The third season of Arrow may not have entirely lived up to its acclaimed second round - despite pitting fan-favorite villain Ra's al Ghul against Oliver and Co. - but there's no denying the show's crossovers with The Flash helped bolster the season, and provided several of its key highlights. In a pseudo Batman-Superman relationship, Oliver's moody, broody self-deprication and years of vigilante experience provided a compelling foil to Barry's sunny disposition and inexperienced, often naive superheroism.
And while Barry's speedster brought some much needed aid (and sunshine) to Starling City, Oliver provided mentorship to the rookie hero. That said, with a 'Darhk' foe on the horizon for Arrow's fourth season, and the coming of Zoom in season two of The Flash, it definitely seems both heroes will soon need each other more than ever.
Fortunately, Arrow/Flash producer Andrew Kreisberg recently promised more crossovers are indeed in the works for the shows' respective upcoming seasons.
We wouldn’t be Flash without Arrow. It’s like there wouldn’t have been The Avengers and all that without Robert Downey Jr. and Iron Man. So everything that we’re doing…I mean even Supergirl, even though it’s not connected, it’s all coming out of the success that we had with Steven with Arrow. And we certainly continue to…Legends is essentially crossovers every week. That was sort of where it was born out of. It was so much fun seeing everybody get together. And we do have crossovers planned, both Episode 8’s beginning this year, which will air in December. Our two-part crossover, it starts on The Flash and ends on Arrow. That’s sort of the big crossover event.
Indeed, the success of Arrow certainly paved the way for interconnected superhero universes on the small screen, just as Iron Man did for interconnected universes on the big screen. And like the MCU, with each new DC TV installment, the symbiosis between shows only becomes more complex, and entertaining - if done correctly, that is.
Especially with DC's Legends of Tomorrow premiering midseason next year - which, as Kreisberg describes, will basically be "crossovers every week" - it's not uncommon to wonder if the Arrow/Flash/Legends universe may be growing too large or too quickly. Kreisberg is not blind to this risk, though; in fact, he sees the increasing interaction and interconnection as beneficial on all sides.
These shows are linked. If there’s a terrorist attack in Central City, they are going to hear about it in Starling City, just like if something terrible happened in New York, we’d hear about it here in LA. I think there was a concern we had early on, like…Sometimes when you expand these things they implode. Instead, they seem to lift each other up.
One potential issue that always comes with these linked superhero universes is the "Where are the other heroes?" dilemma. (When the Dark Elves attacked London in Thor: The Dark World - and threatened humanity's existence while doing so - many fans wondered where the other Avengers were (most likely eating shawarma).) The writers of Arrow and The Flash have done a relatively successful job of addressing and avoiding this very problem, with Barry literally telling Felicity at one point that he's too busy with his own archenemy to help Oliver with Ra's.
As it should be, though; superheroes cannot afford to become too interdependent. Nor can superhero shows afford to become too similar or indistinguishable. Arrow and The Flash have succeeded because they established separate, unique worlds that just so happen to co-exist. And Legends of Tomorrow will have to do the same if it hopes to have the same kind of enduring success.
Arrow returns for season 4 Wednesday, October 7th, at 8PM on The CW; The Flash returns for season 2 Tuesday, October 6th, at 8PM on The CW; Legends of Tomorrow is expected to air on The CW in early 2016.