From Page to Screen: DC Television Universe – TCA 2016 by Jerry Whitworth
As if San Diego Comic-Con didn’t provide enough casting news about the upcoming slate of DC Television Universe shows on the CW, even more information has been released at and beyond the Television Critics Association’s Summer 2016 Press Tour. It was confirmed Chris Wood (The Vampire Diaries, Containment) will star as Mon-El in Supergirl and it was indeed he who was in the pod in the first season finale. Further, Lance Henriksen has been cast as Obsidian and Sarah Grey (Power Rangers) as Stargirl for Legends of Tomorrow, Lena Luthor shall be played by Katie McGrath (Merlin, Slasher) on Supergirl, and Grey Damon (Friday Night Lights, Aquarius) will portray Mirror Master on The Flash. Also of note, Batman, Batwoman, and Oracle will not be coming to Supergirl as well as there are no plans to revive Constantine for the Friday night schedule. It’s still unknown who Cody Rhodes (WWE) will portray on Arrow or who has been cast as the season’s primary antagonist Prometheus. It’s also unknown if Julian Dorn (Tom Felton of Harry Potter fame) will be the speedster Godspeed. Lets take a look at who’s coming to the CW DC Television Universe this fall.
Following the success of Vixen on CW Seed (which will be returning for a second season guest-starring Black Canary, Firestorm, and the Atom), another animated series set in the DC Television Universe will emerge in Freedom Fighters: The Ray on CW Seed next year. Quality Comics was a rival publisher to DC Comics during the Golden Age that would eventually be purchased by its competitor. When DC had acquired Quality’s catalog of characters, DC decided to compose a super hero team in the vein of the Justice League of America or Justice Society of America of many of Quality’s heroes. This gave rise to the Freedom Fighters, a World War II-era team lead by Uncle Sam and composed of Black Condor, Doll Man, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, and the Ray (Plastic Man, Quality’s most popular character, would join the group over a decade later). Originally, the heroes were based on a parallel Earth where the Axis Powers won the second World War and Hourman crossed over from his Earth to join them in their struggle. Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Freedom Fighters instead fought alongside the Justice Society of America and various other groups of the period like the Seven Soldiers of Victory and Squadron of Justice against the Axis. Over the years, several Freedom Fighters saw their mantles passed down such as with Phantom Lady and Black Condor when, following the events of Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!, a new Ray would premier.
Son of the original Ray (Happy Terrill), Ray Terrill inherited his father’s abilities and became a superhero taking on his name and eventually joined the Justice League (finding a recurring foe in one Vandal Savage). Spending some years working solo or operating with Young Justice and the reformed Justice Society, Ray would join a new government-sponsored Freedom Fighters team that would be all but slaughtered by the villainous organization the Society (Ray having survived as he was required alive for the villains’ nefarious plans). Ray went on to combat a villain who had adopted his name while he was absent and joined another new version of the Freedom Fighters until it was disbanded. A new Ray would emerge in the New 52 by the name of Lucien Gates who may have been invited to join the post-Flashpoint Freedom Fighters. Grant Morrison would pen a limited series entitled The Multiversity featuring the heroes of various parallel Earths where one such Earth included a version of the Freedom Fighters which saw the Ray as a homosexual, Phantom Lady as Romani, Black Condor as African, and Doll Man and Human Bomb as Jehovah’s Witnesses who band together against Adolf Hitler who sought to oppress their separate peoples. For Freedom Fighters: The Ray, Ray Terrill is a reporter who happens to be gay that uncovered a plot by government scientists trying to construct a new weapon of mass destruction. Before he can share his story, the scientists turn the weapon on him only to give him light-based powers. Becoming the hero the Ray, he’s asked by fellow hero Uncle Sam to join his team the Freedom Fighters. The first promotional image appears to indicate the Freedom Fighters will include Phantom Lady, Human Bomb, Firebrand, and Black Condor. It has been indicated the voice actor for Ray would have the character’s physical appearance such that he can appear later in live action as part of the greater DC Television Universe (there’s no indication such will be true for the other Freedom Fighters).
