“Swamp Thing”: Did North Carolina Tax Hit Doom DC Universe Series?

With a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 92% and the second episode ready to premiere this Friday, there’s been a ton of speculation over why DC Universe has drained the swamp on its live-action Swamp Thing series. Were WarnerMedia executives’ “creative differences” and being less-than-pleased with the direction of the show to blame? Was the series just “collateral damage” as WarnerMedia continues to figure out its future streaming plans – and DC Universe’s place in it?

DC Universe | The Ultimate Membership | Swamp Thing Teaser

Two reports on the matter – both from Star News Online – address how the overall funding issues between the state and film industry contributed to the situation; and how what was allocated to the series was dramatically less than expected – resulting in a financial hit that would make the series too costly to continue (props to cartoonist/writer John Gholson for some fine Twitter reporting).

While you can catch up on the shenanigans going on between North Carolina and its film grant program here… in a nutshell? Swamp Thing requested $16.1M in state grant monies for a 13-episode first season, receiving $12M for a season with a reduced episode count (with the studio arguing that production would end up spending upwards of $85M in the state). Out of that $12M in grant money, approximately $5M was spent on the pilot – leaving only $7M for the remaining (now) 9 episodes.

So was that the “smoking gun”? With nearly half the grant money eaten-up by the pilot, was an additional $36-$40 million in production costs for the season too much for the studio to bear? Was this be the final nail in the coffin of a show that’s been plagued by problems since production began? Were creative differences, the current state of the streaming business, and North Carolina’s film funding situation the “perfect storm” that killed the series?

DC Universe

In April, news reports began circulating that production on the series was ending early. According to sources speaking with Star News Online, the show’s production crew were notified of the news as writers worked to rewrite the season’s/series’ ending. Reports that production was ending early (with 10 episodes as opposed to the originally ordered 13 episodes) were confirmed, with sources saying that the change was due to “creative differences” between the show’s creators and streaming service.

cobra kai

What to Expect from DC Universe’s ‘Swamp Thing’…

Here’s an overview of DC Universe’s Swamp Thing as well as a look at Crystal Reed’s Dr. Abby Arcane, Andy Bean’s Alec Holland, Derek Mears’ Swamp Thing, Maria Sten’s Liz Tremayne, Jennifer Beals’ Sheriff Lucilia Cable, Jeryl Prescott’s Madame Xanadu, Virginia Madsen’s Maria Sunderland, Will Patton’s Avery Sunderland, Kevin Durand’s Woodrue/Floronic Man, Ian Ziering’s Daniel Cassidy/Blue Devil, Henderson Wade’s Matt Cable, Leonardo Nam’s Harlan Edwards, and Michael Beach’s Nathan Ellery – offering some clues as to what viewers can expect from the series:

Something unnatural is happening in the swamps outside Marais, Louisiana. When a mysterious illness strikes the town, CDC investigator (and former Marais native) Abby Arcane (series star CRYSTAL REED) is sent to investigate. At the hospital, she encounters biologist Alec Holland (series star ANDY BEAN) who believes the bizarre illness might be connected to his scientific work in the swamp for powerful businessman Avery Sunderland (series star WILL PATTON). Abby has a history with Avery and Maria Sunderland (series star VIRGINIA MADSEN), who still blames the young Arcane for the tragic death of her daughter years before. But with a deadly swamp-born virus out there, something is wrong in Marais right now.

Along with Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Cable (series star HENDERSON WADE), Abby once again crosses paths with Alec, but this time they encounter a terrifying, dark force that’s not only killed intruders, but is also taking control of its victims. At Delroy’s Roadhouse, Abby consults her old friend and local reporter Liz Tremayne (series star MARIA STEN) who has a lead deep in the swamp. When Alec goes missing after investigating the unnatural experiments deep in the swamp, something else rises in his place: Swamp Thing (series star DEREK MEARS), a mysterious creature born of the depths of the swamp’s mystical and terrifying secrets. With nature wildly out of balance and coming for the people of Marais, in the end, it may take some Thing from the swamp to save it.

