Friends of the super variety, we’ve collected every Fresh and Certified Fresh superhero movie with at least 20 reviews to assemble our guide to the 75 best superhero movies ever, ranked by Tomatometer!
It’s been a decades-long battle towards the top in pop culture for superhero movies, and we’re featuring here all the goods, the greats, and the masterpieces made along the way. Everything from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Iron Man, Avengers) to DCEU (Aquaman, Wonder Woman), animated fare (The Incredibles, Megamind) to live-action spoofs (The Toxic Avenger, Mystery Men), comedies (Deadpool) and the super serious (The Dark Knight), and then throwing in some originals made just for the big screen (The Rocketeer, Darkman, Unbreakable).
Great leaping buggaboos! This introduction is now over! Throw up the cape, slip on that cowl (but leave the whip at home, unless you’re looking for the erotic films list…), and hop into the Tomatomobile: We ride for to the 75 best superhero movies of all time!
Looking for love this Valentine’s Day, but stuck at home due to the state of the world? Look no further than these eight binge-worthy series you’re guaranteed to fall for before spring. From boundary-pushing superhero series like Black Lightning to nostalgic reboots like Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Punky Brewster, this month has it all and then some. Arrowverse titles also make up another four of our 12 titles; you’ll want to watch episodes of Supergirl, Arrow, and more to prep for the series premiere of Superman & Lois. Read on to find out which Fresh titles should be on your binge list this month.
What it is: While he thought he had hung up his super suit and street-fighting days of yesteryear for good, Jefferson Pierce (now a school principal) brings his superpowered Black Lightning persona out of “retirement” as street gangs threaten his city.
Why you should watch it: If you’re a fan of the Greg Berlanti–led DC Comics universe on The CW, then you know what you’re in for here, and you’ll absolutely love Black Lightning. This series goes one step further than the usual fare, with its representation of black and LGBTQ superheroes on the small screen. Season 4 premieres Feb. 8 on The CW.
Commitment: Approx. 30 hours (for the first 3 seasons)
What it is: Nickelodeon rebooted its beloved ’90s kid horror series in 2019, and it now returns for a second six-part season with an all-new Midnight Society and monsters to match, lurking in the shadows.
Why you should watch it: If your immediate reaction to this anthological series’ titular question is a resounding “yes,” then you should probably change the channel. From showrunner JT Billings, the show follows a group of kids who call themselves the Midnight Society as they tell ghost stories around a campfire with increasingly horrific real-world consequences. Catch up on the first season of the reboot before the second season’s fresh horrors! Season 2, titled Are You Afraid of the Dark?: Curse of the Shadows, premieres Feb. 12 on Nickelodeon.
Commitment: Approx. 2 hours (for the first season of the reboot)
What it is: After the unexpected death of their father, estranged siblings Ralph-Angel (a conman fresh out of prison), Nova Bordelon (a New Orleans–based journalist and activist), and Charley Bordelon (an upper-class Los Angeles mother to a teenage son) move to rural Louisiana to claim their inheritance: hundreds of acres of sugarcane farmland.
Why you should watch it: Queen Sugar is the result of women both behind and in front of the camera joining their powers: executive producer Oprah Winfrey; executive producer, director, and writer Ava DuVernay; stars Rutina Wesley and Dawn-Lyen Gardner; and other female directors for each episode of its four seasons. And their work isn’t the only stunning aspect of the series — sprawling locations under the Louisiana sun and timely discussions of racial prejudice, mass incarceration, juicy drama with characters you’ll love, and more make it a thought-provoking, must-watch. Season 5 premieres Feb. 16 on OWN.
Commitment: Approx. 55 hours (for the first four seasons)
What it is: This spinoff from the long-running The Fosters from creators Bradley Bredeweg, Joanna Johnson, and Peter Paige follows Callie and Mariana all grown up and moving to the City of Angels to pursue life as young professionals, Callie as a law clerk and Mariana as a software engineer. Of course, misadventures and growing pains ensue.
Why you should watch it: Good Trouble has the same tenderness and drama we came to love on The Fosters, along with some incisive takes and comedic observations on Gen Z life in a new city. Season 3 premieres Feb. 17 on Freeform.
Commitment: Approx. 23 hours (for the first two seasons)
What it is: This hour-long drama from creators Ronald D. Moore, Ben Nedivi, and Matt Wolpert is framed around one question: What if the USSR beat the United States to the moon in 1969? Setting the series on the path of that alternative timeline, For All Mankind establishes an aspirational world where the space race never stopped, where women and racial minorities are soon invited to join NASA’s efforts, and more.
Why you should watch it: While it may at first feel familiar to other space dramas of the past, over the course of 10 episodes, this Joel Kinnaman–led adventure-drama carves its own, exciting niche in the genre. Now that it seems to have found its footing by the end of season 1, we’re excited for what’s next. Season 2 premieres Feb. 19 on Apple TV+.
Where to watch: Apple TV+
Commitment: Approx. 9 hours (for the first season)
What it is: Greg Berlanti and Todd Helbing are at it again as co-creators on Superman & Lois, a snapshot of domestic life for our favorite superhero and journalist as they’ve grown and settled down into marriage and kids. Of course, our central hero eats world-ending-baddies for breakfast, so expect more of that, too.
Why you should watch it: As we’ve seen time and again in The CW’s various DC Comics franchises, they’re at their best when leaning into the human character and real-world dramas of its heroes as much as they are the crime-fighting and world-saving. Superman & Lois is sure to deliver on that front, and Tyler Hoechlin’s take on the caped hero hasn’t steered us wrong yet. We’re recommending you catch up on his guest arcs on Supergirl before starting this one. And for those extra keen viewers, you can add in the crossover hours of Batwoman, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Arrow for a total baker’s dozen of episodes. Superman & Lois premieres Feb. 23 on the CW.
Commitment: Approx. 9 hours for Hoechlin’s season 2, 4, and 5 guest arcs on Supergirl (episodes 2.1 “The Adventures of Supergirl,” 2.2 “The Last Children of Krypton,” 2.21 “Resist,” 2.22 “Nevertheless, She Persisted,” 4.9 “Elseworlds, Part 3,” and 5.9 “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part One”) and appearances in Arrow (7.9 “Elseworlds, Part 2” and 8.8 “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Four”), DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (5.1 “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Five”), The Flash (5.9 “Elseworlds, Part 1” and “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three”), and Batwoman (1.9 “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two”)
What it is: Created by the late John Singleton, Eric Amadio, and Dave Andron (the latter of whom serves as showrunner), Snowfall tells an L.A. story like we’ve never seen by dramatizing the rise and breakout of the city’s first crack epidemic in 1984 and its greater impact on American culture at large.
Why you should watch it: As riveting as it is eye-opening, this street crime series pulls no punches in its portrayal of the drug trade and its implications in both micro and macro spheres. Startling performances from its ensemble of relative newcomers also bring us into a world that until now has been left off narrative television — and they keep a hold on us there. Season 4 premieres Feb. 24 on FX.
Commitment: Approx. 22 hours (for the first three seasons)
What it is: In the classic series, a young Punky Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye) finds refuge in a vacant apartment after being abandoned with her dog in a supermarket. The building’s manager Henry Warnimont (George Gaynes) befriends and eventually adopts her.
Why you should watch it: Twice Emmy-nominated in 1985 and ’86 for best children’s program, Punky Brewster is sure to hold some nostalgic real estate in the hearts of parents far and wide. Revisit the classic to get ready for the 10-episode revival, in which Frye again stars as Punky, who’s now an adult with kids of her own. (It worked for Fuller House, so why not here!?) The new series streams in full Feb. 25 on Peacock.
Commitment: Approx. 44 hours (for the original four seasons)
(Photo by The CW)
With all the new channels and streaming services out there, you would think series could just keep going and going and going. Even in this era of Peak TV, however, all good shows must come to an end. Fortunately, there are plenty of other shows to take their place.
We’ve put together a list of shows we’re saying goodbye to in 2020. This year will see the end of 13 Reasons Why, The 100, Arrow, Bojack Horseman, How to Get Away with Murder, Supernatural, and more, but they’ll leave room for you to discover more teen dramas, animated comedies, superhero series, and other shows we think you’ll love.
Check in with our 2020 Finale Dates Calendar to find out when these shows conclude this year, and add these new titles to your streaming queues or DVRs so you’ll never miss a moment of great television.
Is your favorite TV show ending this year? Head to the comments and tell us what you recommend to replace it.
As the series end to Arrow looms, the characters in the Arrowverse, as well as the program’s huge fanbase, were dealt an emotional blow when Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) sacrificed his life to save all of humanity. Oliver may have perished several times throughout the series, but his death in the recent crossover event, “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” proved to be his final bow. But all is not lost, though. The show’s penultimate episode, titled “Green Arrow and the Canaries,” not only explores this loss through his daughter, Mia Smoak (Katherine McNamara), it’ll also act as the backdoor pilot for CW’s new superhero series of the same name.
Before his death, Oliver passed the vigilante mantle to Mia, naming her the new Green Arrow. With the title, comes a cool new suit, which is all pretty awesome, considering the conflicted relationship Mia had with her father throughout the past two seasons. This is where things get sticky, though. When Oliver Queen saved the world, he created a new Earth-Prime timeline. And in the process, Mia’s memories of her dad and this whole debacle were erased.
(Photo by Colin Bentley/The CW)
These details will lead the Arrow story into new territory once the second-to-last episode of the series airs. A time-jump to the year 2040 will add distance from the Stephen Amell-led series, giving Mia a chance to live in this new situation — which finds her enjoying the wealthy socialite life up in Queen Mansion. But as much as she voiced distaste for her father’s lifestyle, in the past, we have to wonder: is Green Arrow and the Canaries going to be a like-father, like-daughter situation?
How will Oliver Queen’s legacy impact Mia moving forward? Katherine McNamara spoke with Rotten Tomatoes to give further insight into the life of Mia Smoak — we mean, Mia Queen — in the backdoor pilot and new spinoff series.
(Photo by Colin Bentley/The CW)
Aaron Pruner for Rotten Tomatoes: Shadowhunters ended with Clary losing her memory. Now, after the events that transpired in “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” Mia got her memory wiped. Is this becoming a trend?
Katherine McNamara: I am not sure. It’s starting to give me a bit of a complex. What’s funny about it is in the crossover, we were fighting shadow demons and going to purgatory. And then in Shadowhunters, we fought demons and went to hell, and then the memory-wiping and all of this. But, you know it’s fun to find the differences between the two and to also get to, sort of, play out the aftermath of the memory wipe that they didn’t get to do in Shadowhunters.
(Photo by Bettina Strauss/The CW)
You’re basically picking up the mantle as a show, but also as a character. What are the challenges in continuing the legacy in a universe that was built on Oliver Queen’s story on Arrow?
McNamara: Well, it’s a huge responsibility. And I’ve known that since I started playing this character. The fact that Olicity is so beloved, and the fact that Stephen [Amell] and Emily [Bett Rickards] have put so much time and energy and care into their characters, and their relationship on the show … I had my work cut out for me. But that’s also been part of the fun; because there’s such a richness to it. Mia really is the amalgamation of these two characters and getting to find those elements and pull those little mannerisms, and play with that, and grow with that, and see where it takes her has been really fun. And that only continues here. But I’m so grateful for everything that Stephen has built and for the father that he’s been to me in passing the mantle, both as an actor and as a character.
(Photo by Katie Yu/The CW)
This upcoming episode, as well as the new series, is based on this watershed moment that removes an integral character from the story. How does that impact you as the actor playing Mia? And how does it impact the ending of Arrow and Green Arrow and the Canaries?
McNamara: In this episode, in particular, you see that in both iterations of Mia, both before and after she gets her memories back. In this new 2040, you have a Mia Queen who has grown up with the responsibility of being the daughter of the Green Arrow and knowing all of the amazing things that her father has accomplished, wondering how anything she does in her life will ever live up to that. But then she remembers the past and in putting on the suit again and taking up the mantle, she’s constantly reminded of watching her father breathe his last breath and him giving her the suit and all of these things that they went through, together. She wanted more time, she needed to fight with him more and to learn something more. She doesn’t get that.
