Warning: Spoilers for Man of Steel and Arrow follow
Anyone who has watched Arrow Season 2 knows that the show has evolved from the first season. The first season was uneven, and while it culminated to a fantastic season finale, there is no doubt that the second has surpassed the bar set by its predecessor. Season 2 has fascinating action scenes, an engrossing multi-episode arch and has paved the way for an expanded DC universe. Guest appearances from characters like Deathstroke, Cyrus Gold (AKA Solomon Grundy) and Flash have many fans wondering if Stephen Amell’s Arrow will fight alongside Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck in the upcoming Justice League movie. Stephen Amell has been an advocate about the two franchises existing in a shared universe, recently stating, “We’re trying to do the definitive versions [of the DC characters]. We’re trying to put them on a level where if Warner Bros. and DC Comics decided that they wanted them to be a part of the movie people would buy it.” He then added, “But I think the characters that we are creating in our universe could stand next to Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot. I think that we could stand next to them and everybody would go, ‘Good, I like that.”
Why it Could Work:
There is no doubt that the Dark Knight has set a precedent and will influence comic book movies for years to come. Christopher Nolan was able to create a dark, gritty, realistic universe for his characters to inhabit, and this atmosphere is prevalent in both Arrow and Man of Steel. While Man of Steel depicted Kryptonians nearly destroying an entire city, I still got the feeling the movie was grounded and plausible. A large portion of the movie focuses on how people would react if Kal-El reveals himself, and this approach makes the characters and story believable. Arrow also takes cues from the Dark Knight, with the show taking a grounded approach focusing on an individual without any special, super-human abilities. Similarities between Arrow and the Dark Knight were also evident, as until recently, the show took place in a world without superpowers...
Introduction of Superpowers
As the Vigilante has evolved and become a hero in the form of the Arrow, Oliver’s enemies have evolved as well. In episode 8, “the Scientist,” the show introduced that audiences to meta-humans. The writers were able to do this in such a way that the transition was not jarring, as many would have expected, but natural. Similar to Man of Steel, Arrow is able to create a universe which is both gritty and realistic where the audience can believe that super-powered individuals exist. With the introduction of superpowers, it is not out of the realm of possibility for Arrow to be fighting alongside the Man of Steel.
If Warner Brothers ever moves ahead with the rumored Justice League movie (which at this point is all but confirmed), the Flash will undoubtedly have a prominent role in the team. The Flash has been an essential member of every iconic incarnation of the Justice League, and with the introduction of Barry Allen on Arrow, and a spinoff Flash TV show confirmed to be in development, many have wondered who will portray the Scarlet Speedster on the big screen. I would love to see Grant Gustin stand alongside Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck and this does not appear to be out of the realm of possibility, as it has been rumored that if the TV show does well Gustin will cameo in Batman vs. Superman. While they could recast Barry Allen or have the Wally West be Flash in the upcoming movie, two different incarnations of the same character may confuse the audience. If Grant Gustin appears in the Justice League, Arrow and Man of Steel would exist in the same universe and hopefully Stephen Amell would make an appearance as well.
At this rate DC is trying to play catch-up with Marvel. After the success of the Avengers, DC seems to be rushing to create their own ensemble film. If DC wishes to expand its universe and compete with Marvel, the TV space is the only medium where DC currently has the leg-up. While Marvel’s Agents of Shield has been met with Lukewarm reception, Arrow has been well-received this season. Arrow presents the perfect opportunity for DC, by using this established franchise to further their cinematic universe. Marvel has already announced plans to produce four Netflix-exclusive TV series that tie into the Avengers. If Marvel can do it successfully, I see no reason why DC cannot either. Arrow could provide the perfect spring-board for DC to “test the waters” and launch spin-offs to focus on lesser, (or in the case of the Flash) more well-known characters. It also doesn't hurt that archery is a huge trend in Hollywood these days, as even Marvel has taken a shot at including an Archer in their hero lineup (Hawkeye).
Ratings and Reception:
As aforementioned Arrow has been very well-received this season and ratings have climbed. Each episode averages over 3 million viewers and it is therefore not difficult to see why DC would take advantage of this high viewer-count to launch an expanded cinematic universe. The foundation is there, all DC has to do is bridge the gap between the small-screen and the silver-screen.
