Friday, May 27, 2016

Idea for a CW DC TV "Rebirth"

It's true. I've documented my general distaste of Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice on this space a couple times - mostly for the portrayal of Superman. This doesn't mean I'm anti-DC, or a "Marvel fanboy"... quite the opposite. I love them both equally and passionately. While I do indeed love the Marvel movies and have yet to be disappointed by any of the 13, I also really love DC TV. Specifically, the Greg Berlanti/Marc Guggenheim/Andrew Kriesberg form of DC TV.

I am of course referring to primarily the CW shows or the "Arrow-verse." I watched most of Gotham season one but just couldn't get into it. I've caught a few episodes this season, but I'm still not totally into it. What I'm really focused on here is Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. Supergirl is moving to the CW for season two and is technically part of the CW universe, and I would suspect, will have much stronger ties to Flash and Arrow following it's big move. I waited until after each respective season finale to pontificate, mostly because I wanted to see how they ended and hoooboy did they end spectacularly.

Quick preface: Green Arrow ranks among my favorite comic book characters and one of the few I've ever really identified with. I grew up on Mark Waid's Flash (Return of Barry Allen is one of my all-time favorite stories) which eventually led to the Geoff Johns' Flash and I have a deep love for the Flash mythos. I also have a special place in my heart for obscure and "second tier" characters, the likes of which make up Legends of Tomorrow. Finally, my love for Superman is well documented, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Supergirl moving to the CW makes me happy. Obviously, the DC TV shows on the CW really speak to me and I find them really enjoyable.

So why am I writing this? Simple. I love these shows, I think they have wonderful potential and well, because why not? This is a bit of fantasy booking... I have a tremendous amount of respect for the writers and producers juggling the creative on these shows and I'm definitely not telling them how to do their job (I'd love to join them though), I'm just tossing out some ideas. Places I think these shows could go.

I guess I have to start with The Flash, mostly because of that phenomenal season finale. I had a feeling early on that the man in the iron mask was the real Jay Garrick and I thought that it's plausible that it could be John Wesley Shipp. This was confirmed for me in the second to last episode when Henry revealed is mother's maiden name was "Garrick." There was something spectacular about seeing the first live-action Flash don the suit of the original comic book Flash. It was really a special moment.

Barry - who went through hell this season - grieving over the loss of his father and irked by the betrayal of his friends (they imprisoned him so he wouldn't race Zoom), decided to go back in time and save his mother from the Reverse Flash. Comic fans know this as the Flashpoint Paradox, when Barry Allen altered the timeline creating Flashpoint and then the New 52. Of course, DC Rebirth has changed that, but that's neither here nor there. The bottom line is Barry's actions are going to have serious ramifications.

It's unclear how Barry's actions will affect Arrow, and it's possible that his actions have already affected Legends of Tomorrow with the arrival of Hourman and the impending arrival of the Justice Society (of which I think the John Wesley Shipp Jay Garrick is a member). I do think where his actions have the greatest affect is Supergirl.

We could see a full-on Flashpoint-like adaptation for a few episodes. They could do some really neat things - depowered Barry having everything he's ever wanted, Robert Queen taking the Thomas Wayne role from the comics and even Supergirl taking the Superman role. There is lots of opportunity, but I think the end game ultimately is that the timeline will be altered in a way that we don't necessarily lose everything that's come before, but we get the JSA and Supergirl existing on the same Earth and timeline as The Flash.

It's also possible Barry's actions trigger the Crisis. The endgame of season three of The Flash being the merging of Earths. Specifically, Earth-1, 2, 3 and Supergirl's Earth. One way or another, through timeline manipulation or Earth-merging, Supergirl, the metas of Earth-2 and the JSA of Earth-3 all end up on Earth-1. I think it's also safe to assume we'll see Wally and Jessie develop their powers.

