As Archonia’s resident DC Comics superfan (who also enjoys a lot of Marvel stuff too, by the way) I think its time to talk to you about something. You know, just the two of us… here by ourselves, so sit down, relax and let me talk your ear off about the ongoing invasion that the fellows at DC Comics are launching at the TV landscape.
Since Arrow started on the CW a few years ago the characters of DC comics are now in a golden TV age, which builds on the legacy of older DC TV programming, like the 60s Batman show, the 70s Wonder Woman show, the 90s brought Lois and Clark Adventures of Superman and the often forgotten Flash show (I can still hum the Danny Elfman theme song to that!) and don’t forget 00s 10 seasons of “Superman Begins” with Smallville!
So, as you see DC Comics and TV is not necessarily a new thing, but the current level of quality and quantity, the wide breath of different shows to chose from, some of which are even set in a connected universe is certainly a special occurrence that is sure to please every DC fanboy! I will go through every DC related thing that is currently running or has run and will come back/maybe come back next season and also two of the upcoming shows which already had trailers! Titans will not get mentioned because so far we only know that there will be a show called Titans and some rumors about the cast of characters, which is not enough to talk about yet. You will get a quick overview of the basic plot, how the show feels in comparison to the others, what they were inspired by and my personal opinion on it so far! I hope you will check all of them out or at least a few of them.
Its only fair to start with the show that started the whole trend of DC Comics resurgence on the small screen: Arrow.
This is the story of Oliver Queen, a rich, pampered playboy and son of the most influential family in Starling City and how he gets stranded on a deserted island to rebuild himself and return to his city as a vigilante fighting corruption and crime. Ollie starts his quest alone but is soon joined by other crimefighters (some of them actual crimefighters/vigilantes, some of them fight from behind a computerscreen) and takes on a wave of enemies that gets crazier and more dangerous as the show progresses, starting with Merlyn, going to Deathstroke and ending up with Ra’s al Ghul as the seasons progress.
Arrow is an action based show, with a lot of hand to hand combat, arrows and bullets flying around and is trying to follow a similar tone like the Nolan Dark Knight movies, while mixing in CW style relationship/love drama and soap opera elements. This melts together way better than it sounds and especially its second season has been an absolute highlight (mostly due to the best villain so far, in Slade “Deathstroke” Wilson). The action is very well choreographed and the show doesn’t dangle plot threads in front of you for long stretches of time, but really runs ahead in breakneck speed, hitting you with new revelations almost every week. While season 3 has seen a dip in quality in my eyes (it seemed too much of a Batman show, without Batman in it, instead of focusing what makes Ollie different from Bruce), I am hopeful the next season will recover.
It is, of course, inspired by the Green Arrow comics from DC, but also borrows heavily from the Batman mythos, be it a lot of the villains, or even plot beats and the characterisation of the hero, who is much closer to Batman than to comic book Oliver Queen (outside of the tie in comic of course). It is very comic book reference heavy, which is a lot of fun since you have a DC specific easter egg almost every episode! All in all, Arrow is absolutely worthy to check out, especially if you like your superheroes gritty and dark.
The Flash TV has its origin deeply interwoven with Arrow, as the lead character has been introduced first in Oliver Queen’s show a year before the Flash premiered. Season 2 of Arrow showed young crime scene investigator Barry Allen (played to perfection by Grant Gustin) come to Starling City to investigate a crime. He befriended the Arrow team and helped them out before going back to Central City, while having learned a lot about heroes from the Arrow himself. Due to an exploding particle accelerator experiment in his own city, Barry finds himself with a set of superpowers that turn him into the fastest man alive… the Flash! He then goes on to protect his city from crime and metahuman (superpowered) threats, while also trying to solve the mysterious and possibly supernatural murder of his mother, who died right in front of him back when he was a child.
