Nothing is perfect and that includes The CW's Arrowverse. Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow have been a dream come true for comic book fans, particularly those who cherish and admire DC's universe.
It's harder to find a more consistent and voluminous trove of superhero stories than the Arrowverse. With every positive comes a negative and they’re more than few problems with the universe that Oliver Queen built.
The things wrong with the Arrowverse, by their very nature, nothing major. Although some of the problems have serious overtones, they're a huge problem plaguing the Arrowverse. None of them threaten to ruin what has been created or bring down the overall quality of each other four main shows.
Instead, these issues are much more nitpicky than they are concerns that must be addressed sooner rather than later. They're problems that have gone unnoticed or just aren't discussed as much as they should but they still exist, nonetheless.
By and large, these are conventions of the genre or conventions that the Arrowverse itself has created that when looked from a logical standpoint don't hold up or make a whole lot of sense. These are problems but they're ones that we all just end up accepting because what the shows give in return are well worth any little logical quibbles.
Here are the 16 Things Wrong With The Arrowverse That We All Choose To Ignore.
16 Time Travel Makes Absolutely NO Sense
Time travel is a huge part of the Arrowverse -- it is the whole central premise of Legends of Tomorrow. Yet, for all the importance of time travel, there’s no sense that there’s any internal logic or thought process put into how it works.
There’s some lip service paid to the rules on Legends, but really time travel is just a storytelling device to have the weirdest and wackiest stories possible. None of the explanations make sense, especially when put up against The Flash.
Barry has run over the timeline backwards, forwards, and sideways, and according to the mythology of The Flash, he should be hunted by time wraiths constantly. However, outside one incident, no time wraiths have attacked The Flash.
Time travel is confusing in any form but in the Arrowverse it’s particularly contradictory and nonsensical. Not thinking about it at all is the only way to make sense of it.
15 Pop Culture on Earth-1 Should Be Radically Different
Superman might not be everyone’s favorite superhero but he’s, perhaps, the most important one. The impact and influence of Superman on pop culture is almost as long as his list of powers. Superman really created the whole superhero genre, which makes it more than a little bizarre that pop culture, particularly superhero pop culture is largely the same on the Arrowverse's Earth-1.
Supergirl has the excuse of Superman being a literal character in its world. On Earth-1, as far as we know, Clark Kent doesn’t exist in any form. Yet "superhero" was a recognizable term long before Oliver Queen put on his hood. Even weirder, though, Spider-Man is a well-known character.
It’s not surprising that the Arrowverse hasn’t created a whole new culture to count for the lack of Superman but it’s still something we’re all willing to accept or ignore to experience the stories.
14 The Supervillains Are Super Formulaic
The Arrowverse has produced some fantastic comic book villain adaptations (as well as those who missed the mark). Whether the villains were good or bad, though, almost all of them seem to have been trading notes on how to execute their grand evil plans.
This was particularly clear on the first three seasons of The Flash where all the main villains were not only speedsters but had some mysterious plan, a secret identity that wasn't revealed until the last second and an odd connection to Team Flash.
Even if the personality of the villains changes on each of the shows, in the grand scheme of things the plot is like an evil version of Mad Libs.
Arrow’s villains want revenge, The Flash’s villains want to prove their better than Barry, and Supergirl is always dealing with alien invaders. It’s not that the villains can’t be fun or threatening, they’re just very predictable.
13 The Legends of Tomorrow Team Are Dangerously Incompetent
It’s one of the series’ running jokes but there’s no getting around the fact that the Legends of Tomorrow team are dangerously and woefully bad at their jobs. They’re not heroes or villains or even legends, but the team are stone-cold idiots, especially members like Nate and Ray.
While this is mostly brushed off with humor and fun hijinks, all of which is very effective, there is the nagging problem that the Legends themselves are much more menaces to the timeline than protectors. Logically, the Legends should be locked up and not in charge of their own time-travel ship, even if Sara Lance is the best thing to happen to the Arrowverse.
The best thing to do while watching Legends of Tomorrow is to shut your brain off completely and just let the wacky situations wash over you because looking at all realistically or sensibly at them is a nightmare.
12 Barry Allen is Wildly Irresponsible
If Barry wasn’t the star of his own show and Grant Gustin wasn’t so charming, The Flash could easily be considered the biggest threat in the Arrowverse. With The Flash season 4, a newer and more responsible Barry has emerged but it can’t wipe away the damage of the previous three seasons.