Roscoe Dillon was an average criminal who decided to take his obsession with spinning tops and become the costumed villain known as the Top. Battling the Flash, the Top would eventually come to join the Rogues and date Captain Cold’s sister Golden Glider. Seemingly from years of spinning around in circles, Dillon developed immense psionic abilities. However, the strain proved too much for him and lead to his demise. And yet, while Dillon’s physical body could not take the strain, the Top did not die but simply became a disembodied entity possessing people before finding permanent residence inside Senator Thomas O’Neill who Dillon altered down to his very DNA into an exact copy of his former form. However, Dillon would go mad and become semi-comatose for years. It was later revealed at some point before possessing O’Neill, Dillon possessed another unidentified body and dug up the corpse of Iris Allen to hurt the Flash. Desperate, the Flash enlisted fellow Justice Leaguer Zatanna to use her magic to rehabilitate the Top into a hero. Acting for a time as the Flash’s partner (using his telekinesis to spin at super-speed matching the Flash), the Top’s unhinged mind saw him try to likewise secretly “fix” Flash’s other rogues resulting in the Trickster, Pied Piper, and Heat Wave eventually becoming heroes. As Dillon’s villainous nature combated against Zatanna’s programming, the guilt of his crimes led Dillon to further delve into madness abandoning his body and eventually moving on to O’Neill. In a letter explaining the events to Wally West following the demise of Barry Allen, West’s mentor asked him to seek out Zatanna and try to undo the damage done to Dillon. As a war was brewing between the Flash’s rogues and his reformed rogues, Zatanna restored Dillon’s mind. The Top decided to attempt to make a play to takeover the Rogues by freeing the minds of those he altered and enslaving the rogues that emerged since his absence. Demanding Captain Cold serve him or be likewise enslaved, the timely intervention of the Flash allowed Cold to destroy the Top’s body with his cold gun. For some reason, the Top did not emerge in a new body and would later join the Black Lantern Corps during the events of Blackest Night. For The Flash, the Top will be portrayed by Ashley Rickards (One Tree Hill, Awkward).
Following the events of Infinite Crisis, a new Teen Titans team emerged with the mysterious Miss Martian as a member. Rocketed by her parents from Mars while a civil war raged between the White and Green Martians, White Martian M’gann M’orzz later learned a Green Martian survived the destruction of Mars and was living on Earth as the superhero Martian Manhunter. Seeking out one of the last remaining members of her kind, M’gann decided to adopt the identity of a Green Martian (as her species has a long, documented history of violence and Martian Manhunter had established himself as a good Martian on Earth) in Miss Martian and later joined the Teen Titans. However, unfamiliar with Earth customs, the transition was difficult made more troubling when eventually her masquerade as a Green Martian came to light. Miss Martian is undoubtedly best known as a starring character in the animated series Young Justice where she was the niece of Martian Manhunter where she was a White Martian but, rather than a separate species, the three base colors of Martians all belonged to the same race. M’gann, sister to twenty-nine siblings, sneaked aboard her uncle’s spaceship as he was returning to Earth after visiting Mars and he decided she could remain on the alien world with him. Therein, she became an invaluable member of the Justice League’s covert operations group known as the Team and discovered she was a telepath of immense power (far beyond that of her uncle). Sharon Leal (Dreamgirls, Recovery Road) will star as Miss Martian on Supergirl.
