DC Universe at San Diego Comic-Con by Jerry Whitworth
As we creep closer to the beta release of the DC Universe streaming service and application in August, a litany of content continues to be announced as we learned a library of comics, movies, and shows will be available on the platform for $7.99 a month (or $74.99 a year with three free months). San Diego Comic-Con offered more details about what’s to come including trailers for Titans and Young Justice: Outsiders as well as the announcement of a live action Stargirl series by her creator Geoff Johns. Lets break down what original content we already know will be available on the service.
Announced at SDCC, Stargirl will be getting a thirteen episode live action series written by her creator Geoff Johns. Basing the character on his late sister Courtney, Stargirl was a legacy character adopting the mantle of the Star-Spangled Kid when her mother married the Kid’s sidekick Pat Dugan (Stripesy). Initially done to anger Dugan, Courtney and her stepfather formed an effective team as he donned a suit of mechanical armor to become the hero S.T.R.I.P.E. The pair went on to become members of the reformed Justice Society. Stargirl is no stranger to live action adaptation, most recently appearing in Legends of Tomorrow. However, the DC Universe series is casting a teenage girl for the role as the show will be lighter in tone than many of the other projects coming to the service and will feature Stargirl forming the Justice Society of America with other young people. Thus far, it is unknown if the series will have any connection to any other ongoing series.
Announced earlier this year, a Fringe-like series is in development featuring Lois Lane and Lex Luthor investigating strange phenomenon from the minds behind Gotham in John Stephens and Danny Cannon. Called Metropolis, it would explore the city at a time before Superman emerged as its guardian. Ordered for thirteen episodes, it was intended to be DC Universe’s second live action series (after Titans) but was announced to be in redevelopment two months ago. Since that time, no more recent news has emerged including if the series maybe delayed due to its being redeveloped.
Few details exist about the upcoming live action Swamp Thing television series as little news on it even emerged out of SDCC. Considering there have been two Swamp Thing live action films and a live action television series with three seasons (not to mention animated mini-series with accompanying toyline), there’s certainly proof that the concept can work. The DC Universe series is being produced by James Wan (Aquaman, Insidious, Conjuring) with the pilot co-directed by Wan and Deran Sarafian (The Strain, Hemlock Grove) as the show is said to be primarily a horror series. Casting has revealed the premise will feature CDC researcher Abby Arcane returning to her home town of Houma, LA to investigate a swamp-born illness with scientist Alec Holland. Seemingly, Holland dies but developments in Arcane’s investigation may prove he survived in a fashion. The only news regarding the show to emerge from SDCC is that it will not be connected to the fellow streaming series Titans or Doom Patrol (the latter a spin-off of the former).
While DC Universe has not even gone live yet, one of its series has already produced a spin-off. The Doom Patrol is a Silver Age superhero team that some believe inspired the X-Men as some also think it was itself inspired by the Fantastic Four (which itself was likely inspired by the Challengers of the Unknown). Featuring wheelchair bound super-genius “The Chief” Niles Caulder, the scientist saved the life of race car driver Cliff Steele after a crash by placing his brain in an automaton. Taking the name Robotman, a “team of freaks” was assembled around Steele with actress Rita Farr (Elasti-Girl) and test pilot Larry Trainor (Negative Man) who gained super powers by different accidents that made humanity shun them. In time, the quartet were joined by billionaire Steve Dayton (Mento) and Gar Logan (Beast Boy) as they accumulated a wealth of foes including the Brain and his Brotherhood of Evil, Mister 103 (later 104), and the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man. When it seemed the team died at the hands of their enemies, Beast Boy became Changeling and joined the reformed Teen Titans as a new Doom Patrol was formed by Caulder’s wife Arani (Celsius). The team underwent many changes over the years, notably under writer Grant Morrison for some time where the group tackled the weird and bizarre. What we know of the DC Universe series is that the group will appear in Titans setting up the spin-off of thirteen episodes. Cyborg will put in an appearance early on to provide the team its initial story arc. The team will be composed of the Chief (Bruno Bichir), Robotman (Jake Michaels), Negative Man (Dwain Murphy), Elasti-Girl (April Bowlby), and Crazy Jane (a product of Morrison’s run who has 64 split personalities each with a different super powers).
Another series with little in the way of information about its content is the upcoming animated series Harley Quinn. What’s known thus far is that it will be the third original show to debut on DC Universe with a 26-episode order. Coming from the creative team behind Powerless in Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker, and Dean Lorey, it will feature Harley Quinn breaking up with her toxic boyfriend the Joker as she tries to strike it out on her own in Gotham’s crime scene alongside her best friend Poison Ivy. ThatHashtagShow claims to have secured casting data on the series which alleges the Joker will act as the show’s antagonist, trying to stop Harley as she tries to takeover crime in Gotham. Further, they report Harley will be joined by a crew of villains including aging super spy Syborg, Wonder Woman foe Dr. Psycho, wealthy alien Malice Vundabar (perhaps related to Apokolips’ Virman Vundabar), demi-god King Shark, and Batman villain Clayface. An image released for the show also includes Magpie, Kite-Man, Killer Croc, Condiment King, Maxie Zeus, and the Terrible Trio.
Five years in the making, it was announced two years ago that canceled animated series Young Justice would return for a third season. Since that time, news has slowly dribbled out with San Diego Comic-Con likely the last major source of data on the returning show until its debut early next year. 26-episodes in length with a time skip of unconfirmed years, the series picks up when the long absent Nightwing comes to Black Lightning, Superboy, and Tigress with a mission to shut down a metahuman trafficking operation in the small European nation of Markovia (drawing parallels to the initial storyarc for Batman and the Outsiders). From there, the group grows to include Markovian prince Brion Markov (Geo-Force), Katana, Metamorpho, Halo, and Forager. The Team also has grown as its membership includes Arrowette, Spoiler, and Thirteen. Darkseid appears to have a stronger presence in the show as Lex Luthor has managed to become the Secretary of the United Nations.
Seemingly the crown jewel of DC Universe when it launches, Titans will loosely adapt New Teen Titans as Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft) seeks help when a dark power awakens inside her trying to possess her. The initial line-up for the team will be Roth (as Raven), Robin/Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites), Starfire (Anna Diop), and Beast Boy (Ryan Potter) as the duo of Hawk (Alan Ritchson) and Dove (Minka Kelly) will feature into the thirteen episode series. Rated TV-MA, the trailer was considerably brutal as sound effects made it appear Robin snapped someone’s neck, Starfire engulfed several people in a wall of flame, and Dove lacerated if not dismembered and gouged people. Criticism of the trailer was fast and voluminous which could likely shake faith in the developing brand. The coming season will also feature the aforementioned Doom Patrol as well as Donna Troy (Conor Leslie) and Jason Todd (Curran Walters). At this time, it’s unknown if several Titans characters like Speedy, Kid Flash, Arsenal, Ms. Martian, Jericho, Ravager, Deathstroke, or Brother Blood will appear considering their use in the Arrowverse/DC Television Universe (as it’s not even yet known if Titans will be part of that multiverse or not). Titans will be available when DC Universe launches and reportedly the entire first season will be available to stream.