Poll: DC Cinematic Universe v. DC TV Universe

Unlike its competitor Marvel, DC Comics has elected to keep its superhero feature films isolated from its TV properties. The two mediums – big screen and small – exist in so-called separate universes and will not cross over with each other. That being the case, which do you like better, DC’s movies or its TV shows?

While it’s true that the characters and events in Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’, ‘Agent Carter’, ‘Daredevil’ or ‘Jessica Jones’ typically have little impact on its various Avengers blockbusters, all of these properties are supposed to exist in the same interconnected fictional universe, and the events of the movies weigh heavily upon and are referenced frequently in the TV shows. Movie characters (though usually only supporting players) may also make guest-spot appearances on TV.

That’s not the case with DC. Although ‘Arrow’, ‘The Flash’, ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ and ‘Supergirl’ are all connected and cross-over with one another occasionally, none of them link to ‘Man of Steel’, ‘Batman v. Superman’, or the upcoming ‘Justice League’ and other cinematic spin-offs. Further, Fox’s ‘Gotham’ exists on its own, separate even from the other TV shows.

The Superman mentioned repeatedly in ‘Supergirl’ is not Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel. The young Bruce Wayne in ‘Gotham’ will not grow up to be Ben Affleck. This year’s ‘Batman v. Superman’ movie has an easter egg cameo from a new version of The Flash unrelated to the one Grant Gustin plays on the popular CW series. The management at DC has been very clear that they are not following the Marvel model in this respect, and want to keep a clear divide between movies and TV.

On the one hand, I think what Marvel is doing by connecting everything together is much more ambitious and, ultimately, satisfying. On the other hand, I’m kind of glad that DC’s TV shows are allowed to develop their own styles and attitudes, and aren’t burdened by the oppressively dark and brooding tone of the Zack Snyder movies. I really like that ‘The Flash’ and ‘Supergirl’ manage to be so light and sunny and just plain fun. Even ‘Gotham’, the angstiest of the TV shows, can get pretty goofy at times.

I’m a big fan of most of the DC TV series – less so for its movies (though I don’t hate them).

Where do you fall?

Which Do You Prefer, the DC Cinematic Universe or the DC TV Universe?

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  1. Guy

    Even if Chris Evans is never going to show up for an episode to sock ol’ Hydra on the jaw on Agents of SHIELD, I still find Marvel’s connected approach more satisfying as a viewer. It feels more like comic. Agents of SHIELD, the most connected TV series, gets to play the role of tie-in issues to the big event crossover limited series equivalents that are the movies. It’s not just the show getting the benefits from the arrangement either. I felt the sting of a certain SHIELD agent betrayal more sharply in The Winter Soldier because of his presence in a few Agents of SHIELD episodes. There was a late plot development involving a Helicarrier in Age of Ultron that I saw criticized in several reviews as a deus ex machina crutch, yet I thought nothing of it because Agents of SHIELD had set it up. Such things are totally retroactive on the part of SHIELD’s creative staff, reacting to their access to movie plot outlines and seeing the films early, but that doesn’t change that the added value as a viewer, whether I’m in my recliner at 9 pm on Tuesdays or in a darkened theater.

    Still, you can’t argue with WB/DC’s approach either. A myriad of tones aside, Gotham is playing fast and loose with an entire cadre of Batman villains they wouldn’t have access to in a shared universe. The CW shows and their stepcousin Supergirl seem to be less less free to use big characters (other than Flash himself), yet they get to exist unto their own selves without having to acknowledge an attempted alien invasion in 2013/massive destruction in Metropolis. The Flash doesn’t have to stop everything to explain why Barry didn’t race to Gotham to help the Trinity fight Doomsday last week. Still, over the last year, the systematic culling of any Arrow/Flash villains or allies that are set to appear in upcoming movies proves these shows are not immune to what the cinematic universe does just because they’re not connected. Somebody in charge is fine with two Barry Allens and kid Bruce Wayne, but they’re drawing the line there.

