News Ticker: Marvel TV shrinks (for now) while DC TV expands

By Andrew A. Smith

Tribune Content Agency

Oct. 31, 2019 -- The Geek-O-Tron 1000 News Ticker has been working overtime. Let’s take a look at the whats, and then discuss the whos, whys, wheres and the sometimes how muches of the latest developments:

Alfonso Bresciani/Freeform

Cloak & Dagger (from left, Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt) starred in a pretty good show. But it’s been canceled.

ITEM: Cloak & Dagger Smothered and Knifed!

Yep, after two seasons on Freeform, the show starring Olivia Holt and Aubrey Joseph, adapted from Marvel Comics, has been canceled.

Bad news? Well, for the show’s cast, creators and fans, sure. But if you zoom back and look at the big picture, something more positive emerges.

Recently, Kevin Feige – he who has made the Marvel Cinematic Universe the greatest success in cinematic history – is taking over the world. Well, the Marvel world, anyway. Recently Disney’s cap-wearing megaproducer was promoted to Marvel Chief Creative Officer, in charge of not only Marvel Films, but Marvel TV, Marvel Animation and Marvel Comics.

Almost immediately afterward, Marvel TV chief Jeph Loeb announced he was leaving his position. It’s not like he was leaving much: With Cloak & Dagger gone, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ending and Ghost Rider canceled before it ever got started, Marvel Television was down to Runaways and vague plans for some future shows.

I fully expect those to go away, too, or be ravamped to Feige’s vision – because I suspect what we’re seeing is a purge in order to clear the board for Feige to introduce MCU versions of the same characters. After all, he’s already got more live-action Marvel shows announced for Disney+ than Marvel Television had in the works. And that’s where the enthusiasm (and quality) is.

 

ITEM: GoT Duo Pooh-Pooh Star Wars!

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the Game of Thrones showrunners, had long been lined up to do the next Star Wars trilogy, beginning in 2022. In fact, many accused them of truncating the last season of Thrones to get to Star Wars that much faster. But recently they announced a lucrative deal with Netflix, and say they are now too busy to usher in the new, post-Skywalker era of Star Wars.

Really? Too busy for Star Freakin’ Wars? Hmm. That sounds an awful lot like “I’m resigning to spend more time with my family.”

Especially since Disney has announced another Star Wars movie in the works, being developed by – wait for it – Kevin Feige. You remember him, right? The guy in the previous item who seems to be taking over Disney?

“Too busy” for Star Wars. Yeah, right.

 

ITEM: Kravitz To Be Bat’s Kat!

Variety announced Oct. 14 that Zoë Kravitz (Big Little Lies) will play Catwoman in the upcoming movie The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson (Twilight) as the Dark Knight.

This isn’t really breaking ground diversity-wise, since a woman of color has already essayed the role. Most people forget – or try to forget – the 2004 movie Catwoman, which starred Halle Berry. So maybe the usual lunkheads won’t crawl out of their mothers’ basements to review-bomb the show on Rotten Tomatoes, as they have other efforts with female or non-white leads, such as Batwoman, Black Panther and Captain Marvel.

Kravitz will join an all-star assemblage of actresses who have played the Feline Fatale, including Berry, Carmen Bicondova, Anne Hathaway, Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether, Julie Newmar, Michelle Pfeiffer and Lili Simmons.  The Batman will be directed by Matt Reeves (Planet of the Apes) and has already been scheduled, for June 25, 2021.

 

Katie Yu/The CW

Look! Up in the sky! Tyler Hoechlin will star as Superman in a Supergirl spin-off.

ITEM: Man of Steel returns to the air!

Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) has long been a supporting character on The CW’s Supergirl, and was joined last year by Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch). Currently Lois is in the family way, and she and her Super-hubby have decamped to Argo City to give birth.

(If you have to ask why, consider that Lois has a Super-baby kicking around in her womb, but Kryptonians have no super-powers under Argo’s red sun. The explanation should present itself.)

The baby will have arrived by the time Superman & Lois debuts, so the show will deal with the usual problems young parents have juggling careers and family. Plus, you know, a baby with heat vision.

