Five Reasons DC Should Build A Television Universe

Senior Contributor
07.31.13 55 Comments


As we noted with a GIF party yesterday, albeit a GIF party sadly lacking in the early ’90s TV series, The Flash is coming to TV screens by way of being introduced on Arrow. The idea is to build the spin-off and then roll it out in the 2014 season.

And we can see it working, in multiple ways. Why? Well…

TV Can Tell More Elaborate Stories

Not to put too fine a point on it, but whatever Arrow‘s flaws, it had twenty-two hours to tell a story. Imagine the entire plotline of the first season condensed to about two hours; it’d be awful. Many character in DC thrive on long-term plotlines: For example, the defining Green Arrow book is really The Longbow Hunters, which isn’t something you can cram into two hours.

Those stories deserve a shot, though, and only TV can really make them happen.

Movies Aren’t Always Preferable For Some Characters

DC’s success on film can really be defined with one word: Batman. Outside of Bats, and now Man Of Steel, DC has actually had much more success when it comes to film staying away from superheroes: Compare the box office performance of a Constantine to, say, Green Lantern. That’s because summing up what makes many heroes worth paying attention to in two hours is tricky at best; outside of the big three, can, say, your mom or your cousin who isn’t into comics tell you anything about the Flash? Do they even know his civilian alias? Do they care?

Case in point, putting those GIFs together, the most common image wasn’t from the comics, or the Justice League shows, but from an episode of The Big Bang Theory where they all dress like the Flash. That’s a pretty deep awareness deficit for a $200 million blockbuster to overcome… but a TV show, especially one that doesn’t have to pull in massive numbers? That’s workable.

It Can Span Multiple Networks

Here’s an idea that lingers on the palate of DC fans: We know that the Suicide Squad is coming to Arrow, and, as a joke, I mentioned an HBO series. Thing is, Time Warner could do that. Or we could finally see a proper Hellblazer TV show. Or, well, pick your comic that would never work as a big budget movie or broadcast TV series, but would work as a basic cable or pay cable show. Time Warner’s probably got a network they can put that show on. We’re a little surprised we’re not seeing Kate Spencer beat the crap out of people on TNT already.

DC Can Tap Its Bench For Writers

Geoff Johns handed in the best episodes of Arrow. Now imagine writers like Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire, or Gail Simone cut loose on television. It’s difficult to get a movie launched, and movies are heavily rewritten, but a TV show needs between thirteen and twenty-two scripts, and writers have more creative control.

If A TV Show Goes Off The Air, There’s Less Fallout

Coming back to Green Lantern, the movie, people tend to forget that it was intended to launch the DC Cinematic Universe. Amanda Waller makes an appearance, and there are little hints dropped about other potential goings-on. And then it tanked, hard, making $220 million worldwide against a $200 million budget. There’s a reason Warners got so many endorsement deals for Man Of Steel; they weren’t going to eat a $90 million loss.

Similarly, Marvel is playing a tough game because if even one of their movies bomb, it could take the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe down with it. How many tickets do you think Doctor Strange will sell if Guardians Of The Galaxy tanks?

Adding to the problem is that there is, to some degree, an upper limit to how much interest people have in these characters. For example, both Hulk movies grossed roughly the same amount of money, even though one was seen as better than the other. So if a movie tanks, it can take down multiple franchises. But a TV show? Hey, they’ll rerun it forever and it still costs less than a movie.

So hopefully more of the DCU comes to live-action TV. Especially since we really want that Suicide Squad show.

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