While being a spin off of Arrow, the Flash can be viewed entirely on its own! It is a much lighter show in tone and more focused on superpowered fights instead of hand to hand combat stunt type action! The CGI effects really grow as the season progresses and are really amazing in the later episodes. The cast is fun and it is, like Arrow, a mix of superheroism, a smidge of soapy relationship stuff, just with a more fun approach to it all. The central mystery is very compelling and its great fun to see Barry learing to use his powers. In my opinion this is by far the best DC show we ever had, as it is not afraid to be truly comic booky and strange sometimes. Staples of Flash comics are weirder stuff like time travel, parallel universes and talking, telepathic evil Gorillas and the show is not afraid or “too cool” to tackle all of those. So, yes, by the end of the season you will have seen Gorilla Grodd like he is in the comics in all his cheesy and awesome glory! I just love that unapologetic approach, which is something Arrow lacks as it sometimes tries too hard to not seem comic booky at all. If you only have time for one DC show and like a more comicy/fun approach this is the show for you! Flash fact: all main actors from the 90s Flash TV show are back in this one. 90s Barry Allen John Wesley Shipp is Barry’s father and Mark Hamill (Joker and Luke Skywalker) returns in the same role as the Trickster!
Gotham just finished its first season on Fox. This is sort of a “Batman Begins Begins” type of show, like Smallville for Batman. It focuses on a young Jim Gordon as a new detective on the GCPD, paired up with veteran cop Harvey Bullock, taking on the growing strangeness of Batman’s hometown, a young Oswald Cobblepot growing into his role as the Penguin and on Bruce Wayne immediately after the murders of the Waynes and how he and his new parent Alfred struggle with the new situation and the growing anger and darkness in the young kid.
Shot on location in New York City, Gotham is the best looking comic book show out there right now (at least having a big fight with Daredevil for the top spot). The NY skyline is enhanced by subtle CGI, which turns the city truly into Gotham, with smokestacks, Gargoyles and foreboding dark clouds ever on the horizon. To describe Gotham I have to separate it into three parts: the Jim Gordon part, which is essentially like the comic Gotham Central, a Gotham based police procedual show, where Jim and Bullock take on a new crime almost every week. As you would expect with this city, those crimes are sometimes of the more strange variety. The second part is the Bruce Wayne plot, which gets bigger as the season progresses. For me, as a huge Batman fan, this is the best part of the show, since you have a talented young actor in David Mazouz who does a brilliant Bruce and slowly starts showing signs of his Batman alter ego being formed and how his relationship with Alfred actually lays the groundwork for him becoming Batman in 10-15 years. The relationship between the two is just always engaging. The third part is the story of Oswald Cobblepot (perfectly acted by Robin Lord Taylor), which plays out like a mafia story with alliances being made and backs getting stabbed. *Through all three main plotlines you get cameos by soon to be Batman villains sprinkled in-between, so you see a young Harvey Dent, Catwoman, Riddler and so on, which is fun when executed well. *
Overall it is a pretty good show that sometimes gets entangled in all the different plot threads and it sometimes can feel like a decade long tease that won’t ever pay off since we probably will never see this version of Batman meet these versions of his villains. While the first season was flawed (every Fish Mooney scene made me want to tear my hair out), it was still very entertaining and fun to watch. I am sure that season 2 will find its footing and maybe focus on longer arcs, like the last few episodes of season 1 did, which was already a big improvement. For Batman fans its a must see either way and I am just overjoyed that I get to visit a live action Gotham every week now.
Constantine is about the blue collar magician and chain smoker John Constantine, who tries to protect the world of a “Rising Darkness”, a supernatural threat that could spell the end for the world.
Imagine Supernatural, just with a british cocky bastard of a main character, who doesn’t fight evil physically but by using parlor tricks, real magic, or just his own skills of manipulation!
Based on the DC Vertigo comic “Hellblazer” the show had a somewhat rough start but found its footing after a few episodes. It only went as dark as the comic that inspired it a couple of times, which is a shame since that would have made it easier to differentiate from the other supernatural themed shows like “Supernatural” or “Grimm”, but overall it was a very good show. Matt Ryan brought the character to life from the page like I as a huge fan would never have imagined it (I even hear HIS voice now when I read Hellblazer) and the show captured his unpredictable and almost nihilistic side perfectly. NBC decided to cut the season short *after only half the episodes were done, so we never got a real ending, but showrunner Daniel Cerone and WB are still hopeful to find a new home for the show on another network, so that we might get a second season after all. It would be a shame to see this show go the way of the Dodo this soon, since it was among the best DC television ever, when it fired on all cylinders. *Even without a second season the show is well worth checking out, if you are a fan of the supernatural/horror themed stuff and for the main character alone!
