Don’t get me wrong — I’m thoroughly in love with the concept DCTV has going for it. I love it when the shows mention one another, and even more so when they actually cross over. (How cool was it to see everyone throw their worst at Supergirl, only to have it bounce right off her cape?) It’s much of the same reason why I love the MCU as much as I do (though they could stand to acknowledge their TV shows a little more — or at all — but that’s another post for another day).
My problem at the moment, however, lies not within the lack of representation in DCTV, necessarily — though that’s certainly an issue — but with how the shows choose to utilize it, which is to say they don’t.
Warning! Spoilers ahead.
Take J’onn Jonzz, for example; throughout season one, he had pretty significant screen time and a meaningful story arc, as well as meaningful relationships — namely with Alex and Kara, who reminded him of his lost daughters. The trio had no shortage of important moments together, establishing them as a makeshift little family. Now? Only recently did the show send him back out into the game because (spoiler) Jeremiah Danvers has somewhat officially returned.
Of course Jeremiah was pivotal to J’onn’s story, but is that what it takes to bring out the Martian Manhunter? (Also, don’t get me started on how ridiculous it is that two geniuses, a Kryptonian with X-ray vision, and a Green Martian with mind reading capabilities, didn’t see that bionic arm coming. And how Mon-El had to be the voice of reason. What are you doing with yourselves that that is what it comes down to?)
Where J’onn has or could have been pivotal to everyone else’s plots, it seems he’s been conveniently tied up at the DEO more often than not — sometimes going MIA for episodes at a time — or meeting up with M’gann for a grand total of probably ten minutes over the entirety of this season (enough to get his reaction to her true form but hardly enough to really explore their dynamic past J’onn unsurprisingly being the good guy he is and saving her when he didn’t want to. We almost got more, but then they immediately wrote M’gann off, so. There goes that). All of this, especially when the show could’ve actually used his help or even just given him the stories it used to. (David Harewood is incredibly talented, anyway; it should be a crime not to use him.)
Speaking of the criminally underused, we still have…
- James Olsen (who, after essentially having his entire development with Kara in season one erased within seconds and despite being given the Guardian storyline, is somehow still being overlooked for a bad-boy-turned-“hero” none of us ever asked for)
- M’gann Morzz (whose unfortunately brief but wonderful appearances I can hardly count for the way they consistently took a backseat to literally everything else all the time)
- Iris West (who the writers still can’t seem to give more to despite the back half of season three being about her)
- Joe West (who is seeing less and less screen time compared to past seasons when he’s had loads to work with; now he only ever seems to come around when someone lies to him and needs to tell him a truth, or when the universe is just out to get his family)
- Laurel Lance (how are you really going to kill off hands down one of the most iconic comic book characters and downplay, again, one of that comic’s most iconic relationships? How though?)
- Lucy Lane (you’re telling me there’s no way she can even be mentioned, despite her involvement with the DEO and her being Lois’ little sister? None? Nada?)
- Tatsu Yamashiro (I almost forgot she ever even appeared on Arrow and that’s a huge deal, considering I’m so desperate for any Asian representation — that’s how underused she is)
- Linda Park (seriously, where is she? Will her and Wally ever meet?)
- …and probably so many more that I can’t safely cite without watching more Arrow or Legends of Tomorrow.
My point is, the shows are frustratingly keen on giving us these amazing characters to start with — only to freeze their development time and again in favor of new characters they’d much rather dig deeper into. I understand there isn’t enough time in an hour to showcase everyone while ushering in new stories, but even in that respect, there seems to be a standard among the newcomers.
(Notice the difference in the way M’gann is treated in comparison to Mon-El. I’ll give The Flash props for shining a spotlight on Wally and Cisco when they’ve had Julian, but this many seasons in and they’re still doing Iris dirty? Come on now.)
Not that I’m expecting the CW to change with regard to this treatment (one can hope), but I’ve compiled a list of new characters DCTV could benefit from — since they’re so fond of all things shiny and green — including different ways to integrate them and avoid sidelining them or other existing characters!
I also promised myself I wouldn’t say anything about the White Canary debacle that I’ve always side-eyed but that people have always tried to brush off, so instead, I’ll start off with some actual Asian representation.
#1. Cassandra Cain, Black Bat
Canonically the most skilled and capable fighter in the DC universe, introducing her would not only be insanely awesome — but it would have the dual effect of establishing the Bat Family offscreen (since she arrives so much later after events establishing them as a family unit in the first place) and bringing Lady Shiva on as a potential threat. Not to mention, she’s half Chinese (I might be a little biased with my enthusiasm for her because so am I).
I see her fitting in with the Earth-38 crowd, because you have Supergirl, you have Lena Luthor, you have these powerful women that almost juxtapose Metropolis — so why not add an element of Gotham, but with a welcome twist?
