DC TV EXTRAVAGANZA
Taking a look at the mighty multitude of DC superheroes arriving on the small screen.
The word infinite is
inseparable from the DC Universe. It describes not only the number of worlds that exist within it, not only the number of characters that live on those worlds, but the sheer number of storytelling possibilities in our world’s longest-running superhero mythology. With all of those possibilities, all that potential, fuelling its stories, it’s no wonder that the number of TV series exploring the DC universe has exploded within just the last few years. From the breakout hit Arrow to last year’s debut of The Flash to this year’s Supergirl to 2016’s
Legends Of Tomorrow, the DC pantheon has conquered the small screen.
“I wrote a line the other day for Ray Palmer [aka the Atom],” Marc Guggenheim, executive producer of Arrow and Legends, tells SFX. “I’m not sure if it’ll end up in an episode, but it was, ‘Ten-year-old me is having a moment.’ That pretty much is coming from me. Ten-year-old me can’t believe this. It’s insane. It is literally a dream come true.”
A self-proclaimed lifelong fanboy, Guggenheim is currently working tirelessly on a fourth season of adventures for DC’s brooding, battling bowman, as played by Stephen Amell. While the show’s first three years saw no end of misery for Oliver Queen – who returned home after a five-year-exile in order to avenge his father and save the soul of his beloved Starling City – the EP says season four will see some major changes, as well as new antagonist Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) and ally John Constantine (Matt Ryan).
“The big challenge for us, and it’s a good challenge, is ‘How do we create conflict and drama in the show in a way that we haven’t in years past?’ In years past, the conflict and drama came from Oliver’s life going to shit. I’m not saying that bad stuff won’t happen to Oliver this year, or people close to Oliver. We’re not changing the show fundamentally. But we are finding new ways to create drama and create surprises that aren’t just about that. Moments and scenes and episodes that would have been all about Oliver losing his shit on someone or Oliver falling into the depths of despair, those scenes we’re not writing this year. The conflict and the drama is coming out of other things. That’s good. It makes it feel like, not a completely different show, but Oliver maturing. The difference between season four and seasons one, two and three is in those seasons we were very consciously writing a character who had PTSD. All the drama got driven through that lens. And at the end of season three we were very clear with the characters and the audience that the man Oliver was is no longer the man he is now. He pretty much said that, and he’s become a different person. So we’re making good on all the promises that we made to the audience at the end of season three.”
While the DC TV Universe’s flagship hero is maturing, his younger brother-in-arms is experiencing some new growing pains.
Chronicling the life of Central City’s Scarlet Speedster, aka forensics scientist Barry Allen (played by Grant Gustin) – who achieved his lifelong goal of catching the man who murdered his mother – The Flash’s second season promises new metahuman heroes and villains as a result of its hero ripping open the multiverse in its first season’s finale. Fans will be introduced to such characters as the “original” Flash, the Hermes-helmeted Jay Garrick, while getting return visits from favourites like Captain Cold.
“Arrow’s amazing and huge and awesome, and The Flash is somehow bigger in scope,” says executive producer Andrew Kreisberg, who also oversees Supergirl. “With Arrow you were juggling the Dark Knight vigilante with the Shakespearean family drama. With Flash we’re juggling superheroes with all of this great father-son drama.”
MORE AND MORE
Kreisberg tells SFX that with the everexpanding DCTVU he and his writers function in part as mapmakers of the new multiverse.
“You can’t help but do that,” he says. “Especially now that Flash and Arrow are connected, and we have the crossovers with Legends and Flash and Arrow. We’ve been having writers from Flash work on Legends and writers from Arrow work on Legends and writers from Arrow work on Flash. There’s always somebody from another show in somebody else’s room. ‘Oh wait, that’s what we’re doing over there.’ Or, more importantly, not so much being a watchdog but saying, ‘Oh my god, they’re doing this? That means we could do that!’”
