With respect to Netflix, ABC, Fox, and seemingly every other network these days, the best televised representations of comic book superheroics are currently taking place on the CW. Under the stewardship of executive producer Greg Berlanti, a world that started out as a Green Arrow riff which borrowed maybe a little too generously from Batman has blossomed into a full-on multiverse of colorful, unique heroes and villains. With the rich source material that is DC Comics at their disposal, why not keep expanding that world with new, different shows?
A few ground rules: characters that Warner Bros. has big, concrete movie plans for are going to be (mostly) excluded. Also, the CW is never going to have the budget of a Zack Snyder blockbuster: a Green Lantern show set on Oa with dozens of aliens and space battles probably isn’t realistically something the network can pull off. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 15 DC Characters Who Should Get Their Own CW Show.
15. Booster Gold/Blue Beetle
One of comics’ most beloved bromances, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle would fit in perfectly with the other denizens of Greg Berlanti’s shared DC Universe. Michael Carter, a failed football player from the future who uses time travel in search of personal glory as modern day superhero Booster Gold, could be naturally introduced via the time traveling hijinks of Legends of Tomorrow. His mysterious connections to Rip Hunter certainly wouldn’t hurt either.
Arrow actually laid the groundwork for introducing Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle, way back in season two (they eventually subbed in Ray Palmer instead). Ted Kord is the kind of grounded, optimistic hero that the CW shows thrive on; a bright young innovator who wants to use his considerable brainpower to make the world a better place. Pairing him with the goofier, more cynical Booster Gold has always been a solid path to rich storytelling in the comics, and it would be similarly effective on television.
14. Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner)
Most indications are that the movie GL will be either Hal Jordan or John Stewart (or both). That leaves a convenient opening for a version of the character who’s less dependent on the cosmic space opera aspects of the mythology: Kyle Rayner. An artist given the last power ring by the last Guardian after a universal calamity, Kyle Rayner is never granted training wheels. He hits the ground running, learning how to be a hero largely on his own.
The more controversial aspects of his comic book run (the insane Hal Jordan, the lazy, exploitative death of his girlfriend) could be brushed away in favor of the more earnest, optimistic tone that permeates most of the DC CW shows. And while the movies are likely to explore the big, universal sci-fi flavors of the character, there’s something to be said for the more earthbound, street-level version of the character, and no one’s a better fit for that than Kyle.
Let’s be real here: the CW is probably never getting a swing at a Batman TV series, even if Gotham comes to an end. But who says his supporting cast can’t get some love? Batgirl is top of that list. Barbara Gordon is one of the most beloved characters in DC history, yet she’s never really gotten a fair shake in live action (apologies to Yvonne Craig and Alicia Silverstone).
The CW has long proven itself adept at shows revolving around strong young women. In some ways, Supergirl is an obvious blueprint, as the show manages to use a healthy chunk of her more famous cousin’s supporting cast while still centering the show around a fully formed, compelling female lead. You almost never miss Superman watching Supergirl; we suspect we’d feel the same about Batgirl (though if they wanted Batman to swing by occasionally, who would say no to that?)
12. Starman (Jack Knight)
The CW has been trying to push the idea of magic into Arrow’s world for a few years now, with mixed results. Constantine would probably be the ideal character to tell those stories with, but the legal ramifications of the CW having a show starring Matt Ryan’s titular British chainsmoker are murky at best.
Jack Knight would not only be a great vessel for such stories, he’s also exactly the kind of hero the CW loves to play with: reluctant, disillusioned, a little too cool for school. Created by James Robinson and Tony Harris in 1994, he still holds up as one of DC’s most successful reinventions of a longtime character. The comparisons to another CW stalwart, Supernatural, are easy to make. The existence of a World War II-era Stargirl on Legends of Tomorrow would make the legacy aspect that’s so important to his character easy to include as well.
11. Birds of Prey
This one’s tricky. One of the most enduring DC properties of the last two decades, the Birds of Prey are a female centric team that’s usually (but not always) centered around Black Canary, Huntress, and some version of Barbara Gordon– be that Batgirl or Oracle. Despite a (very strange) failed attempt at making it a television show a decade ago on the CW’s predecessor, the WB, the concept is an obvious candidate to join the Arrowverse.
