Joanna Robinson, writing in Vanity Fair, noticed something unique about the San Diego Comic-Con Hall H Marvel Panel: There was no distinction between film and television.
When the Hall H event began, Marvel fans were greeted by a very familiar sight: a timeline with blank spots that Feige would, over the course of the next two hours, fill in with shiny new titles. It’s a move we’ve seen from him before, but this time there was a catch. You’ll notice seven projects in 2021; for a brief period of panic, the internet wondered if Marvel really planned to dump SEVEN entire movies on us in one year.
Everyone quickly realized that some of those spots belonged to the Disney+ TV shows Marvel Studios will be running. In other words, Feige made zero distinction between fanfare for the future of Marvel TV and fanfare for the future of theatrical releases. That lack of separation alone is groundbreaking.
There were other ways in which this announcement blurred the line between film and TV. For instance, the Disney+ TV shows will, yes, feature stars of past Marvel movies like Tom Hiddleston as Loki or Sebastian Stan as Bucky. But Feige also made it clear that once a Marvel movie star moved to Disney+ , they weren’t stuck there or somehow “demoted” to TV. Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, for instance, will helm her own TV show called WandaVision in Spring 2021 but she will also co-lead a new Doctor Strange sequel slated to debut in May 2021. These are new levels of synergy we’ve never dreamed of.
When Marvel made the decision to keep continuity between television shows and movies, it allowed everything to flow in and out of one another down the road. This was visionary. I mean, it could have simply been fortuitous, but I like to think it was visionary. They had a proper plan, tested it with Agent of SHIELD, Agent Carter, and the Netflix shows, brought it back around in a small way with Endgame and now we have Disney+ and feature film storylines weaving in and out of each other.
DC could have had that, but mismanaged their franchises. Successes on television could have translated to feature films and vice versa, but they didn’t want to have a true live action DCU to compete with the MCU. I believe, ultimately, it was a huge mistake. So, now the DCU is doubling down on independent universes with television versions of Superman, Flash, Cyborg, and others as well as film versions. Soon, there will be competing film Jokers and Batmen. Geoff Johns, I’m sure, would argue the diversity is a strength.
If Pam Lifford, who is president of Warner Bros. Global Brands and Experiences who oversees DC Entertainment, had any vision at all for the film and television universes she would find a way to consolidate all of the properties into a single continuity.
While something like that is happening on the television side, a movie version of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” would be just as phenomenal. Of course, it would be better to tie both film and television up into one continuity. Still, I can get behind a creative way to tie all the television properties into one universe and then combine all the film properties into one universe.
I love the idea of moving the Titans, Doom Patrol, Supergirl, Batwoman, Arrow, upcoming Stargirl, and other DC universe TV shows into the same universe. I’m also intrigued by the addition of a few other older DC TV shows getting in on the act as well. At SDCC, it was teased Brandon Routh is going to be playing the Kingdom Come Superman and Burt Ward will be back from the 1966 Batman series. Let’s hope they add Tom Welling from Smallville and Lynda Carter as the 1970s Wonder Woman. Throw in Brenton Thwaits as Robin, Conor Leslie as Wonder Girl, and maybe Jake Michaels as Robotman to get the streaming service continuity and this live action television version of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” would be complete.
As for the film side of things, imagine the opening of a Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths movie. It starts with red skies and a massive white energy cloud destroying everything. We then insert clips of the Christopher Reeve Superman films to show we are in this particular movie universe. The insertion would be similar to how Carrie Fisher has been added to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The Reeve Superman tries in vain to stop the energy cloud. His universe is gone. Smash cut to the title. The audience would lose their minds.
Throw in some cool cameos from George Clooney, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jim Carrey, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as their respective DC characters are obliterated by the menacing white cloud.
Cast someone like Timothee Chalamet as Pariah trying to save universes and failing.
Can you imagine Ian McKellan playing the Monitor bringing in a variety of heroes and villains from various universes to try and stop the Anti-Monitor played by Patrick Stewart?
What if we get three people to play Batman: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Affleck, and Robert Pattinson.
What if we get two people to play Superman: Henry Cavill and Brandon Routh.
What if we see the Jesse Eisenberg version of Lex Luthor kill the Kevin Spacey version.
It feels like an over-stuffed movie with lots of cool cameos, surprising deaths, and potentially lots of cool moments. It would be the DCU version of Avengers: Endgame.
Done correctly, it would be one of the biggest movies of all time.
That’s why it will never happen.