It's a topic of debate which I'm certain you've heard more than once, if not been involved in: "Should DC and Warner Bros. connect their film and TV universes?" There has been passionate outcry at the refusal to join the popular "Flarrowverse" with DC's steadily growing cinematic universe, and on the other hand there has been heavy support. The majority of articles I've read on the subject, however, don't reason in the way which I believe is most important and logical. They tend to degrade into insulting either universe.
I'm not here to do that. If you follow any of my work here, you'll know I'm the self proclaimed [Arrow](series:720988)/The Flash reporter at Moviepilot. It's basically all I post about. I breathe the two shows, I won't deny it - I love them! From doing extensive breakdowns (here's one for the rest of Arrow's season, and one on the Flash) to reporting on news and the spinoff coming out, I spend a lot of my time thinking about, watching, and writing about the pair. Indeed, modesty aside, I would fancy myself the biggest Arrow and Flash fan this side of Australia, which, if you do geography, is a lot of space! But that's not important, really, that's just to frame that I am not saying they should separate the universes based on a perceived level of quality it can't live up to, or any dislike.
It's not being the biggest fan that matters here, though, it's simply sharing with you that I think, yes, in terms of quality, these shows could connect to the DC Cinematic Universe without a hiccup. I do truly love them - I believe what Andrew Kreisberg, Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti have done with these shows borders perfection and it is easily my favorite shared universe, and both to me are the best superhero adaptions in movies or TV currently.
By the same token, though, I was also a big fan of Man of Steel, and couldn't be more excited or have more faith in the likes of [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](movie:711870) or Suicide Squad. When I then say I don't want these two universes I love connected, it puts me in something of a minority group, going from internet chatter, and it's time people like us had a say. So here are my reasons why DC is doing exactly the right thing in leaving these universes separate:
The big one: you want to see Arrow and The Flash every week? Good luck with that if the universes connect.
If you want to see the two universes connected, I'm assuming that the two guys above have a lot to do with it. Stephen Amell is universally praised as Oliver Queen, and steadily moves towards his comic counterpart by the week. Grant Gustin is loved as [The Flash](series:1068303). I couldn't find a better actor who nails the role as much as Grant does every week. I think Ezra Miller will make a good Flash (which I outlined a while ago), but, regardless, these two will always be my favorite versions of Green Arrow and The Flash in live action.
Accordingly, I want to see them every week in their shows, nailing these roles. Yes, I think they could easily hold their own among the rest of the Justice League, but the thing is, if you want that to happen, kiss goodbye to Arrow and The Flash. Shooting a movie is incredibly time consuming, and then you have to throw on promoting it all across the globe, sequels, and more. That's just a regular movie. Justice League is going to be enormous. And The Flash is always going to be a huge part of it, forming a core member of the seven.
Now, consider this: both shows have shot since July last year, and only now are the two filming their season finales. That's a solid nine months of work. Amell and Gustin are both leads of their shows, and so they're on set just about 24/7 during that time. If both are to appear in Justice League, where do you suppose they'd find the time to shoot that? Shall they do it on weekends? In that three months off, perhaps? A movie can take even longer to shoot, and requires more promotion which the actors are required at. Logistically, not to mention physically, it is just about impossible for the actors to do this.
So, yes, while Grant Gustin as The Flash in a movie would be amazing, or seeing Colton Haynes and Stephen Amell leap across rooftops in a Green Arrow movie would be a dream, what's a movie got to offer that warrants sacrificing seeing them doing so every week with more limited effects, as opposed to seeing them once every two or three years for a couple of hours? Part of the reason people want these shows connected is because they love them - but the moment you connect them, if you want Stephen and Grant to appear in Justice League, not to mention their own movies, you can at least expect the shows to go on hold, if not expect to see them disappear entirely.
Two separate universes allows for far greater creative freedom on both sides, and accordingly a far greater scale and grandness preserved on the TV shows.
Part of the reason we love Arrow and The Flash is their size and scope. Not only do we get to see Green Arrow and The Flash on a weekly basis, we get to see the likes of Ra's al Ghul, Deathstroke and the Reverse Flash fighting them. The moment you decide to connect the universes, expect them to go up in a puff of smoke, and, assuming the shows survive, you can expect to see The Arrow go up against Polka Dot Man.
