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Welcome to The Hollywood Reporter‘s special Comic-Con edition of DC TV Watch, a rundown of all things DC Comics on TV. Each week, we round up all the major twists, epic fights, new mysteries, exciting castings and everything else that goes down on The CW’s superhero fare. But this week, we’re on the scene in San Diego for Comic-Con breaking down all the notable news and moments from the Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and Black Lightning panels.
(Season two returns Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 9 p.m. on The CW)
The big news: Jordan Calloway has been promoted to series regular for season two.
What you need to know: Last season, Jennifer Pierce’s (China Anne McClain) boyfriend Khalil Payne (Calloway) started at the top. The high school athlete bound for the Olympics found his dreams shattered when a bullet meant for Black Lightning (Cress Williams) severed his spine. Looking at life in a wheelchair, he desperately made a deal with the devil, Tobias Whale (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III) and received cybernetic enhancements that transformed him into the Painkiller. The new metahuman, super strong and able to generate an anesthetic from his body that causes temporary paralysis when delivered through darts, is now Tobias’ personal weapon. Fans can expect to see a lot more, in both action and emotional storylines with Jennifer, from Painkiller in season two with news Saturday that Calloway has been upped to series regular.
Other noteworthy panel highlights: Fans looking for scoop on what’s to come in season two were left wanting more at Black Lightning‘s Comic-Con panel. The 45-minute conversation was mostly a look back at the first season and exploring what the series means for onscreen representation, inclusion and diversity. Even the sizzle reel played at the beginning of the panel was filled only with season one highlights.
But executive producer Salim Akil did give Jones the go-ahead to tease one dangling cliffhanger from last season. What’s in the box? That glowing suitcase from the season one finale is going to return in season two and Tobias Whale has some nefarious plans involving it. “I would like to say it’s the future of Freeland,” Jones says. “I would like to think.”
(Season four returns Sunday, Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. on The CW)
The big news: Supergirl is breaking even more boundaries in season four by introducing TV’s first transgender superhero.
What you need to know: The CW superhero series announced at Comic-Con that transgender activist Nicole Maines is joining season four as TV’s first transgender superhero. Maines (Royal Pains, The Trans List) will be playing the series regular role of Nia Nal, aka Dreamer, and she joined the cast onstage halfway through the panel. The newest addition to the CatCo reporting team who worked under Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) in Washington, D.C., Nia is described as a soulful young transgender woman with a fierce drive to protect others. Her journey over the course of this season means fulfilling her destiny as the superhero Dreamer, as Kara takes her under her wing. Not only is this a huge step for inclusion onscreen, it’s also a win for the trans community as Supergirl is going the extra mile stepping up its representation by casting a trans actress to play the trans role, avoiding the controversy surrounding other projects that cast cis actors as trans characters. “It seems only fitting that we have a trans superhero for trans kids to look up to,” Maines says.
Other noteworthy panel highlights: Two other cast additions were announced during the panel. April Parker Jones (Jericho, The Last Ship) is joining the show in the series regular role of Colonel Haley, a hardline career military woman. Colonel Haley lives and dies by the orders of her commanding officers. Dedicated to her country, she always acts in its best interest — even if it’s not her own. David Ajala (Dr. Who, Nightflyers, The Dark Knight) will also join the cast in season four as the recurring role of Manchester Black, based on the iconic DC Comics character. Described as the type of guy who brings a knife to a gunfight and still walks away the winner, Manchester Black has a dark past but easily deflects the brutality of his mission with his charm and sense of humor. Maines, Jones and Ajala join the previously announced new series regulars Jesse Rath who plays the Legion of Superheroes’ Brainiac-5 and Smallville alum Sam Witwer who will play Agent Liberty.
Fans got their first glimpse of Witwer’s villain as he voiced an ominous voiceover in a sneak peek at season two. Agent Liberty is going to spearhead an anti-alien movement that goes directly against Kara’s (Melissa Benoist) symbol of hope. And was that a new suit for Supergirl? A flash of a woman wearing a light-up “S” on her chest with a futuristic helmet covering her face looked epic and heroic, but since her face was hidden there’s no telling if this was really Kara or someone else, like her evil doppelganger seen in the very last scene of the finale.
As for new series regular Rath, he’s already making a name for himself as the resident klepto on set. When a fan asked if Alex (Chyler Leigh) would ever get a Legion ring so she could fly with her sister, Rath pulled one off of his finger to hand to Leigh a few seats over. Benoist was shocked, and asked if he stole it from the prop department. He did indeed. “That ring is worth more than this show,” he jokes.
(Season seven returns Monday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. on The CW)
The big news: Now that Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) has publicly confessed to being the Green Arrow, he’ll face old enemies locked up with him behind bars while the new villain team-up The Longbow Hunters wreak havoc and get their revenge on Oliver for taking down season six villain Ricardo “Dragon” Diaz (Kirk Acevedo).
What you need to know: Returning to Arrow this season are some familiar faces that Oliver put in jail in previous seasons: Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), Derek Sampson (Cody Runnels) and Danny “Brick” Brickwell (Vinnie Jones). All three are locked up in Slabside Maximum Security Prison, aka Oliver’s new home. As for The Longbow Hunters previously hinted at by Diaz in season six, the iconic group of assassins takes shape onscreen in the form of three new characters: ruthless and precise killer Red Dart played by Holly Elissa (Whistler), a beast of a man with brute force Kodiak played by Michael Jonsson (Van Helsing) and master of stealth Silencer played by Miranda Edwards (The Magicians, Orphan Black).
