The CW’s Arrowverse is set to return the week of January 23rd, with new episodes of Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, so what better time than now to take a look back at 9 full seasons (and 4 half seasons) of Superheroic overload and talk about what I might have done differently had I taken control of the reigns of DCTV…
First things first, I need to set some ground rules up:
- This list is not to bash the Arrowverse. I genuinely like the CW slate of Superhero TV shows, and watch them religiously. I love (most of) the characters and all of the actors that play said roles. These are just things that I would have done…differently, from a story telling angle.
- I’m also well aware that these things may have been discussed behind closed doors at WB. Maybe they went a different route due to money, or an actor or actress wanted out of their contract. Maybe the big, bad DCEU films messed with certain things that the TV side wanted to accomplish. There are probably 1,000 reasons why certain things happen or don’t happen within these television shows, and all of these things are entirely possible, and in all likelihood, plausible. But I wasn’t privy to these meetings, so for the sake of this article, they didn’t happen.
So in the spirit of thinking outside of the box, and also pissing off some Reddit Warriors, here are my biggest issues with the Arrowverse thus far and what I might have done differently…
***SPOILERS FOR ARROW, THE FLASH, SUPERGIRL & LEGENDS OF TOMORROW FOLLOW***
10 Things I Would Have Changed Within the Arrowverse
10. No More Evil Speedsters (for Now)
This one is a bit of a preemptive strike, which is why it’s #10. I loved Season 1 of the Flash, and its arc with Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash. I enjoyed the Zoom arc as well, even as I rolled my eyes into the back of my head with the Jay Garrick/Hunter Zolomon twist of Season 2. I’m fine with the Savitar angle at the moment, as it’s currently intriguing to me, especially since he moves in a completely different way than any other speedster we’ve seen, but with the start of Season 4, can we have a “big bad” that doesn’t have the exact same power as our lead? The Flash’s Rogues Gallery is extensive, and I still don’t understand why top rivals such as Captain Cold & Gorilla Grodd, while reoccurring, were not given the full season treatment I feel both deserve. The good news is Grodd is getting a 2-parter in the second half of Season 3 that will flesh out his character further. The bad news is I have more to say about Leonard Snart on this list…
9. Flesh out the D.C. Universe
With that being said, I’m not arguing that there needs to be 47 different superhero shows on the CW. That is what we call overkill, and I barely have enough time as it is to watch all of these shows, take care of my kids and maintain a level of husbandly duties so that my wife doesn’t realize she married WAY down. Take the 4 shows you currently have in continuity and take a cue from the CW’s newest acquisition Supergirl: A show can be centered around 1 particular hero and yet STILL bring in the big guns every once in awhile. Kara is sworn protector of National City, but thanks to Tyler Hoechlin’s season 2 turn as Clark/Superman, we are aware that he’s got his own stuff going on in Metropolis, and presumably everywhere else on Earth. The rest of the DCTV Universe could utilize this idea and run with it. We have some throwaway lines about Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern and the Batman & a phone gag involving Wonder Woman and Aquaman,which are essentially wink/nods to fans of the DC Universe, but what if we were given just a bit more? Bludhaven has been mentioned on Arrow numerous times, why not a mention of Nightwing by Team Arrow. While Kara is at Cat Co., how about a news report on the TV behind her talking about the Bat vigilante in Gotham, or a plane crash landing on Themyscira. How about actually giving a face to one of the Green Lanterns, allowing him or her to help Barry every few seasons, with the knowledge that they are needed in space, protecting our world, more often than not. Most fans don’t need a Batman show (especially if said show is anything like Gotham…yikes…) or a Wonder Woman show within the Arrowverse. Most fans enjoy seeing some of the focus on B-list characters, knowing that the films will most likely cover the A-team. But most watchers would still like to know that these other characters exist out there, doing exactly what we’d expect them to be doing, which is protecting their piece of the DC Universe.
8. Jimmy Olsen
I applaud the idea of changing Jimmy Olsen from nothing more than Supes’ bestie to a character who might actually matter in some way, shape or form. I liked the casting choice of Mehcad Brooks as well, giving Olsen the stature of a confident, career driven man, not a boy with a camera. The thing is, Jimmy Olsen, due to storytelling and character traits attributed to him in Season 1, could’ve been completely absent and the premiere season of Supergirl would have been more or less exactly the same. Turning James Olsen into nothing more than a romantic interest for Kara, when his original intention for being present was to mentor her in a big brother manner, was a mammoth misstep for the character. While I’m not completely on board with Olsen becoming the Guardian (a role I was hoping would’ve gone to John Diggle because, well, military background), it was nice to see the writers veer off of the romantic subtext of Jimmy & Kara. I’m hoping by the end of Season 2, we’re going to see a James Olsen who feels at home amongst the strong personalities of Supergirl’s core cast.
7. Room in our Hearts for 2 Deadshots
Fact: Will Smith’s turn as assassin/all around bad mofo Floyd Lawton in last summer’s Suicide Squad was one of its unanimously agreed upon bright spots.
Opinion that I will state as if it is a fact: While Michael Rowe’s portrayal of the character on Arrow might not have received the critical praise, it was undoubtedly one of the breakout, and most memorable, roles of the first few seasons. Played with a combination of bravado and charm, the Arrowverse’s Deadshot could’ve been a major player moving forward. Sign him to a contract similar to Wentworth Miller’s or Katie Cassidy’s: a contract that allows said character to be used across shows. Seeing his Deadshot pop up unexpectedly to assist (or hinder) one of our favorite heroes a few times a season would have been a pleasant surprise.
