I don’t write these Weekend Dumps as often as I used to. Was finding that I was often just resorting to making listicles, which I’m not a fan of. Not because their often just clickbait, but because the name is fucking stupid and I feel unclean for doing them. I’ve been thinking that, from now on, Weekend Dump’s should be primarily either discussion of the craft of film or, possibly more often, a rambling train of thought on some, likely, nerdy nonsense I have been thinking about recently. You may already know which of those this is. Click below to read on! You won’t believe what the fourth paragraphs says…. ugh… think I just vommed.
Some time ago, a length of time to insignificant for me to bother figuring out exactly when, rumours began to swirl that Warner Bros, owners of DC Comics and the films based on it’s characters, was planning to create a complete movie universe for its superheroes in much the same way Marvel has. It makes sense. Marvel has taken itself from being a barely recovered comic company, that wasn’t all that long ago on the verge of bankruptcy, to being one of the most powerful studios in the film industry and pretty much being the centrepiece of every summer blockbuster season for the last few years. They took a chance on making an Iron Man film, which was an actual risky move seeing as the character really wasn’t as well known as, say, Spider-man or Wolverine. At the end of iron Man there was a little fan service teaser designed to light a flicker of an idea in fans. Sam Jackson as Nick Fury appeared and asked Downey Jr’s Tony Stark if he realised that he wasn’t the only hero out there.
That little scene opened up the imaginations of the fan and gave Marvel a clear message that they could possibly get away with creates a comic book universe for what creations they had left to exist and, eventually, all meet up in an Avengers film. So whilst heroes like Iron man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America may not have had the mainstream appeal of Wolverine or Spidey, as a group they’d elevate each other’s worth. It worked spectacularly, so, naturally, people expected DC to follow suit. I mean, you’d have to be silly not to counter, right? Well, the Green lantern film came along, no-one was expecting it to tie into Nolan’s Batman films. And it didn’t. But people were hoping it would at least hint at something more. There was nothing. Also, the film kinda stunk. I maintain that it’s not bad but it feels so much like a 90s comic book film. As if it’s made by people that don’t care or understand the material. Green lantern would have been a great stepping off point. Right off the bat you’d have established a big name hero and the idea of the intergalactic adventures that DC are well known for.
There was still hope though. The new Superman film was on the horizon and was being directed by noted comic book nerd and perpetual man-child Zack Snyder. Whilst the film itself didn’t confirm a wider DC film Universe, beyond a few little nods to Wayne Enterprises and Lexcorp, it would go on to be the platform on which following DC superhero films would stand on. It was a shaky and occasionally wildly misguided platform, but it was just about stable. When the sequel, Batman Vs Superman was announced fans got excited. A Batman Vs Superman film had been a project abandoned in the early 2000s after the flop of Batman & Robin left Warner struggling to figure out how to continue Batman on film. So there was always the idea of this film’s potential existence with fans. I Am Legend even kept the idea alive with a Easter egg of a Batman Vs Superman advert on a billboard, although the real film has missed the Easter egg’s 2010 release by some way.
After this merging of comic book worlds was announced, and the further talk of other DC heroes appearing in that film, people began to ask “what about Arrow?”. Would Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow be part of the film universe’s eventual Justice League. What of the upcoming, and nor current, Flash TV series starring Grant Gustin. By the way, that show is great. It would make sense to include them both, surely? Their world’s are established. They have a rogues gallery set up. They’ve been fleshed out as characters and fans will be instantly familiar. The shows could even be used to gradually build hype for the new DC films with little hints, much in the way Agents of SHIELD sometimes remembers to do but more often just reacts to the events of the films. Also, it would mean that Wentworth Miller’s incredibly camp portrayal of Captain Cold could, maybe, be included in a film with super serious Superman.
Eventually word got out that the TV universes of Arrow and The Flash would not be joining the DC film universe. And fans sighed a collective sigh of disappointment. Added to this was the fact Ezra Miller had been cast as The Flash of the film universe, with rumours suggesting he’ll be Barry Allen just to help quash secret crossover potential. There’s even still talk of Guillermo Del Toro’s Justice League Dark, a film featuring characters such as Constantine, Swamp Thing and Deadman, would be part of this shared film universe. As you may be aware, Constantine is currently a series on TV too, albeit a cancelled one.
Now, on the face of it you’d think DC were rushing all of this, taking the opposite approach to Marvel’s gradual build to it’s main event of The Avengers. There’s only going to be one film featuring heroes between Batman Vs Superman and the first Justice League film, that being Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot. there’s also a Suicide Squad film which will aim to introduce a number of DC villains. Batman Vs Superman aims to introduce most of the Justice League too. It’s likely that it’ll just be a short sequence near the end of the film. A kind of extended teaser for what could come. Still, Wonder Woman, Batman, Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg will all make some sort of appearance and we’ll only get to know Wonder Woman better before that first Justice League film. It’s a 2 parter by the way, because, of course it is. Now… let’s take a trip to my fantasy land.
