The GeeksverseFrom the Fan’s Desk | DC Entertainment: TV’s Superhero Powerhouse?

From the Fan’s Desk | DC Entertainment: TV’s Superhero Powerhouse?
Published on Thursday, March 6, 2014 by
The Flash pilot has been greenlit, the Suicide Squad and the Birds of Prey are appearing on The CW’s Arrow, NBC’s Constantine has just finished casting, and Gotham is set to premiere on Fox. It seems like DC can do no wrong on TV these days.

When word started going around in earl 2012 that an all-new series entitled Arrow—based on DC Comics’ Green Arrow—would debut on The CW, I was surprised. TV audiences had already seen a version of Green Arrow on the very popular Smallville, on the same network no less, and that take on the vigilante archer had its fans. It seemed to make a lot of sense for The CW and DC Entertainment to just give Smallville‘s Green Arrow his own show, especially with Smallville airing its final episode the year prior and its audience presumably primed to receive a spin-off.

Instead, writers/producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg went in a different direction and created a whole new universe with Arrow. And I’m loving it. I barely read any DC comics these days but Arrow is one of my top five favorite shows on television. The first season was good but the second season has been downright awesome. The show has great characters (except Laurel Lance) that viewers are compelled to care about (except Laurel Lance), it’s well-written with excellent plotting (the writers do a great job mixing in flashbacks with present-day sequences and keeping it all clear). It’s a top notch show all around.

(Quick tangent: Arrow proves that ABC’s flawed Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could be so much better. The Black Canary works great on Arrow, so you’re telling me that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. couldn’t regularly feature an actual superhero like, say, Mockingbird?)

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Arrow‘s John Diggle has crossed over into DC’s superhero comics.

Arrow has also introduced a lot of DC characters (albeit redesigned to fit the show’s look and continuity) into the its version of the DC superhero universe: Off the top off my head, we’ve seen the show’s versions of Barry Allen, Deathstroke, Shado, Huntress, Black Canary, Nissa al Ghul, Isabel Rochev, Bronze Tiger, Amanda Waller, Count Vertigo, Shrapnel, Deadshot, Professor Ivo, and Roy Harper. Sticklers for comic book continuity may find something to complain about with the show’s treatment of these comic book characters, but I think it’s great that they’ve been repurposed and made more accessible for television audiences. And in a development that shows just how important the show has become to DC’s overall plans, a character originally created for the show, John Diggle, has actually crossed over into the regular DC superhero comics universe, appearing in last October’s Green Arrow #24.

And the ball just keeps rolling for The CW’s DC Comics-based expansion. We already know that a pilot for The Flash has been greenlit. The heads at The CW and DC Entertainment smartly had Barry Allen debut on Arrow, using that show’s strong ratings to introduce audiences to the soon-to-be Flash, even showing his superhero origins on the show. (I’m still not sure how I feel about the Flash and his super powers co-existing within the street level Arrowverse). I also had a huge fan-gasm moment a couple of weeks ago when Amanda Waller came to Bronze Tiger’s cell and told him about her “squad.” It was recently revealed that an upcoming episode will feature the fan-favorite Suicide Squad.

The Squad is a concept that I loved in the comics—everybody loves the “bad guys coerced to do good” angle—and I can’t wait for it to show up in Arrow. There is a lot of drama waiting to be potentially mined from the different character interactions, seeing as how each member of the Squad will have different motivations for working with Waller.

And it’s also been revealed that the Huntress will be coming back in an episode entitled “Birds of Prey.” Fans of DC’s comics will, of course, recognize that title. With the Black Canary, Huntress and Felicity Smoak (as the Oracle stand-in, and they better not cripple her), the CW has the ingredients for the makings of a true Birds of Prey show down the line (unlike that one they tried years ago).

We’re looking at one confirmed pilot alongside another two possible shows spinning out of Arrow. With all of them The CW, on different nights, and the potential for inter-show crossovers, guest-spots, and even more spin-offs, who knows how big the DC television universe can get? And if Gotham on Fox and Constantine on NBC replicate even a bit of Arrow‘s success, DC Entertainment’s hold on televised superhero entertainment could extend to three major networks and establish it as the dominant superhero entertainment presence in the living room (although at this point, I think the smart play is for DC to focus on Arrow and its spin-offs, both confirmed and rumored, on The CW).

By contrast, ABC and Marvel Studios have been seemingly struggling of late with getting Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to find its footing, even as it continues to grow its own Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, Marvel has announced four 12-episode Netflix series (featuring Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Daredevil) that will culminate in a Defenders series, but it’s hard to tell how shows exclusively streaming on a pay video-on-demand outlet like Netflix will stack up against free primetime television in terms of relative ratings.

Let Marvel have the box office, DC should stake the claim to television.

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