It seems like we’re entering a television renaissance for comic-book fans, and DC Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns is at the heart of making it happen. So where do they go next?
As we’ve already heard, DC and Warner Bros. have a big ol’ Justice League plan they’re cooking up on the big screen — complete with a Flash film fully separate from The CW series — so it’s obvious the company is comfortable enough with these properties and viewers’ expectations of them to allow multiple versions to exist at the same time.
But in a recent interview with BuzzFeed, Johns takes things a few steps further to dig into DC’s larger plans for a full-on multiverse of overlapping characters and properties. That’s arguably the biggest difference between DC’s approach and what Marvel has done with the connective tissue between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Johns says that’s by design:
“Well, Arrow and Flash are the same universe, and we get a lot of great story out of that — especially when we have episodes that cross them over, but that’s also where our superhero universe lives. We look at it as the multiverse. We have our TV universe and our film universe, but they all co-exist. For us, creatively, it’s about allowing everyone to make the best possible product, to tell the best story, to do the best world.
Everyone has a vision and you really want to let the visions shine through. I think the characters are iconic enough. I like [Marvel’s Agents of] S.H.I.E.L.D. a lot. I love what Marvel does. I’m a huge fan. It’s just a different approach … You have to have conversations about what’s happening in TV and film between everybody because you don’t want to do the same thing. That’s super, super important.”
Looking back, Johns noted how that exploratory process actually started with The WB’s long-running Smallville series, which introduced its own version of several major DC characters. Johns said the main goal is to tell fun stories and raise awareness of these various properties, much as Smallville generated some buzz for Green Arrow a few years before Oliver Queen got his own show (in a separate universe, of course):
“One of the great things about Smallville was that it introduced Green Arrow, so there was an awareness. And even though Arrow is a totally different character, there was some pre-awareness for the character that, I think, helped The CW get behind the show. The more we can get these characters out there, the more people are aware of them, and become inspired by them. There might be someone out there who sees Dr. Fate on an episode of Constantine and suddenly they love that character and they become a creator later on and tell me they have a great take for a Dr. Fate TV show. That’s what we want to happen. We want to inspire people with this stuff. And we want to get it out there.
Like, I can’t believe Gorilla Grodd’s gonna be in a Flash TV show. That’s insane. Like, I say it out loud and I still think it’s insane. But that’s what we want to do; we want to break new ground. Like, Firestorm [Robbie Amell] is going to be seen in live-action! We’re going to have a freakin’ Justice League movie! How crazy exciting is that? To see all this stuff happen, it gets me really, really excited. Who ever thought we’d see an Ant-Man movie? Like, if you’re a fan of superheroes or comic books, to see all this stuff coming to life — and done with skill and talent … we never could have made a Flash show with effects like this a few years ago.”
But does that mean we’ll never see a DC television show connect to Zack Snyder’s upcoming string of Justice League films and spinoffs? Not exactly, as Johns says everything is on the table at this point — including potential for a S.H.I.E.L.D.-like spinoff in the future set in the same universe as the films:
“There’s been discussions over the years for both, obviously. You never say never. Maybe one day we’ll link a show to a film if it makes sense, but the creative process we’re going through right now is to let the stuff live and breathe and be its own thing and own it.”
Though fans are mixed on how DC’s plans will play out on the big screen, it’s hard to argue they’re not making a very strong play on television. Do you think the multiverse plan will work long-term?