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DC’s new subscription service looks way better than Marvel Unlimited
It’s the new home for DC Comics TV shows like ‘Titans’ and ‘Harley Quinn.’
These days, everyone is starting their own online streaming service. DC Entertainment will join the fray by launching DC Universe this year, an on-demand subscription site for a variety of DC-related media. Here’s everything we know so far about DC Universe, including which TV shows will be available to stream.
What is DC Universe?
DC Universe is DC’s long-awaited version of Marvel Unlimited, Marvel’s subscription library of digital comics. The platform will include comics, vintage movies and animation, and new original TV shows. For a lot of fans, the comics may be the most exciting element here. People have been clamoring for a DC version of Marvel Unlimited, and DC Universe promises a curated library of comics “from Action Comics #1 to Rebirth.” This includes a comics reader that works on big-screen TVs – a definite upgrade from Marvel’s rather clunky Unlimited website.
Along with digital content, DC Universe will also host a fan forum and an interactive encyclopedia, and sell exclusive merchandise. It will work on desktops, iOS and Android devices, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, and Google Chromecast. However, it’s only available in the U.S.
DC Universe will launch Sept. 15.
As of June 28, you can sign up to pre-register on the DC Universe site, with a brief trailer giving us a glimpse of what’s to come.
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DC Universe shows
DC has announced several new shows, both live-action and animated. They’re separate from existing TV properties like Gotham and Supergirl, but they’re being developed by many of the same people.
The first two releases will be the animated series Young Justice: Outsiders, and a live-action Teen Titans show called Titans. They’re expected to arrive in fall 2018, followed by live-action adaptations of Swamp Thing and Doom Patrol (two of DC’s more offbeat properties) and an animated Harley Quinn series aimed at adults. They’re also developing a Superman prequel called Metropolis, focusing on Lex Luthor and Lois Lane.
At San Diego Comic Con, DC’s Geoff Johns on July 19 announced he’s creating a Stargirl TV series for the streaming service. She’s a young superhero with enhanced strength and energy manipulation abilities, and the show will skew toward a younger audience in a similar vein to Supergirl. Johns co-created the character in 1999, inspired by his sister who died a few years earlier, so this is a very personal project for him.
Along with new original series, the DC Universe site lists “legendary films” like Tim Burton’s Batman, and older TV like an HD release of Batman: The Animated Series and the classic Wonder Woman.
In addition to all the live-action dramas and animated shows, DC Universe is gettings its own talk show. DC Daily will focus on news about DC Comics and their various spinoffs, similar to discussion shows like The Talking Dead, and Lucasfilm’s in-house YouTube channels for the Star Wars franchise.The DC Daily hosts will include actor John Barrowman, comedian Samm Levine, and actress Harley Quinn Smith. Actress and presenter Tiffany Smith will be the main news anchor. Fans can catch a preview of DC Daily on Aug. 29 at 7:30pm ET, hosted by DC TV director (and famous comic book fan) Kevin Smith.
Titans features a young superhero team of Dick Grayson/Robin (Brenton Thwaites), Starfire (Anna Diop), Raven (Teagan Croft) and Beast Boy (Ryan Potter), with a supporting cast including Hawk and Dove. Developed by Akiva Goldsman, Greg Berlanti, and Geoff Johns—all of whom have extensive experience with DC adaptations—it’s DC Universe’s headline show.
The first trailer for Titans is basically the living embodiment of the phrase “gritty reboot.” Packed with teen angst and extremely gory violence, it features Robin uttering the soon-to-be-immortal catchphrase, “Fuck Batman.” It also looks, well… not exactly big-budget.
Titans will premiere Oct. 12, hosting the world premiere on Oct. 3 at New York Comic Con. Episodes will be released weekly. We can’t wait.
For the fake marketing holiday of Batman Day, DC Universe released a clip introducing Jason Todd. As Dick Grayson’s replacement, he’s Batman’s new Robin—and it looks like there’s a bit of a sibling rivalry going on.
— DCUTitans (@DCUTitans) September 15, 2018
Doom Patrol will be a direct spinoff of Titans, and Titans’ episode titles suggest that Jason Todd (Dick Grayson’s successor as Robin) may have a guest role. Filming began in November 2017, with a trailer expected to arrive in summer 2018.
Brendan Fraser (The Mummy) has been cast as Robotman. While he’ll play Robotman’s original human identity, Cliff Steele, during flashback scenes, this is primarily a voice-acting role. After surviving a crash, race car driver Cliffe Steele’s brain was inserted into a robotic body, whose physical performance will be provided by Riley Shanahan while Fraser provides the voice.
The rest of the Doom Patrol cast consists of Elasti-Woman (Two And A Half Men‘s April Bowlby), Crazy Jane (Orange Is the New Black’s Diane Guerrero, and Cyborg (Doctor Who‘s Joivan Wade).
Young Justice: Outsiders
Young Justice: Outsiders is a revival of Cartoon Network’s Young Justice, which ran for two seasons in 2010 and 2011. In response to demand from fans, DC revived the show for a third season on DC Universe, combining the original cast with a long-running DC superhero team called the Outsiders. The new season will be 26 episodes long, arriving in fall 2018 alongside Titans.
The first trailer for Young Justice: Outsiders ties up some loose ends from the end of the show’s second season and introduces new characters.
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Aquaman director James Wan will serve as executive producer for this live-action version on Swamp Thing. Crystal Reed, aka Allison Argent from MTV’s Teen Wolf, will star as Abby Arcane in Swamp Thing.
Here’s the plot summary, via the Hollywood Reporter:
“The drama follows what happens when CDC researcher Abby Arcane returns to her childhood home of Houma, Louisiana, in order to investigate a deadly swamp-borne virus. There, she develops a surprising bond with scientist Alec Holland — only to have him tragically taken from her. But as powerful forces descend on Houma, intent on exploiting the swamp’s mysterious properties for their own purposes, Abby will discover that the swamp holds mystical secrets, both horrifying and wondrous — and the potential love of her life may not be gone after all.”
Powerless showrunners Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker, and writer Dean Lorey (Arrested Development, Powerless) will be taking point on on the Harley Quinn animated series. According to Deadline, the series will pickup after Harley breaks up with the Joker and follows her as she “attempts to make it on her own as the criminal Queenpin of Gotham City.” Even better, it’ll feature Poison Ivy and other notable DC characters.
DC Universe cost
An annual DC Universe subscription will cost $74.99, or you can subscribe for a monthly fee of $7.99. Pre-orders are now open on the DC Universe site, including a pre-order bonus of three free months.
For comparison’s sake, Marvel Unlimited (which is comics-only) is $9.99/month, and the ad-free version of CBS All Access is also $9.99. Netflix still dominates the field at $7.99/month for a basic single membership.
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Is DC Universe worth it?
For audiences, this really depends on how much you love DC superheroes, and how much you’re willing to pay. There are already a lot of DC shows out there, including the Arrowverse franchise, Krypton, and Black Lightning. DC Universe will have to offer something genuinely fresh to seem worthwhile, and that may come in the form of adult animated shows like Harley Quinn.
In the competitive field of superhero TV, DC still doesn’t have an equivalent to Marvel’s well-received Netflix franchise, or the experimental X-Men spinoff Legion. Could mature shows like Swamp Thing and Doom Patrol be DC’s ticket to critical acclaim? It’s a gamble for DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. They’re sinking a lot of money into this platform, with no guarantee that fans will pay for it alongside their existing subscriptions for Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested.