Six years in, the CW’s Arrowverse is thriving. Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl are all gearing up for new seasons in the small screen corner of the DC Universe. The shows all offer serialized stories with earnest, well defined characters who are inherently likable and easy to root for, something of a contrast to the darker, morally greyer DC cinematic output of recent years (Wonder Woman excepted).
But the Arrowverse shows are far from perfect, and their weaknesses tend to come from their writers rooms. On multiple occasions, fundamental aspects of these shows simply don’t add up.
There are a lot of reasons for this. One is that making over 20 episodes of shows of this scale and ambition a year is quite simply a brutal undertaking, and things are going to get lost in the shuffle.
In the case of Arrow, the show’s identity has evolved so rapidly – from a gritty, Batman Begins pastiche to the mystical superpowered show it is now – it occasionally has had to throw logic to the wind to keep up.
In the case of Legends of Tomorrow, the show has always prioritized fun and thrills over making sense, which is both maddening and kind of endearing. None of these shows are fatally flawed, but there are things they could all be doing a little better.
Here are 15 Things About The Arrowverse That Make No Sense.
15. The FLASH: Barry should have vanished when he saved his mom
At the end of season 2, The Flash sees Barry make his dumbest, most selfish mistake, as he goes back to the night his mother died at the hands of Eobard Thawne and saves her. He tried this once before in season 1, but decided against saving her, as he knew it could have massive ramifications for the future, so when season 2 Barry returns to that night, season 1 Barry is also there.
When season 2 Barry defeats Thawne and saves his mother, season 1 Barry vanishes. But season 2 Barry should have also vanished.
Saving his mother should have essentially erased him as well, but it didn’t, which is a contradiction of the (incredibly convoluted) time travel rules established in the show. Season 3 would pick up with the Flashpoint arc, which left a lot of viewers wishing they had also been erased from the timeline.
14. ARROW: Death basically means nothing
Resurrection is not a new prospect in superhero stories. You would be hard pressed to think of a character in the comics who has never died and miraculously been returned to the world of the living. It’s a comic book trope as trusty as secret identities and annoying sidekicks.
But it’s safe to say Arrow has essentially entered into an abusive relationship with resurrections. Always pitched as the grittier, more realistic Arrowverse show, it has found numerous fantastical ways to return fallen characters.
Thea Queen and Sara Lance were both revived by Lazarus Pits of the League of Assassins. Laurel Lance’s cooler, meaner Earth-2 doppelganger took up residence in Earth-1 Star City after the original perished. Time travel shenanigans have saved Damien Darhk. Malcolm Meryln is perhaps the worst case: he’s seemingly died multiple times, only to return with little explanation, like a Looney Tunes character.
13. LEGENDS: The JSA is decidedly not covert
The Justice Society of America is a staple of the DC Universe. Created in 1940, it was the first comic book superhero team ever. In more recent iterations, it’s been retconned as a team that existed only in the era it was created, World War II. Legends of Tomorrow followed that model, making the JSA a covert superpowered operation.
There are a few problems with this, however. For one, it contradicts longstanding Arrowverse continuity that Barry Allen was the first superpowered hero. That’s a relatively easy contradiction to explain away, as the JSA’s covert nature could have served as a cover for the existence of metahumans, and the argument could be credibly made that there were many metahumans prior to the Flash, they just weren’t widely acknowledged.
The real issue is the fact that the JSA really weren’t all that covert. Historians (like Nate Heywood himself) seem to have a working knowledge of the group and their abilities, which flies in the face of a lot of Arrowverse continuity.
12. SUPERGIRL: Martian Manhunter’s inconsistent powers
Supergirl has taken some liberties with Martian Manhunter from the very start. The reveal that the DEO’s head man was really a shapeshifting Martian refugee was a genuine shocker, and the show has done strong work developing J’onn J’onzz as one of the show’s most compelling characters.
The show has come up decidedly short in its portrayal of J’onn’s power set, however. Martian Manhunter, for all intents and purposes, should be on the same level as Superman, with the added abilities of telepathic powers and shapeshifting.
