The Identity Crisis between the DCEU and DCTVU
It’s well known that Warner Bros. and DC favor keeping their big heroes exclusive to one either their movie universe or their TV universe. This can be seen most recently with the release of Suicide Squad, and the Arrow universe having to shelve a teased at Harley Quinn and a pretty decently cast Deadshot. Gotham (and Lucifer to a lesser extent) also have to abide by these “rules.”
In the Gotham panel at Wondercon, the idea of utilizing movie universe was brought up, and it simply ended with the statement that they can’t use those characters at the same time of a film release. Warner Bros and DC certainly aren’t ratcheting down on their movie releases. So, should there be a clear division amongst the two distinct universes?
The way I approach the two universes is similar to how I approach the slew of comic storylines, completely separately, and I have absolutely no issue with it. The two universes have taken on vastly different tones. The DCEU is far darker and more serious, for better or worse, than the more light-hearted TV universe. The tonal shifts make sense for the story in which each is trying to convey, and I think the casting decisions reflect that commitment.
It’d be tempting for DC to follow the Marvel template considering the studio just prints money with their properties and they are all generally well-reviewed, but that would keep us from having those special moments across the TV Universe. The only thing in which I don’t agree with as it pertains to their current decisions is barring characters from one or the other. Having said that, I understand why they did it, but I feel they need to just allow each universe to take on a life of their own. The depth of talent for both universes is strong, they just need to have some faith and realize that the so-called “average viewer” can differentiate between the two.
As someone who has really been enjoying both the DCEU and DCTV, I know there are always ways to make it better. If I had my way, the movie universe would be completely separate from the TV universe. The CW TV shows have done a great job giving us so many unique characters. They give us the big hitters, ahem Superman, and they bring in some lesser known characters like Mon-El or Vibe. I also appreciate that the movie universe is trying for a darker, more gritty tone. I know it doesn’t agree with everyone, but I applaud them for doing something different.
The best thing that the two screens could do, in my opinion, is stay away from one another. I understand that they don’t want to confuse the two universes by having multiple characters on TV and movies, but I feel that they can continue to find ways to vastly differentiate the two. For instance, The Flash TV show starring Grant Gustin isn’t going anywhere, yet we are only months away from seeing Ezra Miller become the Scarlet Speedster on the big screen as part of the Justice League. I like knowing that we will get multiple iterations of this character and be able to separate them from one another. I hope that DC can continue this way and try not to step on their own toes by limited characters too much.
I find it very interesting that DC is doing this. What I can tell is that it actually gives a bit more creative freedom in the stories they are trying to tell. Also, it gives fans the best of both worlds. With the exclusion of Batman actually suiting up on TV, I really enjoyed the superman arcs on Supergirl because they gave me a pretty accurate portrayal of the character instead of the dramatically dark interpretation of the DC movie universe.
I wouldn’t mind more of this going on just to see more liberties with characters. It also brings up the point where if the actors on the TV show are perfect fits,then it goes hand in hand on who they use character wise for both universes. Personally, I think Green Arrow and Flash on the TV show portray the comics much better than what was shown in the DC movie universe.
I just find the duality of DC’s Movie/TV strategy frustrating. While I completely agree that certain characters shouldn’t be present in both TV and Film at the same time (I’m looking at you, Flash) I feel like other characters work better solely in a serialized format, either because of story progression, or because they are too off-kilter for general movie going audiences. To use a Flash rogue as an example, Gorilla Grodd would be a fantastic movie villain. The entire concept of Gorilla City would translate very well to film, if the newer Planet of the Ape movies were anything to go by. Capturing the city’s majesty and breadth could be realized using a feature film budget.
All the while, I feel like Deathstroke would absolutely work the best in a television setting, especially as a frequent villain or antagonist. While it would be cool to see him on the big screen, I feel his abilities and strengths lend themselves better as a recurring villain that can show up on any of the CW/DC shows as needed.