Other noteworthy panel highlights: In her first Comic-Con panel as the new showrunner of Arrow, Beth Schwartz took to the stage along with Amell, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Rick Gonzalez, Echo Kellum, Juliana Harkavy and returning series regular Colton Haynes. The cast praised Schwartz bringing her own flavor to the series, with Haynes promising that it’s one of the most exciting moments for the series having a female at the helm. And as for that Batwoman crossover coming later this year, Schwartz teases, “We’re super excited about but we’re working on the first half of the season so the crossover is not yet something [we’re at].”
And in a touching moment harkening back to last year’s Comic-Con panel, Amell reunited with Sara, the little girl battling cancer he gave his necklace to a year ago with the promise she would return it in a year. She was the first in line to ask a question at the mic halfway through the panel this year, making good on that promise, and Amell traded his necklace for the one thing he ever stole from the set: Oliver’s first bow. The entire Ballroom 20 cheered, many fans even getting on their feet as Amell ran off the stage to give Sara the bow and whisper a message into her ear.
LEGENDS OF TOMORROW
(Season four returns Monday, Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. on The CW)
The big news: Two new characters are joining Legends of Tomorrow for season four.
What you need to know: With the introduction of magical creatures in the season four finale, the Waverider is getting something of an expert on magic next season. In addition to John Constantine (Matt Ryan) joining the Legends team, Ramona Young (Blockers, Santa Clarita Diet) joins the cast in the series regular role of Alaska Yu. Described as a typical twentysomething easily swept up by romantic notions and fantasy novels, she’s like a walking encyclopedia for the kind of monsters that the Legends will face this season after opening a door to the time prison that previously kept Mallus locked up. In the company of the Legends, Alaska soon learns to get her head out of the clouds to become a kickass superhero. Plus, Tom Wilson (The Informant, Back to the Future) will recur as Nate’s (Nick Zano) father, Hank Heywood. With a lifetime in the military and Dept. of Defense, Hank is part of a long line of Heywoods to serve the country. Charming and charismatic, he’s left big shoes for Nate to fill — and it doesn’t help that Nate can’t tell him he’s secretly a Legend.
Other noteworthy panel highlights: A unicorn, a decapitated dragon’s head, shirtless Constantine, Sara (Caity Lotz) and Ava (Jes MaCallan) naked in bed looking extremely happy together, Legends of Tomorrow season four is going fully in on the wacky, magical and romantic notes this year. And executive producer Phil Klemmer promises that Sara and Ava’s relationship is only getting better and better from here on out. As their relationship gets deeper and more meaningful, that will allow Legends of Tomorrow to expand the world of the Time Bureau even more thanks to Ava’s work life, which is how Alaska will be introduced.
Noting that Maisie Richardson-Sellers is still a series regular despite her character Amaya’s exit last season, the actor revealed on the panel that she’ll be playing a totally new character, Charlie, this season. Charlie is one of the “magical fugitives who slips through” the door that the Legends opened in the time prison. Described as “a rebel without a cause, a trickster on her own mission,” Charlie “shakes up” the dynamics on the Waverider as the Legends attempt to figure out if she’s a friend or foe.
Will former The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow series regular Keiynan Lonsdale return to the Waverider this year? Unfortunately not, according to Klemmer. But executive producer Keto Shimizu promises, “There is always next season!”
And making a surprise appearance halfway through the panel was a life-size Beebo, clad fully in a blue fur costume. After hugging all the actors onstage, the costumed character pulled off the head to reveal Adam Tsekhman, aka Gary from the Time Bureau. Ballroom 20 then erupted in chants of, “Gary! Gary! Gary!” for an epic welcome to the fan-favorite actor.
(Season five returns Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. on The CW)
The big news: The season five big bad is revealed, and it’s not another speedster!
What you need to know: Veteran actor Chris Klein (American Pie, Oz) joins The Flash as season five’s main villain, DC Comics character Cicada. A grizzled, blue-collar everyman whose family has been torn apart by metahumans, Cicada now seeks to exterminate the epidemic — one metahuman at a time. While Cicada in the comics is a cult leader, executive producer Todd Helbing explains that they’re taking some liberties and putting the iconic character through The Flash lens. “He’s not so much a cult leader, but his powers present a challenge for Team Flash that they’ve never had to deal with before,” Helbing says. Other villains coming up this season are “younger” versions of The Rogues, according to Helbing. And the showrunner hopes to do a team-up between King Shark and Gorilla Grodd in the second half of season five … but only if they have enough money in the budget to do all the CGI work. This is something he’s been trying to do for years, but never had enough money. Cross fingers it finally happens this year.
Other noteworthy panel highlights: Before the panel began, a sizzle reel played for Ballroom 20 with new footage from season five, including some answers about Nora West-Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy). Her superhero nickname in the future (given to her by her father!) is XS, and she’s hiding something from Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris (Candice Patton) at first. And while Lonsdale isn’t returning to Legends of Tomorrow this season, he is shown in The Flash season 5 trailer, fully suited up as Kid Flash and running alongside The Flash. But the biggest cheer came when Barry got a new suit upgrade: his Flash ring from the comics. Expect to see a new supersuit as well, one that Helbing promises is “the most comic book-influenced” look yet.
But fans should begin bracing themselves now. Helbing warns, “There will be a lot of deaths this year.” Maybe even a main character or two.
And now that both Patton and Kennedy have had to learn how to portray a speedster, they both lament how much “cooler” Gustin is at doing the Flash “slide.” The fans gathered for the panel began yelling at Gustin to show it off onstage, so he took off his shoes and attempted to do it in his socks. “It’s cooler in the Flash suit,” he says after sitting back down.
— Sydney Bucksbaum (@SydneyBucksbaum) July 22, 2018
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