2016 is going to be a key year for the expansion of DC's live action properties. In theaters, Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and David Ayer's Suicide Squad will be the first movies to truly begin to flesh out the cinematic universe - which Snyder has called the "DC Extended Universe" - created back in 2013's Man of Steel. On the small screen, The CW's DC universe will also expand with DC's Legends of Tomorrow, while other DC series will continue on FOX (Gotham), CBS (Supergirl), and The CW (Arrow, The Flash).
There is crossover potential on the small screen, of course. Aside from the obvious crossovers existing within CW's universe (which have already occurred and there's plans for more), the possibility of an eventual crossover between Supergirl and The CW-verse does exist - it's just not likely to happen in the near future. But what about actors from the DC TV shows appearing in the DC Extended Universe?
Could Stephen Amell's Green (finally) Arrow collaborate with Ben Affleck's Batman? Could Grant Gustin's Flash race Ezra Miller's Flash? These are just a few questions many DC fans have wondered about, especially since DC is known for having its heroes visit multiple dimensions. Marvel Studio and Disney have pushed to establish one connected universe that is featured in its movies and shows, and now, the head of DC has given a clear answer about whether or not they're interested in ever taking a similar approach.
During Variety's Entertainment and Technology summit, Diane Nelson - President of DC Entertainment & Warner Bros. Consumer Products, and the President-Chief Content Officer of WB. Interactive Entertainment - explained why DC/WB is not interested in having all of its live-action shows take place in one universe. According to Nelson, that strategy could "end up handcuffing our creators into trying to work with the same storyline or force them to hold back characters or introduce certain characters." She cited Gotham as an example of this, claiming that showrunner Bruno Heller would't have the same creative freedom while creating his vision of Gotham, and that's important since the company is "so talent driven."
Not to be taken as a jab at what Marvel is doing, Nelson clarified that she believes the Marvel Cinematic Universe "has worked beautifully" but it's simply not a strategy that makes sense for them. That said, her comment about not wanting to "handcuff" creators appears to be exactly what has happened on The CW. For example, Arrow originally had plans for Harley Quinn, yet they were only allowed to use her for a brief cameo because the character is going to have a prominent role in Suicide Squad. Additionally, executive producers have implied that they can't use certain characters if they'll play a part in the upcoming DCEU.
Marc Guggenheim has stated that, because "DC has other plans", Green Lantern John Stewart appearing in Arrow doesn't seem likely, and there's no immediate plans for Booster Gold in Legends of Tomorrow because the character is possibly being "groomed for bigger things." On the flip side, this does give the shows the ability to form their own stories without worrying about the DCEU's continuity - it just seemingly prevents them from using certain heroes and villains.
Steven Spielberg, Henry Cavill, Zack Snyder and others recently shared comments on the possibility of superhero fatigue. Many comic book movies may be doing well at the box office, but with so many of them being released every year, some people wonder just how long superheroes will remain a dominant force in popular culture - at least when it comes to film, that is. Nelson said they are aware of the topic; however, she thinks fans will still want to see DC's projects because they're focused on crafting movies that aren't familiar:
“We do believe we’re in a period time where comics and superheroes are really the driving force within pop culture. We have to be really sensitive to making sure were not creating any stories that don’t feel like they’re ready to be told. We have to make sure we’re getting the right story and the right content from the talent we work with. Ultimately we think if it’s a great story people will go out to see it.”
DC wanting to keep its movie universe and various TV universes separate really shouldn't shock most fans. When DC's CCO Geoff Johns said they like to view the various live-action projects as part of a multiverse, some fans got excited and thought that means crossovers are in the works. The comment was more than likely just his fun way of saying, "yes, many of these projects are separate, but they're all a part of DC."
Could more crossovers one day occur? On the small screen, yes. Will TV characters appear on the big screen and vice versa? Maybe one day, but for the time being, the answer still appears to be "no".
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017; Justice League on November 17th, 2017; The Flash on March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman on July 27th, 2018; Shazam on April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14th, 2019; Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern Corps on June 19th, 2020. Untitled Batman and Superman solo films will be coming at dates TBD.
The Flash season 2 premieres on The CW on Tuesday, October 6 at 8pm/7 central; Arrow season 4 debuts Wednesday, October 7 at 8pm/7 central; Legends of Tomorrow begins in 2016.
"Justice League" Header Image Artwork by spidermonkey23 @ DeviantArt