What Could Come Next: How ARROW Has Saved The DC Universe Part II

Posted: June 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

Greetings again and welcome back! You may have seen my previous blog here about how the CW television series, Arrow, and it’s forthcoming spin-off, The Flash, have saved the DC Universe for media outside of comic books. The two have crafted a strong, believable and fun universe that is both refreshing and honorable to its source material. Now, I’m here to tell you that it can go so much further.

Obviously I’m not saying that the entire network needs to be devoted to DC Universe programming. You don’t need a different superhero show every night of the week starting in the Fall. There are ways to expand this new and amazing universe without having 10 full 22 episode seasons each year.

Obviously you have the option of guest appearances. This is an area that Arrow has been particularly strong in – having brought in the likes of The Huntress, The Royal Flush Gang, Barry Allen (now spinning off into The Flash, of course), The League of Assassins, Deadshot and the Suicide Squad. So it would be easy for Arrow and The Flash to introduce more DCU characters for single or recurring guest appearances to help expand that world.

Next you have the seemingly lost art form of the TV movie. Not every movie needs to appear in theaters or direct-to-video. Years ago it was common practice to make movies for TV, either as stand-alone entities or to test the waters for a potential TV series. Back in the day they were often referred to as Telefilms and Marvel was a big proponent of them. Generation X was a popular use of this medium, which was supposed to lead to a TV series on Fox but the plug was pulled on that effort at the last minute. You also had Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD, starring David Hasselhoff, and a proposed (but never produced – at least to my knowledge) She-Hulk film with female body builder, Cory Everson. A produced, but never aired, pilot film for Justice League of America was made for CBS back in the mid 90s, as well as TV movies for Vampirella and Painkiller Jane, just to name a few. The most recent uses, I’ve seen, of the TV movie format intended as a potential TV pilot (without necessarily needing to go to series) was the WB TV movie for The Lone Ranger in 2003 and NBC’s pilot movie for it’s reboot of Knight Rider in 2008.

Lastly, the third viable option as opposed to a full, 22 episode TV series, is a format that has had a resurgence as of late – the 12 (or 13) episode Maxi Series Event. Popular shows like American Horror Story have started using this format for self-contained “seasons” and 24 recently came back with the 12 episode “Event Series” 24: Live Another Day. Marvel will soon be launching Agent Carter as a 13 episode event set to air during the Winter hiatus of it’s core series Agents of SHIELD. This is a great format for shows that don’t necessarily need the time, talent or budget committed to a multi-season ongoing story. It’s much more cost effective and can be aired during the Winter and Summer months when viewers, frustratingly, don’t have their regular shows to watch.

So where am I going with this? Well I’ve devised a Top 5 list of concepts that I think could work to help build the DC Universe on television using the above three formats as well as the traditional, ongoing series. Check them out below in no particular order:

Metropolis

METROPOLIS (Ongoing Series)

The Adventures of Superman. Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Superman: The Animated Series. Smallville. It can’t be denied that the Man of Steel has had a very successful run on television over the years. Maybe the Internet is to blame, but the only Superman film to not receive a significant amount of nerd rage was Richard Donner’s original Superman: The Movie. Last year’s Man of Steel had the most controversy of any Superman property, and quite possibly any comic movie to date, but it’s what they have now and dammit they’re going to see it through! Hey…more power to them. But that doesn’t mean there can’t also be a great, new Superman series on television. Smallville being on the air didn’t get in the way of Superman Returns. The two don’t have to compete. After all, as I said in the previous blog, the Arrow and Flash universe should remain separate from the Justice League films (I know…I once thought otherwise but things have changed) and build their own world. And what is a DCU world without Superman?

Again, like I said previously, the biggest problem facing DC superheroes on film is the lack of time. 2 hours (or less) isn’t enough to build a story, establish the necessary character drama AND show tons of quality action. So, essentially, METROPOLIS would act out what Man of Steel tried to be. Ideally, as well, without altering too much of the source material. Kryptonite would still be a major obstacle. The Fortress of Solitude (as oppose to the randomly still functional 19,000 year old space ship) would become a set piece and, best of all, he wouldn’t cause wide spread destruction or murder anyone!

