“The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”
― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Creating a universe used to take an act of God… or at the very least a big bang, but these days everyone seems to be doing it. First, we had the Marvel Cinematic Universe which has been highly successful and has now expanded to television. Then DC jumped in with Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. And now everyone seems to want a piece of that sweet universe creating action including Hasbro and even possibly Hanna-Barbera.
So far creating these universes has been anything but a bad move. It doesn’t mean there aren’t issues. Here are the top 3 Cinematic Universe problems.
THE EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED OR IT ISN’T PROBLEM:
Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow all exist in the same universe on the same Earth at pretty much the same time. So when Damien Darhk was about to rain down nukes on the planet thus ending the world… it should have at least raised an eyebrow with Team Flash.
If these shows exist on a connected plane of existence then the problem is going to get a whole lot worse. Barry messed with the timeline and that should, at the very least, have some sort of ripple effect. If it isn’t addressed, then it destroys the universe concept.
Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg have found a solution to this problem with their other show, Super Girl. They simply put her on a different Earth. What happens on her world has no direct impact on Barry Allen, Oliver Queen or Rip Hunter. And as we’ve seen, it doesn’t mean there can’t be cross-over episodes. Unfortunately, it’s probably too late to take change course on The Flash or Arrow.
THE STAKES ARE TOO HIGH PROBLEM:
What makes the Marvel Netflix shows work is the same thing that works against Agents of Shield: the stakes. On Daredevil and Jessica Jones the stakes were pretty low overall. We’re talking about a guy who wants to run a city (Kingpin) and a guy who is just bad but only to a small group of people (Kilgrave). Neither of these are problems that would cause the Avengers to come running.
Unfortunately for Agents of Shield they are dealing with a world-wide issue of super powered people (Inhumans) and government control. The stakes here are high, like end-of-the-world high, yet not an Avenger to be seen. Even Shield star Chloe Bennet has raised questions about why the high-stakes are being ignored.
“People who make movies for Marvel, why don’t you acknowledge what happens on our show?”– Chloe Bennet May 17, 2016
It’s a fair question, but if the stakes were lower on Shield, it wouldn’t need to be asked.
A UNIVERSE DIVIDED PROBLEM:
Both Marvel and DC operate in a universe divided.
For Marvel the issue is who owns what characters. We all know about the negotiations to bring Spider-Man into the MCU, but Marvel still doesn’t own the movie rights to X-men, Fantastic Four and who knows exactly who owns Namor.
For Marvel it means picking other, lesser-known properties like the Guardians of the Galaxy (which worked) and Inhumans (which we’ll have to wait and see). You know they’d way rather make an X-men movie or at the very least use Wolverine. Meantime, the other studios are making movies outside the MCU some of which are good, like Deadpool, and some that are the last Fantastic Four movie.
DC also has a division problem because its movies and tv shows are treated as separate universes. The movie side wants all the best characters, which is understandable, but is pretty limiting for the television side. Even this past week, it was reported that Arrow had big plans for Harley Quinn before being told to stop and now even Deadshot, a character the show had used for years, is off the table.
None of these problems seems insurmountable, but they are problems nonetheless. How do you solve them all? For that I lean on another Douglas Adams quote…
“I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don’t know the answer” ― Douglas Adams