    As for DC cinema vs. DC TV, I have to settle on it being even, though the movies are ever so slightly ahead at this point. The cinematic universe is self-serious so far, which I enjoy, but that’s divisive and I acknowledge it. I thought Man of Steel was great. BvS was far from perfect in several ways, yet I had a good time. To everyone’s credit, Suicide Squad looks absolutely different from either of those two in all the ways less enamored fans/critics have asked for. Based on some of the less successful parts of Batman v Superman, I’m not sold on what they’re doing with the Justice League yet, but that’s a wait and see prospect. It’s a young endeavor; it’s hard to really know how to feel at this point.

    TV-wise, it’s the most mixed of bags ever. Flash is definitely the cream of the crop by the time it hits its stride. Arrow showed a lot of promise in its first two seasons. When they’re nailing it, I have a whole lot of fun with those shows. Beyond that, Gotham appeals to me in no way, shape or form, Constantine got cancelled (regardless of how you feel about it) and the Berlanti-produced CW/CBS shows have devolved into a constant battle of viewer investment making you tune in vs. extremely spotty writing pushing you away. Last week, Arrow was just bad. This week, it crossed into so-bad-it’s-good territory and was kind of enjoyable for that reason. Flash produced a solid episode on its own merits, yet it stomped all over core tenets of time travel previously established on the show. Legends of Tomorrow, on a fundamental level, is a contradiction of anything we’ve ever learned about time travel on The Flash even though it’s a Flash spin-off; that’s aside from it simply not being very good. DC TV is a mess.

    • Josh Zyber

      So many clips from the first Captain America movie were used in the pilot episode to Agent Carter that Chris Evans might as well have been billed as a co-star on that show.

  2. Csm101

    I don’t watch all the DC shows, just Gotham. I do plan on watching The Flash in the near future. I hear Arrow is pretty awesome. I also don’t watch all the Marvel shows. No SHIELD for me and I’ve yet to watch Jessica Jones. BvS left a bad taste in my mouth so maybe that’s why I voted I like the tv shows better, but I don’t think way better. I’m willing to give BvS another chance in the near future. I wasn’t crazy about Watchmen theatrically, but grew to really like it on bluray. I’m glad DC is taking a different approach than Marvel regarding their tv and cinematic worlds. They’re pros and cons to botb approaches.

    • Thulsadoom

      We’ve tried watching Agents of Shield, but just got bored about mid way through the first season. A) the plots weren’t very interesting, and B) it just should have been called the ‘Sky’ show (or however her name’s spelt). We tried Arrow, and just got bored with the uninteresting/annoying character. We also gave Daredevil a go (DC or Marvel?), but watched most of the first season (may have even finished it) but haven’t felt any urge to watch more.

      Honestly, there are so many of these series at the moment, getting churned out with the same recycled stories, whilst the occasional new TV series that isn’t comic book related, usually gets canned after a first season. It’s just overload. There’s so much, that I’ve really stopped caring about yet another comic book superhero tv series, then another, and another…

  3. Elizabeth

    It’s hard to consider two movies a “cinematic universe” when it comes to DC. I don’t think Green Lantern is considered part of the universe after it flopped harder than a 500 pound man off of a diving board.

    At this point, Disney/Marvel technically has two cinematic universes, the Disney owned one and the Fox owned one. Both of them seem better thought out than the DC cinematic universe which seems to saying, “screw establishing characters, let’s just jump to the big crossover events.” Are there any character movies bejore they jump into Justice League? DC wants the glory, but doesn’t seem interested in doing any of the leg work in establishing an actual world. But I think part of that goes back to the comics where these characters usually didn’t exist in real places; Superman lived in fictional Metropolis (which is like New York City) and Batman is in fictional Gotham (which is also like New York City).

    Until reading this article, I didn’t realize that Supergirl wasn’t included in the DC movie universe. I guess this week’s episode with the TV version of Flash should have made me realize that. Of course since there are multiple “real” DC universes, they could technically all end up in a movie together in an Infinite Earths movie. Heck they could have some fun with Dean Cain crossing over to play his Lois and Clark Superman while still playing Supergirl’s adopted father. Get Amy Adams to guest star along with Teri Hatcher and the actress from Smallville and have 4 Lois Lanes. That could be a lot of fun.

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