Why it Wouldn’t Work:
Connecting Man of Steel and Arrow could be problematic because of how it is handled. Would the Justice League audience be expected to have seen Arrow and understand these characters as the Avengers audience was expected to have seen the standalone movies first? Would Green Arrow’s origin be rehashed to usher in a new audience? There is also the issue of Arrow simply not addressing the events that occurred in Man of Steel. While this could easily be fixed, it would be strange if Diggle never mentioned the alien invasion that destroyed half of Metropolis to Ollie (since he would have been secluded on the island during this time). Agents of Shield did not suffer from this problem because it was created with the intention of connecting to the Avengers, while Arrow was created as a standalone show. Lastly, as much as I love Arrow there have been a few missteps. Namely the Huntress and characters like Firefly who were dramatically altered to fit into this grounded universe. While these characters would most likely not figure into the Justice League movie, are the characters that many believe Arrow has “ruined” cannon for the movie universe?
Green Arrow has never been an essential member of the Justice League. While he has good chemistry with other members of the League and could prove a helpful ally, the Justice League movie may already be too crowded (especially with the introduction of major characters like Wonder Woman and Green Lantern). Besides the iconic five, I believe there are other characters which many would rather see adapted to the big screen (Aquaman or Martian Manhunter come to mind). Simply put while I would love Amell’s hero to figure into the movie it is not realistic given how many characters the movie would have to address. Also many wonder if Stephen Amell’s grounded portrayal of Green Arrow could hold his own against other members of the team. If Superman has superhuman strength, speed and invulnerability (not to mention heat-vision, freeze-breath and flight) would there even be a need for the emerald archer? Green Arrow also shares more than a few similarities with Batman, so there would be many hoops to jump through for the two characters to co-exist on the big screen. In retro-respect, many of the characters in Marvel’s the Avengers are not “major-players” in the comics, as Hawkeye and Iron Man were never “A-list heroes.” Therefore since Green Arrow is not a huge character in DC cannon it is unlikely he will make an appearance, but not impossible.
If Stephen Amell’s Arrow (hopefully having evolved into Green Arrow at this point) is featured in the Justice League movie, he will be competing for screen-time with the likes of Batman and Superman. He would have a minimal role similar to Hawkeye or Black Widow in the Avengers, but what about his supporting cast? Felicity and Diggle are essential to the shows success as they are not only comedic relief but often aid Oliver and bring out the best in his character. The show would feel empty without these characters and so would the character’s portrayal in a Justice League movie. Therefore there is no Oliver without Felicity and Diggle. Not to mention his family and friends, particularly Roy (who I imagine would have donned a mask by 2017 (or whenever the Justice League Movie comes out)). Arrow has developed such a rich supporting cast that really hold together the show. Therefore, the character’s appearance in the Justice League could be lacking without them.
In addition to the Flash TV show and Arrow, DC is also currently developing three other shows. If Arrow and Man of Steel existed in the same universe would this mean Hourman (being developed by the CW), Gotham and Constantine will tie into the DC Cinematic Universe? This would prove problematic as in the case of Hourman (while the character has been a member of the Justice League) he is not enough of a mainstream character to warrant a big-screen appearance. In the case of the other shows Gotham will air on Fox and Constantine on NBC. Obviously these three shows airing on different networks would make it difficult for these characters to intertwine. Questions have also been raised about Constantine tying into the Justice League Dark film being developed by Guillermo del Toro, which may or may not exist in the same universe as the rumored Justice League movie. In essence, there are so many DC properties currently being adapted to the small screen and if the Arrow-verse connects with Man of Steel, to what extent will the other properties?
Too Early to Tell:
With a Justice League movie projected for 2017 at the earliest, it is difficult to predict what the future holds for either of these franchises. A lot hinges upon the success of Batman vs. Superman, but there is no indicator as to how well Arrow will be doing around the time of release (or whether it will still be on the air). Unfortunately at this point it is just too early to tell whether Arrow would fit into the Man of Steel Universe. We do not know how the show will evolve and therefore there is much uncertainty to currently establish a shared universe.