What’s Happened To The Live-Action DCU?

Fair Warning:  This is an all-out nerdgasm post, so if you’re not into comics, I hear there are some cool cat videos on the web…


To be clear, while I love Marvel and all comic book companies in general, I’m a DC Comics guy all the way and always will be.

But recent events in the live-action DC Universe, specifically in The Flash and Supergirl, have me scratching my head so hard it’s bleeding. I’m the first to agree that the endless cycle of “catching the bad guy, locking him up and catching him again when he inevitably breaks out” is getting old.

To say the least.

But locking the bad guy up without due process and throwing away the key? Now that’s another story all-together, kids.

And locking the bad guy up in your own personal Guantanamo Bay without notifying the authorities at all? Now that’s… well, I don’t even know what that is anymore.

Yes, there’s an argument for “It’s just TV, Hook! Relax!”, but we’re all nerds here, right? We can agree that this is a conversation worth having, right? As opposed to going outside and doing whatever it is people do when they’re away from their televisions or computers, that is. So, in the context of this argument, I can’t believe what’s going on in the live-action DC Universe these days.

It was established early on in The Flash that Central City authorities simply weren’t equipped to incarcerate and hold metahuman baddies (I still need to get used to the whole “metahuman” thing), and so it made sense when S.T.A.R. Labs got in to the prison game. One assumed this was going to be a temporary measure. What didn’t make sense was when it became a regular practice.


Sure, a few of these metas have died, been released (reluctantly) or escaped during transfer – that was an epic mess, to be certain – but Team Flash is still willing to use the Pipeline whenever they deem it necessary.

And now The Department of Extranormal Operations (or DEO) has followed suit. For anyone who hasn’t been keeping up with the nerdrific surprise that is Supergirl, the DEO is a black-ops government agency tasked with whipping it good.

Wait, that’s DEVO….

What the hell does the DEO do? DEO-Agent-Danvers-supergirl-2015-tv-series-39072385-500-247

Oh yeah, I remember. They’re the guys ‘n gals who capture and lock up renegade aliens like the ones who followed Kara to Earth from the Phantom Zone. The important thing to bear in mind is that the DEO has been sanctioned by the American government to imprison said aliens. But Kara’s adoptive sister and DEO agent, Alex Danvers, recently locked up billionaire baddie Maxwell Lord. (Could have been worse, I suppose; she could have snapped his neck.)

The only problem with Agent Danvers’ plan? She went rogue when she did it.


Granted, Lord had just unleashed Bizarro Supergirl on National City and Alex’s adoptive sister, but that doesn’t change the fact there was no actual evidence to justify his arrest. Alex simply had two DEO agents pick Lord up and whip him into a cell at DEO HQ. (I sure wish I worked for a super-secret government agency. I’d fill their cells in a week.)  Sure, her boss, Hank Henshaw blew a gasket – but he didn’t let Max go. So they had a high-profile, non-sanctioned, human prisoner the whole world would eventually be looking for.

Like I said, awkward.

Incidentally, how great is David Harewood as J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter? I honestly thought Henshaw was going to be revealed as the Cyborg Superman but the Supergirl team threw me for a Martian loop with this curveball.


But back to the matter at hand. I think I’d rather have heroes killing their enemies rather than using unlawful imprisonment as a form of torture, unintentionally or not. At least I can respect a hero who metes out extreme punishment. All this vigilantism-to-the-extreme is getting to me.

For the most part DC Comics’ heroes have always been far less grim ‘n gritty than the Marvel crew – and I liked it that way. Each universe established their own philosophy and stuck to it. Nowadays Phil Coulson and his renegade Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D play by the rules more than Barry Allen and Kara Danvers. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love the live-action DCU. Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, even Constantine, briefly, have all delivered plenty of action, inside references and genuine human drama. But if they continue to ignore the core values the characters were built on they risk alienating their core fan base.

Then again, I’m a blogging bellman, what the hell do I know about scripting superhero TV shows?

See you in the lobby, my friends…


About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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20 Responses to What’s Happened To The Live-Action DCU?

  1. Paul says:

    The technical aspects of this discussion elude me but if I get it right, even superheroes are now locking up their enemies without due process. Tsk, Tsk. Judge Scalia would turn over in his grave.

  2. davidprosser says:

    You mention Arrow. Is that the Green Arrow of my youth? Does Green Lantern still exist? I probably stopped reading DC and Marvel in the early sixties and am surprised they haven’t all retired by now. I’m glad they haven’t though as kids need superheroes to look up to.

    • The Hook says:

      Green Lantern is still around, David – though his live-action movie crashed and burned.
      And you’re right, kids will always need heroes.
      We all do, for that matter.

  3. Allie P. says:

    And here is where we differ… I pick Marvel over DC. Jessica Jones has been a great addition to my viewing queue. Now my brother is likely going to catch wind of this comment and resume the great comic book debate of Thanksgiving 2015. We agreed to a truce in which we’d both pick up a few more books by Insight while we contemplated things like the blindness of unwavering loyalty, art, and nuance of story telling.

  4. umashankar says:

    I am glad I hitched my wagon to Tintin and put a big bold full stop at that. I quite enjoyed your take on those biggies though, baddies and all.

  5. ” ignore the core values the characters were built on they risk alienating their core fan base.” Been the downfall of many.

  6. I really enjoy the X-Men, Avengers, Fantastic Four movies, etc., (not so much the DC guys – Batman and the like) and I really love watching them with my son (he points out Stan Lee everywhere he makes a cameo), but I’ve never been into the reading of the comics themselves so much, so yes, this is all a bit over my head. Having said that, I suspect your lament about alienating the core fan base when the scriptwriter plots out an episode or movie ignoring the core values of the character, may be how I feel when a piece of literature gets turned into a movie but the screen/scriptwriter manipulates the movie in order to appeal to a larger audience; ie introducing Tauriel the elf into The Hobbit – never mind the whole of Gulliver’s Travels with Jack Black and The Great Gatsby (just to name a couple). It loses its flavour somewhat, not to mention its integrity. I mean, it’s still entertaining, but with a dash of sadness.
    (Oh, it’s tough being a purist – hahahahaha!).

  7. Beautiful post, I wrote a similar one a while back, though it was only on the Flash. I’d like to know – have you seen Daredevil? It deals with vigilantism and due process pretty well (as expected, since the protagonist IS after all a lawyer) and season 2 looks to be going even deeper with Punisher coming in :D.

    • The Hook says:

      Haven’t seen Daredevil, but I hear great things.

      • It’s a very good show, though a bit graphic re: violence and themes. Same goes for Jessica Jones. Still, they’re definitely something I would definitely recommend watching – especially since I think you’re on a little holiday right now? Incredibly thought-provoking, well-crafted, they don’t shy at taking you out of your comfort zone, which is good. It forces us to look at things from different perspectives. And they certainly gave me many new perspectives to consider :).

      • The Hook says:

        I really need to get Netflix…

      • There are…ways of bypassing that ;). By the way, I posted up a Cap trailer analysis and a top 5 things my collective wants to see in the film, could you give them a glance please :)? Would love to get some more discussion from a fellow comic media fan.


  8. Damn, can’t edit this into my earlier comment, but here’s the relevant post if you’re interested :).


  9. curvyroads says:

    Hi Robert…going to look for cat videos now…


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