The trickiness involves the status quo of most of the core members in the Arrowverse. Black Canary is (maybe?) dead. Huntress, long absent after being introduced early in Arrow’s run, is bordering on being too amoral to be on a superhero team (though these shows do love a redemption arc). The real wrinkle, however, is Barbara Gordon. The most iconic version of the character is almost certainly Batgirl, but the version of the character that really clicked in Birds of Prey was Oracle, the wheelchair bound hacker extraordinaire that proved you could be just as heroic as without wearing spandex and punching people– a note Arrow has already hit with Felicity.
10. Justice Society Of America
The CW likes varying the subgenres of their comic book shows. Arrow is the gritty, street level show. The Flash is the earnest super science show. Supergirl is the most traditionally straightforward superhero show. Legends of Tomorrow… maybe defies description. One hole the network is yet to fill is a period piece. The Justice Society of America is the perfect property for the role.
Introduced in the second season of Legends of Tomorrow, the JSA are a World War II era super team. The established team lineup of Hourman, Dr. Mid-Nite, Stargirl, Obsidian, Vixen, and Commander Steel is not exactly the classic comic roster, but setting it in the 1940s would allow for one of the richest aspects of the DC Universe to flourish: legacy characters. Team members with connections to modern day CW characters could easily be introduced and either directly or indirectly influence storylines in the corresponding shows. Despite being set in a specific historical period, the storytelling possibilities are almost endless.
Rumors of a Nightwing show have swirled almost as long as the Arrowverse has existed, and with good reason; the character would be a natural fit. When his tenure as Robin, Batman’s loyal sidekick, comes to an end, Dick Grayson strikes out on his own to become his own man, in a new town and with a new secret identity: Nightwing.
Nightwing would be the perfect combination of the two types of shows the CW has down to a science: the street level, vigilante crime fighting vibe of Arrow, along with the more earnest, optimistic worldview of The Flash and Supergirl.
Dick Grayson packs all of the violent punch of Batman, but he generally delivers it with a sense of humor and a decidedly healthier personal life. It’s also probably the closest we’re going to get to an actual live action Batman show on television in the near future (apologies to Gotham, which is many things, but a Batman show is not among them).
8. The Spectre
The Spectre would be somewhat new territory for the Arrowverse, but not necessarily the CW. Jim Corrigan, a morally complicated cop who’s gunned down by criminals, is given a dark second chance at life: he’s revived by a higher power to exact vengeance on those who deserve it in ironic, horrifying ways. Corrigan is in a constant internal battle with his own inner rage and the lingering feeling that what he’s doing, divine in origin or not, may be deeply wrong.
Considerably darker and more violent than the CW has gone with their DC properties, The Spectre actually wouldn’t be too far in tone from another CW stalwart: Supernatural. Playing with themes like cosmic justice and the effectiveness of vengeance, The Spectre probably wouldn’t be fetching ice cream for Supergirl, but he’d be an interesting addition to a world where moral ambiguity doesn’t often leave the confines of Star City.
7. Wonder Girl
There have been a few different versions of Wonder Girl. The most often used version in the comics is Donna Troy, whose name has become synonymous with the labyrinthine, retcon heavy backstories that often plague long-running comic book characters. It’s easy to lose count of how many times the character has been rebooted, to varying levels of success.
The much cleaner version of the character is Cassie Sandsmark. The earlier, clunkier parts of her origin can easily be streamlined to a television ready concept: a young woman discovers she has remarkable powers that she excitedly embraces to fight crime. Her mother conceals the unbelievable truth: Cassie is the daughter of the Greek god Zeus. Cassie is one of the few superhero sidekicks who can stand on her own as a character completely removed from her narrative progenitor. There’s no Wonder Woman needed here: Cassie Sandsmark can work all by herself.
Zatanna has one of the more clever basic setups in superhero comics: she’s a stage magician who is actually magic. The daughter of Zatara, she is yet another in DC’s long line of legacy characters. Through her family line, she has connections to a wide range of DC’s most important characters, up to and including a certain caped crusader from Gotham. She also tends to be romantically linked to John Constantine, and this would be the most obvious destination for Matt Ryan’s version of everyone’s favorite chain-smoking British sorcerer.
Her dual magician identities would be a good opportunity for a sly commentary on the artifice of show business and the blurring lines of what’s real and what’s not when introduced to the world of the supernatural. None of the CW shows have really displayed that level of meta commentary, but maybe they’ve just been waiting for the proper vessel.
