For decades DC have had a strong and regular presence with live-action television series’, most often featuring Superman or Batman. In recent years they have made efforts to widen their range and tried out different heroes for shows such as the ever-popular ‘Arrow‘.
Earlier this year DC continued the success of ‘Arrow‘, adding to their roster the spin-off ‘The Flash’. They also went very different with ‘iZombie‘ which has done pretty well and I have warmed to it greatly, while failing almost immediately with ‘Constantine’. On top of that ‘Gotham’ has proven itself very good despite being set long before the appearance of the superhero that the mythology revolves around. In this upcoming TV season however I think they have the potential to continue their televisual endeavours with two shows that could, while completely different, be equally huge successes.
Following some distance behind the heels of ‘Smallville’ this follows Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-El, who is determined to find her own place on Earth without relying too much on her more famous cousin, and finally starts to embrace her abilities so she can become a hero in her own right.
There were many concerns voiced online when the first image of Melissa Benoist in the suit was released, that it looked too dark and why oh why were DC making this another dark adaptation. Then this extended trailer was released, and it’s so clear to see that the photo was either just badly colour graded, deliberately misleading, or everyone simply jumped to the wrong conclusion. The show is looking far from dark and moody, rather there’s undoubtedly the feel of one of the super shows from the 1990’s such as ‘Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman’ or more recently ‘The Flash’. I dare say it’s likely to fluctuate in tone over episodes and seasons, but a generally light adaptation of the material feels like the right move to me, especially as the cinematic Superman franchise is getting ever-increasingly dark, a move I’m not completely on board with.
Supergirl as a character has been seen on screen a few times before, but not always with great success. Is the time right for a show focused on her? Probably. Setting ‘iZombie’ and ‘Agent Carter’ aside, there aren’t really any live-action comics series with a female lead at the moment, certainly not as super-heroines. Despite efforts to bring female characters to the forefront of shows like ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and ‘Arrow’ they are still very male-centric, and a strong female lead could be a wonderful thing but only if done right. Supergirl has been attempted before in both the 1984 film and in a few seasons of ‘Smallville’ but never anything quite on this potential scale. Reportedly, this is one of the most sought after shows for networks internationally to acquire this year, suggesting those in the know feel this will be popular and a huge success, if not it will be a huge disaster and sad set-back for female superheroes on TV.
The extended trailer includes a feminist defence of the name ‘Supergirl’ for any who may criticise it on such silly grounds, for goodness sake it’s about a female alien who flies around in spandex saving people, focus on the ‘super’ in her name.
‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’
A time traveller (Arthur Darvill) recruits a team of heroes and villains who he knows have the potential to become legends by helping to stop a threat that could impact all of time. So after his role on ‘Doctor Who’, Darvill is essentially a time lord now!
What I like, the trailer seems to suggest they have a clear mission and specific enemy. It also says they will do some time travelling, which should keep the settings changing and fresh with a lot of scope for playing with historical and futuristic settings and scenarios.
What I’m not so convinced about is the dynamics of the group, some of whom have been featured a little before, others who are fresh to live-action film and television. It could either work really well and create new fan favourites, or be a weird mix that never quite gels, causing certain ‘legends’ to be less liked or even disliked.
Also, I like Brandon Routh as the Atom, both actor (I am writing this sat underneath a framed signed poster of Routh as Superman) and character (he added some needed fun to the last season of Arrow), but is his character now going to feel too derivative? The tech suit is so very Iron Man, and shrinking, I saw that just a few months ago in Ant-Man which this show is premièring almost precisely half-way between the cinematic and home media releases of. The writers are going to have to work hard to highlight the distinguishing aspects of the character, and if they do then he could be fantastic.
Berlanti seems to be on a winning streak, far from his past failures with ‘The Tomorrow People’ and ‘No Ordinary Family’, the success of ‘Arrow’ and The Flash’ when paired with this network really seems to be a good partnership that both are happy to maintain. Even though ‘LoT’ may be his riskiest series yet, he now has a whole roster of already established and loved heroes to call upon when ratings need a boost such as in sweeps weeks, and the sizeable and loyal fans of Arrow and Flash if they aren’t already regular viewers are likely to tune in for those inevitable cross-overs.
I hope this takes the strangeness of the characters and premise and really runs with it, it has the potential to be really enjoyable thanks to how different it can be and hopefully won’t lean too heavily on its sibling shows for support, the support should really be internal from the ‘legends’ themselves and the other characters such as ‘Hawkman’ who has already been announced as featuring in the show. Fans will either take to this quickly and warmly, or turn on it if the tone is wrong, but personally I reckon Berlanti’s streak isn’t due to end quite yet.