Enough time has passed for even casual movie fans to notice that where big screen blockbusters are concerned, the superheroes of DC and Marvel Comics reign supreme. But while Marvel has dominated the box office, the combination of DC and Warner Bros. Television has taken over TV with alarming speed. Shows like Gotham, Constantine and Supergirl are spreading the comics universe to other networks, and are clearly just the beginning. But with The CW (WB’s own network) laying claim to Justice League members Arrow and The Flash, many fans suspected that a link to the budding DC Comics movie universe could be in the cards.
Rumors of Arrow star Stephen Amell joining a Justice League team-up movie have circled for some time, but speculation picked up when The Flash (a lock for any version of the League) was similarly brought to live-action by Grant Gustin, the star of one of the best pilots of the season, and The CW’s most-watched program ever.
Sadly, hopes of seeing Gustin’s take on Barry Allen alongside Henry Cavill’s Superman or Ben Affleck’s Batman were dashed; first when DC Entertainment boss Geoff Johns explained that DC’s TV and films would be separate universes, and finally, when The Flash movie was announced for 2018 with Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) in the title role.
Apparently, it isn’t just the fans who were surprised (and possibly disappointed) that Gustin’s well-received take wouldn’t make the jump to film. Speaking with The Wall Street Journal, Stephen Amell was asked: if a Green Arrow film was on its way, should he have the first chance at reprising the role?
The actor’s response is one with which plenty of CW fans will agree – especially where Grant Gustin’s Flash is concerned:
“Yeah. Of course. And I feel like it should be Grant doing the movie. But the important thing to remember is just because Grant Gustin plays the part of Barry Allen doesn’t mean Ezra Miller can’t also play Barry Allen. There can be different interpretations of the character. Anyone who is a fan of the comics knows the Flash character is one of the forces that leads to parallel universes.
“And who knows, they might find a fantastic actor to play Oliver Queen on the feature side who has a different take on the character. I’m certainly a departure from the typical Oliver Queen from the comic books. I just think that everybody needs to be patient with the whole thing. The fact that DC and Warner have announced all these comic book features is nothing but good for business.”
It should be pointed out that Amell is clearly stating his personal feelings, which are obviously going to be biased. Any actor charged with bringing a beloved character to life would gain a sense of attachment; it’s the same reason Liam Neeson showed enthusiasm for reprising the role of Ra’s al Ghul on Arrow (a role which ultimately went to Matt Nable). But that doesn’t mean that Ezra Miller won’t turn in one incredible performance; giving DC fans not one, but two adaptations to enjoy.
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As DC’s TV universe has continued to grow, Amell has taken the task of building hype on himself (including playful jabs at the competition), so it’s no surprise to hear him offer a heartfelt reaction, followed by a clarification. Geoff Johns has also explained his view that all DC content, TV or film, is a multiverse just like the comics – there’s no ‘true’ version of Oliver Queen or Barry Allen; simply ones that certain fans will like best.
That may seem like a cop-out, but it’s one that’s existed as a comic book convention for decades. And while a Green Arrow film not starring Amell could be seen as a slam, the actor himself isn’t concerned with the difference (for the record, the film version of The Flash has been in development long before Gustin’s take). Amell has made his feelings on the notion of ‘earning’ a feature film known in the past, explaining that the old way of thinking – that TV is somehow less than film – just doesn’t apply when The CW is building a Justice League every week.
When he was asked if he was preparing himself for either making – or missing – a leap to the big screen, the actor stated that his views haven’t changed:
“I am completely indifferent. First of all, wanting a movie undersells the idea that making 23 episodes a year isn’t a huge achievement. It is, and I would put that degree of difficulty up against any feature film that has ever been made… except Lord of the Rings and that gigantic Peter Jackson-led undertaking… and maybe Titanic. But, other than those two movies, I’d put making 23 hours of interesting content in a TV season up against anything on the film side.
“It is difficult to me to want or envision an Arrow movie when we are shooting the 10th episode of our third season with 13 more episodes to go and in all likelihood 3 more seasons on the other side of that. I’m interested in keeping that content fresh. Once we get to the end of that road, maybe then I’ll shift my focus.”
There will still be fans who think Gustin’s talents are worthy of the big screen, but there is wisdom in Amell’s words. Producer Greg Berlanti has gone on record with his belief that superhero origin stories may be better suited to TV than film, and Amell seems to be citing the same reasons for his stance. For example: viewers only have weeks to wait to see a two-hour Arrow/Flash crossover event (with Firestorm and The Atom not too far behind), as opposed to years for a big screen Justice League.
What’s your take on Amell’s comments? Is Warner Bros. wise to go ‘all or nothing’ on separate universes for TV and film, or should they merge them into one – even if it means restricting the writers’ chance at controlling their own stories? Share your thoughts in the comments.
The Flash movie will be released on March 23, 2018.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for updates on The Flash as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.