How 'Doom Patrol' turned an outlandish superhero team into DC Universe's latest hit TV series

DC UniverseElastigirl (April Bowlby) and Negative Man (Matt Bomer)
  • DC Universe’s “Doom Patrol” showrunner Jeremy Carver talked to Business Insider about bringing the weirdness of the comic book to the screen.
  • “There was that element of weirdness and absurdity, but I was really taken by the pathos and heart beneath it all,” Carver said.
  • He added that the show had to have “equal or more weight” on the characters and their backstories as on the bizarre nature of the show.

To say that DC’s Doom Patrol is an unconventional superhero team is an understatement. Think Marvel’s X-Men, but even more outlandish (and they actually pre-date the X-Men in the comic books). And now, the team is starring in its own TV series, “Doom Patrol,” which premiered on DC Universe’s streaming service last week.

“Once you accept the fact that they’re not your typical superheroes and they are folks who see what’s special about them as a curse, you begin to see the possibilities for emotional development,” series showrunner Jeremy Carver told Business Insider.

The show’s team includes Robotman (played by Brendan Fraser), who is basically a brain within a metal, robotic body; Elastigirl (April Bowlby), who turns into a giant blob when she loses control of her emotions; Larry Trainor (Matt Bomer), who can unleash a being of negative energy from his body, called Negative Man; Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), who has dozens of split personalities, each with their own superpower; Cyborg (Joivan Wade), half-man, half-machine; and the Chief (Timothy Dalton), the scientist who brings this band of outcasts together and gives them a home.

Then there’s Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk), the team’s fourth-wall breaking nemesis who can drain the sanity from his victims.

READ MORE: DC Universe is off to a hot start with 3 original TV series that rival Netflix in quality, but it has a big challenge ahead

“Doom Patrol” is the third straight original series on DC Universe to gain critical acclaim since the service’s launch in September. It has a 93% on reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, and new episodes premiere every Friday.

“The series is refreshingly self-aware, both in the hilarious meta narration by Alan Tudyk as the team’s archenemy Mr. Nobody and in its more fundamental understanding that if you make a show about these characters, you’d best come weird or not come at all,” Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall wrote.

So how did such a strange series successfully jump from the comic-book pages to the small screen? Carver said that there’s a lot of depth underneath the strangeness.

Doom patrolRobotmanRobotman

“There was that element of weirdness and absurdity, but I was really taken by the pathos and heart beneath it all,” Carver told Business Insider. “That’s what really struck me. So what I wanted to bring to it was all of those things about the comics – the pathos and the absurdity – and find a way to tell that in a mature manner that services the vision that DC Universe has, which is to tell these types of stories for a more mature audience.”

“You had to have equal if not more weight on the characters and their backstories,” Carver added.

Apart from the story possibilities with the characters, “Doom Patrol” also benefits from being on a streaming service, especially one that caters specifically to DC fans. When DC Universe launched last year, it was labelled “the ultimate DC membership.”

“Doom Patrol” characters aren’t as widely popular as other DC superheroes like Batman and Superman, and the comics have become more and more eccentric over the years. Writer Grant Morrison’s run is considered one of the essential eras in the team’s history by fans, and heightened its far-out nature. To successfully adapt “Doom Patrol,” traditional TV wouldn’t have worked.

“We can tell stories that aren’t nearly as neat as they’re sometimes told on networks, and we can play a lot with structure,” Carver said. “We’re not bound by the same need to constantly reset and keep people up to speed like in a network show where you’re constantly resetting the plot and making sure even the casual viewer isn’t left behind. When you’re talking about a streaming service, there’s not as much need for handholding. You’re putting a lot of trust back in the fanbase.”

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