Comics On TV

5 Big Takeaways From DC FanDome: Explore The Multiverse

Superman plays house, a new Bat-hero rises, the Legends face aliens (not of the Super- kind), and more revealed.

by | September 14, 2020 | Comments

Originally planned for one 24-hour period in August, DC FanDome wisely split into two events. August’s “Hall of Heroes” focused on DC film efforts (with a few video game and TV presentations mixed in), while this past weekend’s “Explore The Multiverse” centered on television, cosplay, fan interaction, and even a comic book or two. Despite switching to an on-demand system to deliver videos to the DC faithful, the September FanDome still offered an overwhelming amount of content.

Luckily, we’re here to parse through all of the television presentations as DC and Warner Bros. Television offered a surprising number of videos to watch. A few shows, like Black Lightning and Titans, mainly celebrated their existing seasons while other programs, like Batwoman and the upcoming Superman & Lois, were better positioned to tease their 2021 seasons. So let’s take a look at a few of the key takeaways from the weekend to get a sense of how we’ll be spending next year in the DC Multiverse.

1. Superman & Lois Will Be A Family Drama With Superheroics

Fulfilling the idea Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman teased just before it was cancelled, The CW’s upcoming Superman & Lois will be something no other Superman TV could be: a family drama.

“Clark and Lois are married. They’re not only married, they have two teenage boys,” executive producer and showrunner Todd Helbing explained. The mission is, in part, “to tell a story that is as grounded as it can be and still have Superman.” The show will explore what it means to have children when the parents have demanding jobs like an investigative journalist and the world’s most famous superhero.

The show will also explore the sort of children people like Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch) and Clark Kent (Tyler Hoechlin) would produce. Thanks to last year’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” the couple now have a teenage son Jonathan (who appeared as an infant at the start of “Crisis”) and his fraternal twin brother. According to Helbing, the writers used the universe-altering effects of the Crisis to age the kids up (and bring Jon’s brother into existence) because teenagers create more conflict on family shows. Additionally, “we wanted to present two kids with wildly different skill sets.”

Their skills, and the Kent family bond, will be tested in a somewhat familiar backdrop: Smallville. For reasons that will become clear, the family moves back to Clark’s hometown —not that it’s the idyllic place Clark remembers. “I came from a small town in the Midwest.” Helbing said. “We had a business leave and the town started to dry up.” Despite Smallville’s upcoming economic trouble, Helbing said Clark and Lois will still find it “easier to raise children [there] than it is in Metropolis.”

“The storyline with the sons is really compelling,” Tulloch said, also noting that though Lois’s dedication to her work remains, the reporter wonders how much it alienates her children.

Hoechlin suggested Clark will also face a similar internal conflict: “When is it OK to turn off the world?” he asked in regards to Superman making family time. The actor’s father was a doctor and he recalled all the times he was called away to attend to his practice. “It’s a perspective shift for me to look back on how he accomplished that … and wore both hats.”

Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch in Superman & Lois 2021 promo poster

(Photo by The CW)

Click image to see full poster in new tab.

Also complicating matters is the presence of Clark’s high school sweetheart Lana Lang (Emmanuelle Chriqui). Though Helbing emphatically stated Clark will never have an affair, he said there is dynamic to explore in how “as an adult, you deal with that relationship.” He also suggested the show will avoid the sort of Lois and Lana rivalry the characters endured in the Silver Age of comics — when both characters hatched ridiculous schemes for the Man of Tomorrow’s affections. “We also don’t want Lois and Lana brawling,” he said. Nonetheless, there will be some conflict between them.

Adding to these conflicts will be Lana’s daughter, Sarah Cushing (Inde Navarrette), a new character created for the show — like her father Kyle Cushing (Erik Valdez) — whose story will cross with the Kent boys.