Of course, that begs the question: who is the villain of season three? Zoom was a great villain and his journey isn't over. For those not well-versed in the Flash mythos, when the Speed Force wraiths abduct him in the season two finale, he becomes The Black Flash. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of him, but there has to be a threat large enough to bring Jay Garrick and Harrison Wells back to Earth-1. I'm sure we'll see more of Gorilla Grodd, the Reverse Flash will likely be back in some fashion, but as for the big bad? It's possible we will see the Anti-Monitor. I'm not certain the villain will be another speedster - though there are plenty of choices.

The possibilities for The Flash are endless and that's probably the most exciting aspect about it all.

How does Legends of Tomorrow fit into the grander plan? This all depends on the route they go. If Legends remains focused on the timeline, then it's safe to assume that the Justice Society has been erased from the timestream and that's why they recruit Rip Hunter. But I also don't see the JSA existing without John Wesley Shipp's Jay Garrick, which brings Earth-3 into play. Could the JSA have been removed from the timeline and placed on Earth-3? Could Earth-3 have been formed because of a deviated timeline? Shipp has already teased that Garrick will be part of the JSA and it really wouldn't feel like the JSA if he wasn't.

The ultimate question then becomes who is the villain? That answer is actually pretty simple - Extant. The antagonist of Zero Hour in the 90s, Extant was once Hank Hall aka Hawk. Here he could be a former JSAer who was betrayed by the JSA - or feels he was - and erases them from time. Extant could potentially be traveling through multiple timelines erasing the JSA and other heroes. The science in Legends of Tomorrow is clearly pseudo, so all of that could play to an advantage. In terms of characters we could see? I think the floodgates are wide open to hit corners of the DCU that are both prominent and obscure.

Supergirl remains a bit of a variable. The show's move to the CW is the right one. They can change their tone a bit as they won't have to directly pander to a broader, broadcast audience. They can still pick up where they left off, but play in the sandbox of the broader CW universe. I'm mostly interested to see how they bring Supergirl into that universe. The Flash will most certainly have something to do with it, but I'm really curious as to how. As I mentioned, there could be some timeline altering or Earth-merging, or maybe they all just stay separate and Cisco allows for an open jumping from Earth to Earth. That's certainly an interesting idea, keeping the Earth's separate but allowing for easy team-ups through Vibe's abilities.

This also brings up the BIG question... Superman. My hope is that with the fallout from Batman v. Superman, Geoff Johns loosens up the policy of different versions of characters appearing in movies and TV. This would allow for a number of things - Barry altering the timeline could allow the return of Amanda Waller on Arrow. It could also herald return of the Arrow version of the Suicide Squad. Though most importantly, we (as viewers) have earned Superman. Make it Tom Welling - I don't care - but Superman could play a HUGE role on Supergirl and in the CW-verse going forward. He doesn't have to be a regular anywhere, he's there to inspire all the characters. Could you imagine Supergirl introducing Superman to Grant Gustin's Flash? The potential for shaping and further molding Barry as a hero is there. Same with Green Arrow. Oliver knowing there are superhumans out there like this would allow him to focus on the street (more on that soon). The revelation of Supergirl and even Martian Manhunter would, could and should fundamentally change the perspective of the already established characters in the CW-verse.

Now on to the show that started it all... Arrow. To say season four has divided fans of the show would be accurate. Overall, I enjoyed the season and I commend the team for the risks they took trying to keep what they've built fresh and new. For the record, I think seasons one and two of Arrow are top notch. Season three I really enjoyed because it was playing for the long game - much like season four did.

What I won't do is compare Arrow and Daredevil. They are two completely separate beasts.

The season four finale seems to have really divided opinion on the show. I think they made good choices for the show's future. All signs point to season five returning the show to it's non-powered roots (something star Stephen Amell has hinted at recently), and it is heavily rumored that we're going to get the DC TV version of Vigilante.

For those who don't know, Vigilante is Adrian Chase, a former district attorney whose family is murdered by the mob and essentially becomes a Punisher-like figure. He originally resorts to non-lethal tactics but increasingly becomes more and more violent. With Arrow looking to show Oliver's connection to the Russian mob in the flashbacks... the idea of bringing in Vigilante fits perfectly.

