Over six years ago, the CW launched the Arrowverse, unsurprisingly, with the release of Arrow. Since then, the other series were introduced each following the story of an iconic DC hero.
In Arrow, fans followed the journey of Oliver Queen as he seeks to protect Star City from the criminal elements that desire to corrupt it. In The Flash, Barry Allen obtains his powers which allowed the Arrowverse to branch out into different realities. Then came Supergirl, who introduced a reality where aliens are commonplace.
Finally, the Legends of Tomorrow arrived to further explore the complex aspects of time travel. The CW's Arrowverse has expanded into a large scale project, with an infinite number of possible directions for it to take. It has become so successful over time, that its popularity even surpasses the DCEU.
However, as with all projects there are an equal number of successes as there are failures. The Arrowverse has demonstrated a talent in bringing out the potential of both major and minor comic book characters. Unfortunately, not all characters come out with equal amounts of success.
Warning, spoilers ahead!
Here are the 10 Characters They Nailed In The Arrowverse (And 10 That They Ruined)
20 Nailed: Superman
Though not the focus of Supergirl, the presence of Superman remains critical to the series. Similar to the comics, Superman discovers his cousin Kara Zor-El, has arrived on Earth decades after him. Superman motivates Kara to become who she is with his presence alone.
The fans were especially welcoming of the new version of Superman on the small screen, especially following the reveal of his DCEU counterpart. Tyler Hoechlin’s portrayal of Superman generated instant love for the character. He appeals to the fan base for being the Superman people desperately need.
He was kind and caring yet still serious when the situation demanded it. He never hesitated to lend a hand to help his cousin, but still supported her own independence. The current popularity of Hoechlin’s Superman surpasses that of his DCEU counterpart.
19 Failed: Black Canary
As the primary love interest for the Green Arrow, the Black Canary is an important character. Unfortunately, the Arrowverse fails to properly honor the Canary’s reputation. The character suffers from so many deaths and adaptations, that her edge has been dulled.
In the case of Laurel Lance, her time as the Canary appears more like an attempt to commit to the comics source material rather than to the character herself. Her lack of growth severely impacts her development as a character.
The only character that’s come close to honoring the Canary’s persona, is the recent portrayal by Dinah Drake. Unlike other versions, she has actual powers, and does not require technology to use the Canary Cry. Her potential to grow still exists, but at this point the Canary’s reputation may be beyond saving.
18 Nailed: J’onn J’onzz
The Martian Manhunter has made plenty of appearances throughout pop culture. From the pages of comics, to animated and live-action appearances on the small screen. However, his live-adaptation in Supergirl is especially successful.
Out of all the characters in the Arrowverse, the Martian Manhunter’s depiction remains the most faithful to his comic book origins. In Supergirl, J’onn watches over Alex and Kara and is instrumental to Supergirl’s growth by taking on the role of her mentor. As s a warrior, and head of the DEO, he is calm and collected, which perfectly balances with Supergirl's eager and headstrong personality.
Furthermore, his character does an excellent job playing closely to the show’s narrative of integration. His character remains true and faithful to his position as the survivor of the entire Green Martian race. These factors allow him to deliver some of the most emotional performances in the series.
17 Failed: Ray Palmer
The Atom, is one of the smartest members of the Justice League in the comics. Any portrayal of him on the small screen deserves to show the utmost respect to a character of his reputation. Unfortunately, the Arrowverse’s Ray Palmer fails to live up to that reputation.
Firstly, he does not develop the ability to shrink until a season after he develops his suit. Even when he finally develops it, his appearance and style is nothing more than an Iron-Man knock off.
Secondly, his character comes of as socially awkward, and fails to grow in terms of personality, and usefulness. Aside from his suit and intelligence, he doesn’t really offer much. In the end when he loses his equipment, the rest of his teammates need to pick up the slack. One of the only redeeming aspects of this character is that he is portrayed by Brandon Routh.