So by the time Batman vs Superman hits theatres in 2016 (yes it’s still over a year away) we’ll have an Arrow and Flash TV series, Gotham (a Batman prequel series), Constantine will have finished, a Supergirl series and, based on discussion and rumours, possibly Teen Titans and a Mighty Atom series based on Arrow’s Ray Palmer played by former Superman Brandon Routh. Arrow, The Flash and Atom would all exist in the same universe. It’s unconfirmed, but unlikely, that Supergirl and Teen Titans will cross over with any existing show. Gotham is entirely independent from any other shows and Constantine will be gone. Got all that? Good. Now, what if the reason all the films appear to be rushing along isn’t because Warner just want to catch up to Marvel as fast as possible? What if they have a different endgame in mind? What if, as silly as this may sound, their endgame isn’t a big Justice League film but a Crisis on Infinite Earths film?
For those who aren’t a colossal nerd like me, Crisis on Infinite Earths refer to an event in DC comics that happens every few years with alarmingly increasing frequency. Essentially it’s where DC consolidate all their various comic book universes, where each contain differing continuities and variations of characters, and then proceed to erase, edit and rewrite the history of them all into a more manageable group. Sometimes this means heroes are completely restarted. Sometime elements of one merge into another. Sometimes two heroes end up in the same universe and we suddenly have multiple Flash comics. Hell, The Flash pretty much had a whole family at one point. So, I posit that, Warner a currently letting all these shows play out in their own worlds, never referencing each other, until a point when they can all come together as one.
Obviously the film universe would be the biggest one but a few years down the line who knows how many characters will have appeared in the Arrow and Flash series’? We already have Atom coming up and a little Easter egg early in Flash, and the shows success, convinced Warner to let the show do Gorilla Grodd by the end of its first season. Arrow is even onto its second Black Canary. There’s also a Suicide Squad in the series that features a few characters that will be in the Suicide Squad of the upcoming film. Arrow is certainly embracing its comic book origins more too what with Oliver Queen’s recent return from the dead.
Here’s another piece of multiverse potential. Later in this first season of The Flash Mark Hamill & Amanda Pays will be reprising their roles of The Trickster and Dr Tina McGee from the 90’s Flash series. And who is it that plays modern Barry Allen’s dad? Why it’s John Wesley Shipp, who played The Flash in the 90s. I’m not saying any of them are the actual same characters from the 90s series, but what if they’re alternate reality versions of them? Boom… there’s another universe. See how deep the rabbit hole goes?
Obviously this is all nonsense. Who even knows if the films and various series will even run to completion. Warner has certainly cancelled more than its fair share of comic book films over the years. Hell, there’s a documentary out soon entirely about one of them. But how cool would it be? You could have Arrow have a nervous breakdown as he tries to contemplate just exactly how all these dimensions exist. I can’t wait for Barry Allen to explain the time travel elements of his adventures to Oliver Queen. Oliver doesn’t like things he doesn’t understand. Although he accepted coming back to life quite well. You could have two Barry Allens facing off against each other in a battle of pure speedforce. John Diggle leading his Suicide Squad against one that features Will Smith and Jared Leto. Ben Affleck’s Batman could tutor the young Bruce Wayne in Gotham. Superman could meet his cousin Supergirl and try to find a way to bring her to his universe so he’s not the last Krypton. Although the last time he met a Krypton he broke his neck.
There’s a huge nerd fantasy potential is this stupid idea I’ve had. I’ve still only scratched the surface too. There’s a Vixen animated mini series coming with the character, apparently, making an appearance in The Flash soon. Apparently Gotham has made reference to The Joker recently, although I;d guess that’s just The Red Hood Gang episode that’s coming up. We’re a few weeks behind here in the UK. That Teen Titans series would have to make reference to other heroes existing. You can’t have Robin without mention of Batman, for example. By the way, The Flash trains at Ferris Airforce base, which is a key location for the origin of the Hal Jordan Green Lantern.
Would all this play out well? Probably not. Warner hasn’t got the greatest track record with it’s superhero films. For every Batman Begins and Superman there’s a Batman & Robin and a Superman 4. Also, there’s a Steel, a Green Lantern and at least 3 cancelled dream projects. Whatever Warner has planned with it’s films it sure is going about this a risky way. Establishing the group before establishing the characters seems like a race to the finish line. But it’s also just being trusting that the audience will get the characters quick enough to just be happy to be along for the ride. Marvel didn’t do that. They established and built and then delivered the big film assuming the whole time that the audience wouldn’t know it all. Which will be the more successful strategy is yet to be seen. Between the two though, as it stands, make mine Marvel. What do you think? Is my idea dumb as all hell? Will DC make something spectacular? Tell me in the comments.