Where Marvel have cleverly embraced a single integrated universe for both; their TV shows, and their Marvel Cinematic Universe – putting aside properties that they don’t currently own (Sony’s Spiderman and Fox’s X-Men), DC is walking down another path separating their Cinematic Universe with Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League Part 1, being their own separate entity, with the TV shows having their own thing (with some being linked loosely to the Cinematic Universe [yes, …it’s rather complicated])
Out of the four TV projects that DC have either currently airing or scheduled for imminent release – two of them – The Flash and Arrow – are linked and share their own onscreen universe, with the other two – Gotham and Constantine – being standalone projects.
DC Entertainment CCO Geoff Johns sat down and spoke with Buzzfeed and indicated that, despite all the distinct universes being around at the same time, the main priority is to prevent those involved from stepping on each other’s toes: “We had talked about it previously being distinct, but I can’t really talk about the films. We haven’t really gone into detail about what that stuff is so I don’t want to get too detailed yet. You have to have conversations about what’s happening in TV and film between everybody because you don’t want to do the same thing. That’s super, super important.”
As well as the distinctions, there are also no plans for crossovers between the TV shows and films even if the same characters show up: “‘Arrow’ and ‘Flash’ are the same universe, and we get a lot of great story out of that – especially when we have episodes that cross them over, but that’s also where our superhero universe lives. We look at it as the multiverse. We have our TV universe and our film universe, but they all co-exist.
“For us, creatively, it’s about allowing everyone to make the best possible product, to tell the best story, to do the best world. Everyone has a vision and you really want to let the visions shine through… Maybe one day we’ll link a show to a film if it makes sense, but the creative process we’re going through right now is to let the stuff live and breathe and be its own thing and own it.”
Confusingly so, they do plan to tease the larger DC Universe in all of their works (…are you still with us?): “We’re trying to utilize as many characters as we possibly can, but there is a conscious effort to explore the DC universe. Like on ‘Constantine,’ we already have Jim Corrigan, we put Dr. Fate’s helmet in the pilot; that wasn’t just a easter egg. I like the term easter egg, but I prefer all our easter eggs actually lead somewhere, that they’re foreshadowing.
“There might be someone out there who sees Dr. Fate on an episode of ‘Constantine’ and suddenly they love that character and they become a creator later on and tell me they have a great take for a Dr. Fate TV show. That’s what we want to happen. Like, I can’t believe Gorilla Grodd’s gonna be in a ‘Flash’ TV show. That’s insane.”
It certainly all sounds a bit mish-mashed and haphazardly put together. But then, maybe it will work in favour of the fans, with the standalones being able to take completely different story arcs. What do you think, people? Make a noise in the comments section below.