Before one can truly appreciate every aspect of an adaptation, you can’t just look at the material like tie-in cartoons, or movies. You can’t just even look at content which was produced in most cases. As for Arrow Season 7, for example, you need to consider that after so much time on the air, they now have the chance to delve into material which never saw light of day.
Back around 2008, the superhero movie landscape was quite different: The Dark Knight had just been released, as had Iron Man, but the idea of a shared universe was just a pipe dream, discussed by nerds who picked up on the Nick Fury cameo, and Christopher Nolan’s hard sci-fi take on Batman meant no crossovers. The Marvel Cinematic Universe wasn’t seen as plausible by the typical moviegoer, and DC had no plans of going that route.
“By the time a movie like this comes out, we will all understand origin stories. And mainstream audiences now are willing to suspend their disbelief to the point that we can believe a world exists where superpowers exist and people dress up in costumes. So now what? Now what do we do? And I call this Superhero 2.0.” -Justin Marks, screenwriter
But, there was a blip on the radar that was supposed to change things; Green Arrow: Escape from Super Max. Written by David S. Goyer (Blade, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and plenty of others) as well as Justin Marks (then a rookie, now working on Top Gun 2), the storyline would involve Oliver Queen, A.K.A. the Green Arrow, accused of a murder he didn’t commit, imprisoned, and planning to escape and clear his name. The movie would establish, or hint at, at least some form of DC shared universe, through the rogues gallery appearing in the prison: Lex Luthor would have a cameo, as would the Riddler, and at least Batman and Superman would be mentioned. Oliver would be forced to team up with other inmates, some he had put behind bars himself, and among them would be Icicle and Tattoo Man, C-list villains with interesting powers, but not much exposure. In addition, Amanda Waller, the mission control for Suicide Squad, would appear in some form.
The Super Max prison was supposed to be a “character” in and of itself; drawing from Justin Marks’ background in architecture, the prison was designed to have “superpowers,” which would negate the powers of criminals.
And then, two months after the release of Iron Man, Warner Brothers announced plans to create their own shared universe. And you’d think that Escape from Super Max would’ve been greenlit; it could establish lots of connective tissue between the superhero projects; and creating a world where superheroes and villains have been around for quite a while, as opposed to a “new age of heroes” starting with one person as seen in Iron Man. But, nothing else really came of it; Goyer felt the project was too ahead of its time, as claimed in 2015. The DC Extended Universe has seen its share of hits and misses: Green Lantern didn’t help matters, Batman V. Superman polarized audiences, Wonder Woman is beloved, but the massive matter here, is Suicide Squad. Suicide Squad attempted plenty of the things Super Max set out to do, but also polarized audiences. Some people have compared it to Hot Topic as a movie. Others feel it did very little to lead up to Justice League, while giving a few heroes cameos made for good worldbuilding. The focus on villains who haven’t appeared since, as well as the lack of Lex Luthor, and in my opinion, the stakes being set too high for any other heroes NOT to appear, made for a film which makes Justice League feel underwhelming. If Deadshot, the world’s greatest assassin was stopped by Batman, and he can stop an interdimensional demon, then why do we need a Justice League?
Anyways, let’s move away from DCEU’s troubled production schedule, and move to something they’ve excelled in: The CW Multiverse (also known as the Arrowverse, but that description doesn’t describe just how many worlds have been established). Arrow has been running for seven seasons, and current showrunner Beth Schwartz has been in the writing room since the beginning. She’s claimed that the seventh season hasn’t drawn inspiration from Escape from Super Max, but has drawn inspiration from the Longbow Hunters storyline; organized bythe big bad of Arrow Season 7′ Ricardo Diaz, in the series as it was in the comics. Oliver has had his identity exposed, and he’s in maximum security prison, but this time around its Slabside Maximum Security Prison, an established location from the comics.
Ben “Bronze Tiger” Turner returns, played by Michael Jai White, as does Danny “Brick” Brickwell, played by Vinnie “The Juggernaut Bitch!” Jones, who both have definitely earned their “at least two comic book character roles” merit badge by now.
While we can’t confirm that when Oliver Queen escapes (you know damn well he’s gonna escape, it’s in the comics) it’ll involve a team of villains, but odds are he’ll be in the shoe until at least episode 8 of Arrow Season 7, during the “Elseworlds” crossover.
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