16 Nailed: Alex Danvers
Unlike other characters on this list, Alex Danvers is an original character created by producer, Andrew Kreisberg. Regardless, she remains one of the most successful character’s in the Arrowverse. She is the adopted sister of Kara, and works for the DEO as one of its top agents.
Despite being human, her skills and resourcefulness allow her to take on dangerous threats, even if it's an army of evil Kryptonians. Alex serves as a teacher, confidant, and guardian to Kara, and often acts as her lifeline in her most vulnerable moments.
Danvers has gone through some of the most challenging developments a character can face. She also contributes to positive LGBTQ representation. When she comes out as gay in Supergirl, she does so with the utmost grace. Her performance is often referred to as one of the best in the Arrowverse.
15 Failed: Vandal Savage
While the Arrowverse succeeds in adapting Vandal Savage’s skills and ruthlessness, the overall quality of his character is questionable. In the comics, he’s existed since the birth of mankind.
Over the ages, he acquires wealth and power in his attempts to rule the world. However, in Legends of Tomorrow, he is born during ancient Egypt. While he remains an ancient being, he does not have the same impact as his comic book counterpart. Yet another aspect of his downfall is his obsession with Hawkwoman.
Unfortunately, this obsession damages Savage’s reputation as a villain. He’s never given the in-depth development he deserves. In the end, the Arrowverse fails to demonstrate the magnitude of the danger that Savage represents. He becomes just another failed attempt to adapt a once great villain, who was defeated far too easily.
14 Nailed: The Flash
Since he was introduced in Arrow, Barry Allen has been responsible for the Arrowverse’s expansion. His highly complex character makes him a fan favorite among the heroes in the Arrowverse. However, he does have his flaws such as his inability to cope with loss.
For example, after the death of his father he misuses his powers to try and fix things. Unfortunately, he only makes things worse, as demonstrated by the aftermath of Flashpoint. Thus, his actions have led many to define him as a selfish hero.
However, unlike most heroes, Barry is aware of his flaws, and willingly accepts them. Arguably, its these flaws that make him a great character. Regardless of his powerful abilities, he is only human, and he feels the pain of loss just like anyone else. So, despite his flaws, he cares about the people around him. Ultimately, he embodies all that is good on Earth-1.
13 Failed: Pied Piper
The Pied Piper adaptation on CW's The Flash failed to live up to his reputation. While he kept his origins as Hartley Rathaway intact, his motives are weak in comparison to his comic book counterpart.
In the comics, the Piper used his skills with sonic technology to manipulate people in to committing crimes for him. The Arrowverse version is driven more by a selfish personal agenda, rather than long term motives. Furthermore, after he travels through time, Barry erases the Pied Piper from existence.
In the end, the Arrowverse loses one of its most iconic Flash villains. While the Piper does return in the New 52, The Flash shows no signs of further developing his character beyond cameos. A truly disappointing end to a character with so much potential.
12 Nailed: Damien Darhk
Originally a minor enemy of the Teen Titans, Dahrk has made very few appearances in the comics. This contrasts with the character introduced in Arrow's fourth season. Darhk’s appearance as the main antagonist was arguably the highlight of an otherwise weak season.
Deviating from his criminal roots as a hacker wanted by the government, Dahrk’s character has been drastically changed. Now a powerful, immortal sorcerer, Darhk is one of Team Arrow’s most dangerous foes. He even succeeds in unleashing nukes across the entire US.
Even after his death, Dahrk returns as a member of the Legion of Doom, where he and the legion manage to temporarily reshape the Arrowverse. In this new universe, he succeeds in killing Team Arrow. Regardless of his deviation from the comics, Damien Darhk is one of the most successful villains in the Arrowverse.
11 Failed: James Olsen
The Arrowverse’s James Olsen doesn’t have much in common with his version from the comics. The only thing that ties him to Jimmy Olsen is his name. Even though he is a leading male character, his overall impact to the series is questionable.
