The Arrowverse is undoubtedly one of the finest places to get your kick of superhero action, especially when it comes to the small screen. Starting things off with Arrow on The CW, the property would go on to spawn the hugely successful shows The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow for The CW, as well as Supergirl, which would start off on CBS, before also moving to the same network as its fellow Arrowverse shows for its second season and beyond.
Stephen Amell, Grant Gustin, Caity Lotz, and Melissa Benoist have all cemented themselves as household names thanks to their performances in each of the shows, with a roster of extremely talented actors and actresses also making their mark thanks to a variety of compelling roles and script writing. Unfortunately for some, however, this cannot always be the case.
Here, we’ve decided to not only look at some of the best performers in the Arrowverse, but those who haven’t done the best job of bringing their comic book characters to life.
Whether it’s down to their individuality within the role, the writing they’ve been forced to do what they can with, or something else altogether, not every episode of the aforementioned shows making up the Arrowverse can be a success.
Here, we take a look at the 8 Terrible Performances That Plague The Arrowverse (And 7 That Are Amazing).
15. Terrible: Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak
Felicity Smoak is somebody we all got behind immediately after her Arrow debut. Emily Bett Rickards was lauded for her performance and was the perfect embodiment of a female companion for Oliver Queen.
Without any of the stereotypical, icky romantic stuff thrown in, Arrow was on to a winner. Then came the dawn of “Olicity,” and everything started to crumble. Let’s face it, Rickards has done the best she possibly can with the material thrown her way, so it’s a shame that the majority of what she’s had to deal with has been lazy script writing and an underdevelopment of her actual character.
Her decline started around the time of “The Secret Origins of Felicity Smoak” episode. The episode could have been something special, but instead saw Felicity thrown into the ‘damsel in distress’ role. This was not a good look, and is one that she’s been incapable of escaping ever since.
14. Amazing: Manu Bennett as Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke
There were plenty of people who didn’t think that a believable version of DC Comics character Slade Wilson, aka the mercenary Deathstroke, would be brought to modern day television.
With barriers that stop shows such as Arrow from being too violent or even daring, the person bringing the character to life would have to do an incredible job to make him a scary and formidable force.
However, Manu Bennett would prove them wrong, as he is a man of wide stature, charming personality, and an infectious glow. Little did we know of the horror he would have in store for Oliver Queen and Starling City.
Throughout his role, Bennett has been somebody able to captivate audiences whenever he’s on screen. It doesn’t take much for his presence to be felt, and he commands attention whenever he’s in a scene. Now back on the series regularly, it takes a lot to stop him from stealing the show.
13. Terrible: Mehcad Brooks as Jimmy Olsen
Jimmy Olsen is one of the most loved characters to come from DC Comics, and so why did writers and Mehcad Brooks get the character so wrong when it came time to bringing him to the small screen via Supergirl?
There was an open goal for everybody involved to get this portrayal correct– simply take all of the traits that Jimmy has in the comic books and move them to television. Instead, those responsible for bringing him to life tried to be too smart and made him more of a background character than somebody who could really shine.
Whilst we understand that Supergirl should of course be the central character and person in the spotlight during her own series, that doesn’t mean everybody else needs to be tossed aside and only dealt with whenever 100% necessary. What do we want? Justice for Jimmy. When do we want it? Now.
12. Amazing: Neal McDonough as Damien Darhk
There’s no denying the slump that Arrow seemed to go through from its third season onwards, and thus when Neal McDonough made his debut as Damien Darhk in the show’s fourth season, he would have to give a brilliant performance if viewers were to remain captivated with the goings on of Star City.
Thankfully, he delivered on absolutely every level and remained the most enjoyable part of the show for his entire run.
Bringing magic to the Arrowverse, he cemented himself as a completely unique villain to those that had come before him and, in doing so, managed to compel the audience at home to stick with the series. Without McDonough, there’s no telling where the future of Arrow would have gone. For many, he’s the man who saved the show.
11. Terrible: Colton Haynes as Roy Harper
When Colton Haynes first joined Arrow as Roy Harper, there were plenty of people ready to sing his praises and say he was one of the best things to happen to the show.
That’s something showrunners still believe to this day, as the character is consistently brought back for guest appearances despite bowing out of the show for good a few years back.
When you really look back at Haynes’ performance in the role of Harper, however, there are more shining examples of an embarrassing performance rather than those that stand out for all the right reasons.
From his romance with Thea Queen to the moment he was forced to kill a police officer under Slade Wilson’s command, there were emotional moments running throughout that should have landed punches to the guts of those watching. Unfortunately, they never really came, and his scenes felt more awkward than compelling.
10. Amazing: Victor Garber as Martin Stein
Victor Garber may no longer be a part of the Arrowverse in his role as Martin Stein, but during his time on the various shows that make up the franchise, he was consistent in delivering perfectly-timed and concise performances.
As a true scene-stealer, it would be fair to say that Garber was never given enough to chew over, but when he did take front-and-center in various sequences, he’d bring not only a serious vibe and emotional nature to the role, but humor whenever it was needed.
He’d never take himself too seriously, but that didn’t mean the character wasn’t 100% serious about getting the job done (whatever that may be). He is somebody we miss and hope will make a return to the Arrowverse in the near future.
9. Terrible: Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance
We have to start this off by saying that we’re huge fans of Katie Cassidy. She’s more than willing to put everything into her performance as Laurel Lance, turned Black Siren, and her passion for the role is something that shines on screen.
Unfortunately, the casting and the material she’s given to work with means that her performances can never be up to par with the original Green Arrow source material.
Consistent in her earlier years in playing the damsel in distress, Cassidy always seemed to be itching to be brought into the fold, and that’s something that has developed in more recent seasons of Arrow. Unfortunately, her past follows her around like a dark cloud, and we can’t shake the image of a weak Laurel Lance from our minds.
