A Great Idea For a Show
—That Ended Much Too Soon
For superhero aficionados, comic book geeks, and action figure fans, the Syfy Channel’s inspired and family-friendly, competition-reality show, “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” (WWTBASH) was like a little slice of Heaven. Each episode was “entertainment-light,” to be sure, but it could also be an intriguing, emotional, and suspenseful, mini morality play, played out each and every week. Challenging the wannabe “heroes” with a series of contests, the show ultimately attempted to uncover what was (or was NOT) inside of each contestant’s heart and soul (i.e. empathy, selflessness, determination, heroism, etc.). And while fans may not have always agreed with the show’s “elimination” decisions, the audience was all too happy to be along for the ride—on what was proclaimed as—”The Adventure of a Lifetime!”
An “American Idol” for Fans and Creators of Superheroes
Despite high ratings for the Syfy Channel and repeated pleas from its legions of fans, the show’s creator and Oz-like host, comics legend Stan Lee (now 90), replied that his schedule no longer permitted him to do the show, and that a third season would not be produced (even with a substitute host). In hindsight, his decision appears to have been very short-sighted and ill-advised.
It’s been 6 years since Lee’s brainchild last aired on television. At the time of its cancellation, the show was extremely popular and nowhere near running out of steam. Its format was simple: hold nationwide tryouts for comic book and superhero fans (and cosplayers) who believed they had created the “next great superhero,” bring the Top-10 finalists to Stan’s super-secret superhero “lair” (a warehouse in Los Angeles), put them through a series of creative competitions to test their mental acuity, athletic mettle, and strength of personality (or “grit”) before “eliminating” them one by one, until a final winner was found. Today, it’s still a tried and true formula for programming success (see American Idol, America’s Got Talent, Big Brother, Survivor, etc.). Nevertheless, Lee was adamant about calling it quits, and any plans for future episodes (or merchandising) have clearly been shelved as well.
WWTBASH’s Vast Untapped Merchandising Potential
Such simple and embraceable shows are the stuff TV producer’s dreams are made of, and they are rarely executed as well as Who Wants to Be a Superhero? Over time, the show’s inexpensive, (i.e. profitable) format, could easily have been updated, refined and reworked, keeping it fresh and interesting for years to come (How about an all-girl version? An International version? A teenaged sidekick version? An all-Japanese version?). The possibilities are endless. Sadly, after only two seasons, it was all over. And now, all that remains of the show are a few comic books for sale on ebay and two seasons worth of DVDs available on a “made-to-order” basis over on Amazon. There are no other toys, action figures, or video games based on the show. NOTHING at all for fans, past, present or future to enjoy—or spend their money on. The amount of lost revenue to Stan Lee and Syfy is literally staggering. 6 YEARS worth!
Will The Show Ever Return?
After Lee pulled the plug on Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, a collective groan of disappointment could be heard from fans all around the world. Perhaps if and when the Syfy Channel and Stan Lee realize what a mistake they’ve made, fans will finally see a Season 3. Regardless, the staff here at The Joe Report are all big fans of the show, and we felt this would be a good time to check back in with the 20 wannabe heroes—one at a time—to find out what they’re all up to now.
To begin, we purchased the DVD sets of the show HERE, and watched all of the episodes over again, jotting down questions for each of the contestants as we went. Next, we set our intrepid staff to the difficult task of tracking down all the contestants, and interviewing them one by one. Despite the daunting mission before us, we took inspiration from Season 1’s winner, “Feedback,” whose catch-phrase was: “GAME ON!”
Bottom Line: The premature cancellation of Who Wants to be a Superhero? marked a huge missed opportunity for many people, all the way from Stan Lee himself, to everyone at Syfy, to comic book and toy collectors, and countless wannabe superheroes all around the globe. Here at The Joe Report, we’ve adopted a “wait and see” attitude, and our hopes for a return of the show (in any form) remain undiminished. Meanwhile, Interview #1 is now in the can, and as we wait for the boys in the composing room to set the type and prepare the press plates, we thought you’d like to know that our faithful sponsor, Patches of Pride, is currently hosting a Who Wants to Be a Superhero? contest on their Facebook page found HERE. The prize is everybody’s favorite wannabe superhero, Captain Action (seems like an appropriate choice) and the contest is open to the general public. So…Enjoy! (PS: Who will be our first WWTBASH Interviewee? Stay tuned, HE’s coming SOON!)