For decades, entertainment franchises have been able to share universes in both television and movies. The Twilight Zone did it. Firefly did it with Serenity. The Doctor Who series did it with the Doctor Who TV movie. The X-Files did it with big and small screens. And Marvel is doing it with surgical precision and innovation in combining their cinematic world with the ABC network’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. And then there’s Netflix’s upcoming four-series deal. That, in particular, will expand Marvel’s live action roster with the Hell’s Kitchen Heroes – Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. So, not only is occupying the same universe a thing that’s worked successfully, it’s proven to be a smart move on several occasions in terms of continuity. DC’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns disagrees.
Johns took part in a panel during the Television Critics Association press tour and had definitive claims about not merging the DC movie world with the one on TV. He asserted that fans should not expect to see the successful Arrow, nor the anxiously anticipated The Flash television shows acknowledge the storylines of any things silver screen. Count on that sentiment being repaid while the movies will certainly provide their own versions of the Flash character, and perhaps a Green Arrow.
“You’ll see a lot of DC universe characters [on ‘The Flash’ and ‘Arrow’]. You won’t see Batman or Superman. We’re on production on ‘Batman v Superman’ now. So you’ll see characters like The Atom or Firestorm, but no not Batman or Superman right now [on TV]….It’s a separate universe than film so that the filmmakers can tell the story that’s best for film, while we explore something different in a different corner of the DC universe…We will not be integrating the film and television universes.”
DC has had some major failures (see Wonder Woman pilot) but for well over a decade, they’ve been pretty great at bringing comic books to television (see Smallville). For every ill-advised idea (see Aquaman pilot) there’s a long stretch of modern-day success (see Arrow). I’m not even counting the superlative cartoons that have owned us since the 1990’s (see Batman anything, Superman, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, and just keep on seeing stuff). From the trailers and marketing campaigns, both Constantine and Gotham look like strong W’s in that Win/Loss column and most fans are sold on The Flash already. DC’s television track record is so strong (see Linda Carter) that it’s tough to second-guess their decisions. But I will.
DC put a rush job on developing their Justice League movie because of Marvel’s success with The Avengers and its supporting films like Iron Man. The pressure must’ve been so high in those top floor offices that they basically decided to shape Man of Steel 2 into a mini pre-Justice League flick. After Marvel’s ridiculous run of cinematic awesome, now they’re looking to stranglehold all visual mediums by locking down the boob tube. And it’s working. After a shaky start, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. shaped up into something not only watchable but interesting in its second half season. Why? Because of the Hydra events that transpired in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And a death storyline that took place in that movie was wrapped up in Agents, running the movie-TV relationships full circle. Marvel is benefiting heavily from these connections! And DC is literally throwing away a similar opportunity.
On the other hand, I get it. The DC film brigade is moving too fast to try to catch up with Marvel; they can’t be bothered with some silly universe integration arrogance. That would take too much precious time collaborating between dimensions. And they won’t put Stephen Arnell’s Arrow in their movie any quicker than we’ll see Agent’s Deathlock in Avengers 2. DC needs relatively big stars for their films and Grant Gustin is not a big star no matter how fast he runs on TV. A lot is banking on Batman v Superman and The Justice League. And though merging the two worlds would be a great idea in the long run, it’s just not a viable card to play at this stage of the game.
But what if Arrow and The Flash, who do share significant plots, ever attempt a Smallville-type forming of their own television Justice League? That would be a suck idea while all the coolest characters on the team are sharing theater screens. That leaves you with a lineup of Firestorm, Steel, Fire & Ice and Atom. It would look like this:
Via – IGN