While DC Comics is in the middle of establishing structure within its feature film universe, the company is excelling on the small screen and within the comic pages. The recent celebratory event DC in D.C. 2018 was a star-studded and socially conscious look at how big and bold the brand has gotten in the recent past. The event's crown jewel may have been the stellar world premiere of The CW's Black Lightning, but it wasn't just the Freeland vigilante that CinemaBlend learned about during the event.
Here are six awesome factoids and reveals that we found out about during DC in D.C. 2018, from potential TV returns to big comic storylines to the darker animated side of the Dark Knight. Speaking of, let's kick things off with the most Bat-tastic news of all.
How DC Decides Which Animated Movies Are Rated R
Gotham By Gaslight is the 30th of DC and Warner Bros' animated superhero films, and it's the first Elseworlds title to come to life this way. The film offers a loose and more expansive take on the original story, but among other mature story elements, it maintains Jack the Ripper's haunting viciousness, and thus dutifully earns its R rating. Executive producer Bruce Timm, who first became an industry legend with Batman: The Animated Series, spoke with CinemaBlend and other press outlets ahead of the Gotham By Gaslight screening and shed some light on how R-rated animated projects are being handled by the companies.
No one within DC or Warner Bros. wants to just crank out a bunch of bloody and sex-traipsed comic book stories willy nilly, running the risk of alienating more wholesome sectors of the fanbase. So the overall gameplan remains one in which traditional superhero vs. supervillain stories will be the bulk of DC's animated library. But whenever Bruce Timm and others are inspired to bring darker and more extreme Batman stories (and others) to fans via animation, we can be optimistic it'll happen.
Brandon Routh's Advice For Black Lightning's Cress Williams
As the one Arrow-verse star who can say he played one of DC's Holy Trinity on the big screen, Brandon Routh knows a thing or two about getting decked out for comic book fans. On Legends of Tomorrow, it's less about spandex and more about a large and slightly awkward suit composed of technical-looking parts. The CW's new show Black Lightning also features a main character who dons a brightly lit and somewhat robust costume, and Routh told CinemaBlend and other outlets at DC in D.C. 2018 that in the few chats he had with Black Lightning star Cress Williams, he mostly talked about learning to be patient with oversized costumes.
For many comic book fans, a superhero's costume is as important to the character as anything else, so seeing TV shows bring those outfits to life is always fun. Unfortunately, sometimes the suits themselves are way more complicated and cumbersome in real life than one might have expected, and the process isn't always a blast from beginning to end. To that end, Brandon Routh's advice should be heard and understood by anyone who takes on a project that involves uncomfortable outfits or costumes. It's worth some temporary discomfort when the final product will be enjoyed for so much longer.
Supergirl Will Explore Martian Manhunter Being Black
While Black Lightning and Black Panther are bringing black superheroes to the limelight in a huge way, don't let that downplay the Arrow-verse making Iris West a black female (along with other West family members), or how successful Supergirl's David Harewood has been as J'onn "Martian Manhunter" J'onzz. Speaking with CinemaBlend and others at DC in D.C., Harewood claimed that Supergirl Season 3 will dive a little deeper into why Martian Manhunter chooses to be a black man in his human form.
Unlike other black characters within television's superhero offerings, J'onn J'onzz had agency in choosing his appearance, and knowing what he did about the human race, he still chose to live as a black man. And when combined with the character's more focused approach to heroism -- in which he wants to help people, if not necessarily in a global sense -- it'll be interesting to see how that inspiring story gets hit upon as Supergirl Season 3 continues.
Milestone Media's Revival Isn't Just About Comics
Fans rejoiced when DC finally made official its plan to bring Milestone Media back to the limelight, and during DC in D.C. 2018, Milestone co-founder Denys Cowan and author Alice Randall spoke with CinemaBlend and others about bringing the line back. Having been a fan of the 2000s animated series Static Shock, centered on the electricity-fueled Milestone hero, I asked Cowan if they were talking about adapting the new stories as TV shows or features.
