Swamp Thing, the newest original series on DC’s digital service, DC Universe, premiered just over a week ago so a massive amount of praise from fans and critics alike. Since it’s announcement the series quickly became one of the most anticipated shows coming to the DC Universe app. From the first teaser trailer, it was clear that this would be unlike any comic book show before it and the excitement was palpable. Flash forward to a few days after the series premiere and news breaks that Swamp Thing will not be returning for a second season. So, what happened, and why do legions of fans believe that Swamp Thing is worth saving?
Swamp Thing, a humanoid/plant elemental creature, created by writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson, is a fan favorite character who typically resides in – you guessed it – a swamp. Swamp Thing is a swamp monster who fights to protect his home, the environment in general, and humanity from various supernatural or terrorist threats. His stories often lean into the mysterious, supernatural, and horror elements of the DC universe. This mix of horror and otherworldly elements immediately offered Swamp Thing the chance to stand out in the ever-growing realm of comic book television.
Let me be the first to tell you that it certainly did not disappoint. From early trailers, it appeared to lean heavily into the horror elements, and the first episode proved they were making good on that first impression. Bone-chilling, grotesquely jaw-dropping, and masterly suspenseful, the series premiere showed fans what a wild and haunting ride we were in for, and everyone couldn’t be more thrilled. Not only was the shows incredible tone established flawlessly right from the eerie opening credits accentuated by the somber score, but the character design of Swamp Thing himself was ripped right from the comic pages.
The blend of special, visual, and practical effects is top notch. The crew is able to bring some of the most horrifying and disturbing images I’ve ever seen to life, and it’s impossible to look away. On top of the outstanding effects department, the set design is superb as well. With production constructing a full-scale swamp on a sound stage the swamp scenes capture the dark, mysterious, and eerie swamp of Louisiana perfectly. Everything on screen is a visual treat, sometimes in the most gruesome ways.
Not only is the show a hit in every technical department, but the cast is a major standout as well. Crystal Reed stars as Abby Arcane, a CDC investigator who is brought back to her hometown to investigate a new epidemic, and she gives a stellar performance in the first two episodes. She’s joined by Andy Bean who plays Alec Holland and their chemistry from the pilot alone is off the charts. But the cast doesn’t stop there, Derek Mears, Virginia Madsen, Will Patton, Maria Sten, Henderson Wade, Jennifer Beals, Kevin Durand, and more all give fantastic performances in their respective roles. Every character’s personality is easily established, and they all feel appropriately fleshed out with the time they’re given.
So, why just days after its premiere was the series effectively canceled? Well, it’s a little complicated. During the end of production on the show, it was reported that the series was being cut down several episodes, from the originally planned thirteen to just ten. This was reportedly due to the show going significantly over budget. This was the first rock of the ship for the series, it was a bummer to see that something so many people had spent so much effort on was being unceremoniously cut short, but fans still had faith that the ending could be pulled together well enough.
However, after the series premiere, the internet exploded with word that the show would not be returning for a second season. Early reports indicated that some higher-ups at WB/AT&T did not like the direction of the show and how much it had gone over budget. The report of executives not liking the direction was confusing to some (myself included) because it was very evident from the beginning exactly what type of show this was going to be. If executives didn’t like the direction, why was it given the green light in the first place? Let alone with someone as synonymous with horror as James Wan attached as a producer.
Another reported reason for the cancellation is that following the recent acquisition of Time Warner as WarnerMedia by AT&T, the entire DC Universe initiative is being reevaluated. These reasons present some problems, and possible solutions, for the hordes of fans who have already fallen in love with this show. The higher up executives not taking a shine to what the series is happens to be a major roadblock, and it going significantly overbudget is definitely a sore spot in their eyes, but I think many would agree that in order to make money you’ve got to spend it.
It’s been speculated for a while now that Warner Bros. will attempt to fold the DC Universe streaming service into the planned Warner Streaming service, which is set to launch with a beta late this year and fully in Q1 of next year. The details of how this fold would work out are still unclear, but it’s an option that many are hoping works out. If that integration does go smoothly, that still doesn’t necessarily mean that Swamp Thing will be saved. It has also been reported that both The CW and HBO have already begun looking into picking up the series following the outpouring of support from fans around the world. HBO taking the reigns of the drama series may be the biggest and best hope fans have right now. It would fit right at home in their catalog of varied and compelling dramas and would allow the show to continue operating on the same level of quality given the likely budget HBO would allow.
If an acquisition by HBO were to happen that would also still keep the series under the Warner Bros. banner, and reserve it a spot on the Warner Streaming Service in the future. I think I speak for most fans in saying that we hope Swamp Thing is able to return for a second season. The show has already proven itself to be wholly unique in the comic book landscape. It blends horror, drama, suspense, comic book lore, technical achievements, and an all-star cast perfectly. Swamp Thing is a worthwhile investment and it has an army of fans shouting it from the rooftops.
What do you think of the Swamp Thing fiasco? Have you checked out the show? If so, do you hope to see it return? Let us know in the comments or on our Instagram and Twitter!