8. Amazing: Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon
Whether you’re watching his earlier performances as a nerdy S.T.A.R. Labs scientist obsessed with naming superheroes and giving them a reason to tackle crime, or the later version of Cisco that would see the character himself become everything he’s ever wanted to be, Carlos Valdes has time and time again delivered an engaging and exciting performance on The Flash.
He’s the person that the audience can relate to– the geek that gets excited whenever he sees a superhero scene take place right in front of his eyes. Cisco is the guy who embodies all of the traits that viewers hold dear, and the actor himself is more than willing to throw everything he has into each of his scenes.
Whenever Cisco’s around, eyes are locked to the screen. He’s a guy we all wish we could be a little more like.
7. Terrible: Casper Crump as Vandal Savage
When Legends of Tomorrow made its debut, showrunners and writers realized that they had to tap into one of the most interesting villains to come from the world of DC. In walked Casper Crump as Vandal Savage.
Though the start of his portrayal looked promising, it was something that soon deviated into an embarrassment. Savage was never really a terrifying presence on screen, but it wasn’t for lack of trying by Crump.
From the writing of the character down to the delivery, everything felt off when it came to the show’s Big Bad. We won’t get started on the obsession Savage seemed to have with Hawkgirl, because it felt completely unnecessary and was damaging to the overarching narrative.
This is a character who should be revisited in the future, but with a completely different take on the villain.
6. Amazing: Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold
Leonard Snart is not at all a relatable or charismatic character when it comes to DC Comics. Throughout the years, he’s been a misogynistic pig with ridiculous intentions, so when Wentworth Miller brought the character to The Flash, it was possible that he would only be around for a couple of episodes before the audiences’ attention began to wane.
Fortunately, his performance was one brilliant enough to not only warrant him sticking around, but for him to dip his toes into the waters of Legends of Tomorrow. He was even involved in a groundbreaking kiss scene with Russell Tovey’s character The Ray.
Major props to Miller here for doing the LGBTQ+ community so proud, and for always putting on a fantastic display when he makes an appearance.
5. Terrible: Falk Hentschel as Hawkman
Though his character wasn’t around for long upon his original debut in Legends of Tomorrow, Falk Hentschel would return to the Arrowverse as Hawkman in a guest role.
Unfortunately for the actor, his re-emergence wasn’t something that the majority of Arrowverse fans would get behind. Instead, they found his appearances unnecessary and a little bit of a cop out after the show had already made the brave decision to kill him off.
It’s not just Hentschel’s take on Hawkman that has left viewers cringing, though. When we’ve seen him during his past “lives,” we’ve had to watch through our fingers, praying for the scenes to come to an end.
His performance is just something that never landed with audiences, and unfortunately, that’s not something we think will change if he ever comes back once more.
4. Amazing: Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen
In a world where superheroes are donning capes, villains are romping through your city and causing mass destruction, and you’ve got your own plethora of secrets to cover up, it’s hard to keep a level head. That’s where Oliver Queen’s mother, Moira Queen came in, and Susanna Thompson took to the role effortlessly.
Though we only saw Thompson through two seasons of Arrow, she was somebody we could instantly relate to. She wanted to keep her family safe at all costs, and wasn’t willing to put her happiness and livelihood in danger for minor problems.
Consistently tackling moral judgments and facing the brunt of a public who were more than happy to shove her into the spotlight, Moira was somebody who had to keep a number of juggling balls in the air at any one time. We loved this, because it proved that she was one of us.
3. Terrible: Ciara Renée as Hawkgirl
Back in 2016, Ciara Renée departed her role as Hawkgirl in Legends of Tomorrow. For many viewers, it was something that couldn’t have come at a better time. Whether it was her dialogue, her fighting scenes, or just the moments in the series that were supposed to be tender and emotional, the actress failed to connect with viewers on almost every level.
In a show like this where a team is so central to the narrative succeeding and landing with viewers, a weak link like Hawkgirl was only ever going to bring everything crashing down around her.
It’s not that the character is a bad one– there are a lot of Hawkgirl fans out there and the comic books really show why– it’s just that the material she was dealt along with the way in which she performed it wasn’t up to par.
2. Amazing: Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells
Tom Cavanagh’s portrayal of Harrison Wells is the performance responsible for the biggest shocks to come from the Arrowverse. Show bosses struck gold when they signed Cavanagh in the role of Barry Allen’s mentor-turned-opponent, and the effort the actor put in to prove he was more than capable of tackling an array of different personalities was second to none.
This all happened while he remained in character as the same exact person, which allowed viewers to become more invested here than they were with any other character they’d met to this point.
Still working within the Arrowverse to this day, Cavanagh is now somebody who keeps the audience on their toes. Constantly guessing and wondering whether he’s up to no good, viewers never really know for sure if he’s on the side of those working to make the world a better place. We can’t imagine anybody else in the role.
1. Terrible: Rick Cosnett as Eddie Thawne
We have to start this off by saying that we’re actually huge fans of Rick Cosnett, and even the character Eddie Thawne. His final moments in the first season of The Flash were undoubtedly some of the most memorable and touching that the Arrowverse has ever seen.
However, when you put together all the ingredients of his performance and the script he was given to work with throughout his time on the show, he comes very close to the bottom of the pack.
The problem with this performance is that when you’re asked to think up some memorable Eddie Thawne moments, you’re left stumped, save for his last few seconds alive. Aside from that, he’s known only to be a whiny and pathetic boyfriend, incapable of holding his insecurities at bay when it comes to those he loves.
What do you think? What are the best (and worst) performances in the Arrowverse? Let us know in the comments!
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