Should DC Comics Merge Its Film and TV Universes?

Gotham, The Dark Knight RisesYouTube/FOX/Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection

Ever since Marvel kicked off the shared universe trend two years ago, movie studios have been rushing to create their own film franchises based on superheroes. Sony has Spider-Man, Fox has the X-Men, and Warner Bros. jumped on the bandwagon with last year’s Man of Steel. Now, not only are they planning a sequel (Batman vs. Superman, which released its first images yesterday) but a Justice League movie as well. However, DC already has success on TV with The CW’s Arrow, which is getting a spinoff: The Flash. Plus Fox is debuting Gotham in the fall and NBC will be launching Constantine. With all these DC superheroes in film and TV, should they try to create a cohesive shared universe?

Marvel Studios has been testing the waters of the shared universe with their cinematic universe along with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and their yet-to-be released Netflix shows. Although it’s working for the Disney-affiliated company, it might not be so easy for DC. The first season of Arrow was already over — and season two production had already begun — when Man of Steel hit theaters. There has, thus far, been no mention in Arrow of Superman, Metropolis, or the events that took place in Man of Steel. To weave those separate stories together in the third season of Arrow wouldn’t make sense, and would weigh down what has been a fun and entertaining superhero series.

What about Gotham or Constantine? Could they fit within the DC Cinematic Universe? Although Gotham will feature Bruce Wayne, it will be as a child, which will be a far cry from “Batfleck” in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel. Again, weaving these television shows into the timeline of DC’s film franchise would be incredibly difficult and probably detract from what these movies and TV shows could accomplish on their own. 

So what about a shared DC television universe? The timelines might — and I’m seriously stressing that “might” — be able to align a bit easier, but there’s the problem of the networks. With Constantine on NBC, Gotham on Fox, and Arrow and The Flash on The CW, it would be near impossible to have crossovers between the four series. 

Ultimately, creating a cohesive shared universe takes a lot of work. Remember, Marvel started constructing the MCU even before Iron Man premiered in 2008. Warner Bros. and DC, along with Fox and NBC on the TV front, are trying to capitalize on superheroes while they’re the big thing in pop culture; they don’t have time to spend four or five years building a universe.

For that reason, it would be best avoid a shared universe and so that each network and studio could focus on their own projects and make them the best they can be. Similar to how Marvel Studios has the Avengers, Fox has the X-Men, and Sony has Spider-Man. It’s good for fans because we’re getting more superhero movies and TV shows than we know what to do with.