Over a year ago — at the time of this writing — DC Entertainment announced a rather surprising development. The development was untitled at the time, but it is officially called DC UNIVERSE as of now. Nonetheless, DC decided to move into the television and movie streaming game. They planned to create an “immersive experience” that allowed fans to view DC’s greatest cinematic works, old and new, in one place.

A year later, and we still know virtually nothing about the specifics. What we do know has us extremely excited for the future of this program. With that in mind, here is everything we know so far about DC UNIVERSE, as well as some thoughts on the positives and negatives of this move.

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The Basics

DC UNIVERSE
DCEU Opening Reel. Courtesy of DC Entertainment

As I said, the facts at present are a bit slim. Only recently did DC release the name of this service, DC UNIVERSE, and a landing page for it has been added to the DC Website. We still don’t know when it will release though. Greg Weisman, the director of animated series YOUNG JUSTICE, stated that DC UNIVERSE wouldn’t release until the fourth quarter of 2018.

At the time of this writing, that means we have another five months at least until we get this concentrated dose of DC goodness. We also don’t know the starting price, but based on Netflix’s early days, we can assume a $7-9 price range. In several press conferences, DC has announced an “immersive experience” for those using DC UNIVERSE. Outside of that vague statement, though, nothing else has released thus far.

I can hope and speculate. I mostly want to see the service tie directly into DC Comics news and more special features segments like commentaries and “making of” shorts. This is still up in the air, though. We also have statements that DC plans on honoring the “vintage” aspects of its cinematic history.

Does that mean we are going to get the full BATMAN ’66 and STATIC SHOCK series next to JUSTICE LEAGUE? We don’t know, but chances are that the answer will probably be a yes.

Original Content

As far as the important information goes, we are still largely in the dark. However, we do know a lot about the upcoming DC owned original series that will appear on DC UNIVERSE. It is interesting and incredibly exciting to note that DC looks to be taking a page out of Marvel and Netflix’s book here.

Two of the announced original series, at least, will tie together into their own shared universe. TITANS, the headlining series for DC UNIVERSE, will tease another upcoming series: DOOM PATROL. This type of shared storytelling has worked well for Marvel’s DEFENDERS based series, so hopefully the same will prove true for DC.

With that said, here are the upcoming original series you can expect from DC UNIVERSE.

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1. TITANS

DC UNIVERSE
TITANS: Hawk, Dove, and Robin Promotional Images. Courtesy of DC Entertainment

Of the series announced thus far, we know the most about TITANS. Originally announced as a series for TNT, licensing issues pushed the show into development hell until DC announced that it would exclusively air on DC UNIVERSE. TITANS is largely based on the iconic TEEN TITANS animated series.

The team will consist of Robin (Brenton Thwaites), Starfire (Anna Diop), Beast Boy (Ryan Potter), and Raven (Teagan Croft), but other characters will likely make appearances. Alan Ritchson and Minka Kelly will also appear as heroes Hawk and Dove, though their roles aren’t known yet. The series will open as an origin story, seeing Dick Grayson “stepping out of the shadows” to form the team. TITANS will be available at DC UNIVERSE’s launch.

2. DOOM PATROL

DC UNIVERSE
DOOM PATROL. Courtesy of DC ENTERTAINMENT

Spinning directly out of TITANS’ fifth episode will be beloved super team DOOM PATROL. This team of strange and deeply metacharacters have long been cult favorites, but their appearance here is a strange one. They aren’t nearly as mainstream as the TEEN TITANS, but that might be a good thing.

It will definitely attract an entirely different group of fans to the service. The cast so far has NARCOS’ Bruno Bichir as Niles Caulder, April Bowlby as Elasti-Girl, Jake Michaels as Robot Man, and Dwain Murphy as Negative Man.

3. SWAMP THING

DC UNIVERSE
SWAMP THING #25 Cover. Courtesy of DC Entertainment

Another surprising series, SWAMP THING will be an hour long, live action drama series. That’s right, folks. We will be getting the trippy and mystical adventures of the Green in a live-action setting. The series seems to focus less on Swamp Thing, instead of following a CDC scientist named Abby Arcane.

The series will follow her as she meets Alec Holland, the man behind Swamp Thing, and works beside him until the tragic accident that transforms him. Little is known about this project, but the introduction to DC’s mystical side could be rather inspired. Outside of the short-lived CONSTANTINE series and a few Zatanna cameos in SMALLVILLE, this magical aspect hasn’t fully been explored in a live-action setting.

4. HARLEY QUINN: THE ANIMATED SERIES

DC UNIVERSE
BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. Courtesy of DC Entertainment

Harley Quinn is one of the most beloved characters in modern DC lore. Some may not know that she made her first appearance in animation though. Now, DC’s craziest anti-hero is returning to the medium to headline her own series. We know very little about HARLEY QUINN.