Alex and J’onn would be wary (maybe Martian Manhunter could suit up more often), Winn wouldn’t be able to find much of anything at all on her, and James could face off with her as Guardian — solidifying her as a threat and giving him literally anything to do. Kara would definitely be concerned at that point, and then they’d meet and maybe Cass could introduce Shiva as an incoming threat to National City. Maybe Cass fled Gotham for that reason, and now Kara’s city is being targeted.
Where they take the Shiva plot is up to them, but it could potentially lead to Cass returning home and then to some kind of spin-off, diving into the bats of Gotham working to combat Shiva. Like, surprise! Here’s Batman and all his adopted children for the first time on DCTV, but really lowkey and almost nonchalant (is that even possible?).
Most of all though, imagine the impact Kara and Cass could have on one another; with Kara having lost so much and Cass having started out with so little, looking at the means with which they’ve coped and watching them meet in the middle and learn from one another would be powerfully emotional. Imagine the team up — and also, remember the time Cass threw Kara around like a rag doll and only lost by this much. So I’d say they match up pretty well, skill-wise.
#2. Jessica Cruz, Green Lantern
If DCTV decided to go the route of a Gotham spin-off, Jessica Cruz could first appear there as the new Green Lantern, coming to grips with her powers after undergoing so much trauma (i.e., her friends having been murdered before her by the mob, aggravated assault, self-imposed isolation). In the spirit of working the comics into TV show format, Batman could then intervene in her struggles (a la the comics) and help relate to her enough that she’d listen when he would direct her to Supergirl/the DEO for help with her abilities (maybe Superman could even make a cameo for a little Bruce/Clark moment). From there, they could properly touch on her trauma (rather than brief, establishing flashbacks) before Kara would call upon Barry for help.
Meanwhile, Barry could encounter a little nobody named Hal Jordan. Depending on whether or not the CW would want to launch another origin story (within The Flash or on a show of its own), Hal could either already be an established Green Lantern or he could still be learning himself. If he was established though, he could immediately mentor Jessica (and potentially some of the others as well) and be a help to all earths, which would no doubt save the CW the headache of getting his origins just right. Alternatively, John Stewart taking Hal’s place as Jessica’s mentor could further establish the Green Lantern Corps and build up anticipation for an eventual Hal appearance — all while showcasing the DC’s very first African-American superhero in a big way.
Either way, Jessica being the first Latina Lantern would be a huge storyline spanning the universes and ensuring a crossover (should they decide to play it a similar way), but more than that it would shine a spotlight on her story and her strength and the hope it could give others suffering from PTSD.
#3. Brainiac 5
With the… story (generous use of the word) between Kara and Mon-El regrettably heating up — I mean, I guess, but who knows, I tend to tune out when it comes to their scenes if I’m honest — Supergirl could potentially choose to go the route that is Mon-El’s lead poisoning. I wouldn’t be surprised at this point; it seems like a twist the show might go for, if only to give Kara more angst and something else to feel responsible for. According to a source (which I fully plan to track down and link to in another piece), the show wants to serve Mon-El a nice little redemption arc, complete with heroics along the way. They’ve even hinted they want him to stay into next season, which is why I beg of them, please listen up.
You want Mon-El to be a hero?
Give him lead poisoning.
Now I know how that sounds, but hear me out — he could get it by doing something Kara could have done herself a million times over! He could be trying to rescue her, or impress her — of which neither are necessary — and in doing so, he could sacrifice himself to his ultimate weakness. Kara could then fly him into the Phantom Zone a la the comics and meet Brainiac 5, the actual love of her life. I’ve read an article detailing how Mon-El is basically a replacement for Tyler Hoechlin’s Clark Kent, but if any alien will do, why not recruit a highly intelligent, iconic part of Kara’s story? The show could even play around with past and future timelines, not unlike the issue cited under the image above, in which Brainiac 5 has already met Kara in his past, but she has no idea who he is.
If the Dominators ever return, it was Brainiac’s intelligence that won the war for the team, and what’s not to love about a hero who saves the world just because it’s the right thing to do? (Sure, Kara is probably an amazing person to spend time with, but dear Mon-El, if you’re going to be a hero, do it for the right reasons or it’ll be easy for you to skip out when the going gets tough. Sincerely, a good 60 percent of us.)
As much as I’ve rooted for a James and Kara reunion, I can see it isn’t going to happen, but if Supergirl has to push a romance on me, let it be worth it. Of course, the team is still going to have to deal with Mon-El’s royal pains — I mean, parents — if they haven’t already (again, disclaimer: I’m not caught up yet), but still. Alternatively, they could show more Alex and Maggie.
Speaking of Sanvers, though…
#4. Kate Kane, Batwoman
An interesting point of contention in the Sanvers relationship could come in the form of Katherine Kane, AKA Batwoman. Much like Cass’ arrival, hers could give us a taste of Gotham without drowning us in the tired old iterations of Bruce, Dick, and Barbra. Don’t get me wrong, they’re iconic characters for good reason, but surely people must be exhausted by the same old characters cropping up everywhere, right?
