Last night's episode of Arrow on the CW was full of interesting, weird twists, and included some bright moments where you expected otherwise. But there is one particular event that could be a hint of things to come across these CW shows that I for one am not a fan of.
Please note, if you haven't seen the episode, there are spoilers below so proceed with caution.
DC & Warner Bros. have long been clear that, unlike Marvel, their cinematic and television "universes" will remain siloed and disconnected. And we have often seen this separation hamstring options within the television universe: we've never seen an interpretation of Batman or Wonder Woman on the small screen since the '70s, Superman is only seen in reference and innuendo, and use of villains and supporting characters often seems a complex and convoluted affair.
Never the Twain Shall Meet
And with DC's cinematic machine getting into full gear, we've started seeing signs of that impact in the TV shows we know and love. For instance, on an earlier season of Arrow when Argus and Amanda Waller were introduced, we got a brief glimpse of a possible version of Harley Quinn. But as they've had other appearances of the Suicide Squad on the show and news came out about the upcoming eponymous movie, she never seemed to appear again. And when fans inquired, the showrunners basically told us she won't be back. As that movie has gained momentum, so has Arrow lost the ability to reuse that team - those characters have either escaped, been killed, or had other off-screen fates befall them that prevent us from seeing that squad ever again.
And now with this week's episode, it seems yet another nail was put into that coffin. In a confrontation between Shadowspire and Argus, when told that Amanda Waller will let every agent present die before revealing the information they want, Amanda Waller gets the next bullet to the head. So in a heartbeat, any further chance of seeing any other version of the Suicide Squad on Arrow vanished completely.
This is Foreshadowing
No matter how you felt about this character portrayal and death, this is a hallmark moment in the balance between these universes. This states that DC feels strongly enough about their perception of multiversal fragility that they don't want their movie and TV universes to risk having the same character represented in both at the same time. But knowing the line-up of future movies, this presents a problem on the horizon.
Flash of Two Worlds
Anyone who is a fan of Arrow then is well aware that the CW houses another DC-based series called The Flash starring Grant Gustin in the titular role. It is also well known that DC's movie line-up includes a couple of Justice League movies and a stand-alone Flash movie all of which will feature Barry Allen portrayed by a different actor - a one Ezra Miller. This schism has been the subject of a recent Twitter flame war among fans who mistook Gustin's liking a tweet about wanting his Flash on the big screen as fuel for this feud - something Grant later clarified heaping praise on Miller and being happy to be able to play the part as he is.
But given DC's apparent reticence at allowing duplication across these worlds, is it possible that we may see Barry Allen suffer some crippling fate on his own show in order to slake their fears? Could we see the introduction of Wally West and his likely origin of speed powers as a bridge to make him the central hero in place of Barry?
There's Still Hope
The only glimmer of hope I see against such a permanent change is the fact that the show established early on that (a) Barry's Flash will be around and 'heroing' at least until 2024 when, according to a future newspaper, he mysteriously disappears, and (b) Gideon, the very future AI that reveals these facts to team Barry is apparently to be invented by Mr. Allen himself. So if we see a hero shift, it will likely be something more like Barry becoming wheelchair-bound (again, but more long term) rather than him dying. But even such a fate would be a frustrating plot device to see executed - especially for such petty reasons.
We Can Handle it!
Unfortunately I don't know to what extent we can influence the powers that be that we as a movie and TV-watching populus are mentally capable of reconciling two versions of the same character without it turning into the end scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. But I think we need to be mindful of this potentially negative outcome and take to whatever forums we can to voice our feelings on the matter. And I feel that they've given us a sliver of a doorway for them to answer our concerns via these shows.
Did You Catch it?
Also in last night's Arrow, wheelchair-bound Felicity finally got a codename. And while it wasn't what everyone was predicting, the Oracle name was also dropped in a mention that it was already taken. This suggests something huge!
This comment suggests that the world of Arrow (which is also the world of The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow) not only contains a Batman, but a Batman who's been at it long enough for a Batgirl to rise up and be crippled by the Joker and then take on the alter ego of Oracle.
As such, while I doubt we'll get the Caped Crusader in any form on the small screen, if DC were to allow someone like Barbara Gordon or one of the Robins to appear on Arrow - maybe following up on a crossover villain or as a morale booster for Felicity - then that could stand as a tacit acknowledgement that we can have multiplicity and therefore can rest at ease about the fate of the Flash.
But don't take my word for it - tell me what you think!
Can We Have Nice Things?
When I'm not posting here or working at my day job, I'm also a cohost on the Super Hero Speak podcast where we talk weekly about comic book related media and topics.