Barry would be taught and told one thing to do with his powers and then do the exact opposite. He treated the timeline as his personal plaything and never faced any real consequences for his actions from the team or his friends. Barry even literally erased Diggle’s daughter from existence and that was treated with little more than a shrug by everyone involved.
The fact is the only way to accept Barry as a hero and not a monster, it’s too ignore nearly everything he did with his powers in the first three seasons, but particularly seasons 2 and 3.
11 Batman Evidently Exists (But He'll Never Be Introduced)
Arrow has dropped a metric ton of Batman references throughout its run, culminating in Oliver Queen mentioning Bruce Wayne by name in season 6. This suggests that, at the very least, Batman exists in the Arrowverse and that Oliver may very well be aware of him.
Even if Batman doesn't exist on Earth-1, he almost certainly does on Earth-38, home of Supergirl, because there have been multiple mentions of a scary vigilante that Clark didn't like.
While these references are fun hints and nods to fans, thinking about them at all seriously opens up a huge and damaging can of worms. If Bruce Wayne or Batman exists, then why hasn’t he helped with any possibly world ending events? Why was Oliver treated as the first vigilante ever in season 1?
The Arrowverse’s ongoing love affair with Batman references is cute but it causes more problems than it creates smiles.
10 Classic Comic Book Characters Have Been Wasted
This is a more of a serious concern than some of the others on this list. While the Arrowverse has been largely successful in creating its world and populating it with classic comic book characters, new creations, and new versions of classic characters, there have been some real disappointments.
All four shows have introduced characters that should’ve smash hits but they were completely mishandled or written off in the lamest way possible. Some problems with the way that the Arrowverse has dealt with certain comic characters can be attributed to fan service, or lack thereof. Still some of the weakest Arrowverse characters have been the ones with the strongest comic backstories.
The Arrowverse might’ve made Vibe into a lovable hero, but they completely abandoned (and misused) both Hawkman and Hawkgirl. It might balance out and will be beyond most people’s notice but it’s far from ideal.
9 The Supporting Casts are WAY Too Big
For fans, there is something gratifying about how many heroes the Arrowverse shows have been able to stuff into their casts. Arrow, Flash and Supergirl deal with much more than their three titular heroes. While some of those supporting casts get their due, a fair number are shoved out into the (proverbial) cold.
Except for Legends of Tomorrow, which handles its large cast in an economical way, the Arrowverse have too many supporting characters. Supergirl has no idea what to do with James Olsen and has put him so far in the background he might as well not even be on the show. The Flash, meanwhile, has struggled so much with Wally West that he was written off to “find himself.”
The large supporting casts are good for fight scenes but the Arrowverse would probably be better, overall, with a smaller casts for each show.
8 All the Budgetary Concerns
The Arrowverse occasionally does have designs of being as grandiose and ambitious as its big-screen counterparts. The goal is never to look cheap of fake but sometimes it just can’t be helped. The Arrowverse has a TV budget and it unfortunately shows from time to time.
The wigs on Arrow are horrendous and sets are often reused between series. Star City, National City ,and Central City all look roughly the same in their exterior shots because they are, in fact, the same city in filming location.
The non-discerning eye probably won’t notice all the ways the budget tends to hem in the scale of the Arrowverse but it’s present. Sometimes to fully appreciate the universe some of the gaps have to be filled in with your mind and accept that things really shouldn’t appear so rubbery with the CGI.
7 The Overall Treatment of Female Characters
The Arrowverse has plenty of amazing capable and strong female characters. However, there are also plenty of example of the female characters being severely mangled in their representation and presentation.
At the onset of the universe when it was just Arrow and The Flash, the female heroes were few and far between and the female characters were regulated almost entirely to the "damsel in distress" role.
In recent years, especially once Supergirl entered the scene, things have gotten much better. Yet there’s a long history of the Arrowverse underplaying the importance of female heroes, particularly Black Canary, and “fridging” many of the female characters for easy emotional upheaval.
Sara Lance, the new Black Canary Dinah Drake, and Vixen should be appreciated but the history of the Arrowverse hasn’t always been kind to the female heroes.
6 Oliver Queen is Batman-Lite More than Green Arrow
Stephen Amell has done a tremendous job leading his own show and the Arrowverse since its inception. Amell’s Oliver Queen is a complicated, complex character, being both a deeply flawed person and noble hero. The Arrow version of Oliver Queen is so likable and interesting to watch, it’s all too easy to forgot that he isn’t very Green Arrow-like.
Green Arrow is quippy literal Social Justice Warrior. Green Arrow takes his Robin Hood inspirations to an extreme in the comics, being very political and mercilessly playful with criminals. There’s some but not a lot of that in Arrow’s version of the character. Instead, Oliver is much more of a Green Batman, who kills people, than he is a true Green Arrow.
Arrow probably made the right decision with the character because a more liberal and faithful Green Arrow could make for a rather exhausting TV series. Still anyone who enjoys Arrow’s version of the character isn’t really experiencing Green Arrow.
5 The Tech Genius Trope
The techie sidekick is nothing new in the superhero genre or otherwise. However, the Arrowverse has greatly over-used and abused the trope of the nerdy, funny tech guy or girl. It’s become a convention of the genre as early as Smallville but it’s a silly one.
While there’s nothing wrong with the tech geeky characters themselves, they have all fallen into very repetitive patterns. The fact that every show in the Arrowverse has a tech genius on the team means that it’s very likely that every episode of each show will have a nearly identical scene.
The tech character will vomit out some complicated solution, everyone else will question it, and then it needs to be dumbed down for the casual viewer.
It’s ridiculous and lazy but it’s now just a part of “doing business” in the Arrowverse. A superhero needs a suit and twitchy sidekick with keyboard, apparently.
4 Oliver's (Still) a Murderer
Arrow’s relationship with Oliver Queen’s ability to murder is a complicated and sometimes contradictory one. Arrow began with Oliver as a Punisher-type figure with a bow and arrow but slowly softened that position more and more untill he just horribly maimed his adversaries, not killed them.
For years, Arrow maintained that Oliver had reformed from his killing ways and now was a “true” hero, only to reverse that by season 5 and have him start killing again.
The issue isn't that Oliver kills people as Green Arrow has been killing his villains for a while in the comics. It’s that Arrow can’t seem to make up its mind on the morality of Oliver and not a in a complicated and constantly evolving way. It just seems confused and what the current position end up being treated as the opinion all along.
3 The Melodramatic Romance
There’s nothing inherently wrong with romance being included in the Arrowverse. In fact, in a few examples, the shows have told compelling, heartwarming, and heartbreaking tales of love and loss. The Arrowverse just tends to put too much emphasis on the romantic subplots or handles them in a rather exhausting way.
The Arrowverse adds a ton of angst to their central romances, and more often than not, the reason for conflict isn’t because of anything the people in the relationship do or their personalities.
If there’s a problem in an Arrowverse relationship, it’s because something is happening to them, not with them. Meaning there’s always outside and incredibly melodramatic force plaguing a relationship that just feels contrived and nonsensical.
The worst offender is Oliver and Felicity on Arrow. If Oliver and Felicity had gotten together and just stayed together, fans probably wouldn’t have minded. However, for years Arrow went back and forth with them introducing increasingly ludicrous obstacles until only the most hardcore fans were left standing and invested.
2 Death is Little More than an Inconvenience
If a character is killed off on the Arrowverse the only way they’re truly staying dead is if their actor wants off the show or is too busy to return.
Death has pretty much become meaningless on the Arrowverse. It’s not that the deaths are unemotional in the moment or that certain characters haven’t stayed dead. The Arrowverse has just introduced so many possible methods of resurrection that it’s almost expected for a dead character come back.
For all the characters that have died in the Arrowverse, which number in the dozens, the ones who have stayed dead can be counted on one hand. Yet even that number gets smaller if you count the actors returning as new versions from another Earth or timeline of the deceased character.
It's a comic book problem, but death really doesn't matter.
1 Barry Should Be Able to (Easily) Defeat Oliver's Villains
The benefits of the Arrowverse being one interconnected universe greatly outweigh any negatives. However, the fact that The Flash and Arrow exist in the same world and are so close does introduce a bit of a plot hole. If Oliver really wanted to, he could solve most of his villain problems by having Barry swoop in with his speedster powers and quickly arrest everyone.
Obviously, this will never happen, and it really shouldn’t because it would rob Arrow of all tension and meaning. Still it’s been established as something that could happen. Oliver and Barry have already helped each other take out their season villains once in their respective series, so there’s no logical reason it shouldn’t happen every year.
Prometheus definitely wouldn’t have blown up an entire island if Oliver had just called Barry the first time the psychopath popped up. Better yet, Barry should've just gone with Oliver to Lian Yu in the season 5 finale.
What are some of your biggest and little discussed pet peeves in the Arrowverse? Did we miss any problems? Sound off in the comments!
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