The latest episodes of Arrow and The Flash both referenced our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in this week's episodes. While it's not unusual for Marvel and DC Comics to pay tribute or parody one another, it was somewhat surprising that both shows would feature such prominent nods to their marvelous competitor's most famous superhero.
It's a well established fact that the superheroes of DC Comics are seen as fictional characters in the Marvel Universe and vice versa. This has led to a number of clever references over the years, in both the comics and their TV/movie adaptations. To give one example, an issue of Teen Titans saw Dick Grayson going undercover as a newspaper photographer and using the alias Peter Parker. Likewise, the first Spider-Man movie featured a scene where Aunt May chided an overworked Peter Parker for taking on too much, saying "You're not Superman, you know."
This tradition continued in this week's Arrowverse offerings. The latest episode of Arrow, "Star City 2040," jumped into the future and revealed the untold history of Mia Smoak - the daughter of Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak, who will go on to become a pit fighter known as Darkstar in the underground of the dystopian society that Star City becomes. Originally cynical about the legends of her heroic father and vigilantes in general, Mia is finally won over by her lover, Connor Hawke, who quotes Spider-Man's guiding philosophy, "With great power comes great responsibility." Mia doesn't get the reference, saying she's not much of a comic book person, but the idea of doing nothing when she has the power to help people and save her city disgusts her enough to take action, following in her father's footsteps.
Meanwhile, the latest episode of The Flash, "Time Bomb," also made reference to Peter Parker. The past few episodes have seen Cisco Ramon begin dating a photographer named Kamilla. Early on in "Time Bomb," the two make it official and changed their mutual social media status to "In A Relationship." This prompts the romance-minded Ralph Dibny to start trying to help Cisco to introduce Kamilla into his world as a superhero and super-scientist, completely ignoring that Cisco would rather keep his different roles compartmentalized and just enjoy having a normal romantic life for the first time in years.
Undaunted, Ralph puts Kamilla in contact with Iris West, who just started her own independent newspaper and is in need of a photographer. Ralph proudly tells Cisco later that, "I Peter Parkered her," referencing Peter Parker's job as a photographer for The Daily Bugle. When Cisco asked why he was doing this, Ralph explained that he thought it would be a good way to integrate Kamilla in with the rest of the STAR Labs team and that maybe "if we're lucky (she'll) get bitten by something radioactive, become like a Spider-Person." Ralph later crashes Cisco and Kamilla's date, and goes so far as to mimic the famous hand-gesture Spider-Man makes when he triggers his web-shooter over Kamilla's shoulder.
It seems doubtful that the writers of Arrow and The Flash planned for this to play out the way it did. Nevertheless, the timing is amusing, coincidental or not, and speaks to the writers behind both shows having love for all comic books - not just DC.