The CW's superhero vigilante series Arrow has proven itself as an effective way to introduce a host of live-action renderings of DC's deep catalogue of characters. Season 2 has introduced us to Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro), Black Canary (Caity Lotz) and Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau), with Ra's al Ghul's daughter Nyssa (Katrina Law), Cyrus 'Solomon Grundy' Gold (Graham Shiels) and Barry Allen a.k.a. The Flash (Grant Gustin) on deck.
The introduction of The Flash is particularly important, since he'll presumably be the first super-powered character, opening the possibilities for more of the same type of super-powered comic book heroes and villains to join the ever-expanding Arrow gallery. Given the plans to launch The Flash into his own standalone series, the big question has been whether or not DC and Warner Bros. will use the show's runaway success as a chance to merge the show's universe with that of their expected Justice League movie crossover.
Not anytime soon, according to Arrow executive producer Greg Berlanti. When asked by Fandango if we can expect to see some of the small-screen characters joining the likes of Henry Cavill's Superman and Ben Affleck's Batman somewhere down the line, Berlanti responded:
“We haven't had any of those conversations other than to say, what characters are we allowed to use this year and advocate or request certain ones that are of interest to us. And every now and then, they'll say, 'You can't have that guy.' They don't say why, and we figure out why later on.”
This may disappoint plenty of fans who were hoping to see DC take advantage of Arrow's popularity and bridge the movie and TV universes, just as Marvel has attempted to achieve with it's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series and it's recent direct tie-in to Thor: The Dark World.
There were signs that this would be the case, however - not long after learned that Dick Grayson - AKA Nightwing, Batman's former Robin and loyal ally - would be a part of Batman Vs. Superman, reports surfaced that Nightwing would in fact debut on Arrow first, with The Vampire Diaries star Steven R. McQueen potentially in the role.
This leads us to re-think what we thought we knew about DC and WB's overall plan - or maybe their lack thereof. It's old news that WB has been far slower out of the gate than Marvel when it comes to establishing their big-screen comic book continuum, but the success of Man of Steel set the stage for a Batman/Superman face-off, then Justice League, then presumably any number of spin-offs based on DC's array of characters. However, it was only just announced that Warner Bros. has signed Man of Steel screenwriter David S. Goyer to a first-look deal, possibly setting him up as the main architect of their big-screen - and small-screen - franchises.
Arrow could have been a potential centerpiece for developing multiple DC adaptations across several different platforms, but Berlanti sounds as if he's in the dark about the studio's overall plans. Still, he has established a dark, mature tone for a character who had previously been written off as a Robin Hood-style caricature, and his enthusiasm hasn't waned, saying “Getting to participate in any way in the story – considering how much they meant to me as a kid – is really, I just feel lucky about that all the time.”
Berlanti also elaborated about his approach to the character's development. Oliver Queen will be getting his classic Green Arrow mask soon, and it appears that despite many of the shared-universe questions, Berlanti is approaching Queen's development carefully:
“And it evolves the way it's supposed to…When it comes out naturally, that's when it's best. And that's been the fate of Arrow, and I guess that's the path we'll follow.”
Careful, thoughtful development of this kind of project generally leads to better quality, which in the long run will please the large fan base associated with the comic book movie genre, but DC fans are getting mighty impatient. DC and Warner Bros. aren't in any immediate danger of losing their audience, but we won't see Batman Vs. Superman for nearly two years. Establishing common ground between the television universe and that of their next big event film would be the kind of bold move needed to stake their own claim on comic book property crossovers while appeasing longtime fans.
Arrow returns Wednesday, December 4th @8pm with ‘The Scientist’ on The CW.