It sounds like Kovar will be the big bad for season five, making Vigilante more of an antagonist. Kovar in the DCU is a superhero called the Red Star, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Vigilante/Russian mob connection makes sense. Plus with Oliver now mayor of Star City, the Russian mob has more of an onus to emerge. They become targets of Vigilante and we get a Daredevil/Punisher dynamic between Green Arrow and Vigilante. It'd be an strong dynamic considering that Oliver will kill when he has to, and given his position as mayor, it puts him in a brand new place of balancing his dual lives.

At this point, Arrow really can go back to it's roots, but with a new twist. Oliver is now a politician. The Arrow writing and production team can take a new risk for season five - one that is very much in line with Oliver's character - and have a running theme of Green Arrow vs. Vigilante be politics. What are the politics of the vigilantism? Of the killing? Green Arrow takes a more liberal stance - a necessary evil - whereas Vigilante takes the shoot first approach. There can be a really interesting commentary in season five that could really elevate the show.

Star City could also thrive under Oliver's leadership, which would again offer new dynamics to the show and the character. With his actions really starting to be effective, it could indeed pave the  way for that snarkiness that has always set Green Arrow apart. Remember, in the DC Universe, Oliver Queen is a man amongst gods and it's becoming that on the CW too. With new heroes emerging and the addition of Supergirl, it's absoultely possible that Oliver focuses less on larger, global threats and gets back to the streets, where he should be. This is especially the case if Superman's presence is felt.

Oliver's real conflict should be about whether or not the Green Arrow is needed, especially if the city does well under his leadership. For the months leading up the season's main storyline, everything comes easy to Oliver and Green Arrow. The mission is still protecting the city but the focus of the show shouldn't be on saving Star City for a change, it should be on Oliver and should really let Amell shine.

While I know there exists fan divisivness over Felicity, I do think the romance has run its course, but she can still be what keeps him in line. Amell and Emily Bett Rickards are at their best when they are bantering back and forth and turning that up a notch could provide Oliver with the snarkiness many fans have been yearning for. I mean, let's face it, at this point the people of Star City are behind him, he's seen some really wild things, he's lost some friends and the one thing that can keep him from "the darkness" is if he stops taking everything so seriously. That could also be another dynamic between Vigilante and Green Arrow. Oliver sees so much of his old self in Adrian Chase, and Chase is angry Green Arrow plays his own version of judge, jury and executioner.

Who does one cast as Adrian Chase/Vigilante? My vote goes to former WWE Superstar Cody Rhodes/Stardust. He's got the look, the physique and can pull off the duality needed for a character like Chase. Plus he and Amell are friends and have wrestled a match against one another that is a highly-regarded celebrity match among WWE fans. They had great chemisty in the ring and whenevr they get together in character. Seriously, Cody could pull it off.

The rest of Team Arrow can be out of the picture for the time-being, and that's the right move. It's been a whirlwind four years for all of them and focusing more on Oliver's further evolution into Green Arrow is more important right now. But as Vigilante pushes and pushes, Oliver can start to resort back to his old self, forcing the team back together.

Back to Star City for a second. Star City has now faced four terrorist attacks in as many years. At this point, the U.S. Government should move in. A.R.G.U.S. should have more influence - or if not A.R.G.U.S., bring in Spyral or Checkmate - some kind of government agency that is overseeing Star City's defense. If a timeline shift doesn't bring back Amanda Waller, then a new figure should be brought in. Who could it be? Easy, Tom Tresser a.k.a. Nemesis. With this in mind, I would go so far as to have Diggle working for Tresser, creating conflict between Diggle's sense of duty and his sense of brotherhood with Oliver. This also gives Lyla (who honestly, is an awesome character) a solid arc as well as she juggles A.R.G.U.S., Tresser in command and her husband's loyalties.

