CW’s Arrowverse has come a long way since Arrow first aired in 2012. It’s expanded from a single super-show to an interconnected universe of four shows, some animated series, multiple Earths, and has more on the way.
Awards have been won, the cast has become a major Hall H attraction at San Diego Comic Con… there’s no doubt about it: the Arrowverse is a huge success. It’s not surprising, either, as these four shows do so much right. They are engaging, diverse, fun and colorful, and they know what makes a superhero fan want to keep watching.
However, that doesn’t mean that the Arrowverse is perfect; far from it. Over six years and four shows, there have been quite a few missteps that have frustrated fans.
Characters have been wasted, problems have arisen, villains have become predictable… mistakes have been made on every show at some point in time.It doesn’t mean that we don’t love the Arrowverse, of course. It just means that even the biggest fan isn’t going to be blind to some of these major faults with Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow.
Here are the 8 Things The Arrowverse Did Completely Wrong (And 8 Things It Got Right).
16. Right: Introduced The Multiverse
It certainly didn’t make the Arrowverse any less complicated, but introducing the multiverse made it so much more fun. The Flash was the show that discovered the concept of multiple Earths, and since then, our heroes have wandered between dimensions with relative ease.
As well as staying true to the comics, the multiverse concept is one that allows for so many great storylines to happen in the Arrowverse, as well as dopplegangers (so our favorite characters can reappear in other ways), and even the inclusion of other shows.
Supergirl, which began life on another network, was folded into the Arrowverse by way of an alternate reality, and now it’s possible for other shows to do the same, opening up the possibility of any other super show, past or present, getting a moment in the sun on one of the CW’s current series.
15. Wrong: Formulaic Villains
With a plethora of comic book villains to choose from, it’s frustrating to see that the Arrowverse isn’t really branching out from a classic formula (especially on The Flash). Almost every season sees the big bad following the same pattern; a mysterious, hooded/masked/otherwise hidden person who eventually turns out to be (gasp) someone that the hero already knows.
From Malcolm Merlyn to Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra), Reverse Flash (Matt Letscher) to Savitar, and even the Legion of Doom or Supergirl’s Kryptonian relatives, it seems that the first requirement of an Arrowverse big bad is to know the hero in some other capacity.
It makes the villains increasingly predictable, and as time goes by, fans are more than ready to see something different in a new big bad. Thankfully, it does feel like this could be on the way — if only because we’re running out of friends to turn against the heroes.
14. Right: Tyler Hoechlin As Superman
One big character that the Arrowverse absolutely nailed is Superman; so much so that a lot of fans feel that Supergirl’s version of the DC hero is better than the DCEU’s. Tyler Hoechlin first appeared in the second season of Supergirl, although he’s been referenced since the pilot, and this cheerful hero captured the hearts of the fans.
He’s capable and can be serious, but he also clearly loves what he does and has a little fun with the people that he saves. He’s there for his cousin and his friends, and is still someone to look up to. He’s also got a colorful suit — a big plus to those DC fans who aren’t loving the darker palette of the DCEU.
13. Wrong: Too Many Flashbacks
Oliver Queen’s (Stephen Amell) backstory is a huge part of the first five seasons of Arrow, as each season tells the story of a year of his time “on the island.” At first, this was helpful exposition, and introduced the Green Arrow to a new fandom.
However, after the first season or two, the island flashbacks became one of the most hated elements of Arrow. Most felt that they were unnecessary, and that two concurrent storylines meant that there was not enough time to tell either as well as they could have been.
At times, the flashbacks tied into the main timeline, but at other points, these were nothing more than an annoyance that took time and attention away from what was really important. Thankfully, the flashbacks are now finished, and season 6 of Arrow can focus on a single storyline going forward.
12. Right: LGBTQ+ Representation
The Arrowverse is a great example of how television can get a little more diverse — from great female characters and several heroes changed from the comics in order to bring a little more racial diversity to the classic DC world, these shows are making sure that everyone feels represented.
The Arrowverse also does a great job of LGBTQ+ representation, with queer characters in every show. Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) (who moved from Arrow to Legends) is openly bi, and has dated both men and women on the show, while current Arrow team member Mr Terrific (Echo Kellum) is gay, and The Flash’s original Police Captain was also openly gay.
