With Kevin Smith coming back to direct an episode of The Flash and Supergirl, a musical crossover event and the possibility for new superheroes to pop up over the next year, the CW has big plans for its roster of superheroes.
Executive producers and showrunners from the network's four big superhero series — Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and the new acquired Supergirl — took the stage at the Television Critics Association conference in Los Angeles on Thursday to discuss what was coming up on each of their shows. Greg Berlanti, an iconic producer on most of the series, said that the big thing they're focusing on is the next crossover event that will air during the last week of November and first week of December.
"The crossover event is going to start with The Flash and go from there," Berlanti said. "It'll take place across all four shows and it'll reintroduce Supergirl to the Arrowverse."
Making Supergirl feel at home on the CW — and welcoming her cousin Superman into the family — is one of the most important goals for Berlanti going forward.
Of the move from CBS to the CW, Supergirl executive producer Allison Adler said that feeling welcomed by the other producers on various series and being introduced to the Arrowverse with such a strong support system was very important to them.
"When we were at CBS, they gave us such a beautiful platform to fly on," Adler said. "Now at the CW, there's been so much support. It feels natural to be there and and be with shows that belong together."
Making the universe feel coherent and build up the relationships between characters across different series is important to Berlanti, who acts as an executive producer on all four of the series, but the focus still remains on making each show their own thing without worrying about having to appease fans of the other ones.
"We always try to reward those that are watching all the series by throwing little Easter eggs in all four shows," Berlanti said. "We aspire with each of the shows to make them as good as it can be so that whatever the fanbase is, they have a reason to continue showing up for the show every week.
"If that leads to more people watching all four shows, that's great. But that's not what we're intentionally going for."
Still, Berlanti knows that the "Arrowverse," as its referred to by both the shows' creative teams and their fans, shares a lot more than just a few characters. They share producers, writers, and now, they'll be sharing directors. Kevin Smith, who directed one of the more acclaimed episodes of The Flash's second season, will return for the show's third; he'll also direct an episode for the second season of Supergirl.
"Kevin's definitely coming back to do The Flash and Supergirl," Berlanti said. "We've gotten calls from other directors who are fans of the show and who want to come in, but our director slots are full for the time being. I think it comes from a lot of people watching it with their kids or families and wanting to be a part of that."
"It's been really important for us to branch out and get as much diversity as we can"
When it comes to bringing on more directors, nothing is more important to Berlanti and his fellow producers than diversity. More than 50 percent of the directors on Arrow this season are female or non-white, and there's a commitment from the Supergirl team to have as many female directors as possible come on. Not only is Supergirl a great show to work on, Adler said, but it gives them an opportunity to have an action series on their resume that will hopefully land them a bigger action feature.
"It's been really important for us to branch out and get as much diversity as we can," Supergirl writer Andrew Kreisberg said. "Especially with a girl like Supergirl. To have a female lead in front of the camera and not have a woman behind the camera feels like a missed opportunity."
That dedication to diversity will also include on-screen talent and the way their characters are portrayed. One of the characters — although Kreisberg and Berlanti wouldn't say which character or which show — will have a large portion of their arc dedicated to figuring out their sexuality and coming out. It was important to all of the producers that they focus on the LGBT community.
That's Berlanti and the rest of the CW's biggest takeaway with their superhero franchises: They want to shine a light on different communities and bring hope to their audience. Arrow producer Sarah Schechter that the world can be a pretty dark place, and if the CW could bring some light into people's living rooms every week with a couple of goofy superheroes that really believe in building a safer universe, then that was the ultimate goal.
"The world is dark and there are a lot of scary things," Schechter said. "Seeing people rise to be the very best, there's a kind of inspiration in that even if the world is dark, you can bring joy to it. That's the best thing we can do."