Going one step further, Tresser could factor into the flashbacks as well. As a spy and master of disguise, in the flashbacks he could be an infiltrator into the Russian mob. It would add a new level of tension and richness to Oliver's past. The connection between Tresser, Chase and Oliver is the Russian mob and how each of them handle it, and for once, you could not have Star City in the balance.

With the addition of Tom Tresser (who has Suicide Squad connections), it would also be easy to bring in Victor Sage - especially with the establishment of Hub City in season four. Could we get The Question? It's definitely possible, though I think Hub City will serve as Vigilante's base of operations before he moves to Star City.

Of course, the big question also is what did Laurel say to Oliver before she died? Even bigger than that, is Laurel actually dead?

My honest answer? I don't know. Look, I get fans being upset about a Green Arrow show killing Black Canary. She's one of my favorite comic characters. I felt Laurel actually had one of the strongest character arcs on the show in her journey to becoming Black Canary. But if it's not some swerve and she turns out to be fine, you don't know what goes on behind the scenes. Maybe Katie Cassidy was just ready to move on  - maybe she needed a break. When stuff like this happens, you have to take into account the real-life implications. Colton Haynes recently revealed why he left the show and you just can't fault a guy - or a show - for that decision.

If it is some kind of swerve, I don't think it cheapens the actual death in season four. In fact, Laurel could easily be brought back if Barry affects the timeline. If she is indeed dead as the producers and stars have stated, there's still a wide range of possibilities.

First, something could happen in Legends where Sara decides to become Black Canary (or Canary as she was) again. Or she sees the new, more hopeful Oliver and just wants to be around him because she feels it makes him a better person. They feed off of each other and are two people still very much in love. Suddenly, we're back to into the Green Arrow/Black Canary dynamic - one that already has a strong history in this universe. 

But I think there's a very strong story available if Kate Cassidy is indeed not permanently done with the show. This would involve the Laurel of Earth-1 being dead, but the Laurel of Earth-2 developing as a character. There's a lot of potential here. 

Distraught over the destruction she caused under Zoom's influence, the Earth-2 Laurel could go on a journey of redemption and assume the role of Earth-1 Laurel as Black Canary. There's no need for a secret identity and we get the new Laurel - maybe now calling herself Dinah - on a journey from viillain to hero. This is just another layer that could play directly into a rivalry between Vigilante and Green Arrow.

There's also the romance angle. On Earth-2, Oliver is dead. On Earth-1, he's the love of Laurel's life. What's not to say it wouldn't be the same? Different Earths, still in love. It basically writes itself. Oliver and Earth-2 Laurel wouldn't be able to keep their hands off each other. We get a brand new dynamic between them - one that draw more similarities to their respective character journies and ultimately the classic Green Arrow/Black Canary dynamic.

I know the Olicity fans are screaming and vigorously typing at that opinion, but I think Oliver and Felicity have run their course. That's not to say Felicity can't have a romantic interest... in fact she should... and his name is Adrian Chase. That's right, Felicity should fall in love with Vigilante. I'd even go as far as have her figure out who he is and work for him the way she does Green Arrow.

Suddenly, we have a season five that is heavily layered, focused on Oliver's journey - his schism - and one that can really elevate the show politically and socially.

Barry's timeline futzing will certainly have an affect on Arrow, as it should, but it doesn't have to be huge. It can be used as a means to bring back characters like (maybe) Laurel and, if WB ends their policy on the movie and TV characters (which they should), Waller, Ra's Al Ghul and Deadshot. The changes to Arrow can be subtle and that's fine.

For the record, I am also totally onboard with Kevin Smith taking a role on the show and season five building to season six's main villain - Onomatopoeia.

Regardless, season five of Arrow has so much potential it's not even funny.I will also continue to hold out hope that Bruce Wayne will eventually be introduced.

Oh, one more thing... more Vixen. Much, much more Vixen.

Phew, this was a bit longer than I anticipated, but these shows are exciting and the possibilities are endless, so I just felt like adding in my two cents. If I had the opportunity, I would seriously consider picking up and moving to work on one of these shows, but it's always fun to speculate.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

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