With news of The Flash being developed for both television and film, with both projects helmed by Greg Berlanti, a dream, a hope, a whisper of something more for the DC Universe in film and TV has come alive. The Flash could be, and should be, the connective tissue that draws the worlds of television hit Arrow and successful Superman reboot Man of Steel together (alongside other, future properties) as one cohesive cinematic universe.
When you look at the worlds of Arrow and Man of Steel, it is easy to see them existing in the same general space. Both have a somewhat bleak and definitely dark, serious view of the world. Both have political strife and burgeoning super-heroes, reluctant to take on that role in favor of a more selfish personal quest. And both are in serious need of the hope that a character like Barry Allen, the Fastest Man Alive can bring into their worlds.
As noted in my review of the now uncannily well-timed release of Flashpoint Paradox, Barry Allen is a bastion of hope in the DC Universe, and can be for the DC Cinematic Universe (Yes, we’re directly borrowing the established phrase from Marvel, no, it doesn’t exactly exist yet), too. Allen as a shining light, as someone who is instantly drawn to use his abilities for the betterment of all those around him, as someone who embraces his power, his gift, and instantly changes public opinion of what a superhero can be, will be the perfect change the DCCU needs to elevate its heroes from dark, troubled vigilantes hiding in the shadows to the public demigods of the Justice League.
By introducing The Flash on Arrow, Warner Bros is instantly changing the paradigm: placing non-powered vigilantes alongside superpowered heroes in a still realistic world (something Arrow producers were originally not keen to do). This at first glance appears to be the goal (or at least a byproduct) of adding Batman to a Man of Steel sequel - demonstrating that the ultra-powerful like Superman, Wonder Woman, Shazam, and others can exist alongside Batman and Green Arrow without coming off as silly. The Flash, being powered, but still an "everyman" kind of character, is the perfect bridge to connect those two disparate categories.
When you take that same character (and of course the same actor) and put him on the big screen with a cameo by Superman, Batman, or both a couple of years later, you suddenly have no less than four heroes to draw from, plus however many others are introduced as guest stars on Arrow and The Flash, providing a well-established, unified world. It’s something that took Marvel five movies, a TV series (launching this fall), and five years to do, and this new trump card gives DC the ability to do the same with just three movies, two TV series and four years. That may not seem like much of a difference, but when you’re playing catch-up like DC and WB are right now, every little extra bit of speed helps.
The possibility of The Flash being the same on TV and the big screen also greatly opens up the level of risks the movie can take. If you’ve already established Barry and some of his villains on television, for instance, then the film can feature, say, the entire assembled Rogues together as a team, or a larger threat like Reverse Flash (deftly handled in animation), who might warrant a little help from some super friends. The potential for direct follow-up, having a film with threads that can be picked up on the next season of the TV show instead of having to wait two or three years for a sequel, gives the creative minds like Berlanti a whole new way of approaching both mediums, as well. Suddenly, with just one character, DC and WB have the opportunity to change the way superhero stories are told on these platforms.
As CW President Mark Pedowitz said there is “no conflict” between the TV and movie development, that certainly lends to the theory of the two using the same actor, character, and timeline. After all, no matter how you slice it, two actors playing the same role in disparate stories that don’t line up within two years, especially a lesser-known hero like the Flash, would be confusing for the general public (*cough* Marvel/Fox *cough*) – especially the fans well beyond the 40,000 or so that might be reading a Flash comic. Sure, Superman Returns came out while Smallville was on the air, but that series wasn’t using the name Superman, and that character is considerably more of a household name than the scarlet speedster.
All this could actually wind up being a silver-lining for Wonder Woman fans as well. If The Flash TV series and film are directly connected, and thus connecting the DC Cinematic Universe together, then it makes sense that Amazon, a take on a young Wonder Woman in development for the CW, is on hold. Wanting to introduce an older, more on-par with Superman & Batman version of Diana to this one, larger cinematic universe would prevent that series from hitting the air, but could at least give hope for Wonder Woman hitting the big screen sooner rather than later.
A DC Cinematic Universe, connecting both films and TV shows, is suddenly a very real possibility. With a little hope and a lot of speed, The Flash could (and should) be the one to make it all come together.