support of the previous Netflix Marvel shows, but has
completed one season. The show is available on Netflix
Marvel's The Defenders
series in 2017 on
Netflix brings together Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and
Iron Fist as a superhero team. It is in continuity with the
Marvel Cinematic Universe which allows it to potentially be made
into future Marvel movies on the big screen, but at least allows
other Marvel characters to be incorporated or appear on the shows.
The team initially battles the underworld organization called the
Hand. Other supporting characters from the four shows have
made appearances in this series. The show has completed one
season and is available on Netflix streaming.