“I’ve seen Men of Steel die and Dark Knights fall.”
With this statement from Rip Hunter in the first season of the CW’s Legends of Tomorrow, audiences were given their first, and only, hint that Batman may exist specifically within the television world of Arrow and The Flash. Of course, Batman has appeared on the small screen in live action form many times before. In one of the most well-known incarnations, Adam West’s campy portrayal of Bruce Wayne firmly fixed Batman into the hearts and minds of audiences at the time. Batman also appeared — albeit mostly offscreen — in the CW’s short-lived Birds of Prey, which trailed his daughter attempting to follow in the Dark Knight’s footsteps. (That series even managed to allude to the events of the Killing Joke, if you can believe it). Currently, the prequel series Gotham follows a teenage Bruce Wayne as he comes to grip with his parents’ death, and even butts heads with future costumed foes, as a third season comes down the pike from Fox.
So why introduce Batman to the CW now, when everything seems to be clicking for the heroes of that world? Oliver Queen and Barry Allen have benefited from the idea that they are the premiere superheroes of their field, making their own version of DC’s trilogy with Supergirl joining the fray this fall. In a world removed from DC’s biggest guns, Arrow and the Flash have been made that much more significant, and the stakes were raised knowing they existed on an island of sorts, devoid of the WB’s “big three.” While new heroes were introduced along the way, and even entire teams were formed, the absence of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman allowed for “B-List” heroes to flourish and evolve. However, Superman is confirmed to be joining Supergirl in her adventures at the CW this fall, with Tyler Hoechlin being cast as Clark Kent. Ultimately, the Man of Steel will be added in a supporting role so as not to overshadow Kara Zor-El. But perhaps this is how Bruce Wayne could be integrated as well.
A Bat In Star City
Let’s be clear, I’m not advocating a Batman television show on the CW, as that would be overkill. The Dark Knight doesn’t need anymore promotion in that sense, and it would only hurt the other characters who worked so hard to make fixtures for themselves in the television channel’s landscape. For Warner Brothers, Batman is the crown jewel in their stable of heroes, far and away pulling in the most money when it comes to general entertainment and merchandising. It’s because of this fact that the CW (which is half-owned by Warner Bros.) has been so skittish about bringing the Dark Knight to their established world. At one point, to give some context, even the showrunners of the animated series Justice League Unlimited were directed to put a moratorium on Batman villains, as they wanted to avoid confusion with the Christopher Nolan films. Warners is very protective of their main cash cow and rightfully so, but Bruce’s inclusion into the CW could act as a focal point for course-correcting the world of Green Arrow as it stands now.
Arrow’s success as a property, and the pushing of Oliver Queen to the forefront, has always danced the line between creating a vigilante unique unto himself while also dipping its toes into the style and substance created by the protector of Gotham City. This was never more obvious than in Arrow’s third season when the antagonist of Ra’s Al Ghul was brought into the mix, and Oliver’s quest was almost identical to that of Bruce Wayne’s. If you bring in the Bat himself, then it goes a long way to express the individuality of Queen along with the differences between the two heroes. Let’s also face it, Arrow needs a shot in the arm after its last season, and bringing in Batman could provide that.
A Bat of Many Faces
So what kind of Batman should be integrated into the CW universe? Well, we already have an exceptionally young Bruce Wayne present in Gotham and a meaner, older Dark Knight in the films as portrayed by Ben Affleck, so why not present a version that’s either in the thick of his vigilante career or just starting out? In all honesty, I’d rather go with the former to act as a reflection to Oliver’s persona, but either has their story merits. Having the Green Arrow and the Batman square off as a key point in the season (which already seems to be skewing toward the idea of pitting Oliver against other vigilantes thanks to the inclusion of characters like Wild Dog and Artemis) would work on any number of levels. How does Oliver Queen feel about a darker vigilante hitting the streets and perhaps doing a better job than he is? How do the two relate to one another with such similar backgrounds? These are interesting questions be sure but ultimately, I think it would just be fantastic to see Batman on television once again.
We get a lot of Batman when it comes to animated forays, but a serious live action outing is something we haven’t gotten as much of a chance to see on the small screen. Incorporating him into the CW’s universe, along with Superman (and hopefully one day Wonder Woman), would do a lot to bring to importance of the DC universe to the forefront, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt with the ratings. As a balance, of course, the Arrowverse would have to continue shining a light on DC comics’ lesser characters. But with so many seasons under their belt at present and the formula in check, I think there’s little worry on that front. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be adding “Big Blue” to the mix in Supergirl’s next season.
Has Batman Failed This City?