11 Superhero Shows That Almost Nobody Remembers
Superhero shows have never been more popular. Between Marvel's Netflix-verse (Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Iron Fist, and Defenders), the Arrow-verse on CW, and many more, it's a great time for superheroes on TV. There have of course been a variety of iconic and much-loved shows over the decades too, but for every Smallville or Wonder Woman, there are many more that are long forgotten. Here 11 of the least remembered superhero shows--most of them forgotten for good reason...
Legendary producer Roger Corman, best known for his exploitation and horror movies, dabbled briefly in the world of superheroes. Most notoriously, he produced 1992’s never-released Fantastic Four movie, but he was also responsible for the Sci-Fi Channel’s Black Scorpion. The show lasted one season in 2001, and focused on a police detective called Darcy Walker, who by night dons a leather outfit to fight such amusingly-named villains as Aerobicide, Professor Prophet, and Gangster Prankster. Like Batman, Black Scorpion has no superpowers, just gadgets and skills. Unlike Batman, no one remembers her.
Another powerless hero was Zachary Stone, the main character of 1990's Super Force. Unlike many shows on this list, this one ran for two seasons and had a sister show that is even less-remembered (Lightning Force). Stone is an astronaut who returns from a mission to Mars to avenge his brother’s death with the help of high-tech fighting suit. Confusingly, Super Force is the name of the suit, not a team, but in the tradition of Knight Rider’s KITT, our hero has a computer that chats to him while wearing the suit. Curiously, one of the bad guys was played by G. Gordon Liddy, the former lawyer and key player in the Watergate burglary that led to President Richard Nixon’s downfall.
Glen A. Larson was the king of high concept, popular TV in the 1980s--from Battlestar Galactica and Knight Rider to Magnum PI and The Fall Guy, Larson's shows put an indelible mark on pop culture. Less successful however was Night Man, Larson's attempt to get into the superhero game. Based on a little-remembered Marvel character, the show hit screens in 1997 and ran for two seasons. It starred Malcolm McColm as Johnny Domino (aka Night Man), a supernatural hero who can fly and fire lasers from his eyes. While he's not fighting crime, Domino plays smooth jazz saxophone, something I think the superhero genre needs more of.
This 1988 show was produced by the Salkind brothers, who were the men behind the first three Superman movies and 1984's Supergirl film. The series ran for 100 episodes and was popular throughout its run, but a successful legal challenge by Warner to reclaim full ownership of the entire Superman property meant that the show came to a sudden stop in 1992. Superboy saw a lot of cast changes throughout its run, including two different actors in the lead role, plus a wildly varying tone that lurched from light and fun to dark and moody. And with the subsequent small screen success of The New Adventures of Superman, Smallville, and Supergirl, this one has drifted into the mists of time.
On the face of it, the plot of Isis sounds like a blatant attempt to cash in on the success of the Wonder Woman TV show, but in fact, this 1975 series premiered a year earlier. Also known as Secrets of Isis, it has the honor of being TV's first female-led superhero show, and focused on a schoolteacher who can transform into the titular Egyptian goddess via the power of an ancient amulet. The show wasn't exactly ambitious with its plot; most of the 22 episodes involved Isis using her powers to rescue her students from a series of not particularly dangerous mishaps. But our heroine's habit of smiling straight at the camera shows that no one was supposed to take it very seriously. Interestingly, the character to set to resurface next month in the CW's DC show Legends of Tomorrow under the name Zari Adrianna Tomaz. Let's hope they give her something more interesting to do.
Everyone remembers the Blade movie and its sequels, but it's safe to say the TV spinoff is less familiar. The 2006 show followed directly on from the events of Blade: Trinity; it was produced by David Goyer, who wrote all three movies, with rapper Kirk "Sticky Fingaz" Jones replacing Wesley Snipes as the leather-clad vampire hunter of the title. Unfortunately, despite strong initial viewing figures and decent reviews, it only lasted one season on Spike, with the cost of the production leading to its cancellation. Bye bye Blade.
Birds of Prey
Last year, it was rumored that DC were working on Gotham City Sirens, a movie that was to focus on some of the female characters of the DC universe. The movie is no longer happening, but disappointed fans can relax--a TV version already exists! Bird of Prey premiered in 2002 to impressive viewing figures, but these quickly plummeted and the show was cancelled 13 episodes later. The series was set in a post-Batman Gotham, and it teamed Huntress (the daughter of Batman and Catwoman) with Oracle, the new identity of former Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. Other familiar characters include Harley Quinn and Alfred, with Mark Hamill lending his voice to the Joker in the pilot episode.
Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, was the first ever female comic book character to get her own title, with her 1939 comic being introduced four years before the first issue of Wonder Woman. In 2000, the character was briefly revived for modern audiences, with former Baywatch star Gena Lee Nolin as the super-fast, shape-shifting heroine, who also goes by the mysterious alias of Darak'na. Unfortunately, the producers couldn't let Sheena deal with the dangerous of the jungle alone, so they gave her a useless male companion, a grizzled ex-CIA agent called Matt Cutter. Sheena ran for two seasons and reappeared on DVD last month in a six-disc box set.
Swamp Thing: The Series
Swamp Thing: The Series actually had a better run than many of the shows on this list. Based on DC's comic books about a scientist turned gloopy marsh monster, the 1990 series saw stuntman Dick Durock reprise the lead role from the two terrible movies in the 1980s and was shot on an entirely studio-bound--but reasonably convincing--swamp set. The critics hated it, and many of the episodes were confusingly broadcast out-of-sequence, but it must have done something right. It ran for three years, 72 episodes and for a time, was the highest rated original show on the USA Network.
The most recent show on this list, 2011's The Cape was NBC's attempt to follow the success of its earlier hit Heroes. While Heroes went quickly downhill, The Cape never got started--mediocre reviews and poor ratings ensured that it was cancelled after one season. The show followed the adventures of an ex-cop named Farraday who was trained by a gang of circus performers and given a mystical superpowered cape. Farraday had been framed for a crime he did not commit by the corrupt police force and fought to clear his name. Unfortunately for Farraday, no one cared, and 10 episodes later, The Cape was no more.
The Amazing Spider-Man
Before Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland, there was Nicholas Hammond. Hammond was the star of this short-lived live-action Spider-Man show, which was produced after Stan Lee sold the Spidey TV right to CBS in the mid-70s. While a generation of Marvel-loving kids finally got to see Spidey on screen, budgetary constraints meant that very little of the expected web swinging could be realized; much of the action consisted of Spidey climbing up the occasional wall and getting in some unthrilling punch-ups. CBS cancelled the show in 1979 because it was worried about being identified too heavily with the superhero genre, which is certainly not something that worries studios these days.