Despite sounding more like One Tree Hill than The Adventures of Superman, Helbing said the show will still have action. “There are set pieces. There are heroics,” he explained. Lois will also be seen as “effective” in her own milieu — suggesting the show will also have a thriller edge as she specializes in revealing corruption. The pair will no doubt use their skills to solve crimes as Helbing added,”[Superman and Lois] are an unstoppable force [together].”

The producer also admitted that Superman will get a new “badass” suit, as the one Hoechlin wore in his Supergirl and Arrowverse crossover appearances was not up to the wear-and-tear of a weekly series.

2. Most Of The DC Universe Shows Will Continue (Elsewhere)

Deep layoffs across the WarnerMedia empire in August left the DC Universe streaming service in tatters. And while its future is up in the air — it may convert to a subscription service delivering the company’s deep comic book archive — its slate of original scripted programs will continue on for the most part.

Titans, the service’s debut show, will return for a third season. As mentioned during the August “Hall of Heroes” presentation, it will see Jason Todd (Curran Walters) ditch his Robin persona for the morally ambiguous guise of the Red Hood. Walters seemed excited to break bad, but as the character has switched back to the side of right in recent years, Jason’s journey may be more nuanced. Currently, it is unclear if the show will return to DC Universe or migrate to WarnerMedia’s other streaming service.

Doom Patrol, which was simulcast on DC Universe and HBO Max during its second season, will return as a HBO Max exclusive next year. Presumably, it will resolve the world-shattering cliffhanger before delving further into the team’s unique traumas.

Brec Bassinger in DC's Stargirl 2021 promo poster

(Photo by The CW)

Click image to see full poster in new tab.

Like Doom Patrol, Stargirl split its time between DC Universe (where episodes debuted) and The CW (where episodes would air the following evening). When the show returns, though, it will only be on The CW. Executive producer Geoff Johns promised the new season will feature more of Solomon Grundy and the rivalry between Courtney (Brec Bassinger) and Shiv (Meg DeLacy) — a relationship Bassinger likened to “Kim Possible and Shego.” Doctor Manhattan’s owl Hooty may also appear, and though he was reticent to give too many spoilers, Johns said “we will definitely be playing with things like the pink pen in season 2.” Get ready for Jakeem Thunder and the Thunderbolt, but prepare to wait a little longer for a Green Lantern to emerge.

And though Harley Quinn’s future is still up in the air, executive producer Justin Halpern said the show will focus in more on Harley (Kaley Cuoco) and Ivy’s (Lake Bell) relationship. When asked if the recently introduced comic book character Punchline may appear, he said, “I’m less interested in seeing if the Joker gets a new girlfriend than I am in exploring this relationship we spent two seasons building.”

Sadly, Swamp Thing did not make the cut, but the show will be rebroadcast on The CW starting October 4.

3. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Will Bring “A Lot Of Joy”

Caity Lotz in DC's Legends of Tomorrow 2021 promo poster

(Photo by The CW)

Click image to see full poster in new tab.

Despite fictional Crises, a real-life global pandemic, and a move to a “midseason 2021” that sounds more like a summer launch, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow still has a major purpose going into the 2020s. As executive producer and co-showrunner Keto Shimizu put it, “this will be a season that brings a lot of joy.”

After a year dedicated to criminals released from Hell and the whims of the Fates, season 6 will see the Legends dealing with aliens — though Shimizu was quick to say their take will be “different” from the aliens-as-immigrants metaphor of Supergirl. Presumably, this means the show will play with aliens as a genre — or series of subgrenes — so expect anything from an Ancient Aliens pastiche to the Waverider turning into Alien‘s U.S.C.S.S. Nostromo for an episode.

The alien focus will directly effect Sara Lance’s (Caity Lotz) story as she will spend a good amount of time with the E.T.s who abducted her at the end of season 5. Shimizu, fellow showrunner Phil Klemmer, and executive producer Grainne Godfree were quick to mention that though she will be away from the timeship, Sara will still be an integral part of the story, but her scenes will play out with the aliens.