However, the biggest storyline of the Arrowverse so far was that of Alex’s (Chyler Leigh) coming out, and her relationship with Maggie (Floriana Lima). Nicknamed Sanvers, the story of this adorable pair was handled beautifully, and while Sanvers has now sadly come to an end, it is still a fantastic example of how to include a coming out story in a larger series.
11. Wrong: Too Many Speedsters
Although The Flash is the “fastest man alive,” he’s certainly got some competition… given that every second character in this series seems to become a speedster. After the initial Flash was created by the particle accelerator explosion, The Flash has introduced Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale), Jesse Quick (Violett Beane), original Flash Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp), multiple speedy villains (from Trajectory to Zoom), and seems willing to bestow super-speed on just about anyone.
It makes some sense, given the extent of the Flash family in the comics, but it’s also getting tired, fast. The Flash’s best battles are against those with other powers, not just people that he has to outrun, and seeing too many characters with the same powers just isn’t that interesting.
Arrow had a similar problem in the earlier seasons, too; archers everywhere, from Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) to Speedy (Willa Holland) to Arsenal (Colton Haynes) to Green Arrow himself. Thankfully, though, they’ve balanced out the powers of Team Arrow, and hopefully The Flash will follow suit.
10. Right: Easter Eggs And Pop Culture References
While casual fans and newcomers to comics can always enjoy the Arrowverse shows, for die-hard fans one of the best bits is catching all of the Easter eggs and little nods to other comics and to pop culture.
Arrow and The Flash routinely reference other elements of the DC universe, especially Green Lantern and Batman, while Supergirl has included a few nods to the original Wonder Woman series as well as to the CW’s earlier super-series, Smallville.
Legends of Tomorrow also has a lot of fun referencing other time travel shows, as the characters themselves make Terminator jokes and nerdy references throughout, but also as famous figures like George Lucas and J.R.R. Tolkien appear during their time travel adventures. All these nods are a lot of fun, and make it clear that the Arrowverse knows how to appeal to their core audience of proud nerds.
9. Wrong: Wasted Characters
The Arrowverse may be great at bringing some lesser-known comic characters to light, but it’s also got a bad habit of wasting some really phenomenal characters through underuse. Vandal Savage (Casper Crump), for example, was meant to be the “big bad” of Legends of Tomorrow’s first season… but was defeated depressingly easily.
Savage is an epic villain in DC’s comic universe, and to see him become such a minor bad guy of the Arrowverse was a disservice to fans. The formidable Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) also appears in the Arrowverse, but this version of the character also doesn’t live up to his comic book counterpart, and who was killed off far too easily.
8. Right: Listens To The Fans
There’s a fine line between fan-service and just plain pandering, and its one that the Arrowverse walks incredibly well. These shows do a fantastic job of interacting with fans and viewers and really listening to what they want — and changing the shows to match.
Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), who was originally going to be a minor character, gained a much bigger part when the majority of the audience fell in love with her. Fan-favorite villains like King Shark get multiple appearances when the fans ask for it, Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) was brought back for cameo appearances after fans were disappointed to see her leave, and the shows regularly seem to take into account what the actual fans want to see.
7. Wrong: Identities Are Never A Secret
One of the most important things for a superhero is keeping their civilian identity a secret to protect the people that they love (and prevent villains from just leveling their homes while they sleep). However, in the Arrowverse, the heroes don’t seem to care if everyone knows who they really are, as they tell basically everyone within a few episodes of meeting them.
In addition, the secret “lairs” where they do their work and keep their weaponry appear to have essentially no security — only Supergirl’s DEO HQ is even remotely difficult to get into, leading to various villains strolling on into STAR Labs and the Arrowcave on a regular basis.
Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) also seems a little less likely to tell everyone she meets who she really is (and still hasn’t revealed herself to Lena Luthor), but Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) seems frustratingly happy to tell just about everyone his super-secret.
6. Right: Doesn’t Take Itself Too Seriously
Although some corners of the Arrowverse can get a little bit dark (looking at you, Star City), the majority of it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s one of the things that makes it fun.
The Arrowverse isn’t interested in being too grim and real, and enjoys getting colorful and silly from time to time. The Flash has gone all out with characters like Gorilla Grodd and King Shark, and the fans have loved seeing these very over-the-top villains brought to life (with the help of a lot of CGI!).
