It should be noted that I am a big DC fan. Even after the heavy (and deserved) criticism of the New 52 launch, I still read all the big books regularly, and enjoy a good number of them, even as comic fans have fled their flimsy story lines like affluent folks did the cities (if they come back, does that classify as gentrification?). Having said that, I’ve got plenty of thoughts on how they are shaping their movie universe, which has little to do with comic mythology and more to their method of moving making. Part 1, Part 2.
What exactly is the DC Plan Anyway: The Weird and Intriguing More is More Approach in the DCU
Marvel recently revealed that they have movies planned through 2028. Twenty-eight. That is 14 years from now for all you English Majors out there. Basically, Marvel has supposedly planned their movies to the degree that by the time my daughter is sixteen, she can see the current Black Panther Shuri as a super hero in her likeness. Or at least I can dream.
With such an elaborate projection, it would be easy to say that they are not only upping the ante on DCU movies in popularity, but also in volume. That may not be the case. There is SO MUCH DC coming. You ever go to Buco Di Beppo with just one friend and think you’re going to finish because you two could eat pasta till you burst, but 40 minutes later, you’re like, “My Gawd, this is so much pasta, I don’t know if I can eat it all…,” starting to get that feeling with everything coming for DC.
And it’s important to note “coming” when it comes to DC as we sure as hell know a ton about franchises that aren’t here yet. The only entities that have already been released or ongoing would be Man of Steel on the movie side and Arrow on the TV side. Everything else is in talks or production. Which includes the Superman vs Batman project which may or may not be a soft Justice League movie and then, at the very least 3 movies that will follow that: Batman, Superman 2 and Justice League. Maybe we get a Wonder Woman film with Gadot signing a three film deal, but that could easily be Supes vs Bats, Justice League and Man of Steel 2, so who knows. On the TV side, I think we’re all surprised at the quality and capacity of Arrow to not only be a hit for DC and CW, but be a launch pad for other DC shows. By this time next year, we should have a Flash, Gotham and Constantine show airing simultaneously with Arrow. If it seems like a lot…that’s because it is. Which isn’t to say that these are incapable of being good shows, but the amount of simultaneous content that DC is hell bent on producing does create some other issues for them that Marvel doesn’t necessarily have.
One of the early hopes when these TV shows started to get more and more praise and visibility is the possibility of how they would fit into the movie universe that DC was cultivating. How incredible would it be if the DCU was continuous from movie to TV show and back again? As amazing as it sounds, its most likely a pipe dream at this point. As much as I’ve enjoyed Arrow, especially in this second season, we should all be honest with ourselves and remember that Steve Arnell is the lead actor on a UW show, you know the TV station that collects a lot more former models than it does future Golden Globe Award speech makers. There are still those that question if Grant Gustin can pull of leading his own TV show as Barry Allen, let alone if he can play the Flash in a film that costs over $200M to make.
And why is this important? Well, DC has sort of hedged their bets here: if they planned to run connecting universes between their TV shows and movies, then they would have to invest in movie-level actors for TV shows, which I imagine gets pretty damn pricey. If they don’t plan on connecting the TV shows and movies, then it becomes a little weird when Arnell is running around CW’s Starling City and a guy of the same age and build, but more chops plays Green Arrow in some Justice League movie. Or if the same happens for the Flash. David Goyer, a writer on Man of Steel and forthcoming DC films, doesn’t think the simultaneous worlds are an issue at all as he points to Smallville having lived through various Superman movies. And that argument applies well to the forthcoming Gotham that is supposed to take place when Bruce Wayne is a child. But he doesn’t have any examples for a character being of the same age or placement in both film and movies. It could leave a lot of fans scratching their heads.
Not to mention it would be a huge missed opportunity. DC has been putting this plan into motion so late in the game (relative to Marvel) that they could’ve have done it this way, spreading the DCU over various platforms that all communicated with each other. But its possible that it is too daunting a task too, and if so, maybe they’ll get credit for not stretching themselves thin to the point of tearing. Only time will tell.