ABC brings two comicbook adaptations to television

Posted by CB Droege

ABC recently confirmed that it expects to bring The Hulk and AKA Jessica Jones to their line-up in time for next year’s pilot season.

The Hulk has apparently been in talks and pre-production since late last year, but AKA Jessica Jones is a new addition. Both are properties of Marvel, and the comic book publisher is working with ABC to develop the series.

Unlike most pilots, which have to be developed and filmed, then shopped around to networks, these two are being developed within the network, so they are much more likely to make it to an actual debut.

The Hulk, of course, is an adaptation of the long-running comicbook line featuring a modern Jekyll and Hyde story. When young brilliant scientist gets accidentally blasted with funky radiation, he gains the power/curse of the Hulk, which causes him to become giant green and super strong whenever he gets angry. The story becomes about exploring anger and the nature of heroics.

The Hulk was depicted famously and popularly on television previously by Lou Ferrigno, but hasn’t seen much popularity outside of his own books since then. It will be interesting to see how they handle the effects for this story on a television budget. Will they bring in two actors again, or will they hulk out one actor with CG?

AKA Jessica Jones may be a response to FX’s new show, Powers, which is based on the outstanding comicbook line of the same name, published by various smaller publishers over the years. This new show is based on another line, Alias, written by Powers author Brian Michael Bendis. 

Alias follows similar themes to Powers, except that it’s based in the Marvel Universe, rather than having its own fresh mythology. Jessica Jones is a former superhero turned private detective, who takes cases involving superheroes. The very first arc includes appearances by Captain America and Daredevil including other minor Marvel Universe characters. 

It’s unknown how much of the original stories will be retained, or whether they will even retain the setting, and include the Marvel characters, since that would likely mess with the canon of the Marvel Film Universe.

"We’re extremely excited by having Marvel in the fold," ABC President Paul Lee said. "We’ve developing aggressively both AKA Jessica Jones and The Hulk. Hopefully we’ll have two very good choices to look at around the pilot season next year."

When asked how these shows fit into ABC’s current lineup, which is mostly focused on the ‘women aged 18-35’ demographic, he added "Family entertainment, Hulk is a classic example of it. You remember No Ordinary Family wasn’t our best moment and yet it was the highest [family] show of the year. So I absolutely think there’s room. I think Charlie’s Angels is an example of it. I think Last Man Standing is an example of it, for great family entertainment. And that’s a sort of wider band around our central target."

Both series are planned to debut in fall 2012.