Any screenwriter will tell you that adaptation represents one of the most complex conundrums in the filmmaking process: how does one bring a character from page to screen while maintaining the essence of the story? Some shows do remarkably well, while others can’t seem to find the proper balance.


IGN recently polled viewers asking which comic book shows currently airing were most favored. The results presented an interesting perspective on what exactly constitutes a “good” comic book series these days.


Graph showing the results of a viewer poll asking which comic book show adaptaion was the best.

The results of the viewer polls were very telling of what audiences really tuned into on television. (

By a fairly wide margin, Marvel’s “Daredevil” and “Arrow” came out the victors on a poll of 10 comic book television programs. Based on this, viewers appreciate adaptations which indulge in gritty, violent subject matter with both shows set around street-level heroes with specific skillsets used to fight city crimes.


It could also be implied that audiences favor shows with more favorable heroes, ie. Green Arrow, The Flash, and Daredevil. Yet, that theory is tested again with “Gotham” ranking so low on the poll. Arguably, no locale has better brand recognition in comic books than the home city of Bruce Wayne and James Gordon. However, “Gotham” separates itself from the top three ranking shows because of its lack of faithfulness to the original story line.


At every turn, “Gotham” has made every conceivable attempt to deviate from its source material, and suffered as a result. “Arrow,” “The Flash,” and “Daredevil” all make necessary sacrifices to transition from page to screen, but in the end, they tell stories that feel almost ripped from the pages of classic comic book tales.


There is no exact science to determining what makes some shows successful. Audiences want a balance of myriad factors, ranging from dark, violent themes, to brand recognition, to story fidelity — just to name a few. In the end, we can all agree that we live in an amazing time to be both a lover of comic books and prime time television.


What is your favorite element when watching comic book shows? Comment below or find me on Twitter @connerws.