The DC Television Universe – A New Era in Superhero TV
While Marvel blazed a trail with its Marvel Cinematic Universe which opened up into television and original online streaming content, DC Comics pursued another route with the television series Arrow. Originally a solitary series focusing on the exploits of Green Arrow, its popularity has evolved into establishing a spin-off/extension in The Flash. Somewhat attempted before in the vein of Smallville with Birds of Prey and the unproduced Aquaman (in that it featured young attractive people generally in non-costumes, with some exception, appearing on the same channel), the worlds of Arrow and Flash directly correlate to each other as Arrow set the stage for the newer series with a crossover planned in the coming season. Though, it should be noted, DC has since dipped its toe into its own Cinematic Universe with the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and a Justice League film (likely to include Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Cyborg who were cast for the earlier film) that will not align with the TV Universe. Lets look at some of the characters set to emerge in the DC Television Universe.
Explored extensively previously in an earlier article, Tatsu Yamashiro was an expert in the martial arts and mother to two daughters whose family was torn apart by her brother-in-law Takeo. Desiring Tatsu for himself, Takeo murdered his own brother Maseo with the magical katana Soultaker and whose actions killed his nieces before Tatsu disarmed him and took the sword for herself. Takeo on the run from Tatsu’s wrath, she has dedicated her life to revenge and pursued him around the globe. For Arrow, Tatsu is the wife of Maseo, Oliver Queen’s ARGUS handler and mentor in Hong Kong (where Queen ended up after Amanda Waller saved him from the island Lian Yu). The character will be played by Devon Aoki (Miho in Sin City), half-sister of electro house musician Steve Aoki who appeared on Arrow playing himself in the episode “The Huntress Returns.” Maseo will be the latest in a series of mentors to Queen in the series, Yao Fei (Accomplished Perfect Physician in the comics) and Slade Wilson (Deathstroke) in the first season and Shado in the second season.
A professor for Ivy University, Ray Palmer is one of the most brilliant minds on Earth especially in the field of nuclear physics. Palmer’s life changed when he obtained a fragment of white dwarf star matter which could be used to shrink matter but the process made such things unstable (in turn, exploding). However, when the lives of his students and girlfriend were imperiled, he selflessly used his apparatus on himself to save them only to survive the exposure. Perhaps taking it as some sign, Palmer adopted the identity of the Atom, the Mighty Mite, and became a crimefighter finding he could alter his mass as well as his size allowing him to glide on air currents like flying or to attack with his normal size’s strength even when he’s shrunk down. It wouldn’t be long before he was a member of the Justice League of America, acting as both their science advisor and infiltration specialist, later becoming best friends with the intergalactic lawman Hawkman (though, the latter became a frequent sparring partner of Green Arrow). For Arrow, Ray Palmer will be played by Brandon Routh (Superman in Superman Returns) who becomes the new owner of Queen Consolidated with some designs on the Applied Sciences Division. The character seems to be an amalgamation of several elements, Isabel Rochev who scooped Queen’s company out from under him and Barry Allen in that rumor has it he will be a love interest to Felicity Smoak (forming a triangle as reportedly Queen and Smoak will move forward in their relationship). Likely, the character also shares some similarities to Ted Kord (Blue Beetle in the comics) who was an inventor and ran a company in Kord Industries. In fact, when a casting call went out for a character codenamed “Daniel,” many in the fan community thought it described Ted Kord only to likely instead be Ray Palmer.
A member of the Justice Society of America, following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Ted Grant was the masked crimefighter Wildcat who trained the likes of Batman, Catwoman, and Black Canary in the martial arts. Likely one of history’s greatest boxers, Wildcat used boxing, tumbling, and street fighting to take on some of the Earth’s most dangerous foes and most accomplished fighters (such as experts in Eastern combat) well into his golden years. In Arrow, Ted Grant will be played by J.R. Ramirez (Julio in Power) and he will be spending time with Laurel Lance (Dinah Laurel Lance being Black Canary in the comics). The Black Canary character was introduced in the second season of Arrow as Laurel’s sister Sara, a former member of the League of Assassins (similar to Onyx in the comics) and lover of Nyssa al Ghul (daughter of Ra’s al Ghul), who became the vigilante Canary to watch over her sister. At the end of the second season, Sara handed over her leather jacket to her sister as the former rejoined the League with Nyssa. While Laurel has shown skill in the martial arts, able to take down one or two normal people, the growing number of expert fighters and superpowered villains in Starling City who have challenged the likes of Canary and Arrow would leave Laurel hopelessly outmatched (even an expertly trained soldier like John Diggle finding it hard to barely keep up). Should Laurel pick up her sister’s mantle (as chatter seems to suggest will be coming soon), she would need someone like Ted Grant to train her to get there.
Likely the world’s leading nuclear physicist (as well as Nobel prize recipient), Martin Stein designed the Hudson Nuclear Power Plant, a groundbreaking atomic testing center that was also completely safe to those around the facility. However, the terrorist group Coalition to Resist Atomic Power (the acronym undoubtedly a not-so-inside joke) infiltrated the facility and blew up its reactor. Stein and Ronnie Raymond (a youth with the group that tried to stop them when he learned they weren’t simply protestors) were caught in the explosion and, instead of a grand nuclear disaster, the pair were fused together into the Nuclear Man, Firestorm. As Stein was unconscious during the explosion (knocked out by the group’s leader), Raymond became the dominant possessor of the power as his body and mind controlled Firestorm where Stein was a voice in his head offering him guidance for the power. Firestorm, as his name implies, was able to generate incredibly powerful flames but even greater than that, he could alter inorganic matter at the molecular level able to transform elements into other elements (lead into gold, air into water, and so on). Along with other abilities like flight, intangibility, super-strength, and on, Firestorm gained an impressive array of villainous foes and would join the Justice League of America. In the The Flash, one half of Firestorm will be portrayed by Robbie Amell (Stephen Jameson in The Tomorrow People and cousin of Stephen Amell, Oliver Queen in Arrow). Interestingly enough, in the comics, Felicity Smoak had something of a J. Jonah Jameson relationship with Firestorm and ended up marrying Ronnie Raymond’s father Ed, thus becoming the superhero’s step-mother.
Arguably Batman’s second greatest nemesis (behind the Joker), Ra’s al Ghul was fashioned after characters like Ernst Stavro Blofeld (James Bond’s nemesis) and Fu Manchu as the head of a powerful, clandestine terrorist organization whose ultimate goal is to wipe out humanity. In the comic, al Ghul would only be mentioned ambiguously in the beginning as Batman teamed with his daughter Talia and fought Dr. Ebenezer Darkk (former head of al Ghul’s elite operatives in the League of Assassins). It wouldn’t be until later he would show himself, having learned all of Batman’s secrets (including his true identity) and testing the Dark Knight to see if he is worthy to be al Ghul’s second-in-command and heir to his dream (as well as husband to Talia). While Batman proved himself worthy (in time, more so than any other man), he refused al Ghul’s crazed plan and the two waged a global chess game that remains in effect today, al Ghul going so far to even target the Justice League of America on occasion. On Arrow, Ra’s al Ghul has thus far been mentioned by name as the first season’s primary antagonist Malcolm Merlyn was trained by the League of Assassins and is hunted by al Ghul. Mentioned earlier, Sara Lance was a member of the League and was the lover of Nyssa, al Ghul’s daughter. Its been revealed Ra’s al Ghul will be one of the primary antagonists for the third season of Arrow.