Olivia “Liv” Moore, medical resident in Seattle, is turned into a zombie at a party. To satisfy her urge for brains (brrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaiiiiins) she accepts a job at a morgue, because as long as she gets a steady supply she can still pass as a human being… just a lot paler. As a side effect, every time she eats the brain of a murder victim she also gets the memories of that person and personality traits. Now she uses her skills as a “psychic consultant” to the Seattle PD to help them solve the murders, while still trying to find out how or why she was turned in to a zombie.
Loosely based on the awesome Vertigo comic series “i,Zombie” by Mike Allred and Chris Robertson, iZombie is brought to you by Veronic Mars mastermind Rob Thomas and that already is a heavy indication for how the tone of the show plays out! Its funny, dark and exciting at the same time, with a lot of black humor thrown in for good measure. As I have only seen 2 episodes so far I cannot get as deep into this as the other shows, but what I have seen so far looks very good! If this sounds like a fun idea to you, you should definitely check it out!
Based on the Supergirl comics, Supergirl will chronicle the life of Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin, who tries to follow in his heroic footsteps. With the first trailer having been released just a week ago the quality of the upcoming Supergirl show is still up in the air, but tone wise the trailer gave us pretty strong hints how it will turn out. Imagine a rom-com type show and add superb effects and superheroics to it and you get the idea (At least thats what the trailer looks like).
As I wrote in the Geekly News earlier this week, I think its great and about time that we get a superhero show that is squarely aimed at a female audience. As the freshman series of this fall Supergirl has to do something entirely different from the other DC shows and it looks like they are going to try exactly that. If that ultimately works out is another thing, but the trailer made me hopeful for a good show, even if I am not in its core target audience.
The show is spearheaded by producer Greg Berlanti, who also does Arrow and the Flash, so hoping for another show in that shared universe is only logical. So far it has not been revealed if that is in the cards at all, since Arrow/Flash are CW properties, while Supergirl will be broadcasted by CBS, but Berlanti remained hopeful while stating that Supergirl needs to establish herself on her own first before she can crossover at all.
Melissa Benoist seems like a great fit for the character and embodies the positive spirit of the character very well (especially of the pre New 52 version which debuted in the Superman/Batman comic) and the budget seems to be a lot bigger than for most superhero shows.
Legends of Tomorrow
Last but definitely not least is Legends of Tomorrow! Another spin-off from Arrow, just like the Flash before, LoT focuses on a newly appointed team of superheroes and supervillains who have to team up to protect the time stream of the DCCW universe from Vandal Savage, the evil immortal who has plagued the world since the dawn of man!
Like Supergirl, this one is still a ways off (2016), so all we can talk about is what the first look trailer showed and what we know about these characters from Arrow/Flash.
The team will be lead by Ray Palmer, the Atom (Brandon Routh) and time traveller Rip Hunter (Doctor Who’s Rory Arthur Darvill) and unite villains Captain Cold, Heatwave (from the Flash) with heroes Firestorm, Hawkgirl and the newly resurrected White Canary! The show draws its inspirations and cast from both former Arrow and Flash players, but seems to have an even more fantastic and superpowered tone than the scarlet speedsters show! The cast is interesting, diverse and ripe for conflict, which will keep things interesting. *We have a capable lead in the Atom (who was the best thing for me about Arrow season 3) and get our superheroics seemingly mixed with Doctor Who style time travel antics! *To me this sounds like either the most fun and trippy of all these shows or a gigantic explosion of too many good ideas smashed into one series, but either way I am very excited to find out. There is not an exact comic book team like this, so it is actually a pretty fresh take on existing superheroes that never (not even in the comics) worked together like that before.
As you can see, this is a pretty strong and diverse line up! You almost get a show for every mood or taste! Have you checked them out already? What are your favorites, what are your pet peeves? Will you be watching next season as well? Comment below and keep an eye on the Archonia blog for more news on comics, manga, geeky TV and movie news!