It's tradition that the 'big villains' and the 'big heroes' are reserved for the movies, but DC Creative Officer Geoff Johns has given The Flash particularly immense freedom: essentially, if they want to use a Flash villain, whatever the size or fame, the answer is "go ahead." Ra's al Ghul (now in Arrow) is a major DC Universe villain, one which has crossed paths with not only Batman but the entire Justice League, including the Man of Steel himself. Such a villain may be needed in the future of the DC Cinematic Universe, and he'll need to make a fresh impact.
So what's DC's answer going to be when Arrow asks if Ra's can be the season villain? "No, we've got to save him for a movie." You can't blame that for mentality - it's the same one fans share when demanding for the universes to cross, as if cinema validates the shows' existences and exists on a grander scale. Geoff Johns put it this way:
"We have our TV universe and our film universe, but they all co-exist. For us, creatively, it’s about allowing everyone to make the best possible product, to tell the best story, to do the best world. Everyone has a vision and you really want to let the visions shine through ..."
Already with [Suicide Squad](movie:2283363) coming up, major players like Deadshot are being ruled out of Arrow for the time being to try and maintain having him as fresh as possible for movie audiences. Connect the movies and TV shows, and suddenly the shows lose access to a lot of characters which may be in future planning, or vice versa - and at the same time the shows lose a lot of what makes them brilliant.
On top of that, just imagine the scope of the continuity errors, the questions raised if they share a universe.
Already Marvel tackles a similar problem. From day one they built a universe which would be interconnected and ensured, as best as possible, no errors would be present, and that included minimizing the effect of [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](series:722469)'s first season on the MCU, and ensuring the second season sets up only future events, not addling with current ones. I'm trying not to bring Marvel up, but inevitably readers are going to do it, so I'll get it out of the way here. DC's approach is nearly polar opposite to Marvel's, in Geoff Johns', and in my eyes, that breath of fresh air will be good. Marvel's way worked for them - but there's more than one way to build a universe. I don't want to wait for five years of solo movies before I can see the Justice League on screen.
But despite that caution the MCU has shown, a spanner is thrown in the works: Spider-Man. Who every fan, including myself, wants to see stand alongside The Avengers, but everybody seems to be ignoring the obvious elephant in the room raised by this connection: Where was Spiderman during the events of [The Avengers](movie:9040)? Why has he never been mentioned in all of this time? Where have his villains been, or massive institutes like Oscorp?
DC never intended for these two universes to merge, and, accordingly, combining them would be just about catastrophic to any story integrity. Why has Bruce Wayne never appeared? Why has Superman never been mentioned? Why in Man of Steel was the Arrow or The Flash never spoken of? And if they don't exist yet, then why are the characters in the shows ignorant to a full scale alien invasion which leveled a good few blocks of Metropolis?
You can go into far more, but the moment the universes combine, those cracks begin to appear, and these are plotholes and eye-roll worthy inconsistencies you can't just look over. There's an easy solution to ensuring such plotholes and creative limitations don't take place: don't connect the universes.
The flaws of each side will not cross over to the other universe - together, they can give us everything we want and perfect each other's mistakes. Likewise, every fan remains happy- and the shows still 'matter.'
To be quite frank, there is nothing in my eyes which has been truly messed up in Arrow, The Flash, or Man of Steel. To be honest, there's not been a single villain or hero, even an event, which I've gone "oh" and felt disappointed at. But in both universes, there are going to be imperfections. It happens. With two separate universes, the two cannot betray each other with failures.
The fact of the matter is some people simply do not like Man of Steel. Some do not like Arrow, others don't like The Flash. Sure, I couldn't disagree with these people more, but I can't blame them for having an opinion. Above all, some people just don't watch the shows or movies, and they're going to become major plot points to each other if they connect - so how do the fans who only watch one property feel, then? Assumed knowledge is dangerous, particularly if things like Flashpoint are going to come into play, and audiences can and would be alienated. This way, linking to creative freedom, each property can do their own thing without fear of isolating anyone or not being clear enough.
