In this wonderful post-Black Panther world, what we need now most of all are new and diverse comic book adaptations. Not just superhero stuff (especially not any more caped-crusader flicks starring white dudes named Chris), but other comics as well. In other words, if Hollywood wants to repeat the success of Black Panther and Wonder Woman, it ain’t gonna be with a third Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
So here are a few series I think would make great television shows or movies, and the people who should adapt them. I stuck to material not already in the development pipeline—hence no Chew, Goldie Vance, Squirrel Girl, Crosswind, Locke & Key, Lumberjanes, Y: The Last Man, Sandman, Nimona, or DCEU/MCU—but it was sooooo hard to narrow down to just a few. Gimme all the intersectionality you got!
Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivelä’s Abbott only has two issues out, but I’m already in love with Elena Abbott. She’s a badass journalist—sometimes called the “Black Lois Lane”—in 1972 Detroit investigating the murder of a 14-year-old African-American boy by cops. Dee Rees, riding high after her wrenching period piece Mudbound, would do this comic the justice it deserves as a Luke Cage-style Netflix show.
James Tynion IV and Rian Sygh’s young adult miniseries about a group of boys at an all-boys school who discover a doorway to alternate dimensions in the backstage area of the school theatre is exactly what’s missing on television right now. If Rebecca Sugar was ready to move on from Steven Universe, I’d love to see her adaptation. The Backstagers would be absolutely lovely as an animated series.
Bong Joon-ho may sound like an odd choice as the director of a Batwoman movie, but bear with me. Between The Host, Snowpiercer, and Okja, Bong has already established himself as a fantastic director with a flair for intense action and human spectacle, with just enough fantasy to liven things up. Think of what he could do with a story like Greg Rucka and J. H. Williams’ “Elegy.”
Sing the praises of The Handmaid’s Tale all you like, but if any literary property is more perfectly attuned to 2018, it’s Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro’s Bitch Planet. Which is why I think Lena Waithe is the ideal person to develop it for television. Her personal experience combined with smart filmmaking—she has a recurring role on Master of None, produced the Dear White People movie, and wrote and created The Chi—more than make up for her having never done science fiction before. *grabby hands*
Hellcat (Patsy Walker) and She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters)
I’d give just about anything for a Supergirl-style TV series starring the most recent comic book iterations of Patsy and Jennifer. Don’t get me wrong, Netflix!Patsy is cool and all, but how can you not love Kate Leth’s adorable series or the delightfully feminist takes on She-Hulk by Charles Soule and Mariko Tamaki? If you loved Obvious Child and Landline as much as I did, you’ll be happy to know I nominate Gillian Robespierre to produce a show combining two of the bestest Marvel besties around.
Aline Brosh McKenna is another intriguing candidate. Her film Morning Glory was one of the last great traditional rom-coms (as opposed to those where the protags are terrible people doing awful things to each other). At present she’s a co-creator, writer, producer, and director on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, so I’m more than confident she can handle Shulkie and Hellcat.
Kim & Kim
Literally no one else could direct a film adaptation of Magdalene Visaggio and Eva Cabrera’s Kim & Kim except the Wachowskis. The series is dripping with intersectional diversity, sarcasm, and bombastic energy. The Wachowski siblings wowed with their bonkers theatrics in gloriously awesome Jupiter Ascending (don’t @ me) and doubled down on the melodrama in Sense8. A Kim & Kim adaptation is practically tailor made for them.
Midnighter definitely needs a DCEU movie, one that lets his fists do as much work as his attitude without it winding up a Deadpool knockoff. And who better than Karyn Kusama? She has the style and substance to bring him to life in the right way. Bonus points for including Apollo, either as an ex or current beau.
Justin Lin would be a good alternate director. The Fast and Furious series shows he can pull off crazy action set pieces, and Better Luck Tomorrow demonstrates his skill at complicated relationships.
Miles may not be the MCU Spider-Man many of us were waiting for, but at least he’s in canon. Silver linings, I suppose. But if we were so lucky as to be blessed with a Miles movie, I can’t think of another better director than Ryan Coogler. Coogler’s films tend to be more serious than Miles’ comics are, but given the miracle that is Black Panther, I think he’ll be just fine.
I’d also happily accept Jordan Peele. We know he can do big budget and smaller personal moments, and Miles’ goofy personality would get a lot of play with Peele.
