The Sandman and Peacemaker were 2022’s best comic book TV

The medium of comics and the superhero genre have undoubtedly maintained their places in the upper echelons of pop culture thanks to their efforts in film and television, and there have certainly been plenty of great shows competing for subscription audiences in the streaming space. of television Disney and Marvel Studios’ MCU has taken the genre to new heights in live-action television, for better or for worse, pushing Disney+ with several original shows over the past couple of years.

However, while Marvel had the occasional standout production, it was undoubtedly Netflix and HBO Max that had the best comic book adaptations of the year with The sand man e Pacific, respectively. Although very different in tone and subject matter, both shows shared the same refreshing dose of creative ingenuity that made them so much fun.

The Sandman: Successfully Adapting the “Unadaptable”

Endless headliner surrounded by his supporting cast in The Sandman.

In the world of comics, Neil Gaiman is a respected name. He provided some of the best work in the medium and lent his talents to various characters known as the Fantastic Four. The sand man is often considered his magnum opus, but he also wrote Batman, which shows his versatility in both original works and long-running IPs.

When it comes to The sand man, Many think that this comic book masterclass of a story is challenging, if not impossible, to adapt to another medium. Much of this series is defined by abstract and surreal imagery in addition to nuanced storytelling and character arcs.

Gaiman had been working on an adaptation for many years, as the enormous weight of expectation behind the source material showed.

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And while it’s certainly an important name in the “streaming wars,” Netflix hasn’t exactly inspired confidence that quality and fidelity would be a guarantee for something as layered as The sand man, but thankfully that’s what ended up delivering the final product. Of course, it probably helps that Gaiman himself made sure his property was treated with respect.

Dream about Lucienne in The Sandman.

The sand man has achieved what was previously seen as impossible, bringing to the screen a world as visually imaginative as the comic book series that inspired it. While some episodes towards the end of the first season fell a bit short compared to the big story arcs that came before, there was a tantalizing sense of wonder in seeing Dream travel to different places and encounter characters in an anthology-style narrative. structure

That episodic formula did well to show pockets of this corner of the DC world in ways that were in service of those isolated stories, while still feeding into larger themes and the journey of Dream’s own characters. The sand man it’s a moving story of learning to adapt to the times, as well as being willing to embrace the growth within yourself.

Among the main cast, the performances were outstanding, with Tom Sturridge a standout in adapting such an ethereal and larger-than-life figure, while also rooting for the protagonist’s nascent sense of humanity. You can also tell how much fun the behind-the-scenes creative team had turning these characters around, as other members of the Endless like Kirby Howell-Baptiste’s Death and villains like Gwendoline Christie’s Lucifer provided some of the show’s most compelling episodes thanks to the their respective charms.

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It’s been a rollercoaster waiting to see if Netflix would give the show the Season 2 renewal it deserves or if it would also prematurely give up on this one, but it’s great to see that the show will continue with this passion project.

Peacemaker: The Show No One Knew They Wanted

Peacemaker promo featuring John Cena as the titular anti-hero.

The future DCU under co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran is currently being revamped, especially with the recent news that Henry Cavill has been dropped as Superman, but Gunn has already shown, at Marvel and DC, to have a reverence for the source material and a skill for character work.

After the criticized 2016 Suicide Squad film, Gunn came on board to direct a loose sequel that maintains the same general continuity while serving as a fresh starting point for newcomers. The film was well received and was essentially what Gunn achieved with his Guardians of the Galaxy films in the MCU: a comedic action adventure about a group of unlikely, misfit protagonists.

It was everything I needed, but the most amazing look The Suicide Squad it was how it spawned a spin-off TV series starring John Cena’s seemingly deplorable anti-hero Peacemaker. The show’s eight-episode first season was critically acclaimed, showcasing Cena’s unexpected “dramatic” acting prowess.

Peacemaker promo featuring the main cast of the show.

Pacific, and perhaps the television format in general, arguably brought out the best in Gunn, as the bawdy humor and heartfelt character dynamics were there, but it felt even bolder in terms of social commentary than its successful theatrical ventures. Cena’s protagonist is presented as a hypocritical threat from the start, but the show brilliantly transforms into a story of meaningful introspection.

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The rest of his supporting cast and equally unlikely team members also stood out Pacific it told an effective and rewarding isolated story within the vast DC multiverse that didn’t worry about being a commercial for someone else’s show, while also not divorcing itself from the larger universe.

It’s the “superhero” show that no one saw coming, and the show that no one knew they wanted, and we’ll be eager to see how season 2 continues the satisfying character arcs. PacificThe premiere season of more dense.

Standing above the rest

A giant cat with glowing eyes sits in The Sandman.

Even outside of the superhero genre specifically, it’s easy to look at the last couple of years of great franchise TV shows and feel cynical. Several of the MCU Phase 4 series felt padded, cut too far or simply unnecessary, and the same could be said for some of Lucasfilm’s corners of Disney + with the mega-franchise that is Star Wars.

However, what The sand man e Pacific The implication in the medium, at least for comic book adaptations, is that there is still room for inventiveness in this genre on the small screen.

These two shows are very different in tone and concept, but they’re examples of how wonderfully weird these kinds of stories can be on their own merits.

You can stream The sand man on Netflix, meanwhile Pacific is currently streaming on HBO Max.

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