What does this mean? Well, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is coming, the huge time-and-space-shattering story in December that will unite the casts of Arrow, Batwoman, Black Lightning, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash and Supergirl to forestall the destruction of the multiverse. And who knows what will be left when it’s over?

Arrow is already slated to end with the Crisis. The Scarlet Speedster seems to be facing a short future on The Flash, and that show has already featured the destruction of the parallel world Earth-2. Could the Crisis kill off Supergirl, to be replaced by Superman & Lois?  

Well, anything’s possible. But I don’t think so – I think the Supergirl-Batwoman one-two punch on Sunday night is a natural, plus it’s inevitable that these two heroes will eventually start having team-ups, like their male counterparts did successfully in the comics for decades. Why would The CW toss that possibility out the window? Besides, Batwoman has only been on for about 20 minutes, so it’s too early to see how the two-hour, girl-power experiment is playing out.

Instead, I suspect “Superman & Lois” will join the remaining DC Comics-based CW shows, expanding the potential for team-ups, crossovers and backdoor pilots. When you’ve got the entire DC Universe to play with, why limit yourself?

Robert Falconer/The CW

Grant Gustin stars as the Crimson Comet in The Flash. The show keeps telling us he’s going to die in the upcoming Crisis, but let’s hope not.

ITEM: An Opera of Canaries on CW!

Superman & Lois joins another spin-off from The CW’s Arrowverse, The Canaries.

Well, that’s probably what it’s going to be called. Anyway, this upcoming show stars Katherine McNamara as Mia Smoak, the vigilante Blackstar in a possible future of 2040. She’ll be joined by Juliana Harkavy, who is a Star City police captain by day and the vigilante Black Canary by night, whose possible future self founds the all-female Canaries crime-fighting group of 2040. Katie Cassidy will also come aboard as the most recent version of Laurel Lance, the reformed supervillain Black Siren from Earth-2 (the planet that just got blowed up real good).

Which presents what Captain Picard would call a temporal anomaly. Will Canary and Siren travel to 2040? Will Mia Smoak somehow pop back to our present? Will the older versions of the 2019 characters hang with the much younger Mia Smoak? Will the two times be blended somehow in “Crisis on Infinite Earths”?

The CW isn’t saying. But maybe they should. This doesn’t sound like a good idea.

(Editor's note: Since this story was written, three characters from 2040 have gone back in time to the present.)

I get the appeal of this idea to a writer’s room: McNamara’s character acts exactly like her father, Oliver Queen, which means they get re-use Arrow tropes, only in drag. Plus, Green Arrow and Black Canary have been a team in the comics off and on since the ‘60s, so there’s plenty of material teaming archers and Canaries from which to steal.

But from a viewer’s standpoint – especially a comics-fan viewer – this may be a bird too far. While I’m all for expanding DC’s joint operation with The CW (see the above item), there’s no there there. Why would these unlikely people team up? Why would they stay teamed up? They don’t like each other, and they have nothing in common except the (probably) deceased Green Arrow. And none of them, as individual characters, are very interesting. Certainly none of them are as compelling as Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow, around which an eight-season show was built.

Further, what stories can this ad hoc team tell that couldn’t be told better in pre-established TV super-teams like Legends, Titans or Doom Patrol? And how can they fill that Green Arrow-shaped hole in the middle of the show, so we’re not constantly reminded how much better we liked the Stephen Amell show?

I shouldn’t judge before I actually see Canaries, but my cancellation sense is tingling. Let’s hope it’s wrong, and the new show blows us all away.

(Even though my cancellation sense is rarely wrong.)

Find Captain Comics by email (capncomics@aol.com), on his website (captaincomics.ning.com), on Facebook (Andrew Alan Smith) or on Twitter (@CaptainComics). 

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Does that mean there some executive out there who thinks "The Canaries" is a better name than "Birds of Prey"?

That's really all I need to know.

I read somewhere that since the movie is using Birds of Prey, the TV show cannot.

Still, "The Cannaries"? Sounds like a group of stool pigeons.

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