The DC TV universe is thriving right now — Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow both delivered exciting and satisfying finales, Supergirl soared into The CW multiverse, and The Flash plunged all the shows into an uncertain new timeline. After a few months' break to let us all catch our breath, the DC shows will return in the fall, building up to an ambitious four show crossover in December. It's an exciting time, and yet, there's a bit of discontent in the ranks.
At the MCM Expo in London, Arrow star Willa Holland commented on the division between the DCEU movies and the DC TV shows. In contrast to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which operates in one giant continuity, DC is somewhat fractured, with the films set in a different canon to the shows.
This is probably because the DCEU didn't really start until after Man of Steel, when Warner Brothers decided to kick off a huge new franchise with Batman v Superman. By that time, Arrow had been airing for several years, and The Flash quickly followed. With other shows like Gotham operating in a separate continuity anyway, the best bet seemed to be to keep the universes separate. However, as Holland revealed to the UK Mirror, there was some friction because of this.
'Arrow' Ordered To Axe Characters
Back in Season 2 of Arrow, the show started setting up their own version of Task Force X. This was quickly shoved to the side, however, when Warner Brothers announced their own movie based on the team.
According to Holland, this is just one of the little grievances between the DCEU and The CW shows.
"We were about Season 2 when they told us that we had to start basically killing of the Suicide Squad we were starting to build on our own Arkham... Once DC found out they were going to do their own movie of it we had to axe all the characters."
Holland mentioned Harley Quinn in particular, whose entrance was teased in Season 2, but the plans for this character in Arrow were shelved after Suicide Squad was announced. It's a shame really, as the Squad are very intriguing in the deleted scene from the Arrow Season 2 finale.
It's not just the control exercised over Arrow that has caused discontent: Holland also mentioned that the Justice League announcement had many of them questioning why Grant Gustin wouldn't be playing the DCEU version of The Flash.
The MCU Has Problems Too
So what's the alternative? Holland compared the divided DC universes to the MCU, commenting on how it makes more sense for the stories to be cohesive.
"It's a little upsetting because you know it can be done, and how good it would be."
This is somewhat ironic, considering that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D's Chloe Bennet recently spoke out about the Marvel films, accusing the filmmakers of ignoring the TV shows.
When the MCU started branching out into television it was masterfully done. The plot of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 1 was influenced by each Marvel movie, with the finale revealing the repercussions of The Winter Soldier. Similarly, Agent Carter provided a prologue to S.H.I.E.L.D's creation, while the Netflix shows examined the impact of the Avengers on daily life.
Recently, however, the Marvel movies have deviated from the shows to the point that they don't seem to exist in the same continuity, or so Bennet argued. The problem she mentioned was that high stakes of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 weren't acknowledged by Civil War, although Vision did make a small reference to the Inhumans.
As the plots of the films and shows get more complex, Marvel may be faced with dividing the canon in much the same way DC did, by allowing the individual creators enough freedom not to be beholden to what happens in the shows. Only time will tell on that front, but for the moment the DCTV multiverse is looking pretty rosy in comparison.
Building A Multiverse
The interconnected narrative of The CW's DC shows is starting to hit its stride, with the next seasons of all the shows building towards the giant crossover event. This is an ambitious project, but The CW are already ensuring the story arcs can be combined by dividing the writing staff between the shows.
This also ensures that emotional threads can get picked up in other shows, like how Laurel's death in Arrow had an impact on Sara in the Legends of Tomorrow finale. This is something Legends showrunner Phil Klemmer is intending to continue into the next season, as he told IGN.
"Laurel's death will resonate into Season 2. It just makes it seem so much larger and so much more real when something that happens on Arrow can create ripples that appear on our show. When something momentous happens in one, I think feeling the reverberations makes the universe feel coherent. It makes the universe feel big."
Ultimately, The CW are building their own version of the MCU, and they don't need to incorporate the DCEU movies into the canon in order to create an awesome interconnected narrative. And thanks to The CW multiverse featuring an infinite number of Earths, it's possible that the DCEU movies do actually exist in this continuity somewhere, on just another parallel world. You never know!