Magazine article Variety

Superhero Shows Raise the Bar

Magazine article Variety

Superhero Shows Raise the Bar

Article excerpt

WITH A quartet of Marvel series on Netflix and one on ABC ("Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."), and nine series built around characters from the DC Comics universe airing across the broadcast networks, an unprecedented number of comic-book heroes are battling it out on the small screen in increasingly elaborate, Emmy-worthy action sequences.

While most of the shows' protagonists are gifted with superhuman powers, the stunt teams still have to keep the action grounded in reality.

"We like to make sure that the laws of gravity are adhered to," says James Bamford, stunt coordinator for CW's "Arrow." "You won't see floaty wire work or a lot of unmotivated acrobatics."

James Lew, stunt coordinator for Netflix's "Luke Cage," says he developed a "mental bible" of the title character's powers, because "sometimes the director might want too much or not enough, so it was kind of my job to keep it within the character."

If Cage (played by Mike Colter) were to throw a punch at a mere mortal, "their entire head would fly off," Lew notes, so Cage wasn't allowed to unleash his superpowers until the season finale, when his villainous halfbrother Willis "Diamondback" Stryker (Erik LaRay Harvey) dons a suit able to absorb his blows as well as deliver superhuman punishment. In that episode, Lew was able to pull out the stops, throwing Cage stunt double Guy Fernandez out of a second storey window and using an air ratchet to fly the character down the street on to the roof of an SUV.

One of most challenging aspects of doing stunts for television is the schedule, which typically allows only eight days to shoot a one-hour episode. …

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