DC Television Universe: SDCC 2018 by Jerry Whitworth
Starting out as an almost Batman Begins (2005) television series that instead featured a murderous Green Arrow, Arrow is going into its seventh season as spin-offs The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow enter their respective seasons five and four this fall on the CW Network (while animated spin-off Freedom Fighters: The Ray just debuted its second season online). The DC Television Universe, or Arrowverse, would incorporate Supergirl and Constantine as the former enters its fourth season and latter returned as an animated online series (City of Demons) and its eponymous protagonist has become a series regular for Legends‘ coming season (previously, Legends incorporated the ancestor of the animated series Vixen‘s eponymous protagonist). It was just learned at the latest San Diego Comic-Con International that the character Batwoman will get her own television series on the CW and she will be introduced in a five-part crossover event this December that will also incorporate the series Black Lightning (entering its second season) into the DCTVU. Two years ago, it was rumored Batwoman was sought for the second season of Supergirl but rumor also had it the idea was nixed due to Gotham on Fox (where Arrow writers have pushed for more Batman content since Gotham‘s emergence with occasional small victories). As Gotham enters its final season sometime next year with reportedly only ten episodes (which appears to fall three short of being eligible for syndication), it seems the time has come for the DCTVU to bring Gotham City to its viewers (while reportedly Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred will be getting his own television series on Epix and Dick Grayson is leading the Teen Titans on the DC Universe’s Titans series). Lets take a look at what characters are coming to the DCTVU shows this fall.
In Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters (1987), Green Arrow fought and later aligned with Japanese archer assassin Shado where the title makes reference to this brief partnership. In the confines of Arrow, Shado (Celina Jade) was on the island Lian Yu where she fought alongside Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) before her death. This coming season of Arrow, Richard Dragon (Kirk Acevedo) hires a trio of mercenaries called the Longbow Hunters to target Oliver Queen’s legacy and family. This aligns with the latest continuity of DC Comics where Dragon is a gang leader who leads an assassin group called the Longbow Hunters. However, the comics’ version of the group featured Count Vertigo, Clock King, and Brick who had previously appeared on Arrow (though Vinnie Jones’ Brick is returning in the coming season) as well as Killer Moth who is a Batman villain and likely unavailable (noted in detail above). Instead, the only Longbow Hunter making the transition from page to screen is Red Dart.
Green Arrow fought several villains that adopted similar methods to him regarding archaic weapons such as Boomerang, Bull’s-Eye, Blue Lancer, Roper, Rainbow Archer, and Slingshot. Furthermore, a number of his villains were largely clones of Batman’s enemies (Bull’s-Eye, Mr. Who, Cat, Master, Greenface, et al). Red Dart fell into both of these categories. Employing throwing darts, John ‘Midas’ Mallory tried to convince Green Arrow he was a hero called Red Dart in similar fashion to how Deadshot approached Batman. Just like Deadshot, Red Dart was secretly a villain who became a reoccurring foe of the emerald archer. In the current continuity, Red Dart is a mysterious woman in Dragon’s employ. On Arrow, Red Dart will be portrayed by Holly Elissa (Hellcats, Supernatural). The other two members of the Longbow Hunters will be Kodiak and Silencer.
In DC Comics’ current continuity, there exist eight totem objects that confer immortality and enlightenment to those that wield them with clans formed around each such totem known collectively as the Outsiders. The Green Arrow, for example, refers to the totem of the Arrow Clan. The other seven clans are Dagger, Sword, Spear, Fist, Axe, Mask, and Shield. The leader of the Shield Clan is Kodiak who fought Green Arrow and Shado so that they wouldn’t acquire the Green Arrow totem. For Arrow, Kodiak will be played by Michael Jonsson (Van Helsing, Supernatural). The Silencer is a recently emerging character named Honor Guest who was a servant of Talia al Ghul in her organization Leviathan. Guest retired to raise a family only to be brought back to her former life when a civil war broke out within Leviathan. For Arrow, Miranda Edwards (The Magicians, Orphan Black) will play Silencer as Talia appeared in season five of Arrow portrayed by Lexa Doig.
