Inside the Lightbox is a sponsored feature where we mine the extensive Lightbox catalogue for cool shows you might like to watch. This week – it’s superhero central.
Superheroes are everywhere at the moment. The new Avengers movie has flown into cinemas, one of the X Men has come out as gay and here at home we suddenly have a ‘Ponytail Man’ Prime Minister. To celebrate all things super, I thought now was a better time than ever to delve into the small-screen offerings that Lightbox has to offer.
Fusing science fiction with comedy and drama, UK series Misfits follows a group of dysfunctional youths in community service after doing various dysfunctional things. Normal, you might think. Just an average teen experience, you might think. Caught in a freak electrical storm one day, the group of misfits become even more misfit as they mysteriously develop supernatural powers.
“This is your chance to give something back” says the community service officer, “really change people’s lives.” Little did he know that these delinquents were about to develop the likes of telepathy, invisibility, time travel and the always-coveted skill of sending people into a sexy frenzy at the touch of your skin. The five core characters are immediately bonded by their skills, and even more so when they have their own I Know What You Did Last Summer situation to contend with within the first episode. Misfits blends rough British street humour, buzzy special effects and deeply dark themes to create a whole new type of super-monster.
Things don’t get much more super than the mighty Playstation releasing their own original series (even better than a gritty look into Uka Uka’s back story in Crash Bandicoot). Powers is a superhero drama based on the Marvel comic book series by the same name. In a world where humans and superheroes co-exist (poorly), homicide detective and ex-superhero Christian Walker works with his partner Deena Pilgrim to solve superhero-inflicted crimes.
It’s jam-packed with power-enhancing drugs, terrifying transformations and far more cops on the beat than Christmas in the Park. In this world, the superheroes aren’t quite the swooping good samaritans who get changed in phone boxes – but an elite ruling class. It’s a rethinking of what the caped crusader stands for, twisting tradition and blurring the moral lines. As a wise musical superhero once said, “no one man should have all that power”.
Marvel & Madhouse: Iron Man
Everyone’s favourite wise-cracking, billionaire Avenger, Iron Man, takes new form in this 12-episode animated series. Collaborating with the Japanese animation studio Madhouse, Marvel takes their comic book hero and animates him for a slightly older demo. Using the harder anime-style, Iron Man takes on a grittier look as he continues to fight oppressing evil forces – in Japan. Travelling to Japan to build an invention that will provide free electricity, international playboy Tony Stark is almost ready to give up the superhero gig. He’s got plans to roll out a suit of Iron Man-style armour for the public, passing on the baton of responsibility forever (and presumably rust maintenance).
As always, things don’t go completely according to plan. A criminal organization by the name of Zodiac (not unlike the San Francisco killer) takes the reigns of Tony’s new high-tech machinery. The suits for world peace now become weapons for deadly evil. Who will save Japan? Konichiwa, Iron Man.
A small screen superhero classic. This is the show responsible for the killer pop culture catchphrase “save the cheerleader, save the world,” as well as launching Hayden Penettiere into the TV stratosphere. The four-season American series, like Misfits, follows regular people who possess exceptional powers. They look ordinary, but are all struggling through internal battles as their bizarre abilities manifest without explanation.
The series draws upon comic book style, layering up the stories of multiple characters over several volumes – just to bring it all together with a swoop of a narrative cape (please note: these characters do not wear capes). As our characters realise their superhuman skills, they are in hot pursuit by an agency called The Company who wants them stopped. Oh, and as ever, the world is on the cusp of destruction. Buckle in.