A childhood friend of Wally West, Frances “Frankie” Kane would survive a car crash that had taken the lives of her father and brother. Blamed by her mother for their deaths as objects started to frequently fly around their home in Frankie’s presence (believing her child to be possessed by the Devil), it was learned thanks to the Teen Titans the youth was developing latent magnetic manipulation powers. Frankie’s mother would forgive her daughter as the teen began dating West. The pair would eventually break-up as Frankie felt pressured to be involved in his super-powered world (so far as her working alongside the Titans for a time) and following their living together (which made Frankie feel they were moving too fast). Apprehensive about her abilities, Frankie would seek help from S.T.A.R. Labs only for her doctor to develop within her a maniacal personality in Magenta. The situation was made worse when Raven was killed only for the latent evil within her to take possession of her body. This dark Raven implanted the soul of one of her bodiless siblings into Frankie which took root in the Magenta personality. While Trigon and his children would be defeated, the experience left Frankie unhinged making her a reoccurring threat against West (who adopted the mantle of the Flash) and the Titans. She would eventually join the New Rogues Gallery lead by Blacksmith before turning on the group when her feelings for her former love re-emerged. This led her to join James Jesse’s The Project (composed of reformed Flash rogues) against Captain Cold’s Rogues until the Top intervened and restored the criminal minds of Jesse, Pied Piper, and Heat Wave. She would go on the run and be captured by the Suicide Squad and sent to the planet Salvation. She would later be recruited for the Cyborg Revenge Squad by Enclave M to capture Cyborg. For The Flash, Magenta will be played by Joey King (Ramona and Beezus, Fargo).
A private investigator, bodyguard, and master of disguise, Christopher Chance assumes the identity of his clients in order to draw out assassins and various entities seeking their destruction. Earning the moniker the Human Target, Chance is highly skilled in unarmed combat and the use of firearms making him a premium service for the wealthy elite. However, the toll of becoming so many people was high as Chance has in large part lost himself where he can no longer be certain if the feelings he has are genuine or manufactured from years of impersonation. The Human Target would be adapted for live action twice, the first time for a television series in 1992 starring Rick Springfield (General Hospital, Supernatural) as the title character from the minds behind the 1990 The Flash television series in Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo. The second such television series was in 2010 starring Mark Valley (Fringe, Boston Legal) as Chance and co-starred Chi McBride (Boston Public, Hawaii Five-0) and Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen, Preacher) which ran for two seasons. Lennie James (Jericho, The Walking Dead) acted as the reoccurring foe Baptiste in the series and it was established the Christopher Chance identity was a passable mantle with Valley’s character adopting it from a character portrayed by Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man, Ash vs Evil Dead). Christopher Chance has been cast in Wil Traval (Red Widow, Jessica Jones) for Arrow.
When Barry Allen became the Flash, his evil reflection was the Reverse-Flash, aka Professor Zoom. However, Allen would kill Zoom shortly before retiring and eventually giving his life in the Crisis on Infinite Earths. When Wally West took up the Flash mantle, he would acquire his own dark mirror in Savitar, the master of speed. The man who became Savitar was a Cold War-era fighter pilot whose plane went down behind enemy lines upon being struck by lightning. Gaining super-speed, the pilot took the name Savitar after the Hindu god of motion and dedicated his life to the study of speed mastering it in a way no other speedster ever dreamed. Forming a cult with which he could share his speed, Savitar sought the only other known speedster in Johnny Quick to try and learn more about his abilities. The resulting battle between the two brought in another speedster in Quicksilver, aka Max Mercury, a time-traveling hero who flung Savitar into the future. In the present day, Savitar emerged to find his cult had grown in size as he recruited Christina Alexandrova (Lady Flash) of the Russian speedster trio Blue Trinity as a disciple. Able to divert speed into his followers, Savitar transferred most of the speed of Earth’s speedsters (including Cassiopeia of Kapitalist Kouriers who died) into his followers and sent them to destroy all remaining speedsters including the Flashes (Jay Garrick and Wally West), Johnny and Jesse Quick, Max Mercury, and Impulse and his cousin XS. The speedsters joined together to take on Savitar where the villain was overwhelmed. Unwilling to accept defeat without some measure of victory, Savitar started a world wide race paved with destruction with West. Left with little choice, West trapped Savitar in the Speed Force (the source of all speedsters’ power). Zoom would eventually return to life as would Barry Allen as the former saw the latter transformed into the Black Flash, the personification of death for the Speed Force. Allen as the Black Flash would chase an escaping Savitar and unintentionally destroy him. The role of Savitar has either not been cast yet or it will be filled by Todd Lasance (Spartacus: War of the Damned, The Vampire Diaries) for The Flash (Officially, Savitar is yet cast but reports have emerged that indicate Lasance will portray the character where, at the very least, he will play a villainous unidentified speedster).