As executive producer on “Arrow,” “Flash,” “Supergirl” and “Legends of Tomorrow,” Greg Berlanti has played a major part in bringing a shared universe of DC Comics series to life on television. In an in-depth interview The Hollywood Reporter, Berlanti spoke about the work that went into creating the “Arrow”-verse, as well as what he prioritized when making decisions about how to adapt classic comic characters for the small screen.
When asked what he fights to get on screen today, he replied: “Of the things that are personal to me, they’re not necessarily fights but they’re choices we made that were different that became conversations. For instance, in ‘The Flash,’ Iris West was never black in the comic books, and for ‘Supergirl,’ James Olsen was never black in the comics. So I wanted to contemporize these comics that I loved growing up and have them reflect the society that we live in now. Those have all been conversations. There’s a character we just added to ‘Arrow,’ Mr. Terrific, who is African-American and gay, and then of course we had one of our original Black Canaries [Sara Lance] be bisexual.”
Berlanti added that while his push for inclusivity isn’t as overt as it had to be when he was starting on out shows like “Dawson’s Creek” and “Everwood” 15 years ago, it’s “still about working in some of those very real qualities so that everyone feels represented.”
That push also goes for the directors of his shows as well. “This year on ‘Arrow,’ we’ll be at 50 percent with either women or diverse directors,” said Berlanti. The EP spoke to the push back he used to receive when trying to hire diverse directors. “When we started, you’d hear back a lot, ‘Well, they have to have either directed for the network or they have to have directed action.’ You’d say, ‘That’s a catch-22 because where did they get an opportunity to direct action?’ And they used to say, ‘Well, you can try one or two new directors out a year on a show.’ But when it’s a young show or you’re a new showrunner, you’re scared. We’ve been able to change that a bit, and hopefully we’ll have female directors across a lot of the DC superhero shows over the next couple of years who can go on and do superhero films and get other action jobs.”
Female directors like Lexi Alexander, Wendey Stanzler, Charlotte BrändstrÃ¶m, Laura Belsey, Rachel Talalay, Karen Gaviola, Jamie Babbit, Alice Troughton, Millicent Shelton and Hanelle Culpepper have all directed episodes of “Flash,” “Arrow,” “Legends of Tomorrow” and “Supergirl” this past TV season.
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