On that end note of the heading, it irritates me when people suggest that "without being in a shared universe, the show's don't matter." How exactly is that the case? Does every TV show not connected to some grander scheme become irrelevant? It's a dangerous mentality this generation of movie watchers faces, because not everything was built to be in a shared universe, and we want to see it crammed in all the same. Existing in a separate universe grants independence, it doesn't sacrifice any perceived validity to a show's existence! Not being in the same universe doesn't mean anything- the shows still 'matter' as much as they did on the day they first aired. Which is a lot, for those who watch them- and that's all that matters.
We get to see alternate takes on the same characters - which is really what comics are and always have been about. Nothing stops us from picking favorites, and nothing stops us from just loving both.
Let's use Deathstroke as an example here. Everybody loved him on Arrow. He is absolutely perfect for the show's universe as Oliver Queen's archenemy. But what happens when the DCCU comes along and says "Well, we kind of want our Deathstroke just to be a mercenary who fights Batman." Slade's grudge against Oliver Queen was perfect for Arrow, but is it perfect in the DCCU? Maybe not.
So, us Deathstroke fans who love seeing him fight Green Arrow and just be a mercenary who fights Batman are suddenly rewarded, because those two versions of the character come to life. All of a sudden we have Deathstroke fighting Oliver Queen with a personal vendetta on the small screen, and if people don't like him or he doesn't fit in the DCCU, that's fine because now we have another Deathstroke fighting it out with Batman in the movies. And if people don't like him, they can go and watch Arrow's version.
Consider [Gotham](series:1127075). People like to complain about how it gets things 'wrong' from the comics, but all the same it's a popular show. It presents a fresh and new take on characters from the Batman mythos, and its freedom (while this show isn't what the article's about) from any other adaptions gives it free reign to do that. Likewise, we can see multiple visions bought to multiple characters - not one character that people don't like and suddenly we're stuck with on all mediums.
At the end of the day, creative freedom, the continuity, and more can all be preserved and we can still cross over - thank the Multiverse for that.
A lot of people heard Geoff John's comments that the shows and movies exist in a parallel universe as a cop-out, but only a cynical DC fan would think that holds no meaning. As a matter of fact, any DC fan should have instantly rejoiced. A multiverse was the perfect answer to the conundrum posed above in combining them- keep them separate, but don't prevent them from ever crossing over. In Johns' own words:
"Well, Arrow and Flash are the same universe, and we get a lot of great story out of that — especially when we have episodes that cross them over, but that’s also where our superhero universe lives. We look at it as the multiverse. We have our TV universe and our film universe, but they all co-exist. For us, creatively, it’s about allowing everyone to make the best possible product, to tell the best story, to do the best world. Everyone has a vision and you really want to let the visions shine through. I think the characters are iconic enough."
DC is famous for its Crisis storylines, where their multiverse of various characters suddenly collide and have to face things which threaten reality itself to restore balance to their own worlds. The choice of the word "crisis" in the article Harrison Wells keeps on The Flash, alongside names like The Flash, Oliver Queen and Wayne is no surprise. What many people miss is the "red skies" reference. This is a direct reference to Crisis on Infinite Earths, a massive DC storyline which bought all of their properties from various universes together before restoring the multiverse. A movie one day would be the crown jewel of comic movies, and if it's in DC/WB/Geoff Johns "long term" arsenal, I wouldn't be surprised.
When the DCCU has gained its footing, and by that time Arrow and Flash have expanded far beyond just another spinoff (already they have introduced more characters from comics and has a greater runtime than any other shared universe), the two can collide, and at the end of it, they can go back to their own worlds, continuity and creative freedom intact. Crossing the two universes entirely would be a bad move, particularly if you're actually a fan of both the DCCU and the Arrow/Flash universe, because both parties are going to suffer for it, particularly the TV universe. So let's stop and consider before we complain about what DC is doing next time, because it's actually - to tie in one of their many unofficial mottos - "for the fans." It's so we get the best possible products we can.
That turned out to be a long article, but I hope I've presented some points that you might take on board the next time you decide to call [DC](channel:932255) "stupid" for not crossing over their universes- in reality, what they're doing is going to serve them and all of their properties very well in the future. Let me know your thoughts in the comments on what I've said or DC's plans in general.
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