Over the course of Supergirl, Olsen questions his role to Supergirl and her allies. After losing his position as Kara’s love interest, he starts to struggle as a character. Even the writers of the show are uncertain of where they want James to go. It becomes difficult to appreciate a character, when he doesn’t even know what his own fate will be.
Olsen taking on the role of guardian was a step in the right direction, but the writers need to do more. Hopefully, there is still hope for Jimmy to find where he belongs and decide who he wants to be.
10 Nailed: Vibe
Cisco Ramon's introduction in the comics was one of the early attempts to add some diversity. Unfortunately, these attempts to portray Vibe were unsuccessful, as he was depicted according to a massive stereotype. Later adaptations attempted to bring popularity to the character by increasing his powers. Sadly, the character failed to get an increase in popularity.
Fortunately, the Arrowverse adapted him into its universe. First appearing as a side character in Arrow, Ramon demonstrates his future potential by incapacitating and escaping from Deathstroke. He returns in The Flash as the team’s tech expert and is responsible for helping Barry become the Flash.
His role and importance as a character has improved over the last four years. His transition from sidekick to full-blown hero is a highlight of the series. Ramon's journey is just getting started.
9 Failed: Oliver Queen
It goes without saying that there would be no Arrowverse without Oliver Queen. However, even though Queen is a main character, he brings with him several flaws.
This includes his similarities to a certain bat themed vigilante but with an added penchant for murder. Another problem is that he has trouble establishing trust and learning from his mistakes. In almost every episode of Arrow, Queen faces the same repetitive cycle.
He encounters a problem, claims he doesn’t need help, lies to his comrades, is taught the value of teamwork, and then resolves the problem. This cycle damages his character as it tries to make him emulate someone that he is not.
Its understandable that the Arrowverse wants to give Oliver Queen an origin story that deviates from the comics, but there are limits. He needs to adopt some of his old comic book persona, especially in the newest season.
8 Nailed: Heat Wave
Another recurring enemy of the Flash, Heatwave has come a long way since his Arrowverse debut. Originally a minor villain in the comics, Heatwave was given the opportunity to be more than a simple criminal.
In Legends of Tomorrow, Heatwave accepts Rip Hunter's offer to join the team of Legends. Overtime, he mellows out, but still retains the key elements that make him a criminal.
His background as a criminal balances out the predominantly protagonist atmosphere among the Legends. Even though he sees himself largely as a thief and thug, he struggles with his new responsibilities that come with being a good guy. Though he and the crew may differ on a few moral decisions, he does everything in his power to keep his fellow Legends safe.
7 Failed: Rip Hunter
Rip Hunter first starts out as a main character in Legends of Tomorrow, and is responsible for creating the Legends. At the end of the first season, Rip comes to terms with the loss of his family. That should have been the ideal moment for him to move on.
Unfortunately, he returns in the following seasons, albeit with far less importance. Sara replaces him as the leader and demonstrates that she is a more effective captain. As unfortunate as it is, Rip’s heroism doesn’t compare to the rest of the Legends.
He excels in moments that showcase his knowledge of time travel, but mostly spends his time complaining about the actions of his team.Ultimately, the second season reveals that Rip was far more effective as a villain, than a hero.
6 Nailed: Captain Cold
Prison Break fans who enjoyed seeing Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller play the Burrows brothers, were in for a fun surprise when they both were cast in Legends of Tomorrow.
Here, Miller plays Captain Cold, who similarly to Heatwave undergoes intense character development. He is proof of how the Arrowverse takes minor heroes and villains and turns them into compelling characters.
Miller provides comic relief with his sarcastic banter, but still proves his value as one of the team’s stronger members. His tactical mind and cold persona once made him the Flash’s second most recognized enemy.
He is a “criminal with a code,” and does everything in his power to protect his fellow Legends. This ranges from freezing his own arm off to sacrificing his life, there is little that Cold won't do to protect his comrades.