The first season would follow Clark Kent coming to the big city and getting a job at the Daily Planet (much like he did in Lois & Clark) and saving people on the side as needed while he searches for information on who he is. He wouldn’t wear the suit in the first season. Instead, with only a limited knowledge of his origins, he’d have an S-emblem t-shirt (similar to the events of Action Comics in DC’s The New 52). Hard-hitting investigative journalist, Lois Lane, would be assigned with tracking down leads on this mysterious savior that has popped up, as well as stories on any and all Meta-Human activity. And it would actually take her most of the first season to track him down. Real investigative grunt work. Not three of minutes of montage based entirely on a falsified job application. I mean, really, what the hell Man of Steel?!

Rounding out the series would be shady business man Lex Luthor and his lethal bodyguard, Mercy. Youthful and optimistic young photographer, Jimmy Olsen (yes…Jimmy Olsen! Not random intern Jenny Whatshertits) and veteran editor Perry White (side note: how great would it be to get Bill Paxton as Perry White? Seriously…say “Great Caesar’s Ghost” in your head right now with Bill Paxton’s voice! AWESOME!!!). Also, since the show is called Metropolis (and not Superman or Daily Planet), another core character would be Detective Maggie Sawyer, recently appointed as head of a new Meta-Humans Task Force.

Obviously, there’d be plenty of room for a rogues gallery of threats, too. Appearing over the course of the series would be fresh new takes on: Metallo, Brainiac, Gen. Sam Lane, Bizarro, Parasite and so on.

I don’t know about you, but I smell one hell of a series.

 

BlueBeetle

BLUE BEETLE (Recurring Guest Appearance/TV Movie)

As I pointed out before, Kord Industries has been referenced numerous times on Arrow. It seems only appropriate to finally introduce Ted Kord as a character. In the comics, Ted Kord is kind of like a Tony Stark without the heart problem or the alcoholism. He’s a genius level billionaire that heads up a technology company and invents his own gadgets to use as a crime fighter after inheriting the Scarab (later learned to be an alien artifact) from former Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett. In the comics, Kord was often depicted as goofy and met with ridicule from both fans and characters within the DC universe. He found brief redemption in 2006 when he uncovered the Brother Eye/OMAC threat as perpetrated by Maxwell Lord…just before getting shot in the head.

I think it would be fun to introduce Ted Kord as a young, socially awkward and idealistic billionaire who, inspired by the exploits of Starling City’s Arrow, decides to take up arms against corruption in his city. Obviously, a course of events would lead him to Starling where he’d meet up with Team Arrow. Events would unfold that make Ted realize he’s in over his head and give up. But much in the way that Oliver had inspired Barry Allen, he too would help inspire Ted Kord to find his way and place amongst the symbols of hope in this brave new world.

Blue Beetle could be a recurring guest star on Arrow and maybe even cross over into The Flash once or twice. If his episodes test well then it would be interesting to see what the character has in terms of his own TV movie. Perhaps even with Maxwell Lord making an appearance that could also help segue into…

 

Checkmate

CHECKMATE (Ongoing Series)

Amanda Waller was introduced in season two of Arrow as the leader of ARGUS and the founder of the Suicide Squad. In the comics she’s also the White Queen of the meta human spy organization, Checkmate. Maxwell Lord being one of the Kings (up until his death in the comic series). Other notable members include the Black Queen, Sasha Bordeaux, and the Black King, Taleb Khalid.

The series follows a UN sanctioned world security spy force that uses the balance of meta humans paired up with normal human counterparts. The size of the organization would make for an interesting formula of alternating the roster from episode to episode instead of featuring a core cast of characters. Also, the concept of a spy organization set to the backdrop of a superhero universe would make for some great competition on the part of DC and Warner Bros. against Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. I use the term “competition” loosely because if Checkmate even partially resembled the quality of Arrow then it would blow SHIELD completely out of the water.

In this new world of vigilantes and meta humans, the UN decides it needs a security force that can deal with these unprecedented situations across the globe. Enter Checkmate. But who makes up this organization? Who has their own agendas? In a game of Chess the two sides fight each other and somebody has to come out the winner. Now THAT sounds like a compelling drama that I would love to see unfold!

Plus, with Amanda Waller as one of the core characters, you’ve opened up the opportunity to see more from the Suicide Squad on occasion outside of Arrow.

 

Titans

TITANS (Maxi Series)

With Roy Harper now making some headway to becoming Arsenal on Arrow, we can easily have other vigilantes and meta humans his age slowly introduced. Maybe there’s a sort of backdoor pilot episode where Roy goes off on his own excursion to Bludhaven and meets a young street tough named Dick Grayson and together they prowl the streets and bring some “young justice” to the street thugs and riffraff of Starling’s sister city. Also, there was an episode in season one of Arrow where Slade Wilson reveals to Oliver that he has a son named Joe. Any DC Comics fan knows that Joe Wilson is the Teen Titan known as Jericho. Plus, Slade Wilson (aka Deathstroke) was one of the lead villains of the Teen Titans for a number of years. Another Titan villain, Dr. Light, was teased in the season two episode, “The Man Under The Hood.” I mean, come on, this series is building itself right before our eyes!

You don’t want to take Roy Harper away from Arrow indefinitely, which is why this would just be an event series. Roy’s storyline is getting too good! Thea just left him, which means (God willing) he’s going to spiral into a pit of depression that sends him into the “Roy Harper, Junkie” storyline. Holy shit that’s going to be great TV! I really hope that’s what they do and I can’t wait to see Colton Haynes play it off. He’s a talented young actor and that’s just going to be a hell of a few episodes if the show goes that route.

But back to TITANS! I’m not sure if this would work best as a straight 12-13 episodes or if it should be divided up into two 6-episode mini series (one in the winter and one in the summer). I guess it would depend on what works best with the Roy Harper character’s role in Arrow. Either way it would be two major story lines. The first half would be an introduction of any major Titan not backdoored in Arrow as they team up to fight Deathstroke, who inevitably gets released from the ARGUS prison and becomes a mercenary/assassin following his loss of the Mirakuru abilities. The team would likely consist of Harper, Dick Grayson (Nightwing) and Joe Wilson (Jericho) as previously mentioned, plus Victor Stone (Cyborg – a STAR Labs experiment, as that facility is heavily involved in The Flash), Rachel Roth (Raven) and Tara Markov (Terra).

The back half of the series would be an adaptation of the popular Teen Titans story, “The Judas Contract” as they learn that team member Terra is actually a spy planted by Deathstroke to help bring the young team down.

 

Society

SOCIETY (Maxi Series)

Finally, we come to a 12 episode Maxi Series event called SOCIETY! What’s it about? You guessed it…the Justice Society of America! There’s a couple of great things that I particularly love about Arrow. One is that it has a terrific balance between the present day and what Oliver went through during his time on the island. The story correlation between the two time periods makes for incredibly entertaining television. Another is that Geoff Johns (arguably one of the best writers DC has ever had) is an active writer and producer on both Arrow and The Flash. He’s also responsible for the best run in comics the Justice Society has ever had. I would love to see Johns tackle this material as head writer and executive producer with the amazingly talented Joe Johnston serving as showrunner and developer. Johnston, of course, directed Captain America: The First Avenger and The Rocketeer and is the absolute best at telling superhero stories set during 40s and 50s time periods.

The show wouldn’t be entirely based in the 40s and 50s, though. One of the great things about Johns’ run of the JSA books is that it featured the old team mentoring the next generation. So what you would get is an intriguing storyline with the old Justice Society coming out of retirement in light of a new age of heroes emerging with a storyline that ties directly into events they faced 50+ years earlier.

But, you might say, there were no superheroes or vigilantes in this TV universe prior to Oliver Queen becoming the Arrow…

Lest you forget, silly person, that Mirakuru dates back to a WWII Japanese Sub! So clearly there was some manner of super powers going on in the 40s. Plus, let’s not forget about good old fashioned nuclear testing! And just because the world didn’t know doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Maybe we learn that the Justice Society was a Secret Society. They protected the world form things it wasn’t ready to know about yet. And now those things are reemerging in the present day and the old team just isn’t what it used to be so they need some fresh, young help.

It’s difficult to say who’d be the best roster for this team. Johns would be the best to determine who works in this established universe. But if I had to guess I’d definitely want to see (in some form or another): Mr. Terrific, Dr. Midnight, Hourman, Starman and Stargirl, The Atom and/or Atom Smasher and Dr. Fate.

 

But there you have it. Five perfectly valid ways of expanding the DC Universe on television without overcrowding the weekly television roster. What do you think? Did I strike gold? Will the writers and producers of Arrow and The Flash read this and heed my wishes? Or did I just ramble on to def ears at the cost of my own time and effort?

Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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