First it was announced that the Flash, a character for whom DCE/WB had big plans, would be appearing on the second season of Arrow before spinning into his own series. Now comes some more possible connective tissue with the announcement that episode five of Arrow‘s second season will be entitled “Head of the Demon.” Arabic enthusiasts as well as most Batman fans will immediately recognize the reference. “Head of the Demon is a literal translation from the name Ra’s al Ghul, the major antagonist in the first Christopher Nolan film and central to developments throughout that franchise.
It would appear that DC is moving full speed ahead in trying to piece together the disparate elements of a universe that have been scattered across their various film and television properties over the last several years. The wild success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman universe has been viewed by some as a handicap for DC in their efforts to create a cinematic universe to compete with that created by Disney/Marvel. Nolan has repeatedly stated that his Batman films exist in a universe of their own, but with reports that DC/WB have offered Christian Bale upwards of $50 Million to reprise his role as the Caped Crusader in the forthcoming Superman/Batman feature, the use of the Nolanverse Wayne Enterprises logo in Man of Steel, and the addition of the Flash to the world of Arrow, it increasingly seems that DC is trying to stitch together all of these elements to form a singular fabric on par with the one created in the run-up to Avengers.
An approach of this type makes sense for a number of reasons, the first of which has to do with time. DC doesn’t have a lot of it. There is a growing perception that window may be closing on the super-hero film craze that we’ve witnessed over the last decade. There are concerns that with multiple projects in development by multiple studios, many of which are being developed with an eye towards their inclusion in larger universes, that the market may soon hit a saturation point, whereafter audiences may lose considerable interest in the capes and tights crowd. With this in mind, DC must move quickly to play catch-up and hit the big payday: Justice League. With the benefit of being first as well as having a solid road map laid out in advance, Marvel Studios was able to roll out a sequence of films which led the global smash hit that was Avengers. The plan took nearly seven years to bring to fruition but paid huge dividends for Marvel in the end. If they are to avoid missing the window, DC doesn’t have that kind of time.
By utilizing the successful Arrow show as a platform from which to launch, this idea of threading elements from past and future films into their combined universe through the show is a novel one which has the benefit of not requiring a substantial proportion of the show’s screen time in comparison to a feature film, while also introducing the show’s sizable audience to the library of characters from the larger universe.
It remains to be seen to what extent DC will utilize this approach. If successful, its quite possible that we could see references to other DC properties crop up in Arrow. Industrialist Ollie Queen would, for example, have any number of reasons to take a meeting with executives from Ferris Air, Kord Industries, Tyler Chemical, or STAR Labs.
What do you think? Is DC taking the right approach? Do you think it will pan out well for them? Sound off in the comments section!
Josh Epstein is the Publisher for the Capeless Crusader website. He also hosts the weekly Infinite Crossover podcast in cooperation with Fanboys Inc. He’s a lifelong comic nerd, and “Superman” is the first word he ever read aloud. He is also an actor, singer, and daytime supporter of all things technical. contact: email@example.com