The CW is preparing to welcome a fifth live-action superhero series with Black Lightning. Meanwhile, its online streaming service, CW Seed, is gearing up to bring two more DC heroes into the realm of animation. Freedom Fighters: The Ray will introduce Raymond “The Ray” Terill into the Arrowverse. Also, Matt Ryan will return as John Constantine in a quasi-revival of his short-but-acclaimed NBC show. The two new animated series will stream alongside Seed’s Vixen, which introduced Detroit’s magical guardian to the shared universe two years ago. The CW’s adoption of Supergirl and Black Lightning proves there’s always room for one more. So, who else deserves a shot at an animated show in the Arrowverse? Let’s look at a few possibilities.
Fans will remember that Ted Grant, appeared during Arrow‘s third season as the proprietor of a boxing gym. As the season wore on, it was revealed that he had once been a vigilante like Oliver. He quit after his sidekick Isaac accidentally killed a criminal. He went on to train Laurel Lance as she became the Black Canary, and put his mask on one more time to join the fight against Danny Brickwell in the battle for The Glades. Unfortunately, Ted was later written out of the show due to actor J.R. Ramirez’s other commitments. He hasn’t been seen since.
A shorter animated series would not only allow Wildcat to return, but it would also give us a look into an unexplored corner of the Arrowverse. What did Starling City look like before the arrival of the Green Arrow? Exactly what prompted Ted to put on a mask and start beating up crooks in his neighborhood? What was the relationship like between him Isaac? How did the kid go so wrong? A Wildcat show that looked into those questions, and focused on Ted’s close-quarters combat style, could play like an animated version of Marvel’s Daredevil. It could be the grittiest animated superhero show since Batman: The Animated Series.
One of the reasons Vixen, The Ray, and John Constantine are all suited to animated series is their reliance on visuals that would be expensive for a live-action show. Similarly, Doctor Fate would probably not get his due in live-action without a massive budget. His abilities include the manipulation of fire, lightning, and magic that manifests itself as a glowing ankh. In the comics, many people have worn the mystical helmet of Nabu, which grants its user the power of Fate. Fate is an agent of the Lords of Order. These are godlike beings engaged in an eternal war with the forces of chaos.
The helmet has been confirmed to exist in the Arrowverse. It was glimpsed in the pilot episode of Constantine. Had that show continued, perhaps we would have seen Fate join the sorcerer to the fight the Rising Darkness. With Constantine coming to CW Seed, there is an opportunity to deliver the team-up that was hinted at. Whether the helmet is worn by the original Fate or one of his many successors, the hero’s spectacular powers would make for some visually stunning animation.
The Human Target
Christopher Chance is an extremely dedicated bodyguard. He’s a master of disguise who uses masks and his acting chops to impersonate the people he protects. The character has been safeguarding his clients and taking on cases as a private detective in the DC universe for 45 years. In that time the character has doubled for Bruce Wayne, teamed up with fellow DC gumshoes like Jason Bard, Roy Raymond, and Slam Bradley, and even appeared in the company’s landmark Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover. He has also been adapted for television three times. There was a short-lived 1991 series starring Rick Springfield, another short-lived series in 2010 starring Mark Valley, and an appearance on Arrow, played by Wil Traval.
An animated CW Seed series would have no limit on what disguises Chance could adopt. Given that he has worked with everyone from Team Arrow to the Russian mob, the show could take viewers to places and introduce them to characters we would never otherwise see. And it all would have the unique perspective of the roguish bodyguard. Perhaps if other private eyes showed up, the Arrowverse could have its first foray into the stories and stylings of a classic film-noir adventure.
Another magical hero who was rumored to be coming to Constantine before its cancellation. Alec Holland seems like a perfect fit for CW Seed’s growing stable of DC heroes. Swamp Thing is a plant entity who is an avatar of The Green, the elemental force of vegetation. He has a long history with John Constantine and is to flora what Vixen is to fauna. The character has been adapted before, appearing in multiple movies and a live-action TV series. However, the complex visual nature of the character and his powers prevented any of those from truly giving him his due.
CW Seed’s animation lends itself to a more accurate exploration of the character. Plus, a faithful adaptation would introduce something new to the shared universe. Swamp Thing’s story, especially when written by comics legend Alan Moore, sees him struggle with fundamental questions of identity, the nature of what it means to be human, and humanity’s relationship to the natural world. His origins and many of his stories are infused with horror at the creature he has become. That’s contrasted with the horrors that people perpetrate against the environment in today’s world. A Swamp Thing series could be a thoughtful and moving meditation on those themes. It could tell a story no other Arrowverse show has ever told.
CW Seed may never be able to offer the same satisfying spectacle as its parent network. Still, comics fans should not overlook what it has to offer. With any luck, the streaming service won’t stop with Vixen, The Ray, and Constantine. Hopefully, we’ll keep seeing worthy heroes get their due in animated form.