A girl gang gets pulled into a fantastical mystery in Kiwi Smith, Kurt Lustgarten, and Naomi Franquiz’s ’80s-style adventure tale. Smith is the talented woman who wrote most of your favorite ’90s YA/NA chick flicks—Ella Enchanted, Legally Blonde, 10 Things I Hate About You—so of course I’d pick Amy Heckerling, she of Clueless fame among numerous other projects, to direct the movie.
Aurora Guerrero is also an intriguing option. Although she hasn’t directed a blockbuster, her film Mosquito y Mari shows she has what it takes to tell a nuanced and compelling story about young women. I’m all for out-of-the-box choices to bring in new ideas.
Monstress is a sprawling, gorgeous series about family and revenge, with a hefty dose of scathing subtext on feminism, sexism, and racism. Creators Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda aren’t messing around with this series, and that makes it unlike just about anything else currently being published. Takeda’s art is lush and mind-bogglingly beautiful, and the only director I can think of to do her work justice is Tarsem Singh. If you’ve seen The Cell and The Fall, then you know how good his visuals are. Could he be lured to television? This series is too sprawling to be limited to a single movie.
Yet another low-hanging film fruit that Marvel has somehow managed to avoid. G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel has been on the New York Times Bestsellers List multiple times, features a pleasantly diverse cast, and comes pre-packaged with strong appeal to an audience practically begging for attention. Who to direct her feature film debut? Sydney Freeland, of course! After the utter delight that was Deidra & Laney Rob a Train, I know she could easily balance the Kamala’s charm with Ms. Marvel’s punch.
Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s Paper Girls is also in a desperate need for a kickass TV show. Michelle MacLaren has produced and directed some of the biggest and most beloved television series of the last two decades. Tough tweens, suspicious science fiction-y happenings, creepy adults, and an ’80s nostalgia bent was successful enough with Stranger Things, but think of what a director like MacLaren could do with material with actually fully developed female characters?
On the other hand, Cary Joji Fukunaga could do some really interesting stuff with Chiang’s visuals. Fukunaga has a history of cinematography, directing, and producing in films full of powerful yet delicate moments, meaning he’d have little trouble with Paper Girls.
Redlands features witches in a small town in Florida and is filled to the brim with sex, blood, violence, and feminist revenge. The disconcerting, pull-no-punches style of Ana Lily Amirpour—she of The Bad Batch and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night fame—would knock a TV series adaptation of Jordie Bellaire and Vanesa R. Del Rey’s haunting series out of the frakking park.
Speaking of Vaughan, for such a layered, detailed, epic fantasy and science fiction genre smashing space opera as his and Fiona Staples’ Saga, the only director I trust to adapt it is Ava DuVernay. A series like this can’t be condensed into a two-hour movie; it demands multiple seasons on a high-end channel or streaming site. DuVernay can do quiet moments (Middle of Nowhere), nuanced takes on the best and worst of humanity (Selma), and emotional and visual spectacle (A Wrinkle in Time), as well as handle the challenges of a rigorous television schedule (Queen Sugar).
Spell on Wheels
When three young witches are robbed of some very important magical items, they set off on a roadtrip to track them down and confront the thief in this intersectionally diverse, engaging miniseries by Kate Leth and Megan Levens. What with her excellent work on True Blood, How To Get Away With Murder, The L Word, D.E.B.S., and Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, Angela Robinson has my vote to direct this movie.
Think James Bond but starring a middle-aged woman and with a lot less sexism and misogyny. Patty Jenkins could easily turn Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s spy thriller into the next great Atomic Blonde or Haywire. She’s got the flair for the dramatic and the skills for intense action, as Wonder Woman deftly demonstrated.
The Wicked + The Divine
How SERIOUSLY AWESOMELY COOL would it be to have Bryan Fuller and Michael Green run wild with a television show based on Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s comic? Sexy celebrities, fantastic gods, massive drama…this is right up their alley. After American Gods and Hannibal, there’s nothing Fuller and Green can do wrong, as far as I’m concerned.
Specifically, the Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie run from a few years back with Taika Waititi directing the movie. Like Ms. Marvel, this would have a lot of appeal for a representation-starved audience. Moreover, the story about finding your family and fixing your mistakes (and being terrorized across the multiverse by Kid Loki’s subconscious, “PatriNot,” and a matronly interdimensional parasite) would translate well from print to screen. Waititi would rock the weird, jumbly, cross-dimensional vibe with quirky ease.
Alex Brown is a YA librarian by day, local historian by night, pop culture critic/reviewer by passion, and QWoC all the time. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, check out her endless barrage of cute rat pics on Instagram, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on Tumblr.