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Saturday, November 2, 2013

EDITORIAL: Should Arrow Be a Part of the DC Cinematic Universe?

Since the release of this year's DC Comics film, Man of Steel, a recurring topic has emerged as DC Comics fans begin to debate whether or not the CW's breakout series (currently in it's second season) Arrow will be a part of this new and upcoming DC Cinematic Universe. In this editorial I will do my best to give BOTH sides of the argument, as I feel that (for the most part) both arguments are valid.

But before I give my thoughts please allow me to give some background information on where I come from. If you only follow me here on SMN then I suppose you would not understand where I stand on this issue nor would you understand how I feel about Arrow. If you remember back a few moths ago, I wrote my first two Editorials here on this site. The first was about what the WB should do to help the DC Cinematic Universe succeed (where I briefly touch on Arrow) and the second being why people should NOT hate Man of Steel (a film that I personally love and enjoy). That being said, I do not need to talk much about my feelings on Man of Steel and the rest of the DC Cinematic Universe, however I should speak a bit about my thoughts on Arrow.

I love Arrow. I think it's a phenomenal series, and has been from Day 1, that really cuts to the core of who Oliver Queen is and why the Green Arrow has to exist. I love the originality in Season 1 with the Undertaking plot-line and I love the original characters such as Diggle, a completely re-designed Felicity Smoak, Thea Queen, and Malcolm & Tommy Merlyn. If you have not watched the series I highly recommend it as I believe it to be one of the Top 5 best shows on television right now with Season 2 already being better than the already fantastic Season 1 (the series is currently on Netflix if you would like to check it out).

However, I am a bit biased as I have been a big Green Arrow fan since Justice League Unlimited first debuted as well as Smallville's incredible (and my personal favorite) episode "Justice"; on that note I am also the host of Longbow Hunters: The Arrow Podcast which I host with my good friend & co-host Woo S! Kim every week! All that being said, I hold this series in the highest regard, and although most were turned off to it due to the fact that it was written/created by the writers of Green Lantern (which I personally really enjoy...), it still continues to surprise audiences around the globe with its intense storylines, lovable characters, and constant DC Comics references that fans spot from a mile away.

So with that being said, let's start with why Arrow should NOT be a part of the DC Cinematic Universe:

1. It limits the Universe's potential: With the recent introduction of the League of Assassins into the Arrow universe, Arrow's complex and entertaining storylines are getting even more serious as Oliver and his team will most-likely have to face "The Demon's Head" himself, Ra's al Ghul, sooner than later. Not only that, we also have Slade Wilson (future Deathstroke) who may possibly be dead by the time the series hits Season 5 (due to him existing solely within the flashbacks), which means that if someone wanted him to appear in Justice League, a Batman solo film, or any other DC Cinematic Universe movie, he would not be able to be used unless used to coincide with Arrow's flashbacks to Oliver's time on Lian Yu (and aboard the Amazo...). 

That being said, there are also other characters such as Firefly, Brutal, the Huntress, Merlyn, Harbinger, Isabel Rochev, Shado, Deadshot, Count Vertigo, and the upcoming characters such as Amanda Waller and Barry Allen/The Flash who would possibly have to be used differently than originally intended and would be limited in what they could or could not do as it could have dire consequences for the show and/or then the films as well. 

Ultimately, if a Justice League film were to happen, then the film would be stuck with having to use the same character/actor to be The Flash in the film as opposed to having the freedom to re-invent the Fastest Man Alive for modern day audiences.

2. Man of Steel doesn't allow for the Green Arrow to exist and neither does Arrow for Superman: Another argument made for why these two pieces of art should not merge as one is that Man of Steel and Arrow don't allow it. Neither Man of Steel or Arrow ever mention the other occurring or taking place. Sara Lance reveals that a year ago (late 2012) she began to hear rumors of a "Starling City Vigilante" aka the Hood aka Oliver Queen. It is never once said in Man of Steel, or even mentioned, that there is a vigilante hero in Star(ling) City. Batman is made reference to with the Wayne Enterprises satellite, Lex Luthor is made reference to with the constant LexCorp logos, and Carol Ferris' appearance pointing towards Green Lantern. However, not once were Queen Consolidated, Merlyn Global, or the "Starling City Vigilante" ever mentioned. 

