When Apple TV+ first announced the series Sugar starring Colin Farrell, they described it as a “a genre-bending contemporary take on the private detective story set in LA.” Initially, that seemed like a bit of a lie.

Sure, Farrell’s character, investigator John Sugar, definitely wasn’t the PI cliché we usually see in neo-noir dramas who all learn to talk, drive, kiss, and use a gun from the Vin Diesel (previously the Sam Spade) school of gumshoeing, that is: fast and furiously. No, John Sugar was the PI cliché we sadly don’t see much anymore: the Philip Marlowe archetype. Hates violence but can use it. Driven to solve the case by his inner good. Galahad in a cheap suit, essentially. Only Sugar updates the suit to an expensive one. Was that the “gender-bending” part of the show? No, that distinction probably belongs to a scene from Episode 6 (the latest as of this writing) when John Sugar injects himself with a mysterious substance and transforms into a blue-green alien-sorta thing.

And credit where credit is due. With this one scene, Sugar bent the PI genre so much, it turned it into a spring that bounced the show into a whole different TV category altogether. Perhaps the sequence will turn out to be a hallucination of some sort but that would raise further questions like how John managed to swat away a bullet away with his bare hands a few scenes earlier? Also, Sugar actually being science-fiction would explain a lot of the weirdness we’ve seen on the show. What would explain it all even better while also being super mega awesome is if the show wasn’t merely science fiction but a stealth Martian Manhunter series.

Created in 1955 by Joseph Samachson and Joe Certa, Martian Manhunter is a DC Comics character who fans of Justice League, both the animated and live-action versions, know well. He’s a native of Mars with the ability to shapeshift, read minds, fly, and generally make Superman’s arsenal look pretty limited.

Could it be possible that Colin Farrell has secretly been portraying this character the whole time? The evidence is very tempting.

First, both John Sugar and Martian Manhunter have the same first name. Technically, the latter is named “J’onn” (last name: J’onzz because what Mars lacks in oxygen, it makes up for with surplus apostrophes) but he Earthizes it to “John” when shapeshifting as a human. Also, sugar is a big part of Martian Manhunter lore. In Justice League–The New Frontier, based on a comic by Darwyn Cooke and Dave Stewart he is seen only subsiding on soda pop, with other comics explaining that all he needs is sugar carbohydrates to fuel his metabolism. Also, a long-running joke in the comics is J’onn’s obsession with Chocos, the DC Comics stand-in for Oreos. Basically, sugar and J’onn J’onzz have been close buds since the late 1980s.

Additionally, when passing himself off as human, Martian Manhunter is a detective. Sometimes private, sometimes a police one, but in the end he’s in the same line of work as John Sugar: helping the helpless. His shapeshifting morphology is also why he cannot get drunk, which is a very weird trait that John Sugar exhibits on the show. He still drinks because you can’t have a detective series without alcohol, but he apparently processes alcohol 50 times faster than regular humans, though “regular” might be superfluous here.

Speaking of liquids, water plays another big role on Sugar, with audiences seeing the character swimming to relax or asking for water after he got gut-shot. Though it may have dozens of different explanations, it sure does smell like an inversion of Martian Manhunter’s comic-book fear of fire (one of his greatest weaknesses that renders him helpless.)

Another thing you need to know about MM is that he is a telepath, which would explain why John Sugar seems to know so many languages. The show explains that he went to the Defense Language Institute (DLI) operated by the United States Department of Defense, with side characters hinting that he might be a spy. Which means that he definitely isn’t a spy. Once you float an idea like that on screen, it cannot turn out to be right because it’d kill all the suspense. That’s the golden rule of scriptwriting, and Sugar is deeply aware how things work in Movie and TV Land.

Sugar constantly cuts to scenes from classic films, which are an obsession for the main character. In fact, the entire show kicks off with John taking a case simply because it involves his favorite producer, played by James Cromwell. Interestingly, when asked by a projectionist if he grew up on classic films, he admits he got into the hobby late in life. Funny thing: the exact same thing happened to the Martian Manhunter, who learned about movies by watching TV for weeks at a time to understand Earth culture after being stranded on Earth.

Once again, this could all be a coincidence but consider that the creator of the show, Mark Protosevich, wrote the MCU Thor movie as well as Batman Unchained, the unproduced final link in what could have been Joel Schumacher’s Batman trilogy. The point is that Protosevich KNOWS superheroes. He almost definitely knows Martian Manhunter. And even James Gunn hasn’t tasked him to write a stealth Martian Manhunter live-action show, it sure looks like he borrowed A LOT from that character to make Sugar. And the result so far has been pretty darn sweet.

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“}]] The twist in episode six has us wondering if Sugar isn’t merely science fiction but actually a stealth Martian Manhunter series.  Read More