5. Swamp Thing
No DC character has gotten as much of a raw deal from as many shoddy adaptations as Swamp Thing. The story of a man who is transformed into an elemental plant creature after a lab explosion, Swamp Thing became the stuff of comic book legend under the stewardship of Alan Moore in the 1980’s, and has continued to be a dark, thoughtful meditation on mortality and identity in comics to this day.
Unfortunately, the general public thinks of Swamp Thing as the star of two cheesy ’80s movies, a brainless cartoon created to sell toys, and a well-intentioned but poorly executed TV series in the ’90s. The Arrowverse producers have shown a knack for taking things that are ostensibly silly (like a plant man who lives in a swamp) and treating them with straight-faced respect from a storytelling standpoint. It likely wouldn’t be in the same league as the work of Moore and his successors, but the CW could definitely make an empathetic, earnest iteration of a character who so desperately deserves it.
4. Hawk and Dove
Greg Berlanti hasn’t been shy about injecting politics into his shows, most prominently with Supergirl, but also in subtler ways with The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow (making Oliver Queen, historically the most politically charged superhero, largely apolitical will always feel like a baffling choice). There is maybe no better vessel for telling socially conscious stories in the DC universe than Hank and Don Hall (or the more recent Holly and Dawn Granger, if that’s more your speed).
Granted superhuman abilities by the Lords of Chaos and Order, the brothers have diametrically opposing worldviews. Hank is emotionally fiery and militant; Don is thoughtful and generally opposed to violence. The beauty of the pairing, the part that makes it worthwhile, is that the opposing ideologies end up balancing each other. It’s ultimately a message about how we all need each other in some way, even when it seems like we couldn’t be more different.
3. The Question
Vic Sage is one of the more peculiar characters in superhero comics. Something of a Zen Batman, he’s trained in both martial arts and Eastern philosophy, and espouses both equally. Taking on a more macro view of corruption in his hometown of Hub City, he’s less likely to confront street muggers or bank robbers than he is the corrupt city government and local power brokers. He also is, quite simply, one of the coolest looking street level superheroes, sporting a jarring faceless mask with his trench coat and fedora.
Probably the most beloved iteration of the character is from the acclaimed Justice League Unlimited animated series, which added a healthy layer of conspiracy theorist paranoia to him which turned out to be accurate more often than not. Vic’s eccentric, aloof personality is not something currently featured on any of the CW shows, and imagining him bemusing Barry Allen and infuriating Oliver Queen is a lot of fun.
2. Doctor Fate
A very good argument can be made that Doctor Fate is the most fascinating character in DC’s arsenal who’s never really gotten a fair shake in live action. Archeologist Kent Nelson discovers the tomb of Nabu, then the long-dormant ancient being awakens and grants Kent magical powers he uses to fight supernatural evil. The power of Nabu would eventually be passed on to several other wielders, and in fairly strange ways (at one point Nabu inhabited Kent’s corpse and granted the power to a man and his stepmother, who merged into a single being as Doctor Fate… seriously).
The most compelling version of the character for a TV show would likely be the combination of Kent and his wife, Inza, who can merge into Doctor Fate in a way similar to how Dr. Stein and Jefferson Jackson merge into Firestorm. That dynamic is a lot of fun with the student/mentor relationship of Firestorm. The ways it would test the faith and devotion of a married couple as they battle the magical forces of evil is almost too good to resist.
Bear with us here. Yes, we just said the CW are never getting their hands on one of DC’s big boys, Batman (Wonder Woman also seems like a pipe dream). But they’ve already dangled the carrot that is the Man of Steel in front of our drooling faces; Tyler Hoechlin’s guest spot on Supergirl was praised as one of the most endearing live-action depictions of Clark Kent in recent memory. The breadcrumbs offered about his relationships with the likes of Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, and Perry White make it impossible not to daydream about a show revolving around his exploits.
Would Warner Bros. be reluctant to have a full time television Superman? Probably. Could it end up overshadowing pretty much all the other CW DC shows, particularly Supergirl? Yep. Would it be expensive to produce 22 episodes of a high quality Superman show every year? Absolutely. Is any of this a genuine deterrence from wanting this to happen in the slightest? No way. It’s time for the CW to be allowed to play with one of DC’s heavyweights, and the choice is clearly the Last Son of Krypton.
Are there any other DC comics characters you’d like to see in their own CW show? Let us know in the comments.
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