(Photo by Katie Yu/The CW)
Is it safe to say that Mia’s working through these unresolved daddy issues by putting on this costume and pursuing the type of vigilante life she used to despise?
McNamara: Absolutely, and you see that in episode 9 and you see that in the series finale of Arrow, as well. What’s great about it is you get to see this girl who has all of the capabilities and all of the opportunities at her fingertips. You know, she’s still the same smart, cunning girl that we’ve known, but because she’s never really known any loss in her life and isn’t, you know, a fighter by nature, she hasn’t really found her passion. She hasn’t really found that thing that makes her feel alive. Discovering that through taking on the mantle, and through finding herself in finding the Green Arrow is a really interesting journey.
How will Team Arrow evolve in the new series?
McNamara: It’s great to see the most unlikely of characters put into these positions. You see Mia, who’s a tiny blonde girl, being this brooding dark vigilante, in a sense. And you get to see her brother who is also the least likely of vigilantes, who takes on the Overwatch position and be the technical side and the smart side of things. You see all of these characters that you wouldn’t expect to be fulfilling these roles and it gives it a different kind of diversity. You still have the same superhero tropes that we all know and love of the dark vigilante. But you get to see that in the least likely of human beings, and it is really fun to kind of turn the classic tropes on its head and provide a fresh perspective, while still playing into the same superhero legacy that everyone loves.
It’s been teased that Deathstroke will be back in Green Arrow and the Canaries, how does Oliver’s death and the passing of time change the threat Deathstroke poses in Star City?
McNamara: We’ve seen Deathstroke in many iterations and Deathstroke is always a threat to Star City and always a threat to the Green Arrow. And that doesn’t change. You know, some things will always remain constant in this world and but we get a lot of answers in the pilot but we get a lot of opportunities for really cool things in the future.
Arrow episode “Green Arrow and the Canaries” airs Tuesday, January 21 at 8/7C.
After what feels like 18 months of anticipation and suspense, The CW’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” concluded the only way it could on Tuesday night on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Taking its inspiration from the 1985 DC Comics maxiseries, a certain change to the status quo was inevitable. But as the producers of the various programs explained to Rotten Tomatoes, this change was always the plan and key to the Arrowverse’s growth moving forward.
The new format may not be a surprise to readers of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths comics, but the choice to pull the trigger and do it on television — to say nothing of its implications for other DC Entertainment media — is unexpected. Well, perhaps not as unexpected as Crisis writer Marv Wolfman’s cameo, of course. Nevertheless, the change means the individual Arrowverse shows will look different when they begin to return next week, so take a tour with us as we investigate this new world and what the Arrowverse will look like in 2020.
(Photo by Colin Bentley/The CW)
As revealed on Tuesday night, the universe was reborn. In its wake is Earth-Prime, an amalgam world in which the CW heroes all co-exist.
“We knew from last year that we were going to merge [the worlds] and create Earth-CW, basically,” executive producer Marc Guggenhim said of the “Crisis” conclusion. In choosing a name for this new existence, Guggenheim and the other showrunners latched on to “Earth-Prime,” which in the DC Comics tradition is the Earth where we, the readers of DC Comics, are said to exist.
Of course, Earth-Prime became a fictional world when a Superboy appeared on it shortly before the original Crisis series. And it only gets more messy as subsequent writers returned to the idea and its “Superboy Prime.” But for Guggenheim, the name was the right fit for their new reality. “I just personally liked the sound of Earth-Prime. So all the CW shows [are there],” he said.
“[But] Riverdale’s not there,” Batwoman executive producer Caroline Dries interjected.
“That would be very weird,” DC’s Legends of Tomorrow co-showrunner Keto Shimizu added.
“The CW superhero shows,” Guggenheim clarified.
Though now united on one Earth, Guggenheim was quick to point out this new Earth is not the Earth-1 of Arrow, The Flash or Legends.
“It’s a completely different Earth,” he explained.
What that means in the long-term will be revealed as the individual shows move forward. For The Flash and Legends, Earth-Prime’s resemblance to Earth-1 means various quirks may continue to appear for seasons to come, like Nash (Tom Cavanagh) being a distinct entity from Harrison Wells. But for Supergirl and Black Lightning, both of which inhabited worlds of their own, Earth-Prime will be major changes to their status quos.
(Photo by Dean Buscher/The CW)
Supergirl co-showrunner Robert Rovener teased the Crisis was “a huge event,” and “impacts everything going on in the show.” This is certainly the case from the brief glimpses of the Earth-Prime National City in the final “Crisis” episode. Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) is a beloved humanitarian who owns the DEO. He is also Supergirl’s chief supporter, or so we’re told. How this will actually play out is anyone’s guess, but we assume the Lex’s presence may alter Kara’s (Melissa Benoist) problems with Lena (Katie McGrath) and Leviathan considerably.
But even as these concerns simmer, the show’s technological bent will continue with Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) returning from the 31st century. Hopefully, the 31st century of the Legion of Superheroes is a brighter place thanks to Winn’s time there. Maybe he can bring some of that positivity back to the 21st century.
Though Black Lightning‘s creative team was unavailable for comment on the Earth-Prime status quo, stars Christine Adams and Marvin “Krondon” Jones III offered a few glimpses into their post-“Crisis” reality.
“We are exposed to [the] other universes. It’s going to become bigger in Freeland,” Jones said.
But even with new worlds opened to them — and Jefferson (Cress Williams) obtaining a seat at the Hall of Justice — the situation in Freeland may leave them walled in for some time yet. Of course, Jefferson’s new membership in the superhero community may leave viewers to wonder why Barry (Grant Gustin) and Kara are not rushing to his aid. In our reality, it comes down to the fact Black Lightning is shot in Atlanta while the rest of the shows are produced in Vancouver, but Earth-Prime will need to find a good answer for the series standing apart from its Arrowverse siblings.
As Adams put it, “In a world that was kind of real before and set in a real place versus this crossover world, how are we going to marry those two things?”
Of course, moving Black Lightning and its situation to Earth-Prime means the Markovians will be dealing with more superheroes beyond the Pierce family. Maybe Jefferson can finally form the Outsiders.
Since Earth-Prime resembles Earth-1, Dries said the biggest “Crisis” shock wave Kate (Ruby Rose) faces will stem from that broken Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) she encountered in Part 2.
“She just looked at her future in the mirror, and is like, ‘Is this who I’m going to become?’” Dries said of the crossover’s lasting emotional impact.
That worry will also seed the continuing friendship between Kate and Kara — a “World’s Finest” pairing already glimpsed in “Crisis” itself and further cemented by Kate’s presence alongside the Danvers sisters in the story’s final minutes.
As for Alice (Rachel Skarsten) and the other characters?
“It’s a little tricky, because our characters aren’t yet exposed to this notion of multiple universes, and superheroes with powers and stuff,” Dries said.
“’Crisis’ hits [Sara] pretty hard,” Shimizu said. “[But] in a good way.”
It’s easy to think Oliver’s insistence on the heroes building trust will be part of Sara’s story going forward. With Constantine (Matt Ryan), Mick (Dominic Purcell), Nora, and Charlie (Maisie Richardson-Sellars) always ready to choose the morally-gray option, establishing trust is definitely a good thing — even if its just trusting Mick to rob a place blind.
And as “Crisis” seemingly left Sara as the overall leader of the superhero community, it is possible the new season of Legends will focus on her becoming comfortable with the idea.
Also, there’s that issue about Behrad (Shayan Sobhian) replacing Zari (Tala Ashe) as a Legend. That will no doubt be a runner as the Legends attempt to return history’s greatest monsters back into Hell.
“Sue’s such a delight,” Wallace told us back in October.
But do not expect any of season 6’s stories to lead in the direction of Nora West-Allen’s birth.
“Not this season,” Wallace said. “But that doesn’t mean a huge hint to Nora isn’t coming.”
And, as it happens, some of Iris West’s experiences during the Bronze Age of comics may become fodder for the show.
“We do need Iris emotionally to get to this place,” he teased. “Now, that storyline supports that.”
And considering Nash’s role in the final part of “Crisis,” we imagine he will be atoning for his misdeeds and finding a new life for himself on this new Earth-Prime.
For those with quick memories, Felicity was last seen in 2040, telling the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) she was ready to be reunited with Oliver. Does he still live on some other plane of existence or will she also reach for the peace Oliver accepted at end of “Crisis?”
(Photo by Katie Yu/The CW)
Though not discussed by the showrunners when we spoke to them about “Crisis,” Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois’s (Elizabeth Tulloch) survival leads into their own series, Superman and Lois. The program will debut in the 2020-2021 broadcast season and see the two adjusting to life as working parents. Lois’ reference to “the boys” suggests Clark will have to deal with more than baby Jonathan when he gets home. Presumably, the series will age him to a tween or teenage while the second child takes his place as an infant. Anything is possible — just look at the way Sara Diggle was restored and made a little older than J.J.
(Photo by DC Universe)
And as revealed in the “Crisis” conclusion, Stargirl (which will stream on DC Universe and air on The CW the next day) will take place on a newly reformed Earth-2. It makes total sense as Stargirl (Brec Bassinger) has strong ties to the Justice Society of America — a team traditionally placed on Earth-2 in the comics.
Meanwhile, it was also nice to see Titans recognized as the show of Earth-9, Doom Patrol as happening on Earth-21, and Swamp Thing taking place on Earth-19. Since most of the DC Universe shows are also produced by Arrowverse mastermind Greg Berlanti, giving them a place in the Multiverse was one of the miniseries’ greatest surprises.
As for the Multiverse, it has been born anew with Earth-Prime as its new anchor. While the original Crisis comic book condensed all realities into one new Earth, the producers of the television “Crisis” saw the value in keeping the concept around around.
Now, the DC Universe streaming series, theatrical films, and upcoming shows like HBO Max’s Green Lantern all exist within a framework very close to the CW’s reality. And as Ezra Miller‘s absolutely shocking appearance in “Crisis” confirms, the Arrowverse is a place where anything can happen and just about any DC Comics character can appear. It is, oddly enough, the best of all possibilities and an inadvertent fix to DC Entertainment’s wild and sometimes contradictory array of content — they are all true in the infinitude.
At least until the next crisis. But at least there will be a group of Superfriends to defend reality against it.
2020 is just over a week old, and that means it’s time to get ready for all the new TV offerings the year has coming. In the corner of the media landscape dominated by comic books, this means the conclusion of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and the return of programs like Riverdale and Stumptown.
But there are also plenty of new and returning shows hitting the streaming services throughout the year that we cannot wait to see. And mixed in with a handful of shows returning to the airwaves in the mid-season, 2020 looks to be as diverse a year in Comics on TV as 2019 (even if it lacks for Watchmen).
So let’s take a look at the shows we’re excited to see in 2020.
Returns: January 24 on Netflix
Based On: The Archie Comics’ Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Why We Can’t Wait: The show has proven to be better at mixing the lurid with wholesome Archie Comics values than Riverdale – no doubt thanks to the extra latitude Netflix affords the show – and its high production values always make us want to check in with Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) and her Greendale gang. This time around, Sabrina must find a way to extract the soul of her boyfriend Nick Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood) from Hell. His body, meanwhile, is inhabited by her father, Lucifer Morningstar the Prince of Darkness (sometimes played by Luke Cook), who also has designs on Sabrina’s unexpected powers.
Returns: January 21 on The CW
Based On: Various DC Comics characters like Black Canary, John Constantine, and Heat Wave
Why We Can’t Wait: It’s Legends, the most important show in the Arrowverse. True, it may not have the angst of Arrow, the social consciousness of Supergirl, or the family dynamic of The Flash, but it has its own irreverent spirit and offers the sensation of reading a DC Comic from the mid-1990s. Following the events of “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” the Legends will be dealing with the aftermath and preparing for the imminent departure of Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) and Nora Darkh (Courtney Ford), whose stories will come to an end in the very near future. Also, every episode of Legends is a chance for Beebo to reappear and that alone is worth investing time in the series.
