The showrunners of The CW’s superhero dramas “The Flash” and “Arrow” opened themselves up to criticism on Sunday when they delivered a predominantly male “Heroes and Villains” panel at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena. Executive producer Greg Berlanti, who also oversees CBS’s upcoming series “Supergirl,” put the onus on himself.
“We should’ve had more women up here today. That’s on me,” Berlanti told TheWrap and several outlets after the panel concluded. “That’s my fault.”
The panel had 16 participants, 15 of them male. The lone woman on stage was Katie Cassidy, a.k.a. “Arrow’s” Black Canary. She has been a series regular on the show since its 2012 debut but only evolved into a bonafide costumed hero on Season 3.
“She goes from avenging her sister, to honoring her sister, to becoming her sister,” Cassidy said. “It’s been amazing. I love to kick some ass.”
Berlanti’s co-showrunner on the two CW dramas is Andrew Kreisberg. He noticed the lack of females on stage, too, but pointed out his CW shows did in fact have women.
“I wasn’t in charge of invitations for this panel,” Kreisberg joked. “We’re blessed, we have so many great female superheroes and villains. We have Caity Lotz, the original Canary, Katrina Law [as Nyssa], we have Rila Fukushima who plays Tatsu, who will become Katana before the end of the season.”
“No comment on the fact that there were so many men here, but we really have the greatest, smartest, most kickass female superheroes of any show that’s out there,” he continued. “They really stand toe-to-toe with anybody. We don’t think about them in terms of ‘well, she’s a girl.’ It’s always, ‘Can you do it?'”
Berlanti said there were several factors that went into the decision to put 15 men on the panel, including which characters had the best costumes to showcase and which ones the panel’s organizers thought journalists would most like to see. But, the EP did acknowledge that there were a few costumed females on his shows, which were each renewed for an additional season on Sunday, they didn’t bring to Pasadena.
“We put the list together and it was very much about costumes in the lobby, I think, or else people like Jesse Martin would be here and Emily [Bett Rickards] would be here,” Berlanti continued. “But that’s on me. That’s my fault.”
Superhero diversity has been an ongoing issue for television and film in terms of not only gender, but also race and sexual orientation. David Ramsey (John Diggle on “Arrow”) was the only black panelist, but there were three openly gay heroes and villains on stage — John Barowman (Malcolm Merlyn), Wentworth Miller (Captain Cold) and Victor Garber (Firestorm).
“It’s very important for a number of different reasons,” Ramsey said Sunday of his character being black.