Thanks to Marvel and their Marvel Cinematic Universe it seems everyone is scrambling to make some sort of Cinematic Continuity between their properties. From Fox with their X-Men films, the recent rumblings of a forthcoming Spider-Man film universe, to DC and their new film plans, it seems everyone is trying to follow what Marvel has done.
With fans already criticizing Fox for their cavalier disregard to continuity at times, and the idea that Sony is making spin-off’s for Spider-Man and his rogues gallery, fans have recently taken to the idea that DC is the only one who could pull off a Cinematic Continuity like Marvel has in recent years.
But should that be the case?
In the comic book reading continuity you typically are faced with a choice; DC or Marvel. Each publisher has plenty to offer, but they each typically offer something different. But the most unique thing that DC offers should be something that WB uses to their advantage. that being the frequent use and reliance on the Multiverse.
In the late 70’s/ early 1980’s, DC Comics shook the comic world by introducing this concept, that all continuity and storylines DO EXIST simultaneously, but in parallel universes. Much like string theory, DC used to their advantage the idea that people’s actions create multiple time-lines, and with each timeline a universe is born on a separate plane of existence. Utilizing this created one of DC’s most impacting storylines, Crisis On Infinite Earths, and then later gave them room to “reboot” their primary continuity when writers felt like they were backed into a corner.
But one thing is clear, DC should use this for their films.
As mentioned before, Marvel has done a great job with establishing their continuity. But this success has come at a price. Thanks to licensing they are limited on which characters can be involved, and if a film was made prior, they would have to disregard and reboot the property before it could be included in their Cinematic Universe. While its true that DC/WB have done this as well, they could easily use their past films as a spring board into explaining their Multiverse continuity.
What If instead of DC saying they rebooted their films because a director doesn’t want to return, they established that the new film not only took place in its new timeline, but that the previous concepts could have continued. Its not hard to imagine the sheer grandeur that would come from the above image of Superman, but instead of seeing it in comic form we instead see Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, Tom Welling, Brandon Routh, and Henry Cavill.
But it doesn’t have to be limited to the films alone, this SHOULD be applied to their relationship with their TV shows. In recent years, DC has proven they know full well how to create a engrossing television TV show with movie quality action thanks to their Green Arrow based TV showed entitled “Arrow,” and when word hit that Arrow would be getting a spin-off series featuring none other than The Flash, rumors began to circulate that DC was considering a full blown connected Cinematic and Television continuity. But with those rumors constantly being rejected by everyone involved, some seemed to think that DC didn’t know how to handle their properties the way Marvel does.
But the truth is, DC shouldn’t have to follow Marvel’s formula.
The biggest draw back when a TV show is tied to a Film’s continuity, as seen fairly heavily in Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. , is the obvious problem that the show then becomes limited on what it can do. In Arrow we have seen a large amount of DC references, from countless members of Batman’s rogues gallery to the subtle references to Blue Beetle, Arrow has become a show that thrives in a larger universe. But if it were to be connected to DC’s new Cinematic universe, some would argue that it would limit what Arrow, and now The Flash, could do with their shows.
But by adding the concept of the multiverse into the mix, both the TV universe and cinematic universe could potentially coexist as they would in the comics and could quickly become one of the greatest nods to the fans that DC has ever done.