Comics On TV

Early Look at DC Universe Streaming Service Offerings Swamp Thing, Harley Quinn, Titans, and More

With strong, recognizable characters like Robin, Lois Lane, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Lex Luthor, new streaming service promises a wealth of options for die-hard DC fans.

by | May 2, 2018 | Comments

Metropolis, Swamp Thing, Titans title and Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson (aka Robin), Harley Quinn title, Young Justice title (DC Entertainment; Steve Wilkie / 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

After a long period of speculation, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have announced the name of their forthcoming streaming service: DC Universe. Described on the DC Comics website as “a first-of-its kind, immersive digital experience designed just for DC fans,” the service will launch later this year with a mix of new live action and animated series in addition to its immersive elements. And though many details about DC Universe remain shrouded in a Multiverse of mystery, we do know a number of things about its first five television shows. Take a look at what DC Universe will soon offer you.


Titans

Titans: Alan Ritchson (as Hank Hall aka Hawk) and Minka Kelly (as Dawn Granger aka Dove) and Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson (aka Robin) (Steve Wilkie / 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Release date: 2018

For fans of: New Teen Titans and the animated Teen Titans and Teen Titans GO! series.

Based on: The Teen Titans concept developed by Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani, about teen sidekicks Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, and Aqualad uniting as a team of their own, and the later New Teen Titans series by Marv Wolfman and George Perez.

Everything we know so far: DC Universe’s flagship live action series will be Titans. Executive produced by Greg Berlanti (known for The CW superhero shows like Arrow and Black Lightning), Fringe’s Akiva Goldsman, and DC Entertainment’s Geoff Johns, the series will focus on Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites), a former Robin looking for his own identity as a cop while forming a crime fighting team of younger superheroes. Dick will be joined by Starfire (Anna Diop), Raven (Teagan Croft), and Beast Boy (Ryan Potter) — the team Wolfman and Perez brought together (along with Cyborg and Wonder Girl) in the 1980s. Joining them for several episodes will be the crime fighting duo of Hawk & Dove (Alan Ritchson and Minka Kelly) and Beast Boy’s original superhero team the Doom Patrol. Originally developed in 2014 for TNT, the series will represent the first live action series outing for everyone except Robin.

It’s most like: The Teen Titans animated series, with its continuing storylines and weightier subjects.

Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: Considering Berlanti’s track record with bringing DC Comics characters to television – Arrow currents sits at 94% Fresh with The Flash at 92%, Supergirl at 94%, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow at 78%, and newcomer Black Lightning at 97% — it seems pretty likely the show will succeed. Berlanti and his collaborators have a special knack for finding the best in niche characters and bringing them to a larger audience, an ability which will be key with this group of characters.


Young Justice: Outsiders

Young Justice title (DC Universe / DC Entertainment)

Release date: 2018

For fans of: The original Young Justice animated series, which you should track down and watch if you haven’t already.

Based on: The two-season Young Justice series created by Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman, itself based on DC Comics’ numerous sidekicks and younger heroes.

Everything we know so far: Since Cartoon Network pulled the plug on the show in 2013, fans have clamored for a continuation of the series – an action-packed drama about the lives of various younger superheroes on one of the DC Multiverse’s many parallel Earths. The fan campaigns and a strong showing on Netflix lead Warner Bros. Animation to bring the series back with Vietti, Weisman, and character designer Phil Bourassa as key creative components. The series will run for 26 half-hour episodes with original series actors like Khary Payton, Danica McKellar, and Nolan North reprising their roles as Aqualad, Miss Martian, and Superboy, respectively, while the team itself will consist of Static, Kid Flash, Robin, Wonder Girl, The Spoiler, Blue Beetle, Beast Boy, Arsenal, and newcomers Arrowette and Thirteen. According to Vietti, the new season will feature ideas he and Weisman discussed for a third season prior to the show’s 2013 cancellation; presumably resolving the invasion by forces from Apokolips.

It’s most like: Young Justice, which is very much its own tone and style.

Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: Like Star Trek, the show was so loved by fans that they literally willed it back into existence. It was also a critical darling on geek sites at the time. With Vietti, Weisman, and Bourassa back in their positions and most of the voice cast returning, the show is poised to be quite successful.


Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn title (DC Universe / DC Entertainment)

Release date: 2018

For fans of: Harley in all her manifestations like Batman: The Animated Series, the Arkham video game series, and the feature film Suicide Squad.