Debuts: February 7 on Netflix
Based On: The sensational horror comic by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Why We Can’t Wait: Besides the program’s tortured path to television – it took three pilots across nine years to get the series made – it’s just a crackling cool story. A Seattle family moves back East into the ancestral home of their patriarch following his death. Soon, youngest son Bode (Jackson Robert Scott) discovers a set of magical keys with unique and curious abilities. Will its magic be enough to restore his family following the tragedy? Or will the mysterious woman in the well rip the Locke family apart from the inside?
(Photo by DC Universe)
Debuts: This spring on DC Universe and The CW
Based On: Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. by Geoff Johns and Lee Moder
Why We Can’t Wait: In the mid-1990s, Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. was ahead of its time. The premise: teenager Courtney Whitmore (played by Brec Bassinger in the television show) moves from California to Blue Valley, Nebraska when her mother (Amy Smart) marries Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson). Courtney soon learns Pat was the sidekick of a superhero in the Justice Society of America. Taking that fallen hero’s power for herself, Courtney becomes Stargirl. The television show will take its cues from both the comics and the concept of JSA. It also boasts a cast which also features Joel McHale as Starman and Henry Thomas as Dr. Mid-Nite.
(Photo by DC Universe)
Returns: This summer on DC Universe and HBO Max
Based On: DC Comics’s Doom Patrol, created by Arnold Drake, Bob Haneym and Bruno Permiani and expanded upon by the likes of Grant Morrison and Gerard Way
Why We Can’t Wait: Doom Patrol was the sleeper hit of the niche streaming services. Its surprising fidelity to the source material, strong cast, and bevy of surprising moments made it one of our favorites of 2019. Negative Man’s (Matt Bomer) fantasy of getting on stage and singing “People Like Us” would’ve been enough for us to want more Doom Patrol, but it also features talents like April Bowlby, Diane Guerrero, and Alan Tudyk as the villainous Mr. Nobody. While it is unclear where the show might go in its second year, we expect it will be strange, unexpected, and emotionally resonant. And, presumably, puppets will be involved in some capacity.
Returns: Sometime in 2020 on Amazon
Based On: The comic book by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson
Why We Can’t Wait: The first season was a genuine surprise as it converted Ennis and Robertson’s sometimes raunchy comic into a more emotionally satisfying story. Sure, blood spattered and superheroes still took a good dose of trashing – particularly The Deep (Chace Crawford) – but the romance between Hughie (Jack Quaid) and Starlight (Erin Moriarty) balanced out Billy Butcher’s (Karl Urban) need for revenge. The new season will see Vought CEO Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) take a more active role in the company while the superpowered white supremacist Stormfront (Aya Cash) creates new problems for The Boys. Also, we expect the surprise revelation about Billy’s wife will have a huge impact in season 2.
(Photo by John P. Fleenor/Netflix)
Returns: Later this year on Netflix
Based On: Lucifer, as envisioned in the pages of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and the subsequent Lucifer comic book by Mike Carey, Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly
Why We Can’t Wait: Dennis Haysbert will play God in the upcoming season. Beyond that, season 4 ended on such a cliffhanger with Chloe (Lauren German) admitting her feelings for Lucifer (Tom Ellis) just as the Prince of Darkness agreed to return to Hell. But it seems a matter on Earth concerning his brother Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside) will bring him back to the mortal plane. Beyond all the story, though, is the pleasing thought that Lucifer beat the odds and received the chance to finish things on its own terms. We definitely hope it ends as strong as the comic book series it is based on.
Returns: This summer on ABC
Based On: Marvel Comic’s Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division and a handful of other Marvel characters
Why We Can’t Wait: It’s no secret we’ve always loved Marvel’s scrappy series, but like Lucifer, it is also ending on its own terms, and we can’t wait to see what it means. First, the surviving S.H.I.E.L.D. agents must slip into the past to prevent a catastrophe in their present. We’ll they be able to “Bill and Ted” their way to victory? But beyond that, there are the personal stories to consider. Will Coulson (Clark Gregg) come back to life? Will Fitz (Ian De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) get to enjoy one day of wedded bliss? Will Deke (Jeff Ward) ever grow a backbone? As S.H.I.E.L.D.’s seventh and final season represents the sunset of Marvel Television as we’ve known it since 2009, we hope each of the characters get the endings they deserve.
(Photo by courtesy of Netflix)
Debuts: Later this year on Netflix
Based On: The comic book series by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely
Why We Can’t Wait: While the premise – a new generation of superheroes rebelling against and letting down their parents and grandparents – is interesting enough, the program is also the first to emerge from Netflix’s purchase of Millar’s comic book company. And, as it happens, there is plenty of drama behind the scenes with showrunner Steven S. DeKnight (of Netflix’s Daredevil) walking away from the series due to creative differences. Does it bode ill for the show? That’s hard to say as Daredevil survived several executive producer shake-ups throughout its existence. The cast — which includes (clockwise from top left as pictured above) Leslie Bibb, Josh Duhamel, Ben Daniels, Matt Lanter, Mike Wade, Elena Kampouris, and Andrew Horton — will certainly get us to watch the first few episodes, but we’re definitely excited to see if Millar’s work can launch a new Netflix dynasty.
(Photo by © Marvel / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Debuts: Later this year on Disney+
Based On: Characters appearing in Marvel Comics like The Avengers and Captain America
Why We Can’t Wait: Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) are two of the best supporting characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and pairing them up in the wake of Steve Rogers’ retirement makes for the sort of series we want to watch. As we understand it, elements of the American military are unhappy Steve picked Sam to succeed him as Captain America and decide to take the vibranium shield for themselves. Add in the return of Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) and Wyatt Russell as a counterfeit Cap and you get the makings of a spiritual successor to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Also, as one of the first series in the new Marvel TV era, we can’t wait to see how it all connects.
(Photo by © Marvel / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Debuts: Later this year on Disney+
Based On: Marvel comics characters the Scarlet Witch and the Vision
Why We Can’t Wait: Unlike The Falcon and the Winter Solider’s more direct ties to the established tone of the Captain America movies, WandaVision sounds like a complete new concept. Thanks to information Marvel revealed at D23, the series will both continue Wanda Maximoff’s (Elizabeth Olsen) journey in the MCU and serve as a traditional three-camera sitcom. Is it a dream? A hoax? A product of Wanda’s growing powers? All we know for certain is the series will be something of a head trip and that alone has us chomping at the bit to see it.
(Photo by Brooke Palmer / 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
Returns: Later 2020
Based On: DC Comics’ The New Teen Titans and other related titles
Why We Can’t Wait: Titans has set itself up to do its own version of the classic “Who Is Donna Troy?” story and we hope that episode comes quickly. But beyond Donna’s (Conor Leslie) questionable status in the series, the program finally has the Titans together in one place (for the most part) and ready to kick ass in costume. Will Dick Grayson – newly minted as Nightwing – lead them to victory or will the continued presence of Kori’s (Anna Diop) nefarious sister Blackfire (Damaris Lewis) spell the end for the team? While Titans is never quite the series we expect it to be, it always offers something compelling and the stories set up for Donna and Kory would seem to be the best ideas for it to focus on.
(Photo by Marvel/ABC)
Although superheroes came to dominate comic books with the arrivals of the Justice League and the Fantastic Four in the 1960s, horror comics were big business in the decade prior with publisher EC Comics leading the pack. Successful titles like The Vault of Horror also became a lightning rod in the decade’s juvenile delinquency scare. A Senate sub-committee was formed to determine of horror comics were poisoning the youth of America and rumblings of government intervention scared the comic book industry as a whole. DC Comics, Marvel, and Archie Comics (and a few other now-defunct publishers) forestalled any sort of regulation by agreeing to form their own self-censoring body, the Comics Code Authority. Though intended to ensure “wholesome” reading for youngsters, the CCA had a second, potentially more sinister purpose: preventing EC Comics from publishing horror comics. As EC publisher Bill Gaines put it in the documentary Comic Book Confidential, the CCA’s first act was to ban almost every word used in EC’s titles.
Of course, the code also meant DC, Marvel, and Archie would avoid horror elements in their comics as well. But this restriction became less of a concern for the CCA in the early 1970s (well after EC became known for Mad Magazine). Marvel quickly introduced Morbius this Living Vampire in the pages of Spider-Man and began publishing The Tomb of Dracula. The series introduced the prominent horror figure into its comic universe and marked the debut of the day-walking vampire hunter Blade. Soon, Ghost Rider and other horror-tinged characters appeared in the Marvel universe. Anticipating the code changes, DC revived House of Secrets as a horror title in 1969 and spun off its recurring Swamp Thing feature in 1972. These titles represented a marriage of horror and the superhero which continues to this day. They would also inspire the horror titles of the 1990s independent market which never faced the Comics Code Authority or its restrictions.
And as television continues to mine comics for inspiration, horror characters (and horror titles) are finally making their mark on networks and streaming services. Some lean into the graphic nastiness of horror conventions, while others go for more subtle terrors. But which are the most successful? Let’s take a look at the five scariest comic book characters to grace the screen so far and see how they bring elements of horror to the comic book show subgenre.
Burning an indelible impression into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s fourth season, Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna) first appeared to Daisy (Chloe Bennet) as Robbie Reyes, a kid with car and a sense of justice. But when she pressed the issue of his apparent vigilantism, she met the Rider. Bursting forth from Robbie’s skull, the character had an aspect body horror about him. Later, viewers grasped the real terror as Robbie slowly let Daisy and Coulson (Clark Gregg) know the truth: the previous Rider – who may or may not have been Johnny Blaze – saved Robbie from a car wreck and passed the Rider onto him. Once bonded, the Spirit of Vengeance learned the accident was meant as a reprisal against Robbie’s uncle Eli (José Zuñiga), a would-be crime lord attempting to use the mystical Darkhold to further his plans. The Rider and Robbie formed an uneasy alliance as they became protectors of East L.A. Nonetheless, the Rider’s interest in serving vengeance on Eli meant their partnership was always uneasy.
Subsequent terrors included the Rider’s possession of Mack (Henry Simmons), the moment he finally dragged Eli to Hell, and his haunting deal with Coulson.
The basic horror element here is, of course, demonic possession. And while more gruesome and graphic scenes were downplayed (this is still ABC after all), the terror of the Rider comes not just from his look, but from the way people feel when he inhabits them and the last traumatic effects. The series played him properly as supernatural force even the seasoned S.H.I.E.L.D. agents found terrifying.
(Photo by AMC)
How can we have a list of the scariest comic book characters on television without mentioning the Walkers of AMC’s various Walking Dead programs. Even if none of the shows use the word, they still trade in the existential horror of zombies — the notion that your body will be absorbed into some mindless mass of flesh after you die. Beyond that, zombie fiction also comes with a healthy dose of claustrophobia and the absolute terror of potential killing your own loved-ones once they turned. Also, because everyone in The Walking Dead world is a bad day from becoming a Walker, death takes on a second, awful meaning.
But beyond the intellectual horrors of the zombie concept, the Walkers are incredible special effects. For the last decade, Greg Nicotero and his KNB EFX Group have done amazing things on television budgets and schedules to make Walkers ooze, crawl, drip, and gross out viewers. Sure, the Walkers are often just a mass of bodies swarming encampments – and, to be fair, that mass is terrifying – but the featured Walkers realized by KNB will remind viewers just how discussing and terrible zombification would be.
The most recent entry on the list takes some of its cues from the Walkers, but offers the classic image of the zombie a superhero upgrade thanks to dark matter and some occasionally dodgy CGI. Debuting in last week’s episode of The Flash, but getting a proper workout this week, the corpses controlled by Ramsey Rosso (Sendhil Ramamurthy) represent a dose of genuine horror movie tropes in the generally bright world of The Flash.
Now changed by his strange dark-matter-and-blood substance, Rosso needs to feed on the living to maintain his existence – shades of a vampire there – but must first generate intense fear in them for the blood infusion to be effective. And if those ideas weren’t terrifying enough, he can also control the bodies of his victims in a manner reminiscent of the Walkers before they eventually dissolve into more of that blood-like ooze.
