Universe Building- The Small Screens

Welcome back all to the next part of Universe Building. Apologies that this was due up yesterday, various things cropped and we are now here on Tuesday!

So for this part, I was going to write down my thoughts concerning both Marvel and DC’s TV presence and if they compare. To reiterate, I don’t believe DC is bad as I know my last post concerning their film universe could be seen as negative. I believe that DC are great, however the film adaptations and universe so far are not doing it for me and I am struggling to get the traction with them as I do Marvel…. however TV is a different story!

Superhero TV shows have existed for decades, with some classics such as the Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Spiderman and, who can forget Adam West’s Batman? However, it recent years both DC and Marvel have been building albeit DC have been at it much longer with Arrow debuting in 2012. I’ll be honest, I joined the party late with the Arrow and instead binged Arrow in 2014 with the announcement of The Flash. Just this alone, shows how DC’s TV approach varied to their film universe. The Arrow had developed its universe for 2 years prior to The Flash joining his escapades, however Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) was introduced in 2013 within the Arrow, showing the DC’s ability to plan ahead and develop slowly to build a successful universe. Now, Arrow is on season 5, Flash is on season 3, and Supergirl (kinda) and The Legends of Tomorrow have joined the ranks of DC’s TV universe. I am ADDICTED to these shows and cannot wait for them to come back after the midseason break and here’s why:

  • They build a DC world where Batman and Superman AREN’T the focus. So many people fixate and pivot their stories around these guys but its about time the Archer and the Speedster got their limelight!
  • The Multi-verse – a pivotal point in the Flash this opens up the DC universe into new directions with ‘What If’ takes on events, stories that are difficult or unable to be pulled off in the current lore and the introduction and inclusion of different characters, such as Supergirl.
  • For the most part they are compelling stories. Arrow lagged towards the end of the previous series and lost a lot of traction but is now on the up up up in this season. Likewise, the Flash has suffered from similar repetition points, especially with their villains, but is always adding new dynamics to Team Flash and whats to come in the second half.
  • There is always new stuff on the horizon. I was unsure of Legends and to be honest it is the weakest of the 4, but at least they are trying. They are taking existing characters and spinning them off into new situations while developing them out of the spotlight from the likes of Barry Allen and Oliver Queen. This fills me with hope that we may see some more surprise developments and characters coming!

This, in my opinion is how DC should be approaching their franchises. I understand that the films have less time to establish their characters, while TV shows have effectively 16 hours to fit the same development in, but I do feel that continuity and strength-wise the DC TV Universe is much more coherent than its younger cinematic sibling.

The Marvel formula, in my eyes, is slightly different. DC have created several characters that coexist in the same universe, but crossover at major times (conveniently when it is nearing Midseason finale time). Marvel so far, have created their individual heroes, Daredevil, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones near enough independently with a conscious aim to bring them together for the Defenders. Luke Cage was introduced in JJ so there is an overlap, and Claire Temple has currently acted the like S.H.I.E.L.D of the show by holding them together (literally) as the Night Nurse. The difference with Marvel and DC is that the Marvel heroes exist within the MCU while the DC teams exist separate to the DCCU. This allows Marvel to flesh out ‘B-list’ or fringe characters while keeping them relevant to what they are doing on the wider stage of the MCU. That is not to say that the DC series being separate is a bad thing- I feel that this is the stronger area for DC currently so it’ll pay to have this distanced from the DCCU.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D proves an interesting addition to the above. It brings a more human (and later inhuman) element to the MCU. And this is where the Marvel TV shows actually add to the cinematic universe; they interact with the films indirectly but also have an important role if you follow it. For example, Coulson’s team help the Avengers find Strucker’s base in the Avengers: Age of Ultron, leading to the opening scene of said film. They have also introduced Inhumans, which is incredibly exciting considering the was a (now delayed) Inhumans film in the works and now an Inhumans series planned, and to coincide with the release of Dr Strange, they introduced the new Ghost Rider. This show provides the glue still, much like S.H.I.E.L.D did in the films, while expanding and developing upon events in the MCU. It creates a wider universe while filling the gaps.

The TV shows allow them to trial different themes, maturity levels and complex and emotional topics to see how they perform and make that part of the MCU. This is a benefit that the DCCU currently does not have. For example, the underlying tones of Daredevil, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones all vary but deal with emotive topics such as the Black Community and the challenges the prejudice they still currently face to Jessica Jones’ themes of culpability when in a situation where you have no control. These are more mature shows, not just due to the nature of the violence but the reflection of society and the different side to the glamorous heroic lifestyle Mr Stark may lead. Again, this is possible due to the universe already exisiting and Marvel are testing new waters that they haven’t tried recently. As mentioned before however, I am not disappointed that DC aren’t linking their TV and film franchises as this would serve to complicate and take from the current success the shows are having. DC can almost work unencumbered when it comes to this as it is a smaller universe and the need for continuity with the film industry is not present allowing for original and independent storylines to unfold.

Thank you for reading again. I am planning on expanding upon some of these blogs so the next Universe Building will be released on Tuesday 24th and I will begin by looking at the MCU in more detail!

I will also be updating some of my other pages, including the Gaming and Pokemon pages so if that is your cup of tea too then I hope to see you soon!

Please leave a comment below with what you think and let me know! You can also share this with your friends if you enjoyed it!

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