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Succession, but superheroes: How HBO is aiming to break the superhero sitcom curse

The new half-hour series comes from a veteran of Succession and Veep

Ali Kokab *
Image credit: Ali Kokab *

Even as superhero movies have taken over the multiplex, and superhero dramas have made inroads into television, there’s one genre that the cape set has never quite managed to make work: the superhero sitcom. A new HBO project looks set to change that, based on the pedigree of those involved — and the twist at its core.

The Franchise, you see, isn’t just a superhero sitcom: it’s a sitcom about a superhero movie franchise, allowing the show to make fun both of superhero mythology and superhero movies in one fell swoop. The show’s blogline, as per HBO, is as follows: “The crew of an unloved franchise movie fight for their place in a savage and unruly cinematic universe. The Franchise shines a light on the secret chaos inside the world of superhero moviemaking, to ask the question - how exactly does the cinematic sausage get made? Because every f*ck-up has an origin story.”

(Note: HBO censored the word “fuck,” not us.)

In case that’s not enough to convince people to watch, perhaps the talents of those making the show will: the showrunner for the series is Jon Brown, who’s previously worked on both Succession and Veep, with both Sam Mendes (Skyfall, 1917) and Armando Iannucci (Veep, Avenue 5) onboard as executive producers. Mendes has directed the pilot, from a script by Brown. If the people behind Veep, Succession and some of the best James Bond movies ever can’t make this work, I’m tempted to say no-one can.

“With a deft touch only he can bring, Sam has brilliantly captured the romance and the reality of filmmaking today. Jon is superb at sending up worlds we think we already know,” said HBO programming EVP (and head of HBO and Max comedy) Amy Gravitt said in a statement. “Together, with Armando, they have delivered a truly hilarious comedy ensemble. I can’t wait to see more.”

Oh, about that ensemble: the cast includes some very familiar faces indeed: Himesh Patel (Yesterday), Aya Cash (The Boys), and Jessica Hynes (Spaced) are amongst the regular cast, with both Richard E. Grant and Marvel’s Zemo himself, Daniel Brühl, attached as recurring players.

The pilot was completed ahead of the SAG-AFTRA strike, and production will not begin until the end of both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, according to HBO.

Keep up to date with all of the upcoming superhero TV shows with our handy guide.

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Graeme McMillan avatar
Graeme McMillan: Popverse Editor Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.
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