The show has been wildly inconsistent with what J’onn is actually capable of. There are times when he seems to be, at the very least, Kara’s equal, and there are times when he gets his green butt kicked by D-listers for no real reason. The show needs to do a better job of keeping J’onn consistent.
11. The FLASH: How does STAR Labs stay open?
STAR Labs is essentially Barry Allen’s Batcave. It houses his trusted allies as well as all the tech he could possibly need. It is the brain center of Team Flash. It should also be condemned.
Ignoring the fact that the finances of keeping the place open are incredibly flimsy – it supposedly runs on payments from patents from its Harrison Wells glory days, which must really be something to fund the operation of a building the size of a city block and pay a handful of full time employees who do basically nothing – why would the citizens of Central City not demand the place be shut down?
It’s been the epicenter of several horrifying calamities, and is essentially a gigantic, partially dilapidated reminder of the city’s darkest hour.
10. ARROW: Felicity’s spinal implant
Arrow was bottoming out creatively in its baffling fourth season, and one of its most head-scratching missteps was the mini-arc of Felicity’s paralysis. After an injury leaves her without the use of her legs, a wheelchair bound Felicity has a brief arc where she learns to overcome her new physical limitations and find worth in herself.
Just when it seems Felicity has made peace with her disability, Curtis Holt presents her with a miraculous spinal implant that restores her ability to walk. Sidestepping the issue of whether or not that arc was in any way necessary if they were going to so casually undo it, the most galling aspect of it is Curtis’ suggestion that the technology is simply too expensive to make it available to anyone else. What?
These people know geniuses and billionaires. They stumbled onto a technology that could potentially improve the lives of millions of people, but once they’ve helped their friend they essentially shelve it because it would be too hard to help other people. It’s the least heroic thing they’ve ever done.
9. LEGENDS: Martin Stein’s constantly changing medical abilities
Martin Stein, one half of the superhero Firestorm with Jefferson Jackson, is a nuclear physicist with a deep understanding of his powers. Introduced on The Flash, he was something of a jack of all trades, assisting and standing in for Caitlin Snow as both a medic and strategic ally.
And yet on Legends of Tomorrow, Martin’s medical training seems to vacillate on an episode by episode basis. He ably performed brain surgery on Mick Rory in one episode, and only a few episodes later he was incredibly freaked out over the prospect of removing a bullet from Sara Lance.
This likely has to do with the fact the show has realized one of its secret weapons is Victor Garber’s amazing sense of humor, best portrayed through cartoonish hysteria, but the character still needs to make internal sense.
8. SUPERGIRL: Why don’t they ask for Superman’s help more often?
This is an issue that has plagued virtually every DC superhero story for decades: if you’re in a genuinely tough spot where the lives of thousands of innocents are in jeopardy, why don’t you just call Superman? The other Arrowverse shows deftly sidestepped this issue by having Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow exist in a dimension with no Superman, but Supergirl does not have that luxury.
Even more problematic, Kara has a direct line to Clark Kent, and could theoretically call on him for assistance at pretty much any time. This would obviously be terrible for Kara’s character development – having her constantly relying on her more famous, more powerful cousin. But does the shot to Kara’s ego justify not enlisting her most powerful ally at every available opportunity?
7. The FLASH: Eddie Thawne’s death was pointless
Eddie Thawne was designed to be a giant red herring for comic book fans in The Flash’s first season, sporting the last name of Barry Allen’s greatest enemy, the Reverse Flash. That the real Reverse Flash turned out to be Eobard Thawne in disguise as Harrison Wells was a brilliant move, and made Eddie’s altruism all the more resonant.
When Eddie realizes he’s the time traveling Eobard’s direct ancestor, he heroically kills himself so that Eobard will never have been born.
But couldn’t Eddie just not have had kids? Was a bullet to the heart necessary when a vasectomy would have done essentially the same job?
It was a dramatic, heroic moment to be sure, but it’s another in a long line of Flash plots points that falls apart once you think about it for a minute. And Eobard found a way around death anyway, so the sacrifice was in vain.