The effects work may not be up to par with The Walking Dead, but the ideas are effective and the “blood brothers” oozy ends are particularly gross.
Rosso and his blood-kin also represent a new kind of horror – the sort which occurs when your work starts owning you. Rosso is so driven to cure his HLH that he is willing to sacrifice his own humanity – and the humanity of those he meets – to do it. Oh, and one supposes there is an element of egotism there, as well. Call it a critique of late-stage capitalism or the dangers of an out-of-whack work/life balance, but the results are pretty consistent with the sort of themes one finds under the decaying flesh of a zombie.
And considering how humdrum the last few Flash villains have been, a horror-tinged adversary like Rosso is a welcome change.
(Photo by DC Universe)
One of the great disappointments of DC Universe’s decision to cancel Swamp Thing after one year was that we only had one quick scene with Jason Woodrue (Kevin Durand) as the monstrous Floronic Man. It is a great scene in which Matt Cable (Henderson Wade) walks into the Marais Sherriff’s HQ and discovers all his coworkers dead. The power is out, the shadows are deep, and when Matt can make out distinct images, they are of persistent vegetation. Then he comes upon the Floronic Man, now seemingly driven mad from becoming a plant-based lifeform. The two exchange brief words, but the creature knows what it wants to do – kill anyone it encounters.
This post-credit scene is a marvel, but it represent the culmination of the work Durand put into the previous ten episodes of the series establishing Woodrue as one of its great slow-burn menaces. And considering the show’s titular hero is himself a body-slashing figure of horror himself, that is saying something.
Invited to Marais by local businessman Avery Sunderland (Will Patton) to investigate why the local swamp is having a bad reaction to his special “accelerant,” Woodrue appears as a man more invested in plants than people. The notable exception: his ailing wife Carolyn (Selena Anduze), who has a form of early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Woodrue hopes to find a cure for her in the swamp and its reaction to his formula, but his offbeat personality changes into something menacing once he chances a look at Abby Arcane’s (Crystal Reed) sample of Swamp Thing’s (Derek Mears) plant matter. Soon it grows into an obsession and leads him to a place where he is willing to use his wife as a lab rat to prove he can save her.
The terror here is, of course, that of a spouse gone wrong. And while it might be on a more operatic scale, the final moments of Woodrue and Carolyn’s relationship could just as easily be a more naturalistic episode of domestic violence. But since this is Swamp Thing, the ideas are heightened and Durand’s performance, already on the edge from the moment he first appears on screen, explodes into something altogether horrifying.
(Photo by Jordan Nuttall/The CW)
While some of Barry Allen’s (Grant Gustin) other Speedster rogues may lean into more obvious horror clichés – Zoom, for one, would be at home in a film in which he slaughters camp counselors by the score – the original Reverse-Flash (Tom Cavanagh) consistently pulled off being the scariest character on comic book television in 2014 and 2015 while wearing a yellow suit.
Thanks to his blurred face, crackling red eyes, and his mastery of speed, the character exuded menace and generated terror whenever he zipped into the frame. And to that Cavanagh’s stellar performance (both with and without vocal distortion), he continues to be the benchmark of villainy on that show. Consider his appearance during the 100th episode, in which he generated a season’s worth of chills in just three short scenes and out of costume.
But in form of the Reverse-Flash, he is a sight to behold. A vision of terror fused with the generally heroic aspects of The Flash’s own design. The success of that vision made Barry’s own go at being a nightmare of himself — the time remnant known as Savitar — far less successful. Of course, it also proves more is less as the simple methods and motives of the Reverse-Flash still successful engage audiences when villains like The Thinker and Savitar fail to impress.
His form of terror may not be as universal as demons or zombies. Indeed, it is very personal to Barry and, oddly enough, Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes). But it nevertheless manages to inspire some nightmares for viewers of The Flash. He is that relentless thing looking to tear down your accomplishments and undermine everything you aspire to be and a form of depression personified — with violence, calculation, and Cavanagh’s voice.
Which characters do you think are the scariest that have jumped from comic books to television? Tell us in the comments!
The Flash‘s sixth season premiere feels like a soft reboot of sorts: Barry’s (Grant Gustin) suit is a little brighter, Cisco’s (Carlos Valdes) smile is a little wider and the drama is — well, it is still the drama of The Flash, so Barry and Iris (Candice Patton) are still grieving the erasure of their daughter Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) from the timeline.
But beyond exploring the West-Allen’s grief, The Flash is a different show thanks to new executive producer and showrunner Eric Wallace. A veteran of genre TV (Eureka, Teen Wolf) and comic books (DC’s Mister Terrific), he came to the show with a distinct plan.
“Usually one of about two or three things happen in the sixth season of a hit show,” he said when he spoke to Rotten Tomatoes and other reporters ahead of season 6’s October 8 premiere. The first option? “Snoozeville — and it goes into cruise mode. No one really cares, but you kind of watch it because it’s habit.” Another key possibility: “Crash and burn,” leading the viewer to think, “Oh my! That used to be my favorite show, and I can’t stand it anymore.”
The third option is, of course, reinvention.
“I’m trying very hard, my staff’s trying very hard, the cast, the crew, everybody, to reward all of the fans who have been watching for five years. And as a thank you, we’re going to try and not give them the exact same thing that they’ve gotten for five years,” he explained. “As a reward, we’re trying some new things.”
Those new things are poised to make The Flash a different show from what it was. Here are just a few ways Wallace plans to give the series a new energy.
(Photo by The CW)
The Flash is known for its season-long plots and season-long villains. It was absolutely thrilling in the first couple of seasons — particularly in the first year with the mystery of the Reverse-Flash — but some of the villains definitely overstayed their welcome in subsequent seasons. Wallace plans to combat that fatigue by breaking season 6 into two major stories, or, as he put it in honor of his days in comics, “graphic novels.”
“It’s a self-contained story. It’s only eight episodes,” he explained of the first half.
The story will revolve around Ramsey Rosso (Sendhil Ramamurthy), a more recent villain from the comics also known as “Bloodwork.” He has a specific plan for metahuman powers that differs in a very different way from the speedster villains or The Thinker, but it also relates directly to Barry’s predicament ahead of the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover. And thanks to the way Wallace and his writers plotted the story, Bloodwork “burns very hot” as his story wraps up in just ahead of the “Crisis” event.
“By the time we get to [episode] 603 [and] 604, we’re in cuckoo-town, essentially,” Wallace said.
The change in momentum is a major departure for the series. Usually, the fourth episode of the year is more of a standalone story and the eighth puts the season-long villain on pause so that Team Flash can join the annual Arrowverse crossover. Wallace noted the pace of previous seasons was “part of the fun” of a 22-episode season, but at the same time, he added, “sometimes me and my wife and my child will watch and go, ‘Dude, shouldn’t you have caught [the villain] by now? It’s episode 17.’”
The attempt to pick up the pace of the overarching plot means the show will feel more serialized than ever before.
“A lot of the episodes — especially two, three, and four — they end and [the next] picks up one second later because I want the immediacy that audiences get when they’re watching a streaming show, and they’re watching something that’s eight or 10 episodes,” Wallace said. “That’s our competition, quite frankly. I want that same immediacy brought to The CW.”
And after Bloodwork’s story is wrapped up?
“We go to [“Crisis on Infinite Earths”], and then starting in [episode] 610, it’s a brand new story — graphic novel No. 2,” Wallace said.
The details of the second story are still under wraps, but there’s a possibility that Keiynan Lonsdale will return as Wally West for an episode or two — provided schedules sync up, of course. Additionally, the second half of the season will see the introduction of Sue Dearbon, Ralph Dibny’s (Hartley Sawyer) eventual wife in the comics.
(Photo by Sergei Bachlakov/The CW)
Another longstanding Flash tradition is the metahuman criminal of the week, which introduced characters including The Shade, Trajectory, and the Turtle. Some would return for a follow-up or graduate to the Rogues tier like Captain Cold and Heat Wave, but for the most part, they served the same function as Smallville’s or The X-Files’s “monster of the week” plot lines. And in almost all cases, these guest characters used their abilities to commit crimes.
Though Wallace wanted to “honor the old of the first five seasons,” he said it was important to find new ways for Team Flash to encounter metas. One debuts in the Tuesday night premiere — keep a steely eye out for some free-range dark matter — while another new method appears the week after.
“It is bearing so much fruit,” he teased. “It’s a new way to get stories in because it’s based in character.”
(Photo by Jeff Weddell/The CW)
In the past, Cisco’s relationships have been short-lived (remember Kendra Saunders?) or little more than joke fodder (the entirety of his time with Earth-19’s Gypsy). But this time, his relationship with photographer Kamilla Hwang (Victoria Park) will be a substantial part of Cisco’s story across both halves of season 6. And though Wallace said some of the other relationships on the show will be tested through crises and “Crisis,” Cisco and Kamilla will be “just fine.”
“That’s one of the themes of his season arc that plays over all 22 episodes,” Wallace said. “Can you be happy being human? Can you be happy not being meta? Can you be happy not saving the world every week?”
For Cisco, those questions pose a struggle as he tries to become a person who can punch out at 5 p.m. and “let The Flash handle everything from 5:01 to 8:59 [in the morning].” And from Wallace’s comments, it seems Kamilla will be instrumental in Cisco’s new perception of his work/life balance.
Wallace added that characters like Cisco may get the focus of episodes more often: “Look for that because it’s happening. We have such a talented cast. Let’s use them.”
(Photo by Jeff Weddell/The CW)
While the “Speed Force” powering Barry is an element of absolute science fantasy, Wallace hopes to give other concepts on the show a more concrete backing in actual current science.
“Science is my friend,” he said. “And I like to [use a] Stephen King rule of writing: You come up with the crazy idea, and then find the facts to support it.”
Of course, those facts lead to explanations Wallace and his team have to whittle down to the bare essentials both for brevity — there are only so many seconds to devote to an explanation of a black hole, for example — and to the keep the momentum of a given episode alive.
“It is a balancing act, but I do like to put as much real science into the stories as possible because there might be young people watching this going, ‘I want to be a scientist like Kaitlin’ [or] ‘I want to be a scientist like Cisco,’” Wallace said. “And I want them to maybe ask, ‘What is temporal mechanics?’ And then they go Google it. Suddenly maybe we have one more scientist in the world. That’s really awesome.”
(Photo by Katie Yu/The CW)
From the moment her dissertation went missing in the pilot episode, Iris’ relationship to journalism has vacillated across the seasons. She’s been a reporter at the Central City Picture News, the full-time leader of Team Flash, and founder of the Central City Citizen, but her career ends up falling away if it does not help the season-long plot. Wallace said the current plan, which began last season with the Citizen’s founding, is to establish her as major journalistic presence in town.
“We have very urgently done that this season,” he said. Kamilla works as a Citizen photographer, and a new staffer will be introduced “very soon.” A further expansion of the paper will depend on the available budget for the second half of the season. “[It] might be a small staff at first, but it’s very much about seeing her take charge of what we refer to as ‘Team Citizen,’ and they will appear, and they will be getting into trouble, especially in the back half of our show.”
Wallace also discussed some key character changes on the horizon that reflect his overall vision of the show (and are too spoilery to include here). Though he may be changing the pace — and some other aspects — The Flash is still a show about science heroes using their impossible knowledge and abilities to hold back the tide of chaos.
The Flash season 6 premieres Tuesday, October 8 at 8 p.m. on The CW.
It feels as though the character Batwoman has been on TV for a while — what with her splashing around in summer 2018 headlines and making a special appearance in last year’s Arrowverse “Elseworlds” crossover — but the debut episode of The CW’s Batwoman will be the real beginning of Kate Kane’s (Ruby Rose) television journey.
You may already know Batwoman is Bruce Wayne’s only living relative, an accomplished fighter, and very out and proud. But that’s only a sliver of who she is, what she’s fighting for, and why she has a series all her own. And combined with her ties to the already-sprawling CW multiverse of superheroes, it might be helpful to get a primer on what to expect when you sit down to watch Batwoman. Here are a few things you should know about this hero as her series begins.
(Photo by Elizabeth Morris/The CW)
Currently, The CW airs six superhero shows set on three different Earths. The Earth-1 of Arrow, The Flash, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl’s Earth-38, and the undesignated Earth of Black Lightning. The latter two occur on different Earths because they were not developed as CW shows — Supergirl first aired on CBS and Black Lighting was developed for Fox — but their alternate universe homes also pay homage to DC Comics and its fascination with alternate realities.
But as last year’s “Elseworlds” crossover made clear, Batwoman takes place on Earth-1. Which means it is possible for characters from The Flash and Arrow to make easy visits to Gotham City. Of course, that famous DC town was not always available to Arrowverse producer Greg Berlanti. Thanks in part to the way DC Entertainment handles film and television rights, the use of Gotham City icons had to be approved by several levels of management. Even a passing reference to Batman in an episode of Arrow a few years ago required executives at DC, Warner Bros, and Fox to sign off on it as Gotham was still on the air on Fox and Batman movies are always in development.
Some of those barriers have been cleared to make Batwoman possible, but it means you may be waiting some time to see your favorite Gotham City villains on the show. Most of the marquee rogues are typically reserved or Batman feature films and, thanks to a deal made with 20th Century Fox in the 1960s, the Fox broadcast network always has first dibs to Batman characters on television. There are exceptions, though, like Tommy Elliot — the more recent villain known as Hush — who will appear in the form of actor Gabriel Mann in upcoming episodes and Magpie (Rachel Matthews), a fairly minor villain from the 1980s. Both appeared on Gotham, but are easier for the series to tap than, say, the Penguin.
That said, Kate has her own rogues gallery, including the murderous and twisted Alice (Rachel Skarsten) and, if previews are anything to go by, the Crows private security firm run by her father Jacob (Dougray Scott).
(Photo by Kimberley French/The CW)
Besides Kate, Jacob and Alice, the Gotham of Batwoman will be fairly populated from the first episode on. Other characters include Kate’s stepmother Catherine Hamilton-Kane (Elizabeth Anweis), stepsister Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang), Wayne Industries caretaker Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson), and Crow agent Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy).
Applying the old evil-stepmother trope, Kate and Catherine do not get along. Kate is a loner who left home after high school, while Catherine is a mover-and-shaker in the Wayne-less Gotham. She does have a vested interest in reversing the city’s reputation as a crime-riddled hellhole, however, which is definitely compatible with Kate’s new job ridding her city of bad guys. Med student Mary, meanwhile, may be on better terms with Kate, but her real challenge is keeping her off-the-books health clinic in the tough part of Gotham a secret.
As for Luke (based on the DC Comics Batwing character) and Sophie, it’s best you watch the debut episode without a great deal of background on either, as they are the people Kate ends up interacting with the most — and for very different reasons.
And since we’re talking about Gotham citizens, it might helpful to mention Gotham itself is more a grounded Dark Knight place than the sometimes cartoonish city of Gotham. Which is to say, people behave a little more like everyday folks instead of the mad, wonderful, and shouting denizens of the former Fox television show. It’s an important contrast for a Gotham set on The CW’s Earth-1.
(Photo by JSquared Photography/The CW)
While Kate has a distinctive look, as seen in “Elseworlds,” it may be an episode or two before Rose is actually wearing that particular Batwoman super-suit. As revealed at screenings during San Diego Comic-Con this summer (and one at NYCC this weekend), the first episode takes viewers back to the moment Kate returned to Gotham after a self-imposed exile and discovers her cousin Bruce’s secret identity. Consequently, the complete Batwoman costume may not be seen on screen for a few episodes.
From a narrative standpoint, this is the right way to go as it means things like the Batwoman wig and red cape get to mean something to the audience. But for those watching the continuity between Batwoman and the other CW superhero shows, this means a good chunk of the first season occurred prior to last year’s “Elseworlds” crossover.
And just to make things even more confusing, the timeline has to sync up before December’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover, since Kate will be featured in the story.
In its own strange way, this also honors DC Comics and the way it tells stories, just without a helpful editorial caption to tell you these events are taking a place a year and a half ago. As you actually watch Batwoman, this may not matter too much in the short term — it has to tell its own story after all — but it may come up in December.
(Photo by Kimberley French/The CW)
As mentioned above, a large part of the show’s first season will form an origin story. It seemingly takes its cues from Batwoman: Elegy, a story by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III that really set the tone for Kate in the DC Comics universe. It reveals key details about Kate’s past — getting kidnapped with her twin sister at a young age, getting kicked out of the military when her same-sex relationship was exposed, etc. — and serving as a de facto origin tale even though Kate had been operating as Batwoman for a good year or two prior to Elegy’s publication in the pages of Detective Comics.
On the show, some of these details are getting remixed, but it will depart from Elegy in a key way — it will spend far more time showing Kate becoming Batwoman. Back in the comics, the character was always fully formed. But for television, it is important to see Kate making certain choices, literally learning the ropes and cementing her identity.
We have to admit that choice is dramatic satisfying for a series like this. And, as it happens, Berlanti pulled this off before on Arrow. Halfway through its second season it introduced Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), a visiting crime scene analyst who began a quasi-relationship with Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). By the end of the season, he was struck by lightning and awarded with his own show. Thanks to the Arrow appearance, the audience had the chance to decide if they liked Barry while the first season of The Flash saw him discovering powers and hitting certain important milestones.
And like Barry at the time of his debut, Kate is a person a lot of viewers only know through reputation or her brief appearance in the Arrowverse last year. Giving her a handful of episodes of self-discovery gives the new program — and the audience — plenty of time to obtain a clearer picture of Kate.
(Photo by Robert Falconer/The CW)
Thanks to the success of The Flash, the subsequent Arrowverse shows have been filled with metahumans and crazy super powers. Even the fairly grounded Black Lighting, which exists outside the Arrowverse framework, indulges in its super-power displays and, indeed, made the collection of metahumans a key part of its storyline. But Batwoman is a return to the pure action show roots of Arrow. Like that series’ early days, Kate, her associates, and her enemies will lack for big, bright powers.
Granted, that’s baked right into the premise — members of the Batman family are generally conventional humans trained for peak performance — but it means the show will have a different feel than what you might expect. This is doubly true as Arrow finds itself dealing with alternate realities and a multiverse entity as part of its eighth and final season. Week-to-week, this means you should expect a lot more close-quarters fighting and, perhaps, a reliance on gadgets. Hopefully, the latter will set the program apart from Arrow, which avoided trick arrows for a long time.
The return to action also means the show will be less tied to the campier elements of the DC Universe. That’s probably a good decision as Batwoman is paired on Sundays nights with Supergirl, a show filled with powered aliens and a generous helping of goofy camp to offset its often-serious stories. And considering the rumblings that a “World’s Finest” team-up between the two heroes may eventually happen, contrasting their worlds can only be a net positive. A similar difference in tone helped set The Flash apart from Arrow.
But considering Batwoman’s comic book past includes some wild monsters, aliens, and prophecies, we wouldn’t put it past the production team to introduce something decidedly fantastical into the mix after “Crisis on Infinite Earths” or in the first season finale.
Until that occurs, though, expect Batwoman to be a show about fighting for one’s identity. Whether or not that’s a meta-commentary on the show itself (and its place in the Arrowverse) remains to be seen.
Batwoman airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on The CW.
This week’s biggest TV story involves a major superhero milestone, some Big Bang Theory nostalgia (yes, already), a post-Game of Thrones role for one of its biggest stars, and more.
(Photo by Warner Brothers Television/courtesy Everett Collection)
Major superhero news: The CW’s original Superman, Smallville star Tom Welling, is suiting up for the network’s epic Arrowverse crossover “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” While the prequel series famously didn’t show Welling’s Clark Kent donning his Superman cape until the final episode, we’ll find out what has happened to him in the almost-decade since Smallville ended.
“Tom is incredible. Bringing back his Clark is something we always wanted to do for Crisis,” Arrowverse executive producer Marc Guggenheim said on Twitter.
There’d be no crossover without Tom Welling. So Tom Welling is in the crossover. pic.twitter.com/9HqffyYUDh
— Stephen Amell (@StephenAmell) September 19, 2019
He’ll be joined by two more Supermen: Brandon Routh, who stars on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, will reprise his Superman Returns role in the crossover; Supergirl’s current Superman, Tyler Hoechlin, will reprise his role as well. Hey — there are infinite Earths, so theoretically that means infinite Supermans too.
The crossover begins with the Dec. 8 episode of Supergirl, continuing into a special Monday night airing of Batwoman and a regularly scheduled Tuesday night episode of The Flash on Dec. 10 before pausing for the winter hiatus. The story then concludes on Tuesday, Jan. 14 with Arrow and a “special episode” of Legends.
Peaky Blinders is back: The series returns to Netflix for its fifth season on Oct. 4. The streaming service released a full trailer for the upcoming season, which features Cillian Murphy’s Tommy Shelby, now serving in Parliament, dealing with the financial crash of 1929.
You can also watch the following new trailers:
The Big Bang Theory just ended, but two of its stars are already staging a reunion. According to Deadline, Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik will executive produce the new multi-camera sitcom Carla, which Fox ordered straight to series. Bialik will also star as the titular character, “a 39-year-old woman who struggles every day against society and her mother to prove that you CANNOT have everything you want — and still be happy. Which is why she spent the money her parents set aside for her wedding to open a Cat Café in Louisville, KY.” It’s based on the BBC sitcom Miranda, which ran for three seasons between 2009 and 2013.
Speaking of BBT, when HBO Max launches in the spring of 2020, it’ll contain a vast library of hit shows — including one of television’s biggest shows from the past decade. All 12 seasons of The Big Bang Theory will be available to stream on the service. It’ll still air in syndication on TBS through 2028.
Baywatch Red, to the rescue! To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the iconic TV series, the Pantone Color Institute partnered with the show’s producers to identify and standardize @baywatch Red, a dynamic and dramatic, red shade featured in the red swimsuits worn by the cast. pic.twitter.com/YOPmTwLIs7
— PANTONE (@pantone) September 16, 2019
It’s been 30 years since Baywatch debuted, and the one-time biggest show in the world is still synonymous with red swimsuits and slow-mo jogging. To celebrate the milestone anniversary, Pantone created the color Baywatch Red, based on the red uniforms of the titular lifeguards.
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GIRLFRIENDS X BLACKISH ~ @therealgolden47 @misspersiawhite @itsmejillmarie @blackishabc my giiiiirlfriends are guest starring on #blackish tuesday, october 8! we haven’t all been together on camera since 2006. these are women i grew up with and love deeply and it was easy tap back into the magic of our chemistry and how much we love each other. it was giggles on top of giggles on top of giggles. girlfriends ran for 8 years and was important to so many people. being able to merge the worlds of @blackishabc and girlfriends was surreal for me and so much fun.
During the week of Oct. 7, ABC will host mini-reunions of cast members from popular, long-running series during its primetime slate. On Monday, House star Robert Sean Leonard will play a patient on House creator David Shore’s latest series, The Good Doctor. Tuesday will see the Blues Brothers – or at least Blues Brothers 2000 – reunite when Dan Aykroyd guest stars alongside John Goodman on The Conners; a Wet Hot American Summer reunion between Michael Ian Black and Lake Bell on Bless This Mess; and the main cast of Girlfriends (Golden Brooks, Jill Marie Jones, and Persia White) join Tracee Ellis Ross on Black-ish. Wednesday brings a Cheers reunion when Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger, and George Wendt guest star on The Goldbergs as well as another look at real-life spouses Leighton Meester and Adam Brody on Single Parents. Thursday sees Charmed stars Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs team up with Grey’s Anatomy producers (and former Charmed writers) Krista Vernoff and Andy Reaser, and Jerry Ferrara reunites with Think Like a Man costar Roman Malco on A Million Little Things. Friday will see Diedrich Bader’s Drew Carey Show costars Drew Carey, Ryan Stiles, and Kathy Kinney join him on American Housewife, and Ken Jeong’s return to his Crazy Rich Asians costar Constance Wu’s sitcom Fresh Off the Boat. Finally, on Sunday, The Rookie reunites Castle costars Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas with Nathan Fillion.
(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)
Game of Thrones‘ Sophie Turner and Corey Hawkins will play the only survivors of a plane crash on a snowy, remote mountaintop in the Quibi series Survive. The duo will battle their way out of the wilderness in the short-form series, which is currently in production and is based on the novel Survive by Alex Morel.
Kiefer Sutherland will star in Quibi’s new short-form series The Fugitive as legendary cop Det. Clay Bryce, who investigates a bombing in the Los Angeles subway that Boyd Holbrook’s Mike Ferro witnesses (and soon becomes the biggest suspect thanks to social media accusations). Ferro must find the real perpetrator before Bryce can apprehend him. Production begins mid-October in Los Angeles.
Marilyn Manson will recur as death metal singer Johan Wengren in the upcoming third season of American Gods. “Bringing his specific energy, wit and boundless enthusiasm for all-things-Neil Gaiman to the role of Johan, a Norse ‘berserker’ in service to Odin, his performance promises to be disturbing, original and uniquely entertaining,” showrunner Chic Eglee told Deadline.
Billie Lourd will guest star in the upcoming final season of Will & Grace as Fiona Adler, the daughter of Grace’s older sister and granddaughter of Bobbi Adler, who was played by Lourd’s real-life grandmother, Debbie Reynolds.
The Voice has hired Taylor Swift to mentor season 17’s contestants.
We promise that you’ll never find another Mega Mentor like her.
— The Voice (@NBCTheVoice) September 16, 2019
Season 3 of Showtime’s The Chi is welcoming a trio of familiar faces. La La Anthony (Power), Lil Rel Howery (Get Out), and Luke James (Little) will guest star in multiple episodes of the Chicago-set series, which is currently in production in Chicago and will debut in 2020. James will play Victor “Trig” Taylor, Jake’s (Michael V. Epps) estranged older brother who wants to reunite his fractured family, but takes an unconventional approach. Anthony will play Dominique “Dom” Morris, a savvy businesswoman with dreams of more lucrative opportunities. Howery will play Zeke Remnick, the owner of Sonny’s building who cares less about the community than the bottom line.
Constance Zimmer will recur opposite Emma Kenney in the upcoming 10th season of Shameless. John Mulaney will play Henry David Thoreau in the Apple TV+ comedy Dickinson, about the poet Emily Dickinson. Willa Holland is returning to Arrow for the series’ eighth and final season, according to TVLine. She’ll recur as her character Thea Queen, the younger sister of the titular character. Amy Brenneman will join Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow in FX’s pilot The Old Man. She’ll play Zoe, a divorcee who rents a room to Bridges’ titular character. Jay Baruchel is joining Denis Leary and Elizabeth Perkins in Fox’s holiday event series A Moody Christmas, based on an Australian show of the same name.
Jasmine Guy will play a key recurring role in season 16 of Grey’s Anatomy, according to Deadline. The actress appeared in a late-season 15 episode as Gemma, a woman who experienced a freak accident and reunited with Dr. Webber, with whom “she shares a problematic history.” That storyline will play out in multiple episodes of the show’s new season.
Good Girls has found a new member of their criminal team: TVLine reports that Charlyne Yi will join the cast in the season 3 premiere as Lucy, a “quirky artist with ‘mildly impaired social skills’” whom the trio “manipulate to help them with their criminal enterprise.” And per Deadline, Orange Is the New Black’s Jackie Cruz will recur as Rhea, a dental hygienist and single mom who befriends one of the titular characters, to whom she may be more connected than either of them realize.
(Photo by Cartoon Network)
The Boondocks is returning to TV: When HBO Max launches next year, the complete series will be available on the new streaming service, which will also eventually be the home for two new seasons and a 50-minute special of the comic-turned-animated series. Creator Aaron McGruder is returning to helm the 24 new episodes, which is scheduled to launch in fall 2020.
The new series will revolve around “the adventures of self-proclaimed ‘Civil Rights Legend’ Robert ‘Granddad’ Freeman and his two rambunctious grandsons Huey and Riley. The family has recently moved to an idyllic community in suburban Maryland only to see it taken over by the tyrannical Uncle Ruckus and his bizarre neo-fascist regime. Life under Ruckus turns out to be an everyday struggle to survive.”
McGruder said in a statement, “There’s a unique opportunity to revisit the world of The Boondocks and do it over again for today. It’s crazy how different the times we live in are now — both politically and culturally — more than a decade past the original series and two decades past the original newspaper comic. There’s a lot to say and it should be fun.”
You’re the Worst creator Stephen Falk’s next project will see the writer/producer teaming up with Greg Berlanti for a Showtime drama called Spoonbenders, per THR. “Based on a 2017 novel by Daryl Gregory, Spoonbenders is a genre-busting saga that centers on The Amazing Telemachus Family, a traveling family magic act — which happened to be made up of people with actual magic powers — and the tragedy that finds them forced to reunite 25 years later, when old debts, long-running grudges the mob and the CIA all come looking for them.”
Showtime has ordered a pilot for the hourlong drama Yellowjackets, the story of talented high school girls soccer players who survive a plane crash in the Ontario wilderness, then descend into warring, cannibalistic clans. Karyn Kusama will executive produce and direct the pilot, which is set to film in Los Angeles this fall. The series was created by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson.
While The CW’s Arrowverse returns in a few weeks to set up the individual plots of each show, the week of October 6 will also likely feature more than one nod to the December crossover “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” The longest running individual shows — Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow — have been teasing the event since the conclusion of last winter’s “Elseworlds” crossover, and considering the story they are trying to adapt, spending a year teasing it is worthwhile. Crisis on Infinite Earths is a milestone in comics history and a beast of a story.
But if all you’ve heard about Crisis is its impressive scale, let’s take a look at the story and everything we know about The CW’s version of it to glean what it might look like and how it might change the Arrowverse come winter.
(Photo by Jack Rowand/The CW)
In 1956, DC Comics began introducing new versions of many of their classic characters from wartime comics like All-Flash Comics and All-American Comics. Many of the mystical characters, like the original version of Green Lantern, were revamped into science fiction characters, but even science-based characters like The Flash saw radical changes in costume and character. But in tipping a hat to the past, writer Robert Kanigher included an interesting quirk in Barry Allen’s first story: he took his superhero identity from a comic book featuring the original Flash.
Eventually, the two characters met (in The Flash #123), revealing the comics on Barry’s Earth-1 replicated the adventures of older Flash Jay Garrick, who happened to live on Earth-2. The story established the DC multiverse – a collection of parallel worlds where changes both big and small created new story potential – and it eventually led to big crossover in the pages of Justice League of America in which the heroes of Earth-1 and Earth-2 met to save the day.
The crossover’s name was “Crisis on Earths 1 and 2.”
It established a tradition for Justice League: Every so often, the League would face a Crisis, meeting the inhabitants of another Earth, and save the day. Besides showcasing other versions of characters or characters DC bought from other publishers, it proved to be a popular and fun gimmick.
(Photo by Jeff Weddell/The CW)
Flash forward a few decades and the collection of alternate worlds like Earth-3 (where the League is a criminal syndicate) and Earth-X (where World War II continues to rage into the 1980s) became too much for DC’s readers and editorial staff to keep straight. New Teen Titans writer Marv Wolfman, assigned to write to a definitive history of the DC Universe, campaigned to streamline the company’s shared reality into something much more manageable. It also gave the opportunity to tell a Ragnarok-style yarn. And in honor of those “Crisis” crossovers, it was eventually titled Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Timed with DC’s 50th anniversary, the story saw characters from various Earths pulled together by a being known as The Monitor to stop his twin, The Anti-Monitor, from consuming all of the Multiverse until only his antimatter universe remained. It is stuffed with every character DC owned at the time — and even a few sneaky one-panel cameos from some Marvel Comics characters like Peter Parker — and charted destruction on a universal scale. In its opening moments, the Earth-3 mentioned above is destroyed. The death toll included some marquee characters like Barry Allen and Supergirl, but they were far from the only people lost during the Crisis.
Roughly half-way through the series’ 12-issue run, only five universes remained. A plan is hatched to move them into a nether realm safe from the Anti-Monitor. These do not go exactly as planned, but the key editorial decision behind Crisis was accomplished: only one Earth remained to house all the DC Comics characters. Barry Allen was now directly inspired by Jay Garrick’s exploits as the Flash during World War II and an era of superheroes occurred decades before the arrival of Superman.
The streamlining didn’t work out quite the way Wolfman and the editorial staff hoped — particularly as some individual titles waited as long as 18 months after Crisis’s conclusion to revamp their characters — but the story itself is a spectacular example of the event-storylines superhero comics would trade in for decades to come.
Also, because nothing stays dead in superhero comics, the DC Multiverse eventually returned.
(Photo by Diyah Pera/The CW)
One thing we didn’t mention about Crisis was the set-up. A year before the series was due to launch, Wolfman introduced The Monitor in the pages of New Teen Titans #21 as a shadowy, ambiguous figure. The character began popping up in various titles — making his first full appearance in G.I. Combat #274 — before the first issue of Crisis revealed his real goal.
This is key because The CW pulled the same trick in The Flash’s 100th episode. In its stinger scene, we’re introduced to The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett, pictured above) as he pronounces judgment on Earth-90. And as he seemingly ends that universe, it’s Flash (John Wesley Shipp, reprising his role from the 1990s Flash TV Show) speeds away to another Earth. With its red skies and dead heroes strewn about, the stinger couldn’t be more Crisis. It also left viewers curious about The Monitor’s aims.
And like the lead-up to the comic book Crisis, we suspect The Monitor will continue to intrude on the various series throughout the Fall. As seen in Arrow’s seventh season finale, The Monitor will be directing Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) on a mission which will, presumably, see him hopping to different realities. At least, we’re pretty certain that’s why we’ll see Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) and Tommy Merlyn (Colin O’Donnell) alive and well in the season 8 premiere.
Over on Flash, we expect he may taunt Barry (Grant Gustin) with the details of his upcoming disappearance. Slated for 2024 since the series began, the events of the program’s fifth season finale brought that ticking clock to 2019. Additionally, new villain Bloodwork’s (Sendhil Ramamurthy) story will lead into the Crisis itself.
Meanwhile, on Supergirl, The Monitor appeared to pull J’onn ‘Jonzz’s (David Harewood) brother Malefic out of time and space to cause trouble on Earth-38. And on Legends — well, he just watched the circus from afar. But that has to mean something, right?
(Photo by Katie Yu/The CW)
The Monitor’s distance from Legends may reflect the unusual broadcast pattern of “Crisis.” The story begins with the Dec. 8 episode of Supergirl, continuing into a special Monday night airing of Batwoman and a regularly scheduled Tuesday night episode of The Flash on Dec. 10 before pausing for the winter hiatus. The story then concludes on Tuesday, Jan. 14 with Arrow and a “special episode” of Legends. The show is literally as far as it can be from interacting with him and if the television “Crisis” follows the comic book plot, he may not be around to cause them much trouble.
Other things we expect to see during “Crisis” include a trippy origin for the multiverse, plenty of in-jokes as worlds disappear, the shocking removal of The Monitor by the most unlikely character, a few Earths merging into one, and maybe even a heroic Luthor showing up to save the day.
Oh, and many, many deaths.
Like the source material, the body count during “Crisis” must be high. Will we lose King Shark or Gorilla Grodd? Will Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) appear from another Earth just to bite it again? Will former CCPD Captain Singh (Patrick Sabongui) make one last brave stand? It is hard to say. Recurring characters are definitively vulnerable, but a Crisis requires some key character sacrificing their lives to save the universe. Take you bets on whole looks like dead meat now.
One echo of Crisis we don’t expect to see is the death of Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist). For one thing, Oliver seemingly spared her that fate when he bargained with The Monitor for her life during “Elseworlds.” Also, her show isn’t ending and Benoist contract is not expiring. But Arrow itself is ending and one actor’s time on Supergirl is almost up. This makes Oliver and James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) more likely candidates to die during some noble sacrifice.
And Crisis’s other famous death? We imagine the Earth-90 Flash will take Barry’s place in whatever destiny The Monitor foresaw for him. And considering the heartstrings Shipp can pull whenever he has to tell Gustin’s Barry goodbye, we expect this scene will rank high on the emotional scale. Also, as much as we love Carlos Valdes and Cisco Ramon, “Crisis” would be a good place to make a last stand.
(Photo by Warner Bros. / Courtesy: Everett Collection)
And like the Crisis comic, the crossover event will feature tons of special guests and cameos from the rich history of DC Comics television. As mentioned, Shipp will return for what we assume will be his last appearance as the 1990s Flash. Batman ’66’s Burt Ward will appear in an as-yet unannounced role while Batman: The Animated Series’s Kevin Conroy will finally make his on-screen debut as Bruce Wayne … or, at least, a Bruce Wayne from the future.
Meanwhile, Legends star Brandon Routh (pictured above) will appear as another Earth’s Superman (a callback to the time the actor starred as the character in 2006’s Superman Returns), while also appearing as his Legends character Ray Palmer. Tyler Hoechlin will also return as the Earth-38 Superman of Supergirl and, presumably, at least one or two more Supermen from other worlds. Elizabeth Tulloch and Jon Cryer will also return as the Earth-38 Lois Lane and Lex Luthor.
Also playing a double role is The Flash’s Tom Cavanagh. Besides portraying a new version of Harrison Wells, he will be taking on the role of Pariah, a key Crisis character. It may be one of the most inspired cast choices yet announced because of course Pariah — who sets the Anti-Monitor’s wave of destruction in motion — is another Harrison Wells. At least, we’re assuming Pariah is another Wells. It feels right for the Arrowverse.
Black Lightning will not be an official part of the crossover, but as confirmed in August, the characters will be making their Arrowverse debut during the episodes.
Tying it all together will be Garrett, who will reprise his “Elseworlds” role as The Monitor and play the Anti-Monitor himself.
(Photo by The CW)
Back in the comics, the DC Universe following Crisis eventually took on the term “Post-Crisis” to differentiate itself from the days of the multiverse. In that new reality, the full extent of the Crisis was forgotten. The various worlds never existed and the survivors’ memories realigned to the new status quo. Only the criminal Psycho-Pirate recalled the Pre-Crisis multiverse and his memories lingered on as a potential threat.
The Arrowverse after its “Crisis” may run along the same lines. If Earth-1 and Earth-38 merge, it is entirely possible no one will remember a time when National City, Supergirl, and the rest were absent from Earth-1. This may be the real reason The Flash will feature a new big bad in the spring — initial villain Bloodwork may have been erased from existence.
For the moment, though, we’re going to assume Black Lighting will continue on in its own separate universe even if we’d love to see Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams, pictured above) and the rest of his family interact with Team Flash or Supergirl’s Brainiac 5 (Jesse Rath). Sadly the realities of production — Black Lighting shoots in Atlanta while the rest of the shows shoot in Vancouver — make it more difficult for the characters to strike up friendships.
But a potential Earth-1/Earth-38 merger makes the friendship between Batwoman (Ruby Rose) and Kara much more likely. Instead of hopping across a universe, Gotham City would be a short flight away. And much like the streamlining of the DC Universe in the 1980s made relationships across the different generations of heroes possible, we want all six shows to interact as freely as they can.
As for Batwoman itself, it is hard to say how the Crisis will leave a lasting impact. The series will only be eight episodes old by the time it is over and not really established. Perhaps exposing Kate to the strange cosmic workings of the universe will leave some impression on her. Ultimately, though, it will have to get back to telling its story.
Which is the case of all of the shows, of course. Flash will get a new villain, Arrow will conclude its run with two episodes following “Crisis,” Supergirl will power on, and Legends will continue to be Legends. But “Crisis” will leave its mark for anyone willing to look closer and wonder if the old status quo can ever be revived. And like Psycho-Pirate, we will remember when worlds lived, worlds died, and everything was changed.
(Photo by FX)
For Rotten Tomatoes’ annual Fall TV Survey, we asked thousands of our users what they’re most looking forward to in the coming TV season and to reflect on the best shows from seasons past.
We first asked TV fans which returning fall TV shows they were most looking forward to, allowing them more than one vote to spread the love around.
American Horror Story took the top spot with 25% of the vote. No. 2, the second season of Mindhunter, which has already launched on Netflix, got 24.31% of the vote, besting The Good Place (23.7%) by a hair.
Read on to find out all of Rotten Tomatoes users’ most anticipated returning series.
Disagree with the survey results? Tell us in the comments who you think should have made the list or have been ranked higher.
*No. 22 reflects write-in votes; a few of the top titles included The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Mr. Robot, Chicago P.D., A Million Little Things, and Blue Bloods. (Some titles confirmed return dates after our survey was conducted; others, like popular write-in Star Trek: Discovery, have yet to announce.)
(Photo by Netflix)
For Rotten Tomatoes’ annual Fall TV Survey, we asked thousands of our users what they’re most looking forward to in the coming TV season and to reflect on the best shows from seasons past.
Stranger Things again dominated the top spot across all demographic age groups and both sexes when we asked Rotten Tomatoes fans, “Which Netflix original series is your favorite?”
What we didn’t expect to see was a Mindhunter leaping from No. 13 in 2018 to No. 3 in 2019 or the major motion among the canceled Marvel titles: The Punisher moved from 21 to No. 6 over the course of the year, The Defenders moved from No. 25 to No. 13, and Luke Cage moved from No. 24 to No. 10 — we’re noting a pattern. Even Iron Fist showed up for this party, landing at No. 23.
The vote disparity between males and females for the list was, again, worth noting. Marvel’s Daredevil took second place overall again, but didn’t appear in the top five for women, receiving only 14% vote from women overall. Mindhunter, meanwhile, was No. 2 among women, followed by The Crown, Orange Is the New Black, and Black Mirror. Newcomer Lucifer, meanwhile was No. 6 among women, but 16th overall.
We allowed survey participants to vote for multiple titles — read on to find out which came out on top overall.
(Photo by )
Comic-Con International: San Diego is very much a convention about television. That evolution is hardly surprising with the similarities the format shares with comic books. Both allow their audiences to grow intimately attached to characters over a long timespan. Both reveal their stories in installments, utilizing a certain pace within episodes (or issues) and a larger construction of momentum across a season (or story arc).
And in 2019, television — particularly of the kind based on comic books —dominates the programming schedule with The CW’s superhero offerings taking over Ballroom 20 for most of Saturday and shows like The Walking Dead and Riverdale commanding Hall H-sized crowds. Additionally, HBO is setting up a Watchmen experience at the Petco Park Home Plate Gate (and at the parking lot on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Island Avenue) to promote their upcoming quasi-sequel to the landmark miniseries by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins. Trying to see all of the Comics on TV style programming may be impossible, but we imagine the most hard-core Comic-Con aficionados (and some of us contractually-obligated media types) are willing to try.
With that in mind, join us as we take a look at all the panels highlighting Comics on TV at Comic-Con. It may help you choose your priorities.
The first full day of Comic-Con gets its Comics on TV content rolling with a new episode of Teen Titans GO! The animated shorts are somewhat divisive with fans of the older Teen Titans unimpressed with GO!’s anarchic comedy and format. Nonetheless, fun can be had as members of the voice cast and the crew will be on hand to debut the new episode. Expect some of the voice actors to switch into their roles during the Q&A. It is traditional, after all.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Hall H, 3:30 p.m.)
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. survived bouncing around the schedule, a cancellation scare, and the Snap to make their way to Hall H this year. They definitely earned it as Season 6 has been its strongest year yet. Cast members Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Elizabeth Henstridge, Iain De Caestecker, Henry Simmons, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, and Jeff Ward – and executive producers Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, Jeff Bell, and Jeph Loeb – will be on hand to discuss alien psychoactive substances, the mystery of Sarge, and the Planet Kitson. They will also tease some events to come in Season 7.
Stumptown (Indigo Ballroom, 4:15 p.m.)
Based on the comic book series by Greg Rucka, Matthew Southworth, and Justin Greenwood, the new ABC series focuses on Dex Parios, a sharp-witted Army veteran who takes up private investigations to pay off her gambling debts. She also looks out for her brother while solving cases and avoiding trouble. Star Cobie Smulders, along with co-stars Jake Johnson, Michael Ealy, Camryn Manheim, Tantoo Cardinal, Cole Sibus, Adrian Martinez, executive producer Jason Richman, and Rucka will introduce audiences to the TV version of Dex and the Portland, Oregon criminal underworld she knows far too well for her own good.
Adapting Source Material For Film And TV (Room 6A, 4:15 p.m.)
But if you want to learn more about how TV producers adapt comics into television shows, The Walking Dead executive producer David Alpert, Deadly Class co-executive producer Maggie Bandur, former Iron Fist showrunner M. Raven Metzner, and former Luke Cage producer Akela Cooper will chat about how they walk fan-favorite comic books through the development process and on to cable channels or streaming services. It may explain why superhero costumes often disappear and why some shows look nothing like their four-color counterparts.
DuckTales (Room 6A, 11:45 a.m.)
Start your Friday at Comic-Con with DuckTales‘ executive producer Matt Youngberg, co-EP Francisco Angones, and stars Ben Schwartz, Bobby Moynihan, Kate Micucci, and Paget Brewster as they discuss the upcoming third season and show footage from a never-before-seen episode. Will it be a whole episode? You never know with the series inspired by the Donald Duck comics of Carl Barks.
Fear The Walking Dead (Hall H, 12 p.m.)
Now a traditional Hall H staple, the cast and crew of AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead will grace the stage to dodge questions about upcoming episodes. Panelists include cast members Lennie James, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Maggie Grace, Colman Domingo, Danay Garcia, Austin Amelio, Alexa Nisenson, Karen David, Jenna Elfman, and Rubén Blades. Walking Dead boss Scott M. Gimple, showrunners and executive producers Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, executive producers Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Dave Alpert, and Greg Nicotero will also be on hand to help the cast avoid spoilers.
DC Super Hero Girls New Episode Premiere And Q&A (Room 6DE, 12:30 p.m.)
Last year, the DC Super Hero Girls team debuted the first of a planned series of shorts. Now, with the full series off the ground and airing on Cartoon Network, the cast and crew return triumphant with a new episode to show an appreciative crowd of fans. Last year’s panel was also a lot of fun, so we expect this to be no different.
The Walking Dead (Hall H, 1 p.m.)
Gimple, Hurd, Alpert, Nicotero, and Kirkman remain on the Hall H stage for the second hour of Walking Dead content. They are joined by Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang and cast members Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Avi Nash, Cooper Andrews, Ryan Hurst, Nadia Hilker, Eleanor Matsuura, and Cailey Fleming. Expect more spoiler-evasion, but a pretty entertaining sort as this cast knows how to talk about their characters without giving anything away. McBride, in particular, is a master at this. The hour will also offer a first look at the Season 10 trailer.
The Boys (Ballroom 20, 3:30 p.m.)
Stars Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Laz Alonso, Chace Crawford, Tomer Capon, Karen Fukuhara, Jessie T. Usher, Elisabeth Shue, and executive producers Eric Kripke and Seth Rogen come together to discuss the upcoming Amazon Prime series based on the comic book by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. It takes place in a world where superheroes are as fallible as any pro athlete, movie star, or influencer. But when they get out of line, The Boys appear to teach them the folly of their ways.
Pennyworth Special Video Presentation and Q&A (Room 6BCF, 4:30 p.m.)
A series based around Batman’s butler may seem superfluous, but we think those going to this panel will be pleasantly surprised by this new take on Alfred Pennyworth. Stars Jack Bannon, Ben Aldridge, Paloma Faith, and executive producers Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon will be on hand to present footage from the series and answers questions about the craziest Batman prequel yet.
Announcing The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers Animated Series (Room 6BCF, 7 p.m.)
The underground comix classic is finally coming to TV! Showrunners Alan Freedland and Alan Cohen, producers Blake Anderson and Adam Devine, and writers Jeremy Lehrer and Daniel Lehrer will discuss their approach to Gilbert Shelton’s trio of counterculture stoners.
Preacher (Hall H, 7 p.m.)
Preacher is reaching its endgame. Executive producer Seth Rogen and members of the cast will take to the Hall H stage to celebrate the program’s fourth and final season. We expect they will also have some footage from the Season 4 premiere if not the entire episode itself. They will also reminisce about the high-jinks that Jesse (Dominic Cooper), Tulip (Ruth Negga), and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) got up to while searching for the Almighty.
Batwoman Pilot Screening And Q&A (Ballroom 20, 10:30 a.m.)
If you missed the preview night premiere of Batwoman, you will have a second chance to catch the first episode during the first Ballroom 20 presentation on Friday, July 20th. Ruby Rose stars as the out and proud Kate Kane, cousin of a long-absent Bruce Wayne who learns the truth about his nighttime activities and takes the mantle of the Bat for herself. The cast and producers will also be on stage answering questions from soon-to-be fans of the show.
Snowpiercer On TBS: Panel and Exclusive First Look (Indigo Ballroom, 3 p.m.)
Based on the French comic by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette, Snowpiercer takes viewers to a world where the remnants of humanity board a perpetually moving train. But all of the species’ emotional baggage is along for the ride. Stars Jennifer Connelly, Daveed Diggs, Alison Wright, Mickey Sumner, Lena Hall, Steven Ogg, and executive producer/showrunner Graeme Manson will offer an exclusive peek at the show and answer questions about its long route to the screen.
Arrow Special Video Presentation And Q&A (3:30 p.m.)
It is hard to believe that this will be the final Arrow panel at Comic-Con. And yet, eight years, two attempts at Olicity, and one Ricardo Diaz later, this is the end. Join the cast and crew as they recall fond times and tease what lies ahead for Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) as the 10-episode final season brings him inexorably to his final fate. We expect this to be the key panel during The CW’s takeover of Ballroom 20. We even think a trailer for the upcoming “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover will debut toward the end of it.
While we singled out Arrow because it is their final Comic-Con appearance, Supergirl, Black Lightning, and The Flash will all make their usual Saturday appearances, bringing the customary teases of their new seasons and answer fan questions about the oddest parts of the previous year. Some of those questions will no doubt concern “Crisis,” but we expect each group will have something to share bout the crossover — even the Black Lighting team, who stay out of the crossovers. As always, a large number of each cast will be in attendance. If you love these shows and want to see the Marvel Studios presentation, make your choice early and camp out in the appropriate hall.
Syfy and IDW Entertainment: Wynonna Earp (Indigo Ballroom, 5 p.m.)
It’s been a crazy year for Earpers. At Comic-Con 2018, the cast and crew announced they would be back for a fourth season. But just as production was supposed to start, it smacked up against a long delay and obscure studio politics. But the show is coming back, and stars Melanie Scrofano, Katherine Barrell, Chantel Riley, Greg Lawson, and Michael Eklund – along with executive producer Emily Andras and Wynonna creator Beau Smith – return to Comic-Con once more to tease the definitely soon-to-be-in-production fourth season. Of course, if you’ve ever been to a Wynonna Earp panel, you know they tend feature a lot of fans expressing their love for the show. It will get loud.
DC Universe Series Sneak Previews And Q&A (Indigo Ballroom, 7 p.m.)
DC Universe is gearing up for its second year and it’s bringing previews of the upcoming Harley Quinn animated series, the second season of Titans, and more to its two-hour Comic-Con presentation. Talent and producers of the various series will appear and there will probably be a few surprises. We’re hoping we’ll get confirmation about Doom Patrol’s second season and even a last-second reprieve for Swamp Thing, which was cancelled before its second episode debuted, but continued to air the entirety of the first season and turned out to be our favorite comic book show of the early summer.
(Photo by Marc Hom/The CW)
Riverdale Special Video Presentation and Q&A
The cast and crew of Riverdale close out Comic-Con’s Comics on TV presence with their yearly Hall H appearance. Expect fans to swoon over stars KJ Apa and Cole Sprouse. Also expect executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to offer a bit of info which seems important, but ends up quite tangential to the Season 4 mystery. Will Jughead (Sprouse) be dead by spring break? Will Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) exact his revenge on Veronica (Camilla Mendes)? The questions and more will be discussed even if they are not answered.
(Photo by JSquared Photography/The CW)
In 2011, as Smallville came to an end, The CW began developing a show centered on another comic book hero: Green Arrow. The Golden Age DC Comics character came to prominence thanks to the Superman prequel series and actor Justin Hartley. But in a shock to Hartley and Smallville fans, the network decided against making the series a spin-off. Instead, it turned to producer Greg Berlanti and his team to build a completely new show. The result was Arrow, a darker take on the character — now played by Stephen Amell — that set out to tell his origin story via flashbacks while also charting Oliver Queen’s first few years as a hero. It would touch on certain hero milestones while also, eventually, introducing a sprawling world of characters.
With the announcement that Arrow‘s upcoming seventh season will be its last, here’s a look back at the way Arrow changed the landscape of superhero television.
(Photo by Robert Falconer/The CW)
Don’t let Felcity Smoak’s (Emily Bett Rickards) quips fool you: Arrow was a serious show from the jump. Some might even say it was too serious. Unlike the warm dynamic of Smallville, Arrow’s Oliver Queen was a lone brooding vigilante on a crusade to kill Starling City businessmen who failed the town and its people. It was an adjustment to say the least, but it re-framed the television superhero from the kids stuff of the 20th century or the teen feel of Smallville to a grounded action show.
In doing so, it upped the ante for on-screen violence and action scenes. In its first few years, the Arrow stunt team changed the way fights were shot. And while some would deny it, the hallway fights of Daredevil can be traced directly back to the work Arrow did first as it made vigilante justice look painful and real.
Beyond the fights, it also tried to address Oliver’s trauma from a more realistic place. While it may not have completely succeeded in that mission, it did open the door for heroes to recognize their faults in more compelling ways.
(Photo by Katie Yu/The CW)
While Smallville pulled Green Arrow out of relative obscurity, Arrow excelled at showcasing lesser-known characters from the DC Comics library. Felicity, for example, was so obscure that her creator was surprised to see her on a TV show (and DC eventually compensated him for using the character). While not a one-to-one match of the original Felicity Smoak, she proved deep pulls from the library could make the series richer. Just imagine what the show would be like without Felicity bringing some levity to the deep-voiced seriousness of Ollie and John Diggle (David Ramsey).
In the beginning, executive producer Marc Guggenheim said his strategy was to break a story first and see if a character in the library could compliment it. This led to early appearances by the Royal Flush Gang, the Huntress, Deathstroke, Shado, and Wintergreen. In the second season, the writers’ confidence in the format grew with Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White) and Brother Blood (Kevin Alejandro) recurring throughout the year. That season also saw the debut of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), a character we’ll come back to in a bit.
As the seasons rolled on, characters like Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), Vigilante (Johann Urb), Ragman (Joe Dinicol), Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez), Mr. Terrific (Echo Kellum), and even John Constantine (Matt Ryan) made appearances or became integral parts of the show.
OK, so John Constantine is pretty famous in his own right, but the point still stands: Arrow proved obscure characters could shine if given the right showcase.
(Photo by The CW)
Integrating obscure characters helped Arrow pull off an important feat for a single television series: It created a sprawling TV universe. Sure, the heyday of NBC’s Must-See TV saw different crossover variations (characters would appear on one another’s shows, or events — like, say, a blackout — would affect each show on a given evening). But a real, consistent sense of continuing unity between shows was practically unheard of for a variety of reasons.
Then Barry Allen guest starred on Arrow. The plan was in place before Gustin was even cast — Berlanti and The CW wanted a Flash show, and what better way to introduce the character than by featuring him on Arrow? It worked, of course, with The Flash joining Arrow on the network schedule during Arrow’s third season. That year also marked the inaugural (and now annual) crossover. But more connections spilled out from the crossover. The Flash’s Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) helped Team Arrow redefine and upgrade their tech. Characters from both shows wound up as leads on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, meaning certain events on one show would become key parts of another, like how the death of Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) affected Legends‘ Sara Lance’s (Caity Lotz).
A recent episode of The Flash is also a prime example: A.R.G.U.S. director Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson), a recurring character on Arrow, was featured throughout the Flash episode since the storyline involved A.R.G.U.S. asset King Shark. The Flash made no attempt to introduce Lyla as a new element because longtime viewers know the relationship between A.R.G.U.S. and The Flash’s S.T.A.R. Labs. It is the sort of complexity TV networks would have balked at just eight years ago, but Arrow proved characters can move between shows without confusing the viewer.
(Photo by Daniel Power/The CW)
While there are precursors to Felicity’s role as Overwatch — Oracle on Birds of Prey, for example — the notion of “the man in the chair” and the support team really evolved on Arrow. In its earliest episodes, Oliver operated alone before finally letting Dig — who was his bodyguard at the time — in on his secret. A few episodes later, Felicity joined the team and forever changed the dynamic of superheroes on television by giving them support teams.
Sure, Clark had his parents and a few friends to advise him or help with investigations on Smallville, but Team Arrow was something different. And as a consequence, every subsequent Berlanti-produced superhero show — and some not produced by his company — developed the support team from the start. Look at S.T.A.R. Labs and the way the communication between the Flash and the Cortex evolved from the earpieces Oliver and Diggle used to keep in contact with Felicity. The constant, immediate communication between the hero and “the man in the chair” is now an integral part of the TV superhero grammar.
It is such an ingrained aspect of the superhero genre at this point that series like Jessica Jones and films like Spider-Man: Homecoming poke fun at it. But the support team makes perfect sense, as television is very much a communal medium. Lone heroes always end up cultivating a community, so why not acknowledge it early and make it a key feature of the show? It took Arrow finding its way to “the man in the chair” organically to prove superheroes on television need a family as quickly as possible.
(Photo by Diyah Pera/The CW)
For all the ways it imported elements from the comics and made those things work, Arrow also contributed one incredible new idea to the lore: John Diggle. First Oliver’s bodyguard (although that didn’t last too long), the man is more his brother at this point than anything else. He was even the first person to put on the hood after Oliver. Named, in part, after Green Arrow: Year One writer Andy Diggle, John lived a full life well before the series began, and many of his storylines revolve around confronting his past. Sometimes it works out, like his second marriage to Lyla. Other times, like with his brother Andy (Eugene Byrd), it leads to new wounds and a lot of soul searching. Diggle has been Oliver’s conscience, a clear moral center for all the members of Team Arrow, and the one person who will never get used to superpowers in the larger realm of the Arrowverse. (His inability to keep from vomiting whenever Barry speeds him to a new location is a great running joke.)
And because he became such a key part of Arrow’s dynamic, DC Comics introduced its own version of John Diggle in 2013’s Green Arrow #24. While some aspects of the character are different, the comic book Diggle was also the first to learn of Oliver’s nighttime occupation. The two worked together for a time, but their relationship is more fractious than their television counterparts — which is incredible considering Diggle’s departures from Team Arrow and that drag-down fight he and Ollie had a season ago.
But Diggle’s continued presence on the show proves a television series based on a comic book can offer the source material something worthwhile. It happened before with Harley Quinn and Renee Montoya from Batman: The Animated Series, but Dig is the live-action test case for the same phenomenon. Also, he’s just a really great character.
While there’s still plenty of new Arrow ahead thanks to the remainder of the seventh season and the entirety of the final 10-episode eighth season, reflecting on these groundbreaking aspects of the show is a reminder of the series’ lasting impact — and can provide insight into how the series will reflect on its own legacy as the show heads toward a definitive conclusion.