Forget the rivalry between Marvel and DC. That's nothing compared to the ongoing feud between DCTV and the DCEU. While there are a number of fans who believe that the two worlds should be combined to create one cohesive DC universe onscreen, others feel that they should be kept forever apart, due to an inherent difference in tone and style.
This approach is clearly a double-edged sword for CW programs like Arrow and The Flash. On the one hand, keeping the two universes separate allows for much more creative freedom and prevents any awkward mentions shoe-horned in regarding events from the films. On the other hand though, fans have felt that executive decisions made for the DCEU have had a profound effect on the CW shows, preventing them from using specific characters at the same time as the movies.
Arrow actress Willa Holland revealed a little while back that plans for an Arrowverse version of Suicide Squad and Arkham Asylum were axed when DC decided to produce a movie instead. However, Stephen Amell cast doubt upon this when he recently claimed that Deathstroke could appear in both Arrow and the upcoming Batman film simultaneously.
In a new interview with Vulture, show runner Greg Berlanti revealed that the relationship between Warner Bros. and the CW is far more complicated than either of these reports suggest.
Arrow Was Used As A Testing Ground For Suicide Squad
When asked how the DCEU influences the CW superhero line-up, Berlanti explained that the studios often ask him to try out new characters that they may use later in the movies:
"They said to us a year and a half before they started developing Suicide Squad, “Will you guys put [a version of] the Suicide Squad in your show? Because we want to have it as a film at some point.”
In Episode 16 of Arrow's second season, Amanda Waller recruits Diggle to help lead a TV version of the Suicide Squad that included Deadshot, Bronze Tiger and Shrapnel among its ranks. However, after a couple of appearances, Task Force X were put to pasture and their leader Amanda Waller was killed off on the show for good.
How Does This Affect Arrow And The Arrowverse?
In Holland's aforementioned interview, the actress claims that the Suicide Squad and Harley Quinn were both shelved on Arrow directly because of the studio's plans to feature these characters in their very own movie.
Check out Harley Quinn's full deleted scene in the clip below:
While it's good that this line of communication between the films and the shows pushes the TV writers to include more popular characters in the Arrowverse, it's disappointing to then see these fan favorites bumped off once the public's reaction to them has been gauged in preparation for the movies.
Harley Quinn in particular could have been a strong addition to Arrow, thanks to the anti-heroine's broad appeal and Tara Strong's involvement in the character's brief cameo appearance on the show. Unfortunately, it looks like the only version of Suicide Squad we'll ever see now is the silver screen adaptation, which recently divided critics.
Were Any Other DCEU Characters Tested Out First In The Arrowverse?
In Berlanti's interview with Vulture, the executive producer also revealed that Vibe was specifically brought onto The Flash because of events in the comics:
"It also happened with Geoff when Geoff and Andrew [Kreisberg] and I were creating Flash. They were both really huge fans of Cisco Ramon, [also known as] Vibe, and had written a Vibe comic [in 2013] to try and bring him back. They said, “Could we please have Vibe on the show?”
While Vibe was certainly a welcome addition to The Flash — one whose popularity hopefully ensures that he'll stay on the show long-term — it seems as though the future of other characters tested out in the Arrowverse may be called into question.
Although Amell recently maintained that Deathstroke could reappear on Arrow, perhaps even as early as Season 5, the mercenary's future involvement in the DCEU suggests that his live-action TV debut may have also been some kind of testing ground. If that's the case, then Deathstroke's days on the CW network could be numbered.
News that the upcoming solo Flash movie will focus solely on the heroes rogue gallery also brings to mind numerous appearances from the likes of Weather Wizard and Captain Cold on the CW show, suggesting that perhaps they too were tested out first on TV with the DCEU always in mind.
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There's no inherent problem with trying out obscure DC characters on shows like Arrow before they hit cinemas, but it doesn't seem fair to limit their small screen futures if they prove to be popular with TV audiences. Let's just hope Deathstroke makes another appearance in the Arrowverse before they take out his character for good.
Check out the clip below for a reminder of why he's still the best villain that Oliver Queen has ever faced.
Do you think it's effective to trial new DCEU characters in the Arrowverse first? Can you think of any other Arrowverse characters who have a big future ahead of them in the DCEU? And would you ever like to see DCTV merge with the DCEU at some stage?