Likewise, Arrow has never referenced an alien invasion of Metropolis, Superman's existence (which SHOULD be global news at this point), or the Daily Planet, which is a very popular newspaper in the DC Universe. Now to be fair, S.T.A.R. Labs, a reference to Cyborg as well as other superheroes, has been mentioned in both Man of Steel and on Arrow (Emil Hamilton was an employee and S.T.A.R. is said to be building a "particle accelerator", which is in reference to The Flash), but that doesn't negate the other references not being referenced, particularly Green Arrow AND Superman's existence.

3. Just because it works for MARVEL does not mean it works for DC: Now this I cannot completely disagree with. Marvel Studios has been bringing the heat when it comes to their films and even their shared films with Sony and Fox have been doing (and definitely are) great. However, their television seems a bit lacking. 

Sure, I'm really loving Avengers Assemble and Hulk & the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., but I am honestly not a fan of Ultimate Spider-Man (which, yes is animated) and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a hit-or-miss depending on the week (sadly, it's mostly "miss"). Moral of the story is that they should have never allowed Spectacular Spider-Man and Wolverine & the X-Men to be cancelled, as they were bloody brilliant! 

DC Entertainment on the other hand is doing wonders with television, from the ten year long journey we had with Smallville to the exciting series Human Target, DC has been bringing the goods! Their animation has always been stellar and even the 1990's The Flash and the 2003 Birds of Prey series' have cult followings. But where Marvel succeeds with their live-action films, DC hasn't always done so hot. Sure, their Batman films have always been great hits and Watchmen was excellent, but films like Superman Returns, Jonah Hex, Green Lantern, and Man of Steel have all had mixed-to-negative reviews, and although I like (maybe even love) three of those four that doesn't mean that the general public does. 

Marvel is great with their films, DC is hit-or-miss; DC is fantastic when it comes to television whereas Marvel drops the ball. Just because Marvel is having success with spreading out their universe (commercially at least), doesn't mean that DC will be able to follow.

Now, all of the points I've made above are for sure valid and generally good points, though as I'm sure you could have guessed by now, I don't completely agree with them. Let me move on to telling you why Arrow SHOULD be a part of the DC Cinematic Universe:

1. It actually strengthens the Universe's potential: Although the points I made above are interesting and do hold up, I want to share why I would think that Arrow could strengthen the universe that Man of Steel so strongly kicked-off. First of all, the DC Universe Easter Eggs in Arrow are far greater than any other comic book inspired TV series out there except maybe Smallville. Arrow allows you to imagine all sorts of different things that could take place within this continuity. From the name drop that is Ra's al Ghul (could he have fought/trained Batman?) to the Huntress (what is she doing now?) and even onto what else is S.T.A.R. Labs working on. There's so much there for Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment to use! Not to mention the various references to LexCorp, Wayne Enterprises, and (possibly) Ferris Air in Man of Steel (Ferris Air was also mentioned on Arrow last season). 

The connections to various characters and groups and even story arcs are definitely very interesting and are definitely out there and if DC could use that to help tell more stories then why waist the opportunity, especially when DC's next film is a Batman/Superman team-up movie and the latest DC guest star to be on Arrow will be The Flash. Plus, WB and DC could benefit hugely from this as they could easily use the films to promote the television series' (Arrow, The Flash, possibly Amazon?...) and vice-versa, especially if Bethany Snow from Channel 52 decided to report on Superman's battle with General Zod from Man of Steel on Arrow some time this season. 

The producers of Arrow and the executives at Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment have been very "hush-hush" about whether or not Arrow and Man of Steel exist within the same continuity and the fact that it seems like they're talking about it seems promising.

2. Everybody loves a team-up: Sure, I don't expect Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, or Ben Affleck to ever show up on Arrow (although it would be awesome and I would not complain), but I could definitely see Stephen Amell's Oliver Queen/Green Arrow showing up in a Justice League film. The Avengers may have Hawkeye, but if the Justice League has Green Arrow, especially Amell's interpretation, there's no longer any competition to see who is the better archer. And who says we couldn't have a red-blue blur swoosh into Starling City to answer a distress call from Oliver for half-a-second and then continue onto Metropolis? I could see it. There's also a Green Arrow comic out there (from the Volume 3 run) where Batman helps Oliver fight a could of street thugs while remaining in the shadows, so you never see him, but Oliver knows who it was. Something like that would also be cool to see on Arrow if in fact they decide that it would be alright to combine the two continuities into one. 