The third season of Supergirl prominently featured members of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Therein, Mon-El (Chris Wood) brought the group including Saturn Girl (Amy Jackson) and Brainiac 5 (Jesse Rath) to the present day to combat Reign (Odette Annable). It appears the group will continue to have a presence on the show moving forward as not only will Brainiac 5 (who had a relationship with Supergirl in the comics) remain on as a series regular, but Dreamer is also joining the cast. Revealed to be the ancestor of the Legion’s Dreamer on Supergirl, Nia Nal will have her descendant’s precognitive abilities and have Supergirl as her mentor. In the comics, Dreamer (better known as Dream Girl) was a resident of the planet Naltor whose residents generally had the power of precognition. Dreamer lead the Legion during arguably their most challenging battle when Darkseid returned seemingly from oblivion to conquer all of existence. Dreamer’s sister Mysa Nal the White Witch was also a Legionnaire and Dreamer had a long time relationship with fellow Legionnaire Star Boy but, in one version of the Legion, she married Brainiac 5. Dreamer will be portrayed by Nicole Maines (Royal Pains, The Trans List) which makes her the first transgender superhero in television history.
Generally, when people talk about Superman’s greatest foes, they name the likes of Lex Luthor, General Zod, Darkseid, Brainiac, Bizarro, or Metallo. However, in recent years a number of villains have emerged to try and break into this decades old group. Arguably chief among these new rogues are Doomsday (who will likely feature prominently in season two of Krypton), Magog, and Manchester Black. Leader of the anti-hero group known as the Elite, Black was one of the most powerful psionics in the universe with few who could parallel his telekinesis and telepathy. When Black saw his team and himself defeated at the hands of Superman for their murderous ways, he swore vengeance on Superman becoming one of his most dangerous and reoccurring threats. This culminated in Black amassing an army of Superman’s enemies with mind control to face the hero while he seemingly murdered the Kryptonian’s wife Lois Lane in their apartment. However, when Superman refused to take vengeance on Black, it was revealed to be an illusion and Black, defeated, took his own life. In the last seven years, Manchester Black has been re-imagined twice, first as a corrupt executive and foe of the Teen Titans, and then more in line with his original character trying to use Superman’s son Jonathan against his father. For Supergirl, David Ajala (Fast & Furious 6, Jupiter Ascending) will play Manchester Black.
The 1990s saw an explosion in Superman’s supporting cast. Gangbuster, Supergirl, Maxima, and Guardian gave way to being joined by Waverider, Steel, Superboy, Eradicator, Alpha Centurion, Sinbad, and Agent Liberty. A former CIA operative, Benjamin Lockwood joined a paramilitary group called the Sons of Liberty becoming their chief operative Agent Liberty. Donned in a costume adorned with weapons and advanced technology, Liberty came to learn the organization wasn’t what he thought it was and joined Superman in dismantling it. Liberty went on to be an infrequent ally to Superman and the Justice League ultimately meeting his end at the hands of Lucy Lane (Lois’ sister) when he uncovered a plot by General Sam Lane (Lois’ father) to wipe out the residents of Kandor and Superman. However, for Supergirl, it appears the character will be re-imagined as a villain which has become fairly common for the DCTVU. More in line with characters like Major Victory or Real American who are patriotic villains, Liberty is the founder of the hate group Children of Liberty who espouse a “human-first” policy that target aliens and metahumans. Agent Liberty will be portrayed by Sam Witwer (Being Human, Smallville).