DC approached SUICIDE SQUAD front-runner Margot Robbie to voice the character, but nothing has come from this yet. The plot will follow Harley and Poison Ivy as the prior attempts to define herself after separating from the Joker. The fact that the general synopsis already mirrors the modern comics, though, has me excited.

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5. METROPOLIS

DC UNIVERSE
ACTION COMICS. Courtesy of DC Entertainment

METROPOLIS is a bit dodgy to talk about at the moment, as it is currently in redevelopment. However, the prospects for this live-action series are enticing. The premise seems rather simple. What was Metropolis like before Superman arrived?

The series intends to follow Lois Lane and Lex Luthor as they report on and confront alien and metahuman threats. My fear with this series is that it will devolve into a series of bad jokes like POWERLESS, though it does have its roots in drama. Director Cannon worked closely on GOTHAM for Fox, meaning that this prequel series may have the dramatic push it needs.

6. YOUNG JUSTICE: OUTSIDERS

DC UNIVERSE
YOUNG JUSTICE: OUTSIDERS Initial Roster. Courtesy of DC Entertainment

The long-awaited third season of YOUNG JUSTICE will finally make its debut at DC UNIVERSE’s launch. Presumably launching alongside the previous two seasons, this animated show will likely draw the most fans into the new service. Fans loved YOUNG JUSTICE, despite its poor viewership.

Many viewers, myself included, got into comics and superheroes largely because of this series. To see it come back is a dream come true for fans. We do know very little about the plot, but its theme of meta-human trafficking and a superpowered arms race already have me excited.

The No-Shows

DC UNIVERSE
CW Crossover Event “Crisis on Earth-X” Courtesy of DC Entertainment

With so many old and new series coming to DC UNIVERSE, it is disappointing to consider that we there are some series we simply cannot get. At least for a while. This largely covers the CW-based television series like FLASH and ARROW. DC has signed several contracts stating that, for the foreseeable future, only CW SEED and NETFLIX have the capacity to stream the CW superhero shows.

This also goes for shows like GOTHAM on FOX and PREACHER on AMC. This means that, until the contracts run out or get broken, the CW shows will not appear in your DC UNIVERSE queue for a few more years.

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On a more positive note, though, the other DC movies and series running solely on CW SEED may not have the same restrictions. This means that DC’s modern line up of animated films and the animated VIXEN and CONSTANTINE series will likely appear on DC UNIVERSE at launch.

For fans of the animated films, and there are a lot of us, this is spectacular news. DC’s animated films and series have represented some of the company’s best cinematic work. Getting the opportunity to stream all of its best films is largely a dream come true.

What are the Benefits?

We don’t definitively know very much about DC UNIVERSE at present. The prospects, though, have me excited. There are a number of hugely positive benefits for DC at the launch of this service. The most obvious, of course, is money. Being the sole provider of DC-based cinema will bring in the big bucks for the company.

There is so much more for the company and us, the fans, to get excited about. And while I will be discussing the negatives later, do note that I see this as a brilliant move on DC’s part.

Exposure

DC UNIVERSE
STATIC SHOCK (2000). Courtesy of DC Entertainment

At present, the only DC shows on the world’s largest streaming service, NETFLIX, are the CW series. This means that the company’s huge assortment of animated films and live actions series are only available on the far less well known CW SEED. This largely cripples DC’s marketing tools.

They have no way to gain exposure for their older films and their new endeavors. Without more marketing of its own, CW SEED isn’t a very viable service. After all, it wasn’t until I started researching DC UNIVERSE that I even learned that the DC Animated films could be streamed from there.

DC UNIVERSE, given the right advertising strategy, could become a hugely popular source of DC films and TV. If they get the word out there correctly, all of their best stories will be collected in a single place. There will be no confusion or annoyance from fans who can’t stream their favorite films. This potential ease is an attractive prospect, and I see it as one of the strongest arguments for DC UNIVERSE to exist.

Also, the opportunity to delve into possibly DC’s entire cinematic history will be a major treat. After all, shows like STATIC SHOCK and Linda Carter’s WONDER WOMAN haven’t yet been streamed despite their importance to the present public consciousness.

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Empowering the DCEU

DC UNIVERSE
JUSTICE LEAGUE Promotional Image. Courtesy of DC Entertainment

As much as I personally enjoy the DCEU films, I can understand where a large amount of the criticism comes from. The films can be incredibly moody, and it isn’t until recently that the DCEU has started to find its voice. It isn’t entirely clear as of yet if these films will make it onto DC UNIVERSE. It seems rather likely, but we haven’t had any kind of confirmation. However, I don’t think the films need to be on the service to benefit from it.