His words alone may not seem quite so positive, but Denys Cowan's tone and wry smile made it seem like those talks were going quite well. To the point where, when I asked if they were thinking about doing live-action or animated for the new Milestone series, he said "Both." No sign of whether the adaptation would be for Static again, or if we'd see several of the characters showing up under the overarching Earth M title. According to Alice Holland, this new line will be focused on the underlying concept of crime and the different areas of life that it affects.
Audiences would likely get down with a TV show that works as a crime drama first and a superhero show second. It's like The Wire, if Bunk Moreland was Hardware. I can't wait to see what comes out of Milestone Media's resurgence, no matter what form it shows up in. (But seriously, let's get a live-action Static show on TV, yeah?)
John Ridley's The Other History Has A Specific Time Period
Acclaimed writer and director John Ridley, who wrote 12 Years a Slave and created the anthology drama American Crime, was a writer for DC's animated Static Shock series, and he later teamed with DC for a Warblade arc and the racially charged magnificence of The American Way. He returned to The American Way after ten years for its follow-up arc, and when DC asked Ridley about any other ideas he had, he pitched the now-upcoming The Other History of the DC Universe, which will essentially put readers into the minds of non-white characters like John Stewart, Renee Montoya and Katana. Speaking with CinemaBlend and others at DC in D.C., Ridley revealed the specific time period when The Other History will likely be taking place.
While John Ridley was cagey about what other characters might appear in The Other History beyond the ones in the initial announcement, he certainly sparked interest when pinpointing where the project's timeline will start and possibly end. As the stories will coincide with Ridley's coming of age, fans can expect the storytelling to be deeply personal, as well as eye-opening for the sociological and political set dressing.
DC Will Tackle PTSD With A New Initiative Called Sanctuary
Former CIA counter-terrorism officer Tom King first dipped his toes into superhero storytelling with the 2012 novel A Once Crowded Sky, and he soon tackled a handful of DC titles such as The Omega Man, Grayson, The Sheriff of Babylon and more. At DC in D.C. 2018, King revealed he is working on a somewhat mysterious and overarching initiative being dubbed "Sanctuary" that explores the physical and psychological trauma that superheroes face. While release details are scarce, King talked to CinemaBlend and other outlets about the overall approach and motivations behind "Sanctuary."
Tom King called his "Sanctuary" pitch "the most obvious idea" he's ever had, and compared it hypothetically to Geoff Johns introducing different colored Lantern rings. Saying he thought that "Sanctuary" will be a universe addition that'll be introduced across every DC superhero series, with a big inciting event being used to unveil its presence. I can't wait to see how our favorite comic book heroes cope with the issues that plague real soldiers and other war-minded citizens. Though everyone's mileage varies, The Punisher made an effort to explore what re-acclimating to civilian life is like for ex-military, and DC is making a smart choice in bringing that dark side of the story to light on its comic pages. (And possibly elsewhere.)
The Ray's Russell Tovey Was Surprised By Crossover Reactions
When Russell Tovey was cast as The Ray, the DC TV-verse's first openly gay superhero, he was pumped to bring the light-bursting character to fans both in the Freedom Fighters animated series and in live-action during the "Crisis on Earth-X" crossover. Though his screentime was limited, Tovey took part in one of superhero TV's most lovely scenes, in which when Ray and Citizen Cold shared a kiss before saying farewell. When Tovey spoke with CinemaBlend and others at DC in D.C. 2018, he said he didn't realize how big that moment would be with fans.
The Arrow-verse has been getting better about developing more same-sex relationships with its characters, and the writers and producers managed to spin that great moment with two characters that audiences technically hadn't met before. We know that Wentworth Miller will be done with his roles within the DC shows soon, which means there's not much time left to get Citizen Cold and The Ray's Earth-crossing reunion. Unfortunately, Russell Tovey didn't appear to be sure whether or not Ray Terrill will return to live-action in the near future, but we're hoping Marc Guggenheim & Co. will find a way.
DC in D.C. 2018 was a huge success as far as I could tell, with fans showing up for the event in a big way. Everybody loves seeing so many superheroes finally breaking new ground on TV and in the comics, and fans can see what's on the way to the small screen by bookmarking our 2018 Superhero TV schedule, and then hit up our midseason premiere schedule to see everything else popping up in the coming months.