5 Failed: Hank Henshaw/Cyborg Superman
Cyborg Superman is a foe capable of matching the Man of Steel. However, the Arrowverse’s version is nothing more than a poor imitation. Apart from his name, he has nothing in common with his comic book counterpart.
In the comics, Cyborg Superman possesses all of Superman's powers, as well as his knowledge of Kryptonian history. This is the result of him creating a body using Superman's birthing matrix, aka the vessel he came to earth with.
In Supergirl, Lillian Luthor is the one responsible for his creation. Aside from super strength, he does not possess any other powers that could classify him as a threat to either Superman or Supergirl. His power level is also weaker, as even Winn the programmer was able to incapacitate him thanks to a program he created.
Originally, Henshaw hates Superman because he believes that Kal-El was responsible for causing an accident that killed his wife and crew. This version is just an alien-hating human with cybernetic enhancements. He does little more than act as the assistant to Lillian. His only motivation is to help her wipe out all alien life, which again seems poor in comparison to the original.
4 Nailed: Cat Grant
Cat Grant is one of the finest supporting characters in the series. Originally, she is a third wheel in the relationship between Lois and Clark, but her character pulls a complete 180 in Supergirl. Cat Grant is one of the show’s strongest female leads.
She breaks social barriers and proves herself to be a strong-willed woman, capable of inspiring the people of National city in times of crisis. Her stubbornness and willingness to face danger head-on enable her to stand up to some of Supergirl’s most formidable foes.
She even insulted Queen Rhea, despite being aware that she could blow up the plane she was on. Her character on Supergirl is so popular, that her comic book counterpart has been modified to take after her more.
3 Failed: Savitar
An obscure character from the comics, the Arrowverse introduced Savitar as the next main antagonist for the third season of The Flash. An enemy so dangerous, he forces the future version of Barry to imprison him within a specially made prison in the Speed Force.
However, even while imprisoned Savitar manages to spread his name throughout time to gather followers for the day he could destroy the Flash. This made Savitar’s build up as a villain all the more anticipated.
Unfortunately, this build up was spoiled when his identity was finally revealed. The discovery that he was a time remnant of Barry Allen destroyed expectations of him. He could have finally been the villain as equally complex as Barry, but turned out to be a failure. The moment he stepped out of his suit, he was ruined in the Arrowverse.
2 Nailed: Supergirl
Supergirl prides itself on producing a strong cast of female characters in an otherwise male dominated genre. The character of Supergirl, played by Melissa Benoit, is especially successful. In the comics, she is always considered as nothing more than Superman’s sidekick who wears revealing outfits.
However, she defies this tradition in Supergirl. Instead of being her cousin’s apprentice, Kara makes a name for herself by stepping out of Superman's shadow. She does not rely on him to solve her problems, and seeks to forge her own heroic legacy.
Her fight against pertinent issues like race, diversity, and immigration, make her stand out amongst the heroes of the Arrowverse. Her character has also shown a sensitive, and vulnerable side to her otherwise invulnerable image. However, the vulnerability she shows on-screen only deepens her resolve and courage as a character.
1 Failed: Talia Al Ghul
In the Arrowverse, she is a teacher to both Green Arrow and his enemy Prometheus. However, this version of Talia acts more like an obnoxious child, angry at Queen for killing her father. Unlike her comic book counterpart, she pursues pointless vengeance instead of taking control of the League of Assassins.
Furthermore, her anger against Queen does not make sense. Although he killed her father, Ra's al Ghul, the fault does not lie entirely with Queen. Ironically, Talia was responsible for setting Queen on his dark path of vengeance, which led him to kill Ra’s. Thus, her anger against him is pointless and her refusing to acknowledge this reality, only adds to her flawed character.
If anyone deserves her rage and disdain, it should have been her sister Nyssa. By disbanding the league, she destroys the last of Ra’s legacy, which should have been more important to Talia than revenge.
Do you have a favorite character that was perfected/ruined by the Arrowverse? Let us know in the comments!