I GET THE SENSE there's nothing as befuddling to Warner Bros. right now as their Green Lantern movie. Every one of their attempts to sell this thing feels like it's being done with a confused shrug and a furtive, sidelong glance: "Uhh... is anyone buying this weird shit?" This is not a new phenomenon: Outside of Batman and Superman, Warner Bros. has proven that when it comes to superheroes, befuddled stumbling is their M.O.
The Flash (1990, CBS)—Cram Dawson's Creek's John Wesley Shipp into an absurdly over-muscled bodysuit à la Michael Keaton in 1989's Batman, and his goofy shenanigans were generally pleasing. The show died after one year, though, due to budget concerns and Gulf War I, which kept interrupting with stuff like "Dan Rather's giant boring head" and "Lackluster games of Missile Command."
Aquaman (2007, WB)—It's the most downloaded TV episode on iTunes, primarily because people saw the title and exclaimed, "No fuckin' way—an AQUAMAN show?" What they got was a pretty-but-bland piece of teenbait in the mold of Smallville. What we lost when the CW decided not to pick up the series was the promise of weekly Ving Rhames, playing a rumpled sidekick. What they shoulda done? Ving Rhames is...AQUAMAN. Ratings gold!
Wonder Woman (2011, NBC)—The only thing David E. Kelley did right in his failed attempt to bring Wonder Woman back to TV? Hiring Friday Night Lights' Adrianne Palicki to play the Amazon Princess. The things he did wrong? Everything fucking else: a supervillain whose dastardly plan involves selling poisoned lipstick to the 'hood. Dance party montages. Introspective moments wherein our brave, strong heroine openly worries about the size of her tits. Y'know, typical Wonder Woman stuff.
Justice League of America (1997, CBS)—This live-action fuckup is the good kind of bad: a thick slice of low-budget, inept cheese. On the unintentional comedy scale, it ranks right around Roger Corman's The Fantastic Four. The opening 10 minutes of this trainwreck, way closer to Friends than Superfriends, is, for better or worse, available on YouTube.