Meanwhile, as Godfree put it, “with Sara away, the kids kind of go crazy.” The unraveling begins with co-captain Ava Sharpe (Jes Macallan), who “gets frayed,” leaving “unlikely people” to step up and fill the leadership roles. “We looked at this season in terms of what it means to have Sara absent,” Godfree explained.

And with the Waverider‘s other nominal adult, Zari 1.0 (Tala Ashe), locked away in the Air Totem, it remains to be seen if Zari 2.0 (also Ashe) will become one of the “unlikely” leaders. The producers admitted they considered keeping both versions of Zari on the show fulltime, but knew it would be an incredibly taxing addition to the workload of the crew and Ashe. For her part, the actor said she is ready to play both (even in the same scene) if they can hammer out the workflow.

In the meantime, an early season 6 episode will focus on how Behrad (Shayan Sobhian) dealt with being in Zari 2.0’s shadow during their childhood and how he became more his own person by joining the Legends. Both Ashe and Sobhian hope their characters’ sibling rivalry will also get a little bit more of the spotlight.

The new season will also see Astra (Olivia Swann) and John Constantine (Matt Ryan) trying to share his house in Northumberland. Ryan said he is quite “satisfied” with the way Legends concluded the Astra in Hell story — a big part of Constantine’s past in the comics, animation, and the short-lived Constantine TV show — but also has a “fear” of what the writers will think of to pull John away from his newfound happiness. At the same time, he added, “I love the idea of John being unhappy about him being happy.”

Swann suggested Astra becoming his roommate may be enough to push John back to his miserable ways.

Lisseth Chavez publicity image

(Photo by Stephanie Girard/courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.)

The series will also feature a new character: Esperanza “Spooner” Cruz. She is a survivor of an alien abduction who dedicated her life to both detecting and avoiding extraterrestrial beings. To be played by Chicago P.D.‘s Lisseth Chavez, the character is not a “lovable loser” according to Godfree.

Shimizu added she will have to “earn her spot” on the team.

And though the series balanced its wackiness with meatier stories last season, Godfree promised the E.T. flavoring means “we go bigger and zanier” in the new year.

4. The Flash Will Stick With Fun While Getting Topical

Grant Gustin in The Flash 2021 promo poster

(Photo by The CW)

Click image to see full poster in new tab.

Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, production on The Flash‘s sixth season stopped short by a handful of episodes, leaving Iris (Candice Patton) stuck in the mirrorverse and the new Mirror Master (Efrat Dor) free to carry out her plan. So, season 7 will begin with the resolution of those threads before a story centering on Godspeed can begin. But showrunner Eric Wallace was quick to add, the remaining Mirror Master episodes will set up a number of ideas for season 7, starting with a new member of Team Flash

Though he guest-starred throughout season 6, Brandon McKnight will join the show full time as Chester P. Runk. The character’s prowess with advanced science will come in handy as Barry (Grant Gustin) tries to create a new Speed Force, but Wallace said Chester’s “real superpower” is his optimism.

Team Citizen will also maintain its ranks as Kayla Compton joins the series full time as Allegra. And though early season 7 episodes will cover how Team Citizen deals with Iris’s absence, Patton said she expects the mentoring relationship between Iris and Allegra to continue. Additionally, Allegra’s uneasy relationship with Nash Wells (Tom Cavanagh) will be explored as well.

Meanwhile, Nash himself will experience a radical, but “super fun,” change as the show explores how he deals with containing the consciousnesses of all of the other Wellses from the old Multiverse.

Candice Patton in The Flash 2021 promo poster

(Photo by The CW)

Click image to see full poster in new tab.

That sense of fun will continue into Joe West’s (Jesse L. Martin) story, which will reflect the current atmosphere and touch on topics of police brutality and the uneasy race relations between law enforcement and the Black community. And though to story will be fun, Wallace said “you’ll definitely see some changes” in regard to Joe’s status quo.