● Emerging from the swamp with a monstrous physique and strange new powers over plant life, the man who was once Alec Holland (Bean) struggles to hold onto his humanity. Prior to his life as the elemental hero, Holland was a biologist who got caught in the crosshairs of a small town nightmare, when he discovered a bizarre local illness connected to his work in the swamp.

● When dark forces converge on the town of Marais, Swamp Thing (Mears) must embrace what he has become in order to defend the town as well as the natural world at large.

● Smart and caring, CDC Dr. Abby Arcane’s (Reed) strong sense of empathy puts her at the center of a horrific life-threatening epidemic in her hometown, where she faces emotional demons from her past. A chance meeting with scientist Alec Holland takes her into a world of horror and the supernatural, and of the elemental creature known as Swamp Thing.

● Liz Tremayne (Sten) is a close childhood friend of Abby Arcane’s, who splits her time between reporting for the local paper and bartending at her aging father’s roadhouse bar. Her no-nonsense attitude belies a deep compassion for her friends and family as she sets out in her uncompromising quest to expose the secrets that threaten her beloved hometown.

● Sheriff Lucilia Cable (Beals) is tough as nails, pragmatic, and fiercely devoted to her son, Matt, her sworn duty to serve and protect the town of Marais. As the community she has dedicated her life to defending finds itself beset by strange forces, Lucilia must double down in her efforts to safeguard everyone she holds dear.

● Madame Xanadu (Prescott) is a centuries-old immortal who advises and aligns with crusaders against evil but is reluctant to join the fray directly.

● Maria Sunderland (Madsen) traded in her privileged upbringing for the swamps of Marais when she married local business magnate Avery Sunderland, but Avery’s life-time obsession with the swamp has driven a wedge between him and Maria. Her poised existence is shaken further when the return of Abby Arcane reawakens a deep grief over the loss of Maria’s daughter, Shawna, drawing her into the dark supernatural mysteries emerging from the swamp.

DC Universe

● Prominant businessman Avery Sunderland (Patton) serves as the de facto patriarch of his Louisiana hometown, always giving back to the community. His benevolent veneer, however, masks a ruthless determination to harness the power of the swamp for profit.

● Jason Woodrue/Floronic Man (Durand) is a biogeneticist without equal – and he knows it. Brought in to study the unique properties of a small-town Louisiana swamp, Woodrue becomes fixated on unlocking the potential contained within — leading to tragic and monstrous consequences.

● Stuntman turned movie star Daniel Cassidy/Blue Devil (Ziering) became semi-famous after playing the demonic Blue Devil. But now, eight years later, Cassidy finds himself living out his days in frustration, pining for his former fame while on a collision course with destiny.

● Matt Cable (Wade) is a Louisiana lawman who finds himself in dire straits when supernatural evil threatens the town he’s sworn to protect. The son of Sheriff Lucilla Cable has a history with Abby: she was his childhood crush.

● Harlan Edwards (Nam) is an openly gay CDC specialist and Dr. Abby Arcane’s second-in-command.

● No-nonsense businessman Nathan Ellery (Beach) has a ruthless streak. Presenting himself as the polished CEO of a legitimate venture capital firm, Ellery’s smooth corporate veneer hides his willingness to resort to extreme measures to achieve his goals.

swamp thing

The streaming service‘s upcoming 10-episode drama adaptation is based on the DC Comics character created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. Written by showrunner Mark Verheiden and Gary Dauberman, and directed by Len Wiseman (The Gifted, Lucifer), the series stems from James Wan’s Atomic Monster in association with Warner Bros. Television. Wan, Verheiden, Dauberman, Wiseman, and Michael Clear executive produce.

About Ray Flook

Proudly serving as TV Editor, Ray started with Bleeding Cool in 2013 as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought aboard as staff in 2017. Counting John Cusack as his pop culture "spirit animal," his "word fu" stays strong as he continues trying really hard to be the sheppard...

twitter   facebook square   instagram   envelope