NOTE: Before you freak out too hard, this feature is part one of a two-part series. The other part will examine the opposite side: Why Marvel TV Needs to Catch Up to DC TV.
On the one hand, many geeks and superhero fans will tell you that DC Comics owns TV. The "Flarrowverse" in full swing and four shows strong (Supergirl, Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow); there's a strong legacy of great animated series (Justice League, Batman: TAS); and a continuing line of great animated features is released several times a year, many forming their own DC Animation shared universe. It would seem that DC/WB has done just fine for itself creating brands and universes on the small screen.
...And yet, the picture is not perfect. There is, in fact, a lot that DC/WB needs to do in order to catch up to Marvel television, and we're laying out some the biggest areas in need of improvementt.
The first thing that DC TV has to do is settle down its continuity decisions. Gotham had to fight both creatively and against fan negativity to finally decide on its own standalone identity; Supergirl has been treated like the red-headed cousin of the Flarrowverse; and the whole movie/TV divide rears its head every time fans fall in love with a TV character or movie character casting. How the new series Powerless fits in is anybody's guess...
It's fine if DC/WB picks and chooses which shows are standalone and which are connected; which are spun out of the movie universe, and which are not; why certain characters can or cannot appear in certain shows, etc. It's all fine, so long as the continuity and rules are decided on, followed, and better (more promptly) explained to viewers. Marvel has spoiled fans with its "everything is connected" immersive approach. DC TV needs that complete brand loyalty any way it can get it.prevnext
You can argue that DC's Flarrowverse is better than Marvel's SHIELD/Carter TV universe all you want, but A) As Agents of SHIELD has gotten better that's harder and harder to argue, and B) once the Marvel Netflix shows the tide in the debate turns pretty quickly in Marvel TV's favor.
The simple fact is that DC/WB has rutted itself into the standard, 22-episode, hour-long networkd TV series formula, while Marvel TV has diversified its holdings. Marvel TV has tweaked the formula of its flagship network show (AoS); had rapid success with the more unrestricted and adult Marvel Netflix series; and even improved its animation division with hit shows like Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers Assemble. Once The Defenders team up event happens on Netflix, the Flarrowverse's biggest advantage (crossover events) will be gone; and with Marvel next exploring series possibilities on Hulu, the company's embrace of streaming services will continue to make it a frontrunner.
The Flarrowverse shows are all struggling with growing pains and the threat of stagnation, and DC animation TV series have largely evaporated (save Teen Titans Go!), while Marvel is keeping things fresh on all fronts of the small screen. With so many great characters, teams, and worlds (like DC Vertigo!), DC TV needs to start keeping pace with the changing model of television entertainment, like Marvel has.prevnext
Marvel has clearly heard the call that there is literally a whole world of fans out there, and has started an initiative to deversify its output, widening its demographic reach year after year. But while Marvel has launched multiple female-centric series (Agent Carter, Jessica Jones) and black superhero series (Luke Cage), DC TV is still treating diversity as a, an experiment, side character or subplot - and that includes heavy-handed diversity stories like Alex's lesbian awakening on Supergirl.
With DC Comics having such a richly diverse stable of characters, there can probably be more TV series that reflect that diversity.prevnext
DC TV's biggest "event" to date has been this Fall's "Invasion!" crossover, bringing all four of the Flarrowverse series together. It was fun, and a milestone, but compared to what Marvel TV has planned for the coming year, it's ultimately small potatoes.0comments
As stated, when The Defenders Netflix miniseries premieres, it's going to be a much bigger "event" than a four-night primetime TV crossover (3-part, if you don't count Supergirl as part of the "Invasion!" event). After that, Marvel TV is taking an unprecedented step: launching the Inhumans TV series premiere episodes as theatrical events filmed entirely in IMAX.
DC TV hasn't yet revealed any sort of comparative TV series "event." But in with luring viewers into traditional TV viewership getting harder and harder every year, DC needs to start stepping up its "event TV" game.prev