San Diego Comic Con presented its first ever nighttime Hall H program on Saturday as Warner Bros. assembled the entire cast of all four of the shows it will have on the air this fall when “The Flash,” “Constantine,” and “Gotham” join the CW’s “Arrow,” for what was unquestionably the largest panel of the Con, hosted by DC Chief Creative Officer (and “Flash” co-producer) Geoff Johns and Oliver Queen himself, Stephen Amell.
After somewhat acidly mentioning that they knew many of the people in the audience had already seen the pilots for the new series, the panel opened with a screening of the pilot for “The Flash” (which, on third viewing at the convention gets no better, but gets no worse, either) and the first ever screening of the pilot for “Gotham.”
The “Gotham” pilot, as moodily directed by Danny Cannon (Judge Dredd, the original one, not the good one), is a very character-oriented police procedural with a heavy Se7en vibe about a city of decay with lots of hints about what it will eventually turn into. And it’s never a super hero show (nor is it “Gotham Central,” or anything like that book was). All of the characters are very real and relatable from Robin Taylor’s Oswald Cobblepot as a smart mob mook on the make to Cory Michael Smith’s Edward Nygma, here just an eccentric CSI technician. So far. Even characters with only a small bit of screen time, like Gordon’s fiancee Barbara or Major Case hotshot Det. Montoya,are fully fleshed out from the get go. As is Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney, who easily takes her place aside Carmine Falcone as a believable Gotham mob villain. Most of the screen time is devoted Gordon himself, of course, and while it’s not clear yet whether Ben McKenzie IS James Gordon, as an idealistic cop who has set himself an impossible task and knows it, he does just fine. Of all the new DC-based pilots this year, “Gotham” is by far the best.
At the moment, the producers are acting as if “Gotham” and “Constantine” were in a world of their own, particularly “Gotham” which is a prequel set in the current day, but they haven’t ruled anything out vis a vis a shared universe and if they come up with a good way to connect them they’ll go for it.
It should be noted, however, that networks tend to frown on cross-network crossovers and do them only reluctantly; just ask David E. Kelly or the producers of “The X-Files” and “ER” who, yes, tried to do one with each other.
Following up with an extended trailer for “Constantine” (which is can be viewed with all the other trailers by clicking here), the video presentation was wrapped up with an extended trailer for next season of “Arrow” which showcased what many people knew (Ray Palmer on the show, John Barrowman, returns as Merlyn to plague Oliver once again) and what many had guessed — mainly that much talked about Ra’s al Guhl will appear as the main villain in Season 3 (though with face unshown and I suspect actor uncast; I would have picked Alexander Siddig, but it looks like he’s going to be too busy on “Game of Thrones”).
Then the casts assembled (John Barrowman gets the biggest applause of anyone). You could almost hear the stage groaning. While some questions did come from the audience, most of the careful back and forth did come from Johns, but they did officially announce what has also been known for some time, that the character Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) would be moving from “Arrow” to “The Flash” in episode four, which is the episode that will feature Captain Cold for the first time and hint at the next Rogue to be seen. Series producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreigsberg also announced that Weather Wizard will return, and that the Gorilla Grodd mention in the pilot was more than just a drop in, he WILL appear this season, as will Reverse Flash. They did say that the show is intentionally brighter and more optimistic than “Arrow,” partly in order to differentiate them.
On the “Arrow” side of things, star Stephen Amell described Season 3 as being about “Oliver deciding if he can be Oliver and Green Arrow at the same time, and the consequences of that decision,” though he noted that no one will be calling him Green Arrow for quite some time. “The series is about the journey he takes for him to become The Green Arrow,” Amell said.
Most of the discussion focused on Ra’s al Guhl making his fateful appearance on the show and though specifics were avoided they did state that it was tied directly to John Barrowman’s return to the show, of which he seemed particularly happy. “In his eyes he’s just as big a hero as Oliver,” he said, and suggested much of his story this season will be about he and Willa Holland’s Thea Queen “having the most dysfunctional father/daughter relationship ever.” Much of the plot of season 3 will revolve around the Oliver-Merlyn-Ra’s dynamic which sorts down to “who hates who more,” Berlanti said.
“A lot of what we’ve been doing the last three years has been leading up to this,” he added.
Besides Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer, the producers also said that Ted Grant aka Wildcat would be making an appearance this season and would specifically be getting in the way of Oliver and Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). Colton Haynes added that he has been given and shot several scenes in his Arsenal costume, “and it is awesome. They gave me a butt!”
The “Arrow” questioning easily transitioned to “The Flash” as they talked about Felicity’s move to the show and the expectation of several crossover’s between the two, though they hadn’t shot the first one yet. They also noted the many drop ins between the two shows, such as the Blue Devil movie and Ferris Air, and said ‘never say never’ about such drop ins turning into actual appearances on the show, though none were planned.
The panel wrapped up with a discussion about “Constantine” which David Goyer, who had the choice of any DC character he wanted for a show, picked because Constantine was his favorite all-time comic book character, to the point where he’d even had a letter about the man printed in an early issue of Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing shortly after his first appearance.
Goyer and Constantine himself, Matt Ryan, talked about getting the tone right, with Harold Perrineau (as the angelic Manny) noting that “everyone approaches antagonistically, because that’s the only way you can be with Constantine.”
Goyer and Ryan went into some depth about the difficulty of casting the role, stating from the beginning that they wanted him to be British and did not want to get an American actor doing a British accent, instead looking only at “Brits, Aussie’s and a few Kiwi’s,” and that Ryan’s audition was ‘different’ in part because he was bearded and hairy and brunette for a play with Jude Law and they did not see what he would actually look like as Constantine until his very last audition.
They also noted that the Doctor Fate helmet drop in in the pilot may end up being more than that, and to expect more classic Constantine characters to show up, including Zed (to be played by Angelica Celaya) and Papa Midnight.
With that, the largest panel in Hall H ever closed, followed by an impromptu showing of the “Constantine” pilot in full which ended, fittingly enough, at midnight.