CRISIS ON INFINITE CHANNELS
As Joseph McCabe discovers, DC’s superheroes are invading TV …
Starting with the October 2012 launch of Arrow and continuing with the current debut season of its spin- off series The Flash, DC Entertainment’s characters are racing to the small screen at a rate that would leave even the scarlet speedster speechless.
“Maybe this is naive,” says Arrow’s Marc Guggenheim – who, with fellow executive producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, brought the DCU to TV – “but I believe if you create a show that resonates with people, they’ll watch. As long as a show is good, it’ll find the audience.”
Guggenheim tells SFX he never imagined so many DC staples would find their way to TV so quickly. But their migration, he says, has been borne out of necessity. He cites Brandon Routh’s Atom — on whom a spin- off show has been discussed — as one example.
“We started out wanting someone on Arrow who was tech- based, who was very intelligent, who would be a nice foil for Oliver Queen and a potential love interest for Felicity. Originally our intention was to make that Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle in the comics. But DC said they had other plans for him, and suggested Ray Palmer. We were like, ‘ Wow, Ray works perfectly.’ Because Ray, in the comics, is a very intelligent guy. So we really do start with the character as opposed to the superhero.”
Fortunately, the DCU has no shortage of characters. In addition to Atom, Flash and Arrow viewers have met Wildcat, Katana, Ra’s al Ghul, Arsenal, two Black Canaries, Suicide Squad, the Huntress, Deathstroke, and most of the Flash’s rogues’ gallery. And later this year Guggenheim will produce the animated Vixen for Warner Brothers’ CW Seed website, the first series set within the DCTVU to headline a black woman.
“Vixen’s powers are based in magic,” explains Guggenheim. “So there’s already a quality about her that is different. Which not only gives the Vixen series its own identity, but it also gives Barry and Oliver’s characters something interesting to react against. One of the things I find interesting is that it’s Oliver who’s quicker to accept Vixen’s existence than Barry. Barry’s a man of science who always expects there to be a scientific explanation to things, whereas Oliver has lived a life and he’s seen that there are some things that aren’t explainable by science. So it’s an interesting dynamic shift for these characters.”
Warner Bros will up the ante by debuting a Berlanti- produced live- action series ( on CBS Stateside) based on another DC heroine: Supergirl – starring Melissa Benoist as Superman’s cousin Kara Zor- El of Krypton and Mehcad Brooks as Jimmy Olsen.
“We’re watching an evolution with regard to the way superhero characters are portrayed,” said CBS chairman Nina Tassler at this winter’s Television Critics Association press tour. “What we did respond to was the character’s humanity, the other characters, the story trajectory and the character’s arc and growth.”
While it’s still undetermined if Supergirl will, unlike Fox’s Batman Universe- bound Gotham, cross over with Flash and Arrow ( at the press tour Berlanti said maybe, while Tassler said CBS would “keep Supergirl to ourselves for awhile”), plans remain for a Berlanti- produced Booster Gold series ( for Syfy) and an Akiva Goldsman- produced Teen Titans show, called Titans ( for TNT).
“The nature of network television is cyclical,” adds Guggenheim. “Procedurals used to be on every single network; now networks are having a difficult time launching procedurals. We just happen to be living in a golden age of comic- book television.”
One of DC’s female heroes brought to life, Black Canary.
Seems like this fella is responsible for giving lots of other DC characters a break.
The Flash managed to fit into Arrow’s universe nicely.