Now that the Swamp Thing TV show has arrived on DC's streaming service, fans want to know: how long will it be until the bog-monster is crossing over with the heroes of Titans and Doom Patrol, bringing one shared DC Universe to life? But the question of whether or not Swamp Thing shares a universe with Robin or Robotman is harder to answer than some fans will expect.
A good part of the confusion comes from the fact that a "shared universe" means different things to different people. For some, it goes without saying that Dick Grayson could see Doom Patrol's version of the Thanos snap on the evening news. For others, a shared universe explicitly means that not only CAN Dick Grayson and the Titans learn about the birth of Swamp Thing, but that they WILL come to investigate like in The CW's annual Arrowverse crossovers, or Marvel's Avengers universe. Otherwise, what's the point of sharing a universe in the first place?
With that being said, learning the origins of Swamp Thing is a serious journey on its own. So before fans spend too much time looking past the Swamp Thing pilot and wondering what's even possible, allow us to clear up some of the confusion. Because it isn't just the people watching the show who are having trouble with a concrete answer...
Swamp Thing is Telling Its Own Story
When the full structure and original programming for DC Universe was unveiled at San Diego Comic-Con last year, DC's Chief Creative Officer and Co-Publisher Jim Lee stayed vague on confirmations or denials, only stating that the makers of the shows were not being forced to create an interconnected universe. With the team title starring Dick Grayson then the closest on the horizon, it was easy to say Swamp Thing wouldn't be connected to Titans to start (not even with a backdoor pilot like Doom Patrol to cement them in the same universe).
One property to adapt, one show to do it, one universe to worry about. It makes sense, too, considering how slowly the Arrow and Flash universe expanded to include Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, and now Batwoman. And with Swamp Thing a horror story set in the bayou, the odds of seeing Robin, Beast Boy, or the Doom Patrol were slim to begin with. Even if Alec Holland's transformation technically takes place hundreds or thousands of miles from the other DC Universe shows, they don't need to know the others exist. But will that be forced to remain the case? Not from the sounds of it.
Swamp Thing Can Meet DC's Heroes... Eventually
When Gary Dauberman, executive producer of Swamp Thing (also the credited screenwriter of the pilot episode) was asked the same question about a shared universe with the rest of DC's in-house series, he told /Film that he understood the shows to coexist--even if the overall plan didn't require their stories to overlap just yet:
I think the opportunity is there if we want to but it’s not mandated. I think we could if, in the future, it organically works itself out to be that way. I haven’t discussed that with the guys from Titans and they haven’t discussed it with us.
It shouldn't be too hard to imagine how the characters or their crises could begin to overlap or intertwine, since a comic book story involving Swamp Thing, Doom Patrol, and the Titans wouldn't stretch any show's tone or style beyond the breaking point (well... Doom Patrol might need to be tamer than usual). For the time being, it appears that DC is doing the right thing with their individual properties. And from the early looks at Swamp Thing, it has a heck of a story to tell all by itself. As exciting as an overlapping universe may be for fans already on board for any and every crossover, establishing the shows on their own feet, and in their own style, with their own audiences is the top priority.
Once upon a time that used to be what a shared universe actually meant. Different characters living in DC's Universe, following their own paths... that just might come closer to one another than fans expect. After all, it's better to be surprised than disappointed.
Swamp Thing is available now, exclusively on DC Universe.