While all of the shows are unafraid to have a little fun, it’s Legends of Tomorrow that is really throwing serious out the window and just enjoying itself — and the more that it does, the better it gets. With the other live-action DC universe focusing on the dark-and-gritty angle, its nice to see the Arrowverse taking a lighter route.
5. Wrong: Death Means Nothing
While it’s certainly true that, in the world of DC comics, it’s rare for a character to stay dead, the Arrowverse takes this concept and turns it up to eleven. Since Arrow’s first season, it seems that no-one who dies actually stays dead.
For example, Oliver and Barry have both “died” and come back to life, alternate timelines have killed off or resurrected several characters, multiple people have been dropped into the Lazarus Pit, Mallus is currently running around resurrecting magic-users left, right, and center — some characters have even died multiple times.
Sara Lance was presumed drowned on the boat with Oliver, then returned and was killed by Thea, then was resurrected by the Pit, then a version of her was killed when the Legends went back to meet themselves in the past…
Death no longer really means anything in the Arrowverse, which means that a character’s death scene lacks any real impact. Who cares if a character is brutally murdered? They’ll probably just pop back up again in a while.
4. Right: Uses Minor Comic Characters Perfectly
While the Arrowverse may not do some of the biggest characters as well as we would hope, it’s pretty darn fantastic when it comes to developing and using some more minor characters from the comics.
The best example of this is Captain Cold — a minor Rogue in the rest of the DC universe who became a fan-favorite character across two of the Arrowverse series thanks to some great writing and the incomparable Wentworth Miller. Cold isn’t the only smaller character who’s enjoyed and Arrowverse makeover, though.
Many of the Rogues that the heroes face are ones who go from silly comic villains to compelling characters on the small screen. It seems the one of the Arrowverse’s greatest strengths is in characters that have less of a history, and more of an opportunity to grow and change in this new universe.
3. Wrong: Ruined Black Canary
Black Canary should have been the second-biggest character in Arrow, as the true love of Oliver Queen, a kick-butt superhero in her own right, and a fan-favorite from the comics. Instead it was Sara Lance who first became the black-clad Canary, and who even had a fling with the Green Arrow.
Then, when Sara was killed, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) took up the mantle (and the leather jacket), but was eventually killed off herself. Evelyn Sharp (Madison McLaughlin) briefly had her own stint as a copycat Canary (before becoming Artemis) as well — and not one of these women had a lasting romance with Oliver or a natural Canary Cry.
Fans were unimpressed with a mechanical collar that created a version of the cry and with a series of Canaries who just didn’t live up to their comic book counterpart in attitude or personality.
Finally, it seems that Arrow has introduced a great Canary — Dinah Drake, who actually has a superpower, not just a cool gadget. It took five seasons to get here, though, and for many Dinah is just too little, too late.
2. Right: Great Female Characters
The Arrowverse is filled with amazing female characters, and even has two of its four shows led by women. Supergirl is, unsurprisingly, the most female-focused of the four series, with a female super-lead, but it’s also filled with other strong women — from the capable Alex to multiple female CEOs (Cat Grant, Lena Luthor) and great female friendships. There’s even a female president in this universe.
The rest of the Arrowverse isn’t far behind, either, with Sara leading the Legends, Felicity and Black Canary (Juliana Harkavy) kicking ass in Star City, and Iris (Candice Patton) and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) supporting Flash at STAR Labs (and at home).
The women in the Arrowverse are also full, complex characters in their own rights, and not just love interests or second to the male heroes. For a genre that is traditionally male-dominated, it’s phenomenal to see so many wonderful women in these four series.
1. Wrong: Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad appeared in the second season of Arrow, and there was some real potential there for Task Force X to be an incredible addition to the show. Unfortunately, however, the Suicide Squad ended up being a bit of a dud, thanks to issues with DC not wanting to share the characters between the small screen and the Suicide Squad movie.
From the start, Harley Quinn (arguably the most popular member of the team) couldn’t be used on Arrow, so all fans got was a little glimpse at her pigtails in an ARGUS prison cell.
Then the remaining team members and Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) were killed off ahead of the big-screen version, leaving John Diggle’s (David Ramsey) wife, Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson), in charge. It’s another case of wasted potential, although this time at least it wasn’t really the Arrowverse’s fault.
What do you think? Are there any of things that the Arrowverse got wrong or right? Sound off in the comments!
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