As more and more 'shared universes' become Hollywood's latest wave, it's becoming clear that nearly every approach to building an interconnected franchise, based on multiple properties, has its own snags and catches. Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment gave creative freedom to their TV superheroes, which meant Arrow was joined shortly after by The Flash, then Supergirl - but they did so on separate networks. And that's where things got interesting.
Although we were quick to point out that a shared universe and crossover events were still possible, the split between the shows' networks (The CW claiming Flash and Arrow, and Supergirl at CBS) was enough of a question mark to leave fans uncertain. But according to the latest comments from shows' producers, a crossover is more than possible - and if things go well, may come later this season.
That will come as a shock to eager fans, since producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg have kept their comments and plans vague to this point. Although the three share executive producing duties on two, or all of the shows in question, they've been just as eager to shoot down rumors of a crossover as tease them. They never say 'never,' mind you, and the ratings boost from a cross-network superhero team-up is tempting.
But fans probably didn't actually think that a crossover would come in a matter of months.
Before Supergirl hit the air, Greg Berlanti and producing partner Ali Adler could say that getting the show on its own track had to come first. Now halfway through its first season, with a style and cast all its own, it was only a matter of time before crossovers had to be addressed. First off, Berlanti explained to EW why planning for the future of the three heroes was never as easy as fans might have wished:
"We were blessed with The Flash, which came out of the gate fully formed in a way that Arrow didn’t. Arrow took awhile to find itself. Arrow needed Felicity which it didn’t have early on, and it had voiceover, which it didn’t need. Whereas The Flash came out like The Flash — you can watch the pilot and the finale back to back and it’s the same show. Supergirl was one of those shows that had a learning curve on how to make it and how to tell the stories and the audience’s part on how to watch it."
Once the obvious question came up - if a Flash/Green Arrow/Supergirl crossover had moved from informal to official talks among producers and network executives - Berlanti confirmed his own interest. The good news? A crossover event could be coming in Supergirl's first season. The bad news? If it's going to happen, the decision needs to be made fast:
"I would love it, a lot of things would have to go right and people would have to say ‘Yes.' It would have to be figured out very soon. It would all have to be figured out in the next month or so. As it remains right now we’ve talked internally about how cool it would be, but we haven’t had official conversations. [The CW chief Mark Pedowitz] is supportive."
At first glance, it sounds like the usual response; Berlanti and his fellow comic-loving producers would "love" to see it... but offer nothing more, despite being the actual showrunners who would make it happen. But the mention of an actual time frame seems to imply that Berlanti's habit of keeping fans in the dark may be downplaying the actual talks. For him to even suggest a date by which the higher-ups would need to give the green light suggests that things aren't as informal as fans might think.
But for those decisions to lead to a crossover episode in the season currently airing, it's likely the writers and showrunners may even have a story idea or two already in mind.
There is also some new information for those who might think it's The CW who has yet to hop on board (after all, they may have less to gain than CBS and Supergirl), thanks to their upcoming expansions in Legends of Tomorrow and, potentially, a larger role for Vixen. While speaking on the same subject (courtesy of Variety), CW boss Mark Pedowitz confirmed Berlanti's statement, suggesting that the workload already on the producers may be a sticking point:
"We are open if Greg [Berlanti], Marc [Guggenheim] and Andrew [Kreisberg] and Ali Adler can find a way to do it, we’re open to do it. The question is, can they find a way in all their business."
One would obviously hope that after months of discussing what a dream it would be to unite as many Justice League heroes as possible, Berlanti, Kreisberg and Guggenheim can find the time to deliver. But as eager as they may be to do so, being every bit as passionate fans as the people watching their shows, patience is almost certainly a virtue. Fans may dream of seeing Grant Gustin, Stephen Amell, Melissa Benoist and more sharing the screen, but what they would (hopefully) want even more is to see it done properly.
It's hard to believe that CBS would be against the idea of having at least the critically-acclaimed (and tonally similar) Flash make a cameo. But the decision-makers referred to by Berlanti may simply be himself and his fellow producers, who have their hands full at the moment. Even if it's a tiny glimpse of Supergirl courtesy of Legends of Tomorrow's universe-bending adventure, fans may not have to wait long to find out.
What do you think of the latest comments? Is it hard to believe that the three shows could cross over so soon, or do you think there's more to the story? Share your thoughts in the comments, and let us know what kind of crossover you think is best!
Supergirl airs Mondays @8pm on CBS. The Flash airs Tuesdays @8pm on The CW. Arrow airs Wednesdays @8pm on The CW. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow premieres on The CW on Thursday, January 21, 2016.