Related to the previous point, DC UNIVERSE will bring the company exposure. By the simple fact that fans are digging through DC cinematic history, their interest in DC’s future films will skyrocket. More importantly, though, the service can act as an experimental site. The problem with experimenting in film is that you have only one shot at it. With the high cost of production, if that shot misses the mark, it misses big. Suddenly, there is a massive hole in the company’s pocket, and they start getting concerned. That’s how we eventually end up with no DC films at all.

The original content being produced on DC UNIVERSE will also allow the company to experiment with several, lower stakes themes and tones. If episodes five, six and seven of TITANS flop, they can look at the common factors in those episodes and find out why. They can then translate this knowledge into their bigger budget films.

DC’s Cult Classics

DC Universe
DOOM PATROL. Courtesy of DC Entertainment

What draws me most to the DC UNIVERSE starting lineup is the cult classic nature of its titles. I love Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, but there are only so many times that their origins can be retold. Thankfully, none of DC’s heaviest hitters even show up on this list. Instead, the company focused in on cult hits like Harley Quinn and Doom Patrol.

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This does two important things for DC. On the one hand, it brings exposure to the less well-known but incredible comics out there. SWAMP THING and DOOM PATROL are comics with such bizarre, psychedelic, and intriguing themes, but the common fan isn’t automatically going to pick them up. They will, though, if they fall for the TV series. The other important factor, though, is that the cult nature of these characters removes any stakes from their launch.

There isn’t a long history of HARLEY QUINN in cinema, meaning that fans can enter into the shows with fresher perspectives. Superman and Batman have already been in so many cinematic adventures that people come into their films with several preconceived notions. This can mar the viewing experience. But working with unknown characters? We don’t have that same experience, meaning our viewing is largely unaffected.

Where Can It Fall Apart?

While I definitely see more pros than cons for the release of DC UNIVERSE, no project is perfect out of the gate. Its release has some potential issues. I have already discussed the lack of the already established and popular CW shows for the foreseeable future.

This could already disrupt their standing with modern fans with little exposure outside of those series. Pointing out these flaws doesn’t mean that I see the service flopping, though. In fact, I think pointing out these problems could help DC iron out the wrinkles in its plan.

The DCEU Continuity?

DC has announced that its new original series, namely its connected series like TITANS and DOOM PATROL, will not share a universe with the current live-action films. This could be a potential benefit. The chance to experiment that I mentioned earlier could free these series to outshine the films.

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With that said, I do see a couple potential issues with this. It’s less major than some others I’ve seen, but it could play a part in the viewership. First and foremost, this could limit some clarity for new fans. They might expect connections between the films and series, thus walking away disappointed when they don’t show up. This also limits the ways in which these characters could appear in the DCEU proper. If the TITANS appear in both universes, DC suddenly has to character and world build for two drastically different teams.

The other issue is more based on storytelling. While Marvels’ DEFENDERS and AGENTS OF SHIELD are only loosely based in the MCU, this connection allows them to play with themes and plot devices from the films in a believable way. When DOCTOR STRANGE came out, for example, AGENTS OF SHIELD played with the mystical elements of Ghost Rider. Sadly, it will be much more difficult for DC to do this, thus limiting their storytelling potential.

Got Marketing?

The biggest issue facing DC UNIVERSE at present, though, is marketability. As odd as it may sound now, NETFLIX and HULU were largely nonentities when they first released. It took years for them to gain the followings to become the streaming giants they have become.

With them on top, though, few other services have joined them in popularity. VRV has hit it big with fans of anime and YouTube based shows, and Amazon has its foot in the game. The point, though, is that it isn’t easy for new streaming services to make it today.

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At the moment, DC UNIVERSE doesn’t have the right marketing strategy. So little is known about the service, for one, but the casual fan barely knows about its existence. While trailers and news will start coming out in the near future, DC needs to do a better job reaching out to the everyday viewer.

Hardcore fans have largely been their target audience when they need to draw in everyone else. That is the only way this service can work, but at the moment, that level of marketing hasn’t yet been achieved.

Are You Excited About the DC UNIVERSE?

As a long time fan of everything DC (comics, movies, TV), I don’t think I can wait until October for the release of DC UNIVERSE. The prospects of the streaming service, namely its devotion to “vintage” DC television and the shiny new original content, have a ton of potential.

I do have a few concerns, but DC can easily address them with a bit more marketing. While we could do with a bit more clear and concise information about what’s in store, I can wait for the next announcement. This is the perfect move for DC to be making at this moment. Fans everywhere should get excited.

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