Why merging TV and film could be DC's best move

Contributed by
Nov 18, 2016, 1:10 PM EST (Updated)

Will we ever get a Justice League movie? And if so, how long will we have to wait? If Warner Bros. attempts to follow in Marvel's footsteps, it may be a long and tumultuous road. Therefore, I'd like to make a suggestion.

Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment need to use their TV shows to their advantage. When it comes to the big screen, Marvel is dominating. It's had a string of hits that have been both commercially and critically successful. All the planning and risk involved with Phase One paid off with The Avengers' $1.5 billion box office. To be fair, Warner Bros. had The Dark Knight Trilogy and most recently Man of Steel. Yet some of its best stories have been told on television or in animated straight-to-DVD films. Hate it or love it, Smallville ran for 10 years. Arrow is one of the most popular shows on The CW, and the brief bit we saw of Barry Allen pre-Flash has us intrigued. When it comes to TV, I feel DC does it better.

Marvel currently has Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the developing Daredevil (for Netflix) and Agent Carter series. One of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s biggest criticisms has been its isolation from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They're now starting to include characters from the film world, such as Thor's Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), who's scheduled for a guest spot. It's great that a big screen presence will be felt on the show, but could you imagine the situation reversed? How likely is it that Tony Stark would talk shop with Agent Ward or Skye in The Avengers 2? Those characters aren't even on his radar.

Everyone patted Marvel on the back for successfully linking all the films in Phase One. What if DC took it a step further and united both its films and television shows? It's similar to the idea Ron Howard toyed with for his Dark Tower adaptation. A season's arc could lead into a film, which would have been shot the year before.

At the end of the day, a lot of fans are itching for a Justice League movie. They want it, and they want it now. But you can't rush something that massive and expect it to be up to par. That doesn't mean we have to sit through four more origin stories before we get a team. At this point, I feel like audiences are suffering from origin fatigue. For the past decade, specifically the last five years, that's all we've seen: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Green Lantern, The Amazing Spider-Man, etc. I recently re-watched Tim Burton's Batman, and it was refreshing to see how the audience is just thrown into the action. There are flashbacks of Bruce Wayne's childhood, but never a full-on retelling of his youth. Presently, Warner Bros. has already established Superman in Man of Steel, and Batman is more than fleshed out. That just leaves Wonder Woman and a few other key players.

While Batman vs. Superman can explore some of Wonder Woman's background, The CW could tie in Arrow and The Flash. But Fox's Gotham need not apply. It's a prequel that will feature a juvenile Bruce Wayne, which directly conflicts with Ben Affleck's portrayal. As for Arrow and Flash, instead of casting new actors, why can't Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin reprise their roles? There's no need to waste time when you have stars and a story already in motion. Arrow and the Flash are connected. They don't need an introduction to each other. Their respective writers could collaborate and move their stories toward the Justice League plot. For example, there could be an issue in Starling City that Oliver needs Barry's help with. Barry could suggest going to Metropolis because he's heard about an alien called Superman. That could be a season finale right there. Have the episode end with the two of them heading out of town.

That connects Arrow, the Flash, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. That's most of the primary members of the Justice League. No origin story needed. It's not perfect, but you get the basic idea -- they could use flashbacks and exposition here and there, but separate films wouldn't be necessary. Not when there's a rich TV history to fall back on.

Unlike Marvel, DC properties aren't licensed out to various studios. That means less red tape. Plus, these episodes could be a great way to keep the momentum going in between films. Arrow's already toying with various elements from the Batman mythology. The Flash could do the same for Superman or Wonder Woman. Each series could be a launching pad for the bigger picture.

DC and Warner Bros. don't need to copy Marvel. They need to make their own way. Put in the work and reap the benefits. This can't be some copy-and-paste job. In recent years, television has been surpassing film in the creative department. Let's capitalize on that. Why try to squeeze the Justice League origins into a couple films when you can do it in 20-plus episodes?