Coming this fall, three different networks will be launch three very different new shows based on long running DC properties. If you would have told me ten years ago even that the TV landscape would be dominated by comic book TV shows I would have said that you were crazy.
Speaking of crazy and transitions, on NBC we are going to have the David Goyer produced and written, Constantine. Though it has not been said from which source material they are going to be using for the requisite origin story, traditionally John Constantine was introduced in the saga of The Swamp Thing by Alan Moore and was spun off into his own series on DC’s grittier imprint Vertigo with the irresistible title of Hellblazer. A dark and gritty book based on the adventures of a street level wizard from England with ambivalent morals who will do what needs to be done to achieve his goals. It is not known if they are going to base it, instead, on the more homogenized New 52 version of the character, who, while he is still British and still has magic, is more of a romance story and less of an exploration of what hides in the darkest corner of the darkness. Both are valid ideas for a show as long as it doesn't turn out like the movie.
On the CW network, Arrow show runners Greg Berlanti and Andrew Guggenheim have made their “Arrow-verse” even bigger by creating a spin-off starring a Barry Allen Flash also coming this Fall. Being played by Grant Gustin as the silver age speedster himself. One of the earliest heroes in the DC Universe, he has survived being passed back and forth through the years going through all the way to now. His powers come from “the speed force” given to him due to lightning striking the police station where he was working as a lab specialist. Essentially he is fast. He can run faster than the speed of light and sometimes faster as necessitated by his occasional trips in time.
By far the most ambitious of all of them is the new Batman prequel series on Fox “Gotham” taking place shortly after the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Focusing on young Jim Gordon and how he goes from a young idealistic detective to the grizzled and sure commissioner Gordon that we all know and love. Showing also in the background an emerging criminal underworld with a first glimpse of an up and coming mob enforcer by the name of Oswald Copperpot, later to become the Penguin. They have also shown that we will be seeing the young adventures of preteen Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle who, in a bit of revisionist history, will be best friends. Biggest hope I have is that they will find a way to weave in more aspects of the Gotham Central Series by Grant Morrison and some of the amazing secondary characters that were introduced there.
With Warner/DC populating the airwaves with new shows from every corner of their universe it makes me very curious why they have not also green lit any live action shows that are aimed at a younger audience. It is my opinion that out of the thousands of heroes that they have there has to be at least one show that they can Smallville-ize. Take a young hero and do everything possible to make them interesting and relatable to kids and preteens. Once you have that new audience, they can grow with the show and also allow a way for them to break into the comics as well. Long term I think it is the best chance they have to keep interest up in their properties outside of the big three. If you ask ten random people on the street who The Blue Beatle is you would be lucky to get one person who can name either of them. If they can’t keep enough interest going in their comics then there will be much less of a reason to keep the comics going. With that said, here’s hoping that they will change their mind for the better.