This article contains spoilers for The Exorcist Season 1.
What a pleasant surprise Fox's The Exorcist turned out to be! The show, which premiered in the fall, had a lot to live up to — starting with the fact it was a remake of perhaps the most iconic horror classic in movie history. The announcement sure turned some heads...
Even before the show hit screens, critics judged it harshly for even existing, with many fans of the original saying it should never have been made. Fortunately, the executives at #Fox thought differently, and we were treated to 10 episodes of the most wicked television we've seen in a long time.
But I noticed something as I was watching it: this show feels more like the superhero genre than horror.
I know that sounds like a stretch — we're talking about The Exorcist, after all — but hear me out. This is why it has more in common with The Flash or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. than you think.
It's An Origin Story In Which The Apprentice Learns To Use His 'Powers' From The Mentor
The plot follows Father Marcus and Father Tomas as they try to free the Rance family from a demonic presence. Father Marcus would be considered the rogue antihero, while Father Tomas is more straight-laced and by the (good) book, following every order given by the Roman Catholic Church.
Their mission statement is to help — to do good among a world filled will evildoers — by selflessly fighting villains powered by the supernatural.
The debut season acted as somewhat of an origin tale for the main protagonist Father Tomas. He's young, naive and unsure of his place in the world. Father Marcus, on the other hand, is jaded and cantankerous, having battled demons since he was a child. This sounds like one heck of a pair of demon-fighting superheroes, right? They wear cool costumes and use cool gadgets to defeat evil!
Likewise, in comic books, a superhero often encounters a mentor to help guide him or her through life's trials and tribulations. Doctor Strange has the Ancient One in the latest MCU release, Barry Allen has Jay Garrick on The Flash, and even Batman has Alfred.
You Never Know Who's Secretly Evil
The Exorcist starts out with the protagonists believing that Kat is the one who's possessed, but Father Tomas realizes Casey is the one hiding a dark secret. The show also gave viewers a nice switcheroo by making you think something was wrong with Henry on account of his brain damage, but he told Tomas where to find the exiled priest so that Tomas could assist him while they perform an exorcism on Casey.
The demon was only using Casey to get back at her mother Angela/Regan because she was strong enough to defeat it when she was a teenager. It was an interesting twist, especially when Angela gave and fully integrated with the demon to save Casey.
Meanwhile, comic books are famous for giving the good guys dark sides that you can't see coming — or at least, for having good guys be temporarily manipulated into thinking they're evil.
As for the outright villains on The Exorcist, there's a secret society of influential people who meet up in Chicago (and you can tell they're evil because no one brings doughnuts) and plan to assassinate the pope and throw the world into chaos. C'mon, isn't that pretty much the Hellfire Club from the X-Men comics?
It's Basically Arrow
Let's use Season 1 of Arrow to see if The Exorcist is in fact, a superhero show. Oliver wants to save his beloved Star City from the baddies who've failed it; Oliver soon realizes that he can't do it alone and recruits Dig. Meanwhile, on The Exorcist, Father Tomas refuses to leave his parish in his beloved Chicago; Father Tomas starts having flashes of Father Marcus, and he soon recruits him on his team.
Both Oliver and Tomas face insurmountable odds to stop the bad guys from destroying their cities, and they win.
The two priests on The Exorcist act more like superheroes than mere men of the cloth. Yes, it's a topnotch horror show — but look under the hood and you'll see the superhero formula. If you're unsure about The Exorcist, but you're a Marvel or DC fan, then I'd highly recommend watching the first season.
Do You Think This Could Be Considered A Superhero Show?