People love a dark Batman. Not all people, though. Some of us prefer a little levity, or even some outright comedy. I’m a big proponent of the ‘60s Batman TV show starring Adam West. It was a genuinely funny show, and intentionally show. West gives a delightful comedic performance, and with each gritty Batman reboot I miss it more and more. Batman isn’t the only character who got a comedic take. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor was revitalized completely when Thor: Ragnarok took him down a comedy path, though not quite to the same degree of the West version of Batman. I began to wonder if other notable superheroes could benefit from getting a Batman ’66-style comedy revamp, which is to say a version of the character that isn’t taken seriously at all and pokes fun at the pomp and circumstance of superheroes. Here are five assessments of five notable superheroes.
Superman: Frankly, it’s hard to make Superman interesting. He’s so powerful, but also so straitlaced. Could you play up the fish-out-of-water nature of the alien come to Earth for comedy? That’s often a trope used for humor, but how would it work with Superman? He’d probably have to be destroying things for it to really hit and change the character, and then you are getting very close to dark comedy, and even then it may not work. Verdict: Not right for comedy.
Wonder Woman: The ‘70s Wonder Woman show is campy like Batman ’66, but not with the same intent. That’s not what I’m talking about here. The fact that Diana is basically ageless means you could drop the show into any era, which helps. She has fish-out-of-water potential like Superman, but more of a “humanity” to her. However, can you get her on the right side of goofy? Verdict: Possible, but difficult.
Aquaman: The problem here is that I think the jokes are too obvious. You would basically be doing the thing that people have done for years: Making fun of Aquaman’s powers. Could you do a comedy about Aquaman where he wasn’t the focus of the jokes? Or where the jokes weren’t the usual ones? What other comedy can be mined from the character? Verdict: Possible, but pointless.
The Flash: What can you really do with the Flash? He runs really fast. You could make The Flash funny, but can you do it with anything that is inherent to him being The Flash? The comedy of Batman ’66 comes from Batman, Robin, and the rogues gallery. If you made a Flash comedy, I don’t think the humor has anything to do with being a superhero. Verdict: Too boring for comedy.
Green Lantern: Here, we have the best potential of any of these five characters. Green Lantern hangs out with aliens and can travel in space. That’s huge comedy potential. You can do whatever you want with an alien, and can create all sorts of funny extraterrestrials. Also, the Green Lantern can create anything with his ring. There’s a ton of comedy possibility there as well. Plus, Green Lantern is just a guy with a ring. It’s easier to imagine a comedic version of that. Verdict: Make it happen, Hollywood!