Amazon’s Invincible may be the start of a new era in comic book adaptations. The series’ first season was a surprisingly enjoyable R-rated jolt to the industry’s usual page-to-screen machine. Yet, the show’s novelty had very little to do with its willingness to be edgy. We’ve seen superhero stories get dark and introspective before, most notably in the form of Amazon’s other immensely popular show The Boys, and HBO’s award-winning Watchmen. What made Invincible so special was its courage to be animated in a world where live-action dudes-in-tights are the only ones being taken seriously.
Sure, comics have a long history with cartoons. From 1941’s Max Fleischer adaptation of Superman to the critically-acclaimed Batman and X-Men series of the early ’90s. It went all the way to modern cult classics like The Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice. There’s no denying animation has always played a large role in bringing comic book characters to the forefront of popular culture. Unfortunately, despite the success surrounding these projects, the unwritten rule of geekdom has always been that adults watch real people in costumes while the children focus on cartoons. Only the biggest nerds do both. Thankfully, with the help of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Invincible, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, that rule has begun to change.
Tales of heroes in capes are the new norm, and it would seem their atmospheric rise in popularity has made the general public aware of their storytelling merits. If Invincible did anything, it was finally showing people what animation can allow a studio to pull off. A huge scope without big sets, a stellar cast without coordinating schedules, and pulse-pounding action drama without the restraints of CGI. Marvel Studios is set to make its first ventures into “adult-inclusive” animation with the debut of M.O.D.O.K. later this month and What If…? later this year. If those star-studded series go well, it hopefully won’t be the last time the studio feels confident enough to greenlight a potentially MCU-canon cartoon project. Luckily for Marvel, they already have the perfect set of characters just begging to be part of the animated scene, The Power Pack.
One of Marvel’s more obscure super-groups, this team of tween heroes consists of the four Power siblings Alex, Julie, Jack, and Katie. Introduced in 1984, the children’s story found them wielding unique abilities after coming across a dying alien. It had come to Earth in search of their genius father. As a result, Alex can control gravity, Julie learned to fly, Jack manipulates mass, and Katie can disintegrate any form of the matter before expelling it as a ball of explosive energy. Initially tasked with protecting the world from the deceased alien’s rival race, the kids end up donning costumes to hide their identities and act as Earth’s newest superhero team. Though they would occasionally bump into Marvel’s bigger guns, like Spider-Man or the Avengers, the Power Pack mostly operated on their own, taking down some of the planet’s biggest threats before the likes of Iron Man even knew there was a problem.
The concept screams Saturday morning cartoons and would act as their perfect answer to Invincible. Despite featuring four children as the protagonists, the comic series was known to tackle some pretty heavy subject matter. The Pack was imbued with great power and often ended up in situations that called their moral standings into question. Before they even hit puberty, the kids were forced to deal with topics like sexual assault and drug abuse. The comic was a great way to present these issues to America’s youth through characters their own age, and an animated series featuring the group could perform the same task for young fans of today’s MCU.
Much like Invincible, a Power Pack show would juggle all the classic coming-of-age superhero tropes with the darker realities of life. It could do so without dipping into any of the prior project’s R-rated territory. In essence, it would be the anti-Invincible. Hitting all the same thematic pressure points, but with brighter accessibility to adults and children alike. Making the series animated would also allow for the bigger stars of the MCU to easily appear in voice roles, and the isolated nature of the Power Pack’s traditional stories means they wouldn’t have to appear in live-action productions very often. If the show were to age its characters with the voice cast, it would make these potential crossovers far easier and permit the vocal performers to reprise their roles on the big screen if need be.
A Power Pack adaptation has been in varying degrees of production since 2000. Marvel boss Kevin Feige has expressed interest in bringing the group to the MCU in the past, and even commissioned a film script to be written as recently as 2017. While a movie would be better than nothing, it would seem like a missed opportunity to make something more unique. No Power Pack updates have come in quite some time, so hopefully, there’s still time to make an animated series happen.
Source: The Hashtag Show