Ever since Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted on ABC, shared superhero universes were no longer limited to the printed page or the big screen - creating an opportunity for high profile team ups on network TV. To that end, The CW used the established platform of Arrow to launch their critically acclaimed exploration of speedster Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) long before The Flash TV series actually premiered. Since that time, viewers have been treated to other intriguing shared universe events: both Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) as well as Felicity Smoak Emily Bett Rickards) have cameoed on The Flash and a full-on Arrow/Flash crossover storyline is set to premiere in just one week (from the time of this writing).
However, with the announcement that CBS has picked-up a Supergirl TV series from Arrow and Flash producer Greg Berlanti, fans are already speculating whether or not we'll get to see Kara Zor-El team-up with Oliver and Barry in a shared universe event spanning all three series. Now, only two short months after the Supergirl TV show was officially announced, Berlanti is finally weighing-in on the debate - suggesting that it is possible that fans will get to see the CBS Supergirl fighting alongside CW's Green Arrow and The Flash.
A potential Supergirl/Arrow/Flash crossover was teased in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly [via KSiteTV] - which detailed development on the upcoming Supergirl series:
Later in the afternoon at his other office on the Warner Bros. lot, Berlanti meets with fellow producer Ali Adler and Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood to go over looks for their upcoming revamp of Supergirl. The show will follow 24-year-old Kara Zor-El, Superman's cousin, and with a twist that that could melt fanboy brains, Berlanti says it's possible this Supergirl could enter the worlds of Arrow and The Flash.
In addition to the news that Adler, Atwood, and Berlanti are currently toying with their variation of Supergirl's costume, the EW article makes it clear that, unlike Fox's Gotham, Supergirl could exist in the same universe as The Flash and Arrow - though Berlanti, nor EW, elaborate on how likely it is that we'll actually see the three heroes share screen time.
No doubt, a crossover between the three shows would be beneficial for Berlanti but there are still key hurdles the producer would need to clear:
- Will two different networks agree to cross-promotion?
- Can Supergirl actually fit in the same universe as Arrow and The Flash?
Crossover storylines between Arrow and The Flash pose their own challenges (scheduling and tone, among others) but, since the two series are produced by Warner Bros. Television and air on The CW, there's little reason not to play-up shared universe opportunities. After all, the CW has a long history of spin-off shows (The Originals, Angel, etc) - though the Arrow/Flash crossovers is easily the network's most ambitious effort in multi-series storytelling (and has apparently gone well enough to have the producers discussing another crossover already).
That said, with CBS developing Supergirl, a three hero crossover becomes significantly more complicated. Berlanti and Warner Bros. Television wouldn't just need to juggle an expanding set of schedules, they'd also need to convince the CW and CBS that participating in an Arrow/Flash/Supergirl crossover would do their series more good than it would cause harm to their respective network schedules long term.
For example, a crossover would certainly help raise awareness for Supergirl - but would the influx of new viewers ultimately be worth it, knowing that CBS might have a harder time attracting them to programming on a night when Arrow or The Flash is airing? Similarly, both Arrow and The Flash are already pulling in solid ratings - and, at this point, there's no telling if Supergirl can even cull enough viewers to be an attractive cross-promotion opportunity for CW either.
Still, for the sake of argument, let's say that Berlanti can get both networks onboard - would Supergirl actually be a sensible fit for the existing Arrow and Flash shared universe (as opposed to just a shameless marketing gimmick)? It's hard to say since we do not yet know the tone of CBS' series, but there's no doubt that Kara's cousin, Superman, has been notoriously difficult to adapt on both the big and small screen. With near god-like powers, Superman and Supergirl often overshadow fellow partners in crime-fighting - meaning it would be challenging to find a villain (or team of villains) that could pose a threat to a skilled human archer, a speedy metahuman, and a superpowered flying alien (especially on a TV budget).
While Smallville was able to place Impulse (Bart Allen), Green Arrow, and Supergirl in the same TV show, none of the characters were as powerful (or believable) as their current CW iterations. For that reason, Berlanti and Warner Bros. Television would have to be very intentional (and very smart) in how they bring the characters together - so that any team-up does not undermine the separate Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl sandboxes. For months, this was the biggest struggle of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - as viewers wondered why Tony Stark or Captain America (or at the very least Hawkeye or Black Widow) weren't showing up to help S.H.I.E.L.D. whenever the entire world was in danger.
For the most part, viewers have been able to suspend enough disbelief that Barry Allen is too busy in Central City to speed over to Starling City very often but would those same TV watchers be able to suspend the same disbelief if Supergirl was permanently thrown into the same mix?
At this point, there's no reason to think that we'll see a Supergirl/Arrow/Flash crossover any time soon - since Berlanti is mostly just teasing-up future possibilities for a show that hasn't even premiered yet. That said, it does sound as though the producer believes a three-show crossover is possible - given the right conditions.
The Flash/Arrow crossover event begins with The Flash Season 1 episode 8 ‘The Flash vs. Arrow’ on Tuesday, December 2nd @8pm, and concludes with Arrow Season 3 episode 8 ‘The Brave and the Bold’ on Wednesday, December 3rd @8pm.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for any future updates on Supergirl, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.