In terms of broader connectivity within a cohesive cinematic universe, the go-to model is obviously the one built by Marvel Studios. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU) has taken Hollywood by storm, dominating, for better or worse, the way that many people talk about blockbusters and their sequels. As Marvel’s chief competitor in superhero comics and other media, DC, enters the world of ‘cinematic universes’ it faces some challenges in creating its own universe. Unlike Marvel, which seeks to unite properties across big and small screens alike, DC seems to have opted for forging a television universe through shows such as the CW’s Arrow, Flash and the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow that is quite distinct from its fledgling universe on the big screen. DC projects across different television networks have been, for most accounts a rousing success, with additional shows including Gotham on FOX and this season’s freshman offering of Supergirl on CBS. On the film side of things, while there are many upcoming projects and ideas announced from Warner Brothers, the only film released thus far in any sort of “DC Cinematic Universe” has been the often divisive Man of Steel. There seems to be a clearer future for the television side of things, although for the time being only the CW shows give audiences any sort of cohesion as a part of a wider universe.
One answer to this lack of connectivity could lay in the character Constantine. The titular character of his own show that ran for one season on NBC, Constantine occupies a corner of DC’s mythos that is wrapped up in magic and spiritually based conflicts. While the show did not work on NBC (which producer David Goyer attributed to NBC being “the wrong channel”), Constantine has seen the light through other DC television properties, showing up in a recent cameo on this season of Arrow. This move not only links Constantine’s one-season run on NBC to the CW’s growing DC universe, but also adds depth to the on goings in those series, in the same way that Marvel shows depth when it explores different locations and characters in its own growing universe.
In this way, Constantine could act for DC (at least for their television projects) in a similar way that the character of Agent Phil Coulson did in the Marvel movies. Agent Coulson paved the way toward the cross-over events of the Avengers films in ways that other things did not. He acted as a sort of connective tissue, hinting at things happening in other films and at a wider unseen world in which all the action was taking place. Constantine could take on that role for DC, cameoing in different projects as he has done in Arrow, whether or not he as his own series again. If Supergirl crosses over with the DC shows on the CW eventually or not, perhaps she might call upon the Hellblazer to aid her in a conflict with a more supernatural foe. Also, with upcoming shows based upon DC (and Vertigo) titles such as Lucifer that clearly tread into Constantine’s territory, DC and Warner TV could add connective elements to their growing slate of television shows, building a universe across networks as they flex their immense catalogue of characters and stories that continue to travel to the small screen.