But while the landscape steadily expands, Kreisberg tells us that the focus remains on the characters at its heart.
“For us it’s always about characters, and that’s always how we approach it. Whether it’s the Emerald Archer or the Scarlet Speedster or the Girl of Steel.”
Created by Kreisberg’s partner, executive producer Greg Berlanti, the third DC superhero show from this creative powerhouse debuts this autumn. “We don’t want to write the same show twice,” says Kreisberg. “With Supergirl [starring Glee’s Melissa Benoist] there is much more romance than we’ve done in the past. And an opportunity for workplace comedy… Supergirl is about sisters, it’s about mothers and daughters, and it’s about finding your place in the world. In some ways it takes place in a little bit more of a real world than some of the other shows.”
That “real world” is National City, in which Kara Danvers (born Kara Zor-El of Krypton, cousin to Earth’s champion Superman) works for media mogul Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), alongside former Daily Planet photographer James Olsen (True Blood’s Mehcad Brooks).
In the US, Arrow and Flash are broadcast on the CW network, but Supergirl airs on CBS. So while producers Kreisberg and Berlanti
would like to see Kara fly over to Starling and Central City for a visit, they must first convince The Powers That Be. In the meantime, however, they’re planning more Arrow-Flash crossovers (following last year’s thrilling “Flash Vs Arrow” and “The Brave And The Bold”), and for Oliver and Barry to visit their latest creation, Legends Of Tomorrow.
HALL OF HEORES
Unlike the Justice League, with its roster of heroes, or the Suicide Squad, with its line-up of criminals, Legends Of Tomorrow’s title team pairs good guys – Arrow’s Atom (Brandon Routh) and White Canary (Caity Lotz), Flash’s Firestorm (Victor Garber and Franz Drameh), newcomers Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée) and Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) – with villains Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell). Their first half season, premiering early next year, sees them battling the immortal supervillain Vandal Savage.
“Here’s a studio (Warner Brothers) and network (The CW) that we have a four-yearold relationship with,” says Guggenheim, “and they showed an incredible amount of faith in us. The amount of money that they are putting towards this, just to get the cast assembled, is unprecedented… It would be a dream come true for me just to be watching the show.”
“Flash introduced superpowers and special effects to the Berlanti-verse. It built on Arrow. What could we do that would actually build on Flash? Another single hero probably wasn’t gonna get it done. But when we looked at the landscape and we saw how many characters were introduced on both shows that could actually carry their own show we realised, ‘What would really be cool – but they’ll never let us do it – would be a team-up show.’ Then to our shock and amazement they actually let us do it… What’s really great is Arrow and Flash are continuing to introduce new characters, and every time they introduce a new character, that’s a potential new teammate or antagonist or presence on Legends Of Tomorrow. That’s part of the fun.”
Since Warner Brothers is also developing DC’s cinematic universe, SFX asks Guggenheim if there’s a chance we might one day see our heroes’ TV and film incarnations interact, in the spirit of such classic comicbook crossovers as Crisis On Infinite Earths.
“It’s funny,” he replies. “I really have two fanboy dreams. One was that I would see Dark Knight Returns on the big screen, and I feel like I’m very close to getting at least a good chunk of that [in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice]. My second dream is to see Crisis On Infinite Earths done on the big screen. It’s certainly possible. Those sorts of things are made so far above my head that I just look at it as something that as a fan I’d love to see.”
Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl air on Sky 1 in the UK. In the US, Arrow and The Flash are on the CW; Supergirl is on CBS.
Jay Garrick(Teddy Sears):
a blast from the past.
Can Melissa Benoist prove the Super-cynics wrong?
Calista Flockhart is now Supergirl's boss as well as Harrison Ford's wife
Mehcad Brooks is Jimmy bOlsen alongside Benoist's Kara Danvers
Stephen Amell: a hoodie you
should definitely be afraid of.
Neal McDonough looking unhappy at the spelling
of Damien Darhk.