The Atom (or ATOM, if you prefer, which I don't), has become a fairly major character during the course of Arrow's third season, making regular appearances both in and out of costume on Arrow as well as putting in an appearance on The Flash.
Ray Palmer, along with a watered down Justice League (who maybe time-travels?) is also set to get his own spin-off next year when Legends of Tomorrow premieres on the CW.
Ray has been an interesting character, but something has bothered fans of the character since he first suited up... he doesn't shrink, which has always been the Atom's signature thing (and why he's called the "Atom" in the first place) and he's basically being used as a discount Iron Man. I really hate that term, "discount Iron Man," but I have tried really hard and failed at trying to describe him any other way. The fact is, he is indeed a discount Iron Man, and as interesting as the character can be, it just sucks.
So, why isn't he shrinking and actually being the Atom that we know and love from the comics?
The producers have been pretty dodgy about the entire thing, pretty much not saying anything on the matter apart from assuring viewers that he would not be shrinking way back when they were first gearing up to introduce the character's alter ego. They have always left it open, though, that he could shrink in the future. They are also setting the character up to be an expert in nano-technology, and possibly even be sowing the seeds of him having microscopic robots that he can use to do the sorts of things he would be doing were he to shrink.
There is no other way to see this, they are hedging their bets. But why? Why won't they commit to either a solid yes or no as far as the whole shrinking bit goes? There actually may be a couple of reasons...
First of all, the cost could be pretty high for a television budget. I don't know how much it would cost to have a character who shrinks, both with visual effects as well as having large props made in some cases, but it has to be fairly costly.
Although, I'm sure the Flash and his supers-speed is fairly costly as well, considering it is the most visually interesting depiction of super-speed we've ever seen on television - and I would maintain it is even more interesting than what they did with either cinematic version of Quicksilver in X-Men and Avengers.
It isn't just a blur. It's the blur, the lightning, the whole deal. We already know that the CW and Warner Bros. aren't skimping out on the SFX when it comes to these shows, so I have no doubt that if they want Atom to shrink, they'll make it happen and that it will be a rather stunning depiction.
So, what's holding them back? I'm sure cost is a factor, but I don't believe it is the dominant factor...
I've been saying this to my friends for a while now, and it really seems like it is the only reason that makes sense to me. A shrinking superhero is a little cheesy, isn't it? I mean, I like the Atom. I like him as a character, but comics can get away with things that television can't and I think it is sort of a cheesy power to have for a live-action superhero.
Now, I know what you're all saying, but what about Ant-Man? That, dear readers, is the key question right there, and I think that is the precise question the producers of the shows and the execs at Warners are asking themselves right now.
What about Ant-Man? I firmly believe they are biding their time and waiting for Ant-Man, which will hit during the off-season, but with plenty of time to change their game plan for the next season and for the Legends series.
Simple. They want to see how well Ant-Man does in cinemas and if the audience will even buy into a shrinking superhero.
I firmly believe that Warner Bros. is taking a back seat and that they are going to let Marvel get their feet wet and see what happens. If Ant-Man is a hit - and from everything I've seen from the trailers and all the other marketing from the film I really think it will be - then we will see Atom shrink in Legends of Tomorrow.
Sure, Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti will claim that this was their plan all along, but the truth is, they're just waiting to see what happens with Ant-Man. If Ant-Man is a flop, and it won't be, then we will be stuck with the discount Iron Man for the foreseeable future.
Now, cost may still play a factor in how often he shrinks and what kind of stuff he does when he's shrunken down... but mark my words... if Ant-Man is a success, Atom will shrink next year.
So, in conclusion, if you're a fan of the Atom, as I am, and you want to see Ray shrink, go see Ant-Man. Also, if you're a fan of the Atom, as I am, you're probably going to go see Ant-Man anyway, as he is just the discount Atom anyway, right?