The MCU (the Marvel Cinematic Universe) has been scoring hit after hit for Marvel. Every single film has taken $100,000,000 multiple times, and every one of them, bar one, has either had a sequel or has one in the works. DC on the other hand, not so much. Sure the big two are doing the business, even if Man of Steel didn’t do quite as well with the critics as Warner was hoping, but the rest of the cannon can barely make it out of the starting gate. Green Lantern was embarrassingly awful and Wonder Woman has been languishing in development hell for years now.
Where they are having more luck though, is in Television. Arrow has been picked up for a third series and has proven to be one of the most popular shows in The CW’s recent history. Its success means it will be followed up by two new shows in the same vein. But, not wanting to been seen as a slouch in this category either, Marvel is upping its own TV content including a second season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
So let’s take a look at these up-coming shows and try to suss which ones are going shine like the Brightest Day or go into the Blackest Night.
Arrow Series 3: Arrow is the genesis for what DC are figuring out is their forte. This is what they should be doing if they want to have their own interconnected, live action universe. Movies might make more money, but Marvel have that market sewn up and I’m not sure DC has a roster with the depth that can sustain a movie franchise. TV though, is where they can bring these lesser known characters to an audience that will get behind them. Would Green Arrow have made it as a film, if audiences had to drive to a cinema and paid £12 to get in? I’m not sure, but the accessibility of television means Arrow stands a better chance of having an audience stick with him after he’s been introduced to them. The new series of Arrow looks like a doozy too. Arrow is recognised as a hero by the people of Starling City, so his alter ego Oliver thinks he can finally get some time to himself. Unfortunately Peter Stormare’s character, Count Vertigo, has other ideas. Black Canary is returning, as is DeathStroke, both of whom should be getting more screen time. Most tantalisingly though is the inclusion of Ra’s al Ghul, who is pleased to hear that Oliver isn’t dead. Because he really wants to kill Oliver himself.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Series 2: I’ll admit it. I really lost patience with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. There were a plethora of reasons. It treated its super hero source material with a dismissive distain. But, as a silly spy series, it didn’t exactly have the high ground. People who use their brains are dismissed as childish and immature. People who only know how to fight are treated with a stoic reverence, as the only ones with the guts to make all the hard decisions. It endlessly teased us with the answers to mysterious questions, questions whose answers aren’t worth the wait. Also, why is everyone in love with Skye?! Mostly though, I left the series because it was boring. Deathly dull. Even the bits that I was praying to happen, where one of the douchebag field agents turns out to be a bad guy, or having lesser known marvel characters cameo in the series, couldn’t get me back in. Hopefully, the new series will embrace its comic book origins from the beginning and give us all something more interesting to watch.
The Flash: Now this is a series that looks as if it isn’t ashamed of its comic book origins. The Flash unlike Arrow appears to be wearing a costume accurate to that of the original comics, not a “modern interpretation” that tries to make his existence make more sense in the real world. The Dark Knight Trilogy started this trend, so you can see why it makes sense for Arrow to pick it up. But, the MCU made it so that shows like this don’t have to disguise their inspirations (that was part of what made Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so disappointing). Finally, DC are catching up to this philosophy and it seems The Flash will be reaping the rewards. The Flash follows Barry Allen, a crime scene investigator with a tragic past. He saw his mother die in a ball of light and has been investigating paranormal activity ever since. After doing extensive research in his lab, Barry is hit by a ball of lightning from another dimension and gets soaked in all the chemicals from his experiments. This gives his body the power to move at incredible speeds, making him one of the first legit superheroes in the DC TV universe. His first foe is a bank robber who can manipulate the weather and his first ally is a familiar face, if you watch some of the above mentioned programs.
Agent Carter: One of the great things about the MCU is that they have universes so vast, many of the questions they pose are left up to the audiences imaginations. Some of these questions though are ripe to be answered in other formats. Such as, “What happened to Captain America’s girlfriend after he got frozen?” Well this show appears to have the answer. Agent Carter will feature First Avenger star Hayley Atwell as the titular spy and Dominic Cooper also joins the cast as Tony Stark’s dad Howard. The series joins Peggy Carter in a post World War II era. She finds herself marginalised now that the men have returned home and her skills are surplus to requirements. In her exasperation she joins the Strategic Scientific Reserve and embarks upon secret missions with other operatives who might just be the forbearers to a certain group of post millennium superheroes. They aren’t just pinching the cast of the MCU, but also the crew. The Winter Soldier directors, Joe and Anthony Russo, will direct two episodes of the new series and established comic writers such as Jeph Loeb will be consulting.
Gotham: This one is already playing and it has received some lukewarm reviews. The series serves as a prequel to the career of Batman, following younger versions of the more senior Gotham characters. The main arc of the series sees Detectives James Gordan and Harvey Bullock paired together to solve the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Other characters portrayed in this series will be Oswald “Penguin” Cobblepot, a low level gangster under the boot of Fish Mooney. Speaking of which, Fish is that all too rare thing in the comic book universe, an original creation. Every good procedural needs a coroner, someone to make pithy one liners while chopping up cadavers, and Gotham’s is Edward Nygma, soon to be The Riddler. Poison Ivy in this universe is called Ivy Pepper, a name change that has made more than one or two fans unhappy with the show before it began. Selina Kyle also makes an interesting appearance, because in this series she is as young as Bruce Wayne.
Defenders: Not much is known about this so far, apart from a recently revealed logo for the Daredevil series. Defenders is a Netflix mini-series that will air after the four connecting series are made available on the On Demand Network. Those shows will be Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones. They will form the street level equivalent to the global Avengers initiative. Instead of saving the world, they’ll only probably be saving New York. Hell’s Kitchen at least. Details are thin on the ground at the moment but we do know that Charlie Cox will play Daredevil and it will be the first out of the gate, the release date being in May. So it looks like Netflix will be getting at least another seven months of subscription out of me. Daredevil is a lawer by day and a Superhero by night, using his super senses to fight crime. Did I mention that he’s blind? Luke Cage and Iron Fist are heroes for hire and Jessica Jones is well, she’s Jessica Jones and trust me, her series will be worth the wait.