While Marvel Studios is expanding their cinematic universe with each new movie and television series/epsiode, DC has opted for a different approach. It was revealed last year that the movie and TV shows would be kept separate. In other words, the films have their own world, while the various TV shows do the same. This approach was originally looked at as taking advantage of the "multiverse" (a term DC fans know well), but fans shouldn’t get their hopes up of seeing the movie and TV characters interacting with each other in a Crisis on Infinite Earths-style team-up. There are currently no crossover plans between the two divisions, as the company staunchly prefers to keep the worlds separate.
At Variety’s Entertainment and Technology Summit, president of DC Entertainment Diane Nelson noted that their move to keep the movies and TV shows apart has offered "maximum creative flexibility," and pointed out that connecting everything together would negatively affect the stories creators and producers are trying to tell. In her words:
[The focus on a single universe of characters with connected storylines] could end up handcuffing our creators into trying to work with the same storyline or force them to hold back characters or introduce certain characters. Ultimately it hinders the ability for someone like (showrunner) Bruno Heller to come in and create ‘Gotham.’
Nelson specifically noted that the Fox’s Gotham and the 2016 blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice have "no creative constraints" regarding each other, allowing both stories to be told without worrying about continuity issues. As it stands now, all of DC’s films from Man of Steel onward exist in what is being called the DC Extended Universe (excluding Vertigo projects). On the TV side of things, all of DC’s shows on The CW exist in the same world, while Gotham and CBS’s Supergirl are doing their own thing.
Although we can only imagine what could have been if the movies and TV shows had shared a universe (just imagine Grant Gustin’s Flash as a member of the Justice League), at least fans can take comfort DC and Warner Bros are making an effort to tell the best stories they can both in movies and television. Rather than connect everything together because Marvel has had so much success with that method, they want their creative talent to not be impeded by what’s going on in another medium. This approach also provides multiple story options. For instance, if someone doesn’t like how DC is handling their cinematic universe, they can turn to Arrow, The Flash and the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow to follow an equally expansive world of superheroes. The same goes vice-versa.
DC film fans can look forward to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hitting theaters on March 25, 2016. Meanwhile, DC’s TV shows will begin airing their new seasons in the coming weeks, starting with Gotham Season 2 next Monday.