6. Deathstroke Reigns
Season 1 & 2 saw the unlikely friendship with Oliver, then rise to villainy, of Slade Wilson, better known as DC’s top mercenary Deathstroke. While the show took liberties with his backstory, Manu Bennett’s characterization of the assassin was a highlight throughout those first couple of seasons. Deathstroke has been, in my mind, Oliver’s greatest adversary within the Arrowverse, and a character who could have lurked in the shadows for the entirety of Arrow’s continuity. Leaving him locked up on Lian Yu (only to be briefly seen, and beaten, by the Queen kids in Season 3) seems a disservice to the character. My dream scenario had him eventually leading this universe’s version of the Suicide Squad (more on that a little later).
5. Legends without a Legend-The Curious Case of Leonard Snart
Wentworth Miller’s Leonard Snart aka Captain Cold, quickly became a fan favorite when he was introduced as Barry Allen’s most complex foe within his famed Rogues Gallery on Season 1 of The Flash. Snart straddled the line of villain and antihero throughout that debut season, and when Legends of Tomorrow came recruiting the best and brightest of the B-squad from across the Arrowverse, there was no surprise that Snart was chosen. Snart continued to endear himself to fans throughout Legend’s maiden voyage, eventually protecting Sara Lance and dying a hero’s death. We saw him in the midseason finale of Legends of Tomorrow as a Mick Rory hallucination, but will soon see an alternate version of him join forces with Damien Darhk, Eobard Thawne and Malcolm Merlyn to form the Legion of Doom (ooohhhhhh, what a rush!…WWF reference for 10 points!), the Legends antagonists for the second half of Season 2.
That’s all great, I suppose. But what about Captain Cold, arguably the Flash’s most famous foe (behind a sh- ton of speedsters, naturally.) In 2 seasons, we watched him turn from bank robber with the brains to outsmart the Flash, to a courageous hero willing to lay down his life for his friends, when all I want to see is the Snart we saw scattered throughout his debut season. Leonard Snart could be the perfect foil to Barry’s speedster, popping up to cause problems, or help out, when it is least expected. I realize that the CW is trying to expand their universe, and in doing so they’re taking a few liberties with fan favorites, but Snart could be the ultimate thorn in Allen’s side, the leader of his Rogues Gallery. I’m not saying they ruined the character, as his arc was enjoyable across the initial Legends of Tomorrow season. I am just of the opinion that Snart could’ve been so much more than a Legend, he could have been THEE Rogue.
4. “This is a Damn Suicide Squad”
Rumor had it that the WB wanted to focus some of their more popular characters for the movie side of the DCEU, hence the mass killing of reoccurring roles, and wanted to avoid the confusion of having 2 of the same characters on different platforms. This rumor seems at least partly false, since we’ll see big & small screen versions of both Barry Allen’s Flash and already have a Superman existing in both universes. The end result seems the same: some fan favorite characters in the DCTV universe bit the dust prior to the DCEU exploding onto the big screen. Deadshot, a cameo-d Harley Quinn, Amanda Waller, Deathstroke, Captain Boomerang, Solomon Grundy- all gone from continuity in one way or another prior to Suicide Squad and Batman V. Superman hitting theatres.
For what it’s worth, I thought that DCTV’s Suicide Squad was one of its crowning achievements, a fluid idea that could change from season to season, always having a profound impact. Imagine a S.S. consisting of Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, & Killer Frost, orchestrated by Amanda Waller, led by Deathstroke, intervening in a fight that Oliver or Barry just couldn’t handle on their own.
Excuse me while I go and weep over the endless, now unattainable, possibilities.
Olicity at this point might as well be a curse word. The dreaded “O” took 2 very likable, confident, fan favorite characters and turned them into a romantic tale of dysfunction, passive aggressiveness, and…how do I put this. Just that no real humans would ever react the way Oliver and Felicity did during their fandom-inspired romance. By the end of Season 2, if you had polled Arrow fans across the country, chances are you’d find that most either a.) Counted Oliver and/or Felicity among their favorite characters on the show and b.) wanted to see the 2 of them together in a brilliantly awkward relationship. I’ll admit, I was one of them. Unfortunately for all involved, the writers listened to tumblr. It very quickly became apparent to all involved that this was a bad, very bad, really, really bad idea, and every episode that gave us glimpses of what was to come involving the 2-headed devil monster known as Olicity had me hitting the imaginary (but much needed) “abort” button on my couch. I feel like I could write 3,500 words on why I think this was a bad idea all around, but for your sake, and my sanity, I’ll stop here. This could possibly be Arrow’s biggest misstep to date….except for….
2. Long Live Laurel Lance
I feel like this one is simple: When writing a show based on a character that has existed in one form or another for over 70 years, maybe…just maybe… don’t kill off the woman who he’s not only destined to be with, but is also his most celebrated co-crime fighter. I have not always been the biggest fan of Arrow’s iteration of Dinah Laurel Lance (a brief search through the Geekiverse catalog will prove that point) but I always believed, and felt it necessary, that Oliver Queen end up with her. