It’s all connected: How DC already built a better-connected universe than Marvel

It’s all connected: How DC already built a better-connected universe than Marvel

It's all connected: How DC already built a better-connected universe than Marvel

We’re big fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and we can’t stop talking about how great Guardians of the Galaxy was, and Ant-Man was one of our most enjoyed movies of 2015. It’s undeniable that the MCU is miles and miles ahead of the DC Universe when it comes to creating complex, interconnected worlds on the big screen.

Of course, Superman v Batman could potentially change all that, but the catch is that we’re going to get a movie starring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aqua Man, and Flash. That’s a lot of characters that haven’t been seen on screen lately – Batman is rebooting from the Christian Bale Dark Knight era, so the only character returning here is Superman, from the terribly bad Man of Steel. Introducing so many characters won’t really leave much time for character development, so we don’t have too much hope for the DC Cinematic Universe.

But there’s one space where DC has a leg up on Marvel when it comes to telling interconnected stories, and that’s the small screen. The DC Animated Universe has always aired some of the best shows and movies, and now we’re also seeing something interesting happen with The CW’s slate of shows.

(Also see: Is the “Geek” era of television too good to last?)

The Arrow, Flash and now Legends of Tomorrow are all deeply connected shows, with different crossovers and tones, co-existing and coming together well; it’s exactly what you’d expect from a comic book-based franchise, and DC’s shows are doing well on that front.

Check out the trailer for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow below:

Heroes and villains that were introduced on Arrow and Flash, plus new characters that all look great together. There’s time travel and other kinds of crazy weirdness, and we’ve seen how Arrow and Flash have been able to handle crossovers on multiple occasions, enhancing their individual shows.

On the other hand, the Marvel Universe doesn’t have nearly the same cohesion on television. There’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones, who have the thinnest amounts of overlap so far, though they’re supposed to eventually reunite in Defenders. We’ve seen some Luke Cage in Jessica Jones, but not enough as their creators hold back from giving away too much before its standalone show debuts. There’s also a small reference to Daredevil, but he doesn’t appear on screen at all in the new show.

These shows are set in the same universe as the movies – there’s more than enough nods to make that clear. But there’s no broader connection to what’s going on beyond oblique references. And there’s absolutely no acknowledgment of Agents of SHIELD — that show, in turn, has the slightest connection to the movies. The fall of SHIELD (in Captain America: Winter Soldier) had a definite impact on the series, and no doubt also on Captain America: Civil War next year, but overall the series existed on the fringes of the MCU.


(Also see: Today’s Seven Superhero TV Shows Ranked From Worst To Best)

And so it’s perhaps no surprise that Agent Coulson never shows up to talk to Matthew Murdock or offer Jessica Jones a job. But frankly, that’s exactly what hurts Marvel TV shows. On the DC front, we’ve seen Flash and Arrow help each other fight bad guys, Captain Cold and Heatwave were both fun to watch on Flash and the Legends of Tomorrow trailer makes them look great too.

The Marvel shows, just like the movies, force me to ask – why didn’t he just call all his friends to help him out? Flash, on the other hand, got backup from Atom, Arrow, and Firestorm, not to mention Captain Cold and Heatwave who he teamed up with on several occasions. Teams and matchups were a way of life for comics, and inspired some of the best (and worst) storylines we’ve seen.

Marvel has avoided this so far, with the exception of the two Avengers films; The upcoming Captain America: Civil War will also feature multiple Avengers on screen, which is a promising development, but we’re still unlikely to see the same kind of hero mix on the small screen for quite some time.

Sure, DC hasn’t quite given us a crossover where Superman and Batman hang out with the Flash in a cafe, but it’s doing a much better job of making it a reality than Marvel has so far. The MCU is an impressive achievement, but it’s starting to cringe. Television has fewer time constraints and allows you to tell stories with multiple characters over time; and there, DC is definitely the company to watch.

Check out the latest from the Consumer Electronics Show on Gadgets 360, in our CES 2023 hub.


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