Struck by lightning and given the ability to drain life from others and limited precognition, David Hersch assumed the name Cicada and formed a cult worshiping him. Learning the Flash’s origins and its similarities to his own, Cicada focused his cult on slaying those saved by the Flash with lightning-shaped daggers that act as an extension of his life draining powers. The cult leader knew from his visions that by collecting energy from the Flash and those he saved, he could resurrect his wife but in doing so, Cicada learned it was he who slew her sending him into a fit of madness. This lead to the Flash imprisoning him where he became a frequent background character in villain group shots. For The Flash, Cicada will not be a cult leader but have motivations similar to comics’ Dr. Trap who sought revenge for his wife’s death due to a metahuman battle (or even Onomatopoeia, a serial metahuman killer). Season five’s primary antagonist, Cicada will be played by Chris Klein (American Pie, Wilfred).
Introduced during the four-part “Crisis on Earth-X” crossover, Nora West-Allen is the future daughter of the Flash and Iris West-Allen with the codename of XS. This character is an amalgamation of two (maybe three) characters from the comics. In the source material, Barry and Iris Allen had twins named Dawn and Don who were costumed vigilantes in the 30th century called the Tornado Twins during a time when superheroes were outlawed. Dawn went on to have a daughter named Jenni Ognats who became the superhero XS and member of the Legion of Super-Heroes (while Don had a son in Bart Allen that traveled to the past and joined the Teen Titans). This accounts for a speedster offspring of Barry and Iris as well as the name XS but the use of Barry’s mom’s name Nora is unique to the television series. The closest to something like that in the Flash family was Wally West naming his daughter Iris after his aunt (who is instead his sister in the show). Jessica Parker Kennedy will reprise her role as XS becoming a series regular who’s trapped in her past and seemingly made some sort of mistake in doing so (alluding to perhaps aiding her father in stopping the Thinker).
Likely the darkest period in the American comic book industry was when the United States Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency targeted the medium under the unproven claims of psychiatrist Fredric Wertham that it hurt youths. Leading to public book burnings and riots, the comic book industry executed a draconian policy on itself to appease the unsubstantiated fears of American mobs. In response to claims Batman was a closet homosexual secretly carrying out a pedophilic relationship with his ward Dick Grayson, DC Comics created female partners for the dynamic duo in Batwoman and Bat-Girl. Wealthy heiress Kathy Kane and her niece Betty, inspired by the exploits of Batman and Robin, decided to don similar costumes as a new pair of heroes operating out of Gotham. Working independent and alongside each other at different times, Kathy maintained an ongoing off-and-on again romantic relationship with Bruce Wayne. Batwoman and Bat-Girl eventually retired, Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) largely taking their place, as Kathy was later murdered by the League of Assassins under direction of Ra’s al Ghul and Betty (now Bette) became an infrequent partner to Nightwing (Dick Grayson) as Flamebird.
Following the events of Infinite Crisis, Batwoman was re-imagined as the daughter of military service people whose mother and twin sister Elizabeth were murdered in front of her by terrorists (though, Elizabeth survived to grow up as her nemesis Alice). When of age, Kathy joined the Marines but was discharged when it came to light she was a lesbian. The while, Kathy’s father married a weapons heiress leading to Kathy becoming a party girl that started up a romance with police officer Renee Montoya. Following an encounter with Batman, Kathy decided to become a vigilante and assumed the identity of Batwoman while Bruce Wayne traveled the world for a year with his sons Dick and Tim (leaving Gotham under the protection of a reformed Harvey Dent). It would also be around this time Montoya inherited the mantle of the Question by the original who mentored her. The former couple becoming partners of circumstance, they fought the cult known as the Religion of Crime together and separately (which saw Alice ascend to lead the cult). Following this, Batwoman became a member of several hero groups including the Network, Justice League, and Batman, Inc. In wake of the events of Flashpoint, Kathy was made the cousin of Bette Kane (who became her partner Hawkfire) and Bruce Wayne. Further, Kathy formed a relationship with the DEO partnering with Agent Cameron Chase, joined the organization Colony, and found a new nemesis in Knife (her former lover Tahani). The role of Batwoman has yet to be cast but an out lesbian is being sought for the part.