Based on: Harley Quinn, created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm for Batman: The Animated Series and subsequently character developments by Jim Lee, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, and more.

Everything we know so far: Geared toward an older crowd, the 26-episode animated Harley Quinn series will be written and executive produced by Powerless executive producers Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker and Warner Animation’s Dean Lorey. The series will see Harley making her own way after finally breaking up with Joker. Her plan is to become the criminal “Queenpin” of Gotham and will go through villains like Sy Borgman, Dr. Psycho, Malice Vundabar, King Shark, and Clayface to do it. Poison Ivy will also feature prominently in the series, but considering their on-again/off-again romance in the pages of various DC Comics titles, it is unclear if she will be Harley’s love interest or her greatest rival. While no voice cast has been announced, it is possible Suicide Squad’s Margot Robbie will reprise her role as Harley for the series.

It’s most like: Animated series geared toward adults like Family Guy and BoJack Horseman; though it is doubtful Harley Quinn will match the exact tone of either.

Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: Powerless landed at 62% Fresh before NBC pulled the plug in May of 2017. Despite rough early episodes, the show was starting to find a voice for itself inside its DC Comics milieu. It is possible Halpern and Schumacker will take the lessons learned from that show to give Harley Quinn a stronger initial impression. And unlike Powerless, it has stronger ties to major DC Comics characters, which may prove to be its saving grace.


Swamp Thing

Swamp Thing (DC Entertainment)

Release date: 2019

For fans of: The more serious episodes of the USA Swamp Thing series and the comic books by Len Wein, Bernie Wrightson, Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, and a shocking number of other talented comic book creators.

Based on: Swamp Thing, created by Wein and Wrightson.

Everything we know so far: Announced alongside the “DC Universe” name, Swamp Thing will be a one-hour drama from executive producer James Wan (Aquaman), Battlestar Galactica’s Mark Verheiden, It’s Gary Dauberman, and Atomic Monster’s Michael Clear. Focusing on Swamp Thing supporting character Abby Arcane, the series will see her re-envisioned as a CDC researcher returning to her childhood home of Houma, Louisiana, to investigate a deadly swamp-borne virus. There, she takes a shine to local scientist Alec Holland, who dies shortly thereafter. But as others come to Houma with their own plans for the swamp, Abby discovers that it holds mystical secrets and, quite possibly, a chance for Alec to return to her as the elemental protector known as Swamp Thing.

It’s most like: From the description, CBS’s Beauty and the Beast series from the late 1980s with a dash of The CW’s recently ended series of the same name.

Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: With two campy feature films and an occasionally worthwhile television series to its name, Swamp Thing will face a difficult road. The beloved Alan Moore run of the comic book series finds its strength in a Southern Gothic feel and a deep exploration of magic, elements which may not translate well to television. The Beauty and the Beast angle may prove successful as both the CBS and CW versions survived for multiple seasons, though the latter was panned by critics in its first season for its “silly premise,” earning a 20% Fresh rating on the Tomatometer.


Metropolis

Metropolis (DC Entertainment)

Release date: TBD

For fans of: Quite possibly Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

Based on: Characters appearing in Superman magazines published by DC Comics.

Everything we know so far: Initially set to debut on DC Universe in 2019, Metropolis has been delayed for a major redevelopment of the premise. Like Krypton and Gotham, the initial concept was intended to be a prequel series with Lois Lane and Lex Luthor as the lead characters. The pair were to be investigators of Metropolis’s fringe sciences and other “bizarre secrets” of the City of Tomorrow. The initial pitch had shades of ABC’s Lois & Clark, which sought to put its principle characters in a romantic dramedy mode like the network’s earlier hit Moonlighting. Gotham executive producers Danny Cannon and John Stephens were involved with this version of the program, but it is unclear if they are part of its redevelopment. Nonetheless, DC Universe intends for the program to join the line-up eventually.

It’s most like: Anything from Moonlighting to The X-Files, depending on the retooling.

Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: This one is difficult to call as its format, tone, and focus are up in the air. If it finds its footing the way Gotham (84% Fresh) has, it could be a worthwhile program. But considering the program had a 13-episode commitment when it was first announced in January, news of its retooling does not bode well for the program. The eventual Metropolis may prove to be an ill fit for DC Universe.

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