In recent years, The CW has grown its lineup of DC Comics television series by premiering Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow and acquiring Supergirl from CBS – not to mention establishing iZombie, a series based on the comic of the same name from DC’s Vertigo imprint. But, the network ventured into a different stable of characters with its newest series, Riverdale. Developed by Arrowverse architect Greg Berlanti and written by Archie Comics chief creative officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Riverdale adapts the iconic characters of Archie Comics for a high school-set dark, sexy murder mystery storyline – one that has received a great deal of critical praise so far.
Of course, The CW isn’t the only network with DC Comics-based series; Fox’s Gotham is currently in its third season and NBC recently debuted the new superhero sitcom Powerless. All these series are possible because of a deal between DC Comics and Warner Bros. Television. Now, Archie Comics has struck a similar deal with Warner Bros. TV that could pave the way for a shared Riverdale universe on The CW or – at the very least – more television series based on the publisher’s characters.
THR is reporting Archie Comics signed an exclusive deal with Warner Bros. TV to develop more properties under their banner for “television and original content,” including all characters housed under the publisher and its imprints. So, not only are Josie and the Pussycats and Sabrina the Teenage Witch fair game, characters like Katy Keene and those under the superhero imprint Dark Circle are included as well. When asked about whether these characters could be adapted, Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater said:
It’s part of the plan. Archie is unique in that we have a huge library of characters that are not only recognizable, but they’re successful and entertaining. Everyone knows Josie and Sabrina. Beyond that, we have an entire pantheon of heroes and villains that are perfect for TV or movies. Not to mention Katy Keene, Black Hood, Sam Hill, just to name a few. The possibilities are endless, and I can’t wait to start talking about what we have coming up.
Last month at The CW’s Television Critics Association winter press tour presentation, network president Mark Pedowitz teased this deal – even giving a timeline of when fans could expect news. When asked about whether The CW was planning an Archie expanded universe similar to their DC Comics TV world, Pedowitz said, “Talk to me in about 5-6 weeks.” Now, little more than five weeks after that presentation, this deal between WB TV and Archie Comics paves the way for The CW to develop an Archie world on their network.
Of course, whether or not any upcoming Archie Comics-based series will be Riverdale spinoffs remains to be seen. So far in its first season, Riverdale has weaved a tightly constructed murder mystery narrative with little wiggle room for spinoffs. Since the series is about the town as a whole – and how they’re dealing with the death of high school golden boy Jason Blossom – any spinoffs set in Riverdale would need to align with the continuity of the original series. That still leaves room for Riverdale to incorporate a backdoor pilot for a spinoff or introduce a character that could lead their own series – just as Arrow did with The Flash – with Sabrina the Teenage Witch a particularly likely candidate.
Still, given the very specific tone Riverdale has established in its early episodes, if The CW were to green light any more series based on Archie Comics characters, they may very well be entirely removed from Archie Andrews’ (KJ Apa) complicated story for the sake of simplicity. Plus, it would allow for the creators at Archie Comics and The CW – or any other network that picks up a series based on the publisher’s characters – more freedom in pursuing unique tones and narrative possibilities. No matter how Archie Comics and Warner Bros. Television develop further shows based on the publisher’s properties, fans will no doubt hope they’ll find as much critical success as Riverdale has seen so far.
Riverdale continues with ‘Chapter Four: The Last Picture Show’ Thursday February 16 at 9pm on The CW.