Coming back to Godspeed, the producer said he wanted to position the character as major threat to honor current Flash comic book readers. The villain debuted only four years ago in the comics, but offered an interesting hook for the show. As Wallace put it, the character “supposedly” has no emotional connection to Barry, but “why is he or she angry at the Flash?” The mystery may be resolved by the season’s end.

Wallace also said he is “determined” to get the Flash into his gold boots, but like many of the other costume pieces on the show, it must be earned through story.

One topic not broached during the presentation was the future of Ralph Dibny. Actor Hartley Sawyer was fired from the show after old tweets of a racist and sexist nature resurfaced on his Twitter account. The actor filmed scenes for the episode in production as the quarantine hit and will appear as Ralph one last time before the character goes on a long-term away mission. The character’s one-true-love, Sue Dearbon (Natalie Dreyfuss) will continue to appear in the series.

5. New Batwoman Star Javicia Leslie Is “Everything You Want in a Hero”

Javicia Leslie

(Photo by courtesy of Warner Bros. Television)

While the rest of the cast is happy to be returning to characters they understand, newcomer Javicia Leslie has the toughest job of all: becoming Batwoman‘s new star.

Nevertheless, she immediately felt a connection to new lead character Ryan Wilder, telling her assembled castmates, “When I read the character description, I definitely thought, ‘it’s me!'” She added that she feels “honored” to play a character who represents her community. “It feels very powerful,” she said. “This was what’s needed.”

Of course, Leslie’s debut as Ryan leads to one key question: Where is Kate Kane? Formerly played Ruby Rose, the series original lead character’s absence will by a mystery showrunner Caroline Dries said will push the series “deep into the season.” Her disappearance will also leave the established characters like Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson), Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang), and Alice (Rachel Skarsten) with different opinions on the matter.

And, naturally enough, the series will also focus on Ryan as “the hero rising.” Dries described the new Batwoman as a “statistic of injustice” who always pushes back against the system. Indeed, when we meet her, she will be living out of her car and avoiding the attention of the Gotham PD.

Combined with Kate’s disappearance, the cast said the characters will all have varying ways of welcoming Ryan. Kang noted Mary is already dealing with “another loss” while trying to figure Ryan out. Nonetheless,”Mary really looks to Ryan” as the younger Hamilton is always on the search for a stable family.

She added that she expects Kate’s absence will likely lead to a bigger relationship — and conflict — with Alice.

“Alice is just going to be peeved,” Skarsten said. “She has this beautiful, intricate plan for the demise of her sister and that will have been foiled.” The show’s lead villain will also face Safiyah (Shivani Ghai), the mystery woman she’s been hiding from the whole time. Skarsten said the introduction of the character will be “intriguing.”

“A lot is going to fall upon [Sophie],” Meagan Tandy said of her character. “It sounds like my current life right now, so it shouldn’t be too hard to play.” Now freed of being the season 1 love interest, the character will learn why Batwoman had to be so secretive and may even push Ryan to maintain the secrecy once it becomes clear a different woman is under the cowl. At the same time, Ryan will help Sophie “come out of her shell.”

The Batsignal in Batwoman promo poster

(Photo by The CW)

Click image to see full poster in new tab.

Johnson noted Luke has a problem trusting people, and while his ability to trust Kate led to a new Batfamily, it all starts over once Ryan takes Kate’s place. According to the actor, Luke sees Ryan as “someone from the streets” and must once again learn to trust someone with the Batsuit. “There’s always going to be a bit of pushback,” Johnson said.

At the time the presentation was recorded, Leslie had not gone in for a costume fitting, but both the actor and Dries admitted the Batsuit will evolve over the first part of the season to reflect the change in the person wearing it. The suit’s evolution will also touch on the season’s theme of destiny as Dries added that Ryan will, “ironically, unite the Kane family.”

“She brings intellect, emotion, athleticism,” Dries said of the character and the new star. “Everything you want in a hero.”