6. ARROW: Thea’s immunity to Damien Darhk’s magic was forgotten
Season 4 of Arrow was its greatest detour into the supernatural, fully embracing the black magic of Damien Darhk, as well as the flashback island shenanigans that involved ancient mystical artifacts and a guest spot from John Constantine.
Thea had been resurrected by the Lazarus Pit, which left her with an uncontrollable bloodlust that she constantly had to repress. It also seemed to give her some sort of immunity to Darhk’s powers, as he was unable to harm her in any serious way, which seemed like very clear setup for his eventual downfall and Thea’s renewed self-control.
5. LEGENDS: The rules of time travel are wildly inconsistent
Part of the charm of Legends of Tomorrow is the fact that it is, quite frankly, bonkers. It’s Doctor Who as written by a 12 year old on mushrooms, and that is awesome. The show has never let things like logic and common sense get in the way of a rollicking good time.
That’s a fairly commendable worldview, but on a show that revolves around time travel, it can lead to some real headaches. The rules of what is and is not allowed in time travel seem to change on a week-to-week basis. Characters have directly told their past selves to do things, which should fundamentally alter who they are, but it never has a huge effect. They’ve entangled themselves in massive moments in human history, and again, there’s essentially no consequence.
4. FLASH: Barry’s powers are incredibly inconsistent
This is not a problem unique to Barry Allen. Quite a few superheroes have their powers fluctuate seemingly for no other reason than to serve a plot that depends on them being vulnerable when they really shouldn’t be. But some of this has gotten out of hand with the Flash.
Barry not only moves at amazing speeds, he can digest information at an incredibly accelerated rate, can create tornadoes, and can phase through solid objects. How does seemingly every C-list thug with a domino mask manage to land a punch on him?
There has to be some narrative leeway for Barry to be challenged, and it certainly made more sense in the show’s early days when he was still getting the hang of his powers, but he should really be a much tougher customer at this point.
3. ARROW: Laurel’s quick transformation into a superhero
Dinah Laurel Lance has long been known to comic book fans as Black Canary, Green Arrow’s most consistent love interest and a compelling hero in her own right. When Arrow debuted, it seemed incredibly unlikely that Katie Cassidy’s good-hearted but meek Laurel would ever become a superhero. The character was utilized as an ally in the legal system in the second season, but following Sara Lance’s death at the beginning of season 3, Laurel decided to join Star City’s growing legion of vigilantes.
Having none of the physical training of the likes of Oliver or Diggle, Laurel starts going to a boxing gym, and within a matter of weeks is capable enough to put on a mask and not immediately die. It’s preposterous, and while the show gave some early lip service to her limited abilities, she was a full on butt-kicking ninja like the rest of the team by the end of the season.
2. LEGENDS: What did Malcolm Merlyn do with Vandal Savage’s ashes?
Vandal Savage was the big bad of Legends of Tomorrow’s first, wildly uneven season. Savage turned out to be a pretty underwhelming rival, but he was admittedly hard to keep down.
An impossibly old villain, Savage can regenerate himself from seeming death from almost any state. Late in the season, Savage was reduced to a pile of ashes, which seemed like it could have been the end for even him.
But then, inexplicably, Malcolm Meryln shows up, collects some of Savage’s ashes, and departs seemingly with the intent of helping him return to life. This was never fully explained, as there was no explicit reason Malcolm Meryln had to help Savage, other than being a well-documented jerk. This is one that we’re likely never getting an answer to.
1. ARROW: Everyone should know Oliver Queen is Green Arrow
There are comic book characters for which the secret identity is not only understandable, but crucial. Superman wouldn’t be able to live a normal life without Clark Kent. Peter Parker’s loved ones would be in great peril if his enemies knew he was Spider-Man.
Oliver Queen has no real excuse, as pretty much everyone he knows is a vigilante ninja at this point. It also just doesn’t make much sense that people haven’t put it together yet.
Oliver has been publicly accused of being Green Arrow at least three times. There’s really no logical way that Star City shouldn’t have acknowledged and celebrated him as Green Arrow at the end of the fourth season. Yet the show still maintains the illusion for reasons that stopped being clear a long time ago.
What else about the Arrowverse makes no sense? Sound off in the comments!
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