Not much is known about the background of Supergirl’s version of Maggie — just that she was born and raised in Nebraska, her parents disowned her, she’s a detective who was just recently been transferred to National City PD and she was in a five-year relationship with a woman (named Emily) she cheated on. (I haven’t seen the latest episode, “Distant Sun,” so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)
Okay, it’s a little more than I expected the show to give to anyone not Mon-El at this point, but my point is, it leaves a lot of room for Maggie to have resided in Gotham at some point. She had to have worked her way up the ranks to detective, and what better place to do that than Gotham? (Point taken, Gotham is literally the worst.) She could have possibly cheated on Emily with Kate, and depending on how long that affair went on after her and Emily broke up, the show could even throw in the former engagement. Beyond what Alex and Maggie have already gone through, exes will always be something anyone in any relationship have to confront, and why shouldn’t they share in that complexity?
Just imagine Kate and Kara teaming up (Kate’s previously sneaked up on Supergirl despite her enhanced senses, which should tell you how qualified she is to keep up with a Kryptonian, and she also choked Diana with her own Lasso of Truth, which is a terrifying feat in and of itself). Imagine Kate and Alex teaming up, possibly even with Maggie taking point. Maybe it would be awkward, maybe it wouldn’t, but it still stands that there’s so much more to explore there, especially with Kate’s background as a vigilante — that would certainly shake things up in terms of Alex and Maggie’s sense of duty to their jobs, and the city’s general acceptance to Supergirl’s heroism. How would the people react to a new dealer of justice in town?
I imagine Kate could have chased a Gotham-esque villain into National City, giving the team a peek into the grittier side of saving people — it’s the Gotham way, isn’t it? — and that, if done right, would blow Arrow out of the water by miles. Possibly the biggest and best benefit of a Kate Kane addition would be to take the overtly masculine, overdone Batman and update him with Batwoman, a highly skilled and openly gay hero who stayed true to herself, even when she was facing dishonorable discharge for simply loving who she does.
The amazingly touching stories that have been pouring in over Twitter from Sanvers fans have proven what LGBT representation can do with regard to self-acceptance and understanding from others — i.e., people who may not have expected a coming-out arc for Alex (more than a few fans rooted for her to get together with LordTech CEO Maxwell Lord last season). It just goes to show that there isn’t an age limit on learning who your true self is, that you can always find happiness in being honest about who that is, and with Kate unwilling to apologize for that, her character could be a great help in that as well.
And then, you know, a potential spin-off back to Gotham.
#5. Dinah Laurel Lance, Black Canary
Yes, she has already been a character on Arrow — past tense, seeing as, yes, they killed her off — but hear me out: let’s do Black Canary justice.
Like I mentioned previously, Dinah Lance is a well-known, well-loved, iconic comic character. Her relationship with Oliver Queen has a huge following (ignoring the dissolution of their marriage just before the New 52 debuted), which is why so many have grown upset due to the fact that the show has essentially sabotaged any potential for that relationship to transfer over to a live-action medium.
(In case you’ve been living under a rock, by ‘sabotage‘ I mean Oliver cheated on Laurel countless times throughout their run as a couple, but most notoriously, cheated on her with her little sister, Sara — who actually doesn’t even exist in the comics (not counting the fact she takes on the mantle of the White Canary later, an originally Asian character). Then the shipwreck happened and Laurel, believing both to be dead, was made to mourn for them both, while simultaneously being pissed that the two people closest to her would do her so dirty.)
From there, she suffered through arguably the most character development ever to be ignored by one’s own show — yes, suffered. Her new boyfriend died so she could live, her sister returned from the dead (only to die again at another point), she struggled with alcoholism, and finally, the show rightfully granted her the Black Canary storyline we’d all been waiting for.
Shortly thereafter, they ripped it away from her (they had her constantly struggling to fight anyone and win, which — what? Dinah is one of the best fighters in the comics, holding her own against Shiva and Cass, and if Thea can master martial arts in half a year, then surely one of the best can, too? Could Thea not teach her a thing or two?) before killing her off, claiming her story had run its course.
Not that there’d exactly been much spotlight on it leading up to that point.
There were theories swirling around Katie Cassidy’s return to DCTV as Black Siren, including a fan favorite involving Matt Ryan’s Constantine popping back into the picture in order to somehow merge Earth-1 Laurel’s soul with Earth-2’s Black Siren.
By combining Earth-1 Laurel’s sense of duty and responsibility with Earth-2 Siren’s skills (fighting- and metahuman-wise) as well as her wild personality, it would’ve created a portrayal closer to comic canon and given Arrow a reason to utilize Constantine again. Now that Siren’s in A.R.G.U.S. custody, just waiting to be brought back on, and the return of actress Katie Cassidy has been officially announced, the potential is just sitting there in that cell with Siren.
Let’s just hope someone uses it.
Featured image courtesy of The CW.