On the flip side, I would love to see Manu Bennett's Slade Wilson face off against Ben Affleck's Batman! While we are of course still looking forward to his face-off against Oliver either in the present or the flashbacks, I would love to see Deathstroke fight Batman in live-action if not only because of the trailer to Batman: Arkham Origins, which I still think is how they should approach a rebooted Batman franchise. Not only that but A.R.G.U.S. has been revealed to be an official organization in Arrow that, at this point in time, actually doesn't collect superhumans. But with the revelation of Superman and/or The Flash, their mission could change, and with Amanda Waller in charge, who would complain! It would be awesome to see Steve Trevor as an A.R.G.U.S. Agent on either Arrow or in a Justice League film, and then see him on a live-action Wonder Woman TV series (because honestly, she would work much better on TV) as a supporting/main character. It would then all be able to connect! 

Honestly, who doesn't love a team-up?

3. What does DC have to loose?: A point that I have not yet been heard brought up is "what does DC have to loose if they decide to connect their television with their films?". The real answer here is nothing. Smallville thrived 10 years because of it's loyal fanbase and DC/Superman fans such as myself. Years later, people still talk about Birds of Prey and Human Target, and love them. Obviously, Arrow could succeed on it's own as a series with no problems as it's still one of the most talked about shows out there. End of story. 

However, if Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment decided to connect Arrow to the same continuity as Man of Steel and the upcoming Batman vs. Superman, can you imagine how much more successful it would be? It would be entirely possible that Arrow's fanbase would double as more and more members of the "general audience" would watch the show just so they could connect the same dots that they can with Marvel's content, only to find out that Arrow is a fantastic show! In the same vein, Arrow fans (or Arrowheads) would move onto more and more DC related content including (but not limited to) film! Because all of DC's characters are under the same WB roof, there would be almost no restrictions to what DC could do and who they could include in this cinematic universe, I mean the Dollmaker for crying-out-loud was on Arrow a week or two ago, how more obscure can you get? Just like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does with The Avengers and Iron Man 3 and soon to be Thor: The Dark World, Arrow could connect to the next Batman film, especially if Batman was facing the League of Assassins, who other than Oliver could help him find Ra's al Ghul? And if The Flash series takes off and he faces someone like Parasite who wants his powers, he could throw him up into the sky where he can't run and Superman, in a lead-lined suit of course, could catch him and fly him to S.T.A.R. Labs! Problem solved. 

Now, those are both of course hypothetical situations, but doesn't it make you wonder how these characters could connect or interact (Green Lantern/Green Arrow, anyone?)? It sure does for me, and the possibilities are endless and exciting! The season premiere for Season 2 of Arrow was entitled "City of Heroes" and that has kind-of become the catchphrase for all of Season 2; well, if these continuities connected into one universe full of potential and possibility, then it would no longer just be a "City of Heroes", but a "World of Heroes", or better yet, a "Universe of Heroes"! And that sounds exciting!

All of that being said, I cannot honestly tell you if I would or would not like to see Arrow and Man of Steel be a part of the same continuity, because as of now I go both ways. On one hand I would LOVE to see Stephen Amell, Henry Cavill, and Ben Affleck all on screen together for a Justice League film, that would be amazing. However, on the other hand, I would NEVER want the Arrow writers or producers to have to limit their ideas for the series (which have been excellent so far) just so that they would be able to fit within the confides that is the DC Cinematic Universe.

Whatever Warner Brothers, DC Entertainment, Zack Snyder, David S. Goyer, and the producers of Arrow decide to do with their properties and franchises, I will support. There are pros and cons to both arguments and quite honestly I'm happy where we are now, not knowing, but eventually we will and when that day comes we will either have just a city full of heroes or a universe full of them. Cheers!

Michael J. Petty

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Senior Editorial Editor on SMN, I also work as an Administrator on Across the Airwaves Productions and as a Staff Writer on the Superman Homepage. I enjoy movies, comics, television, music, and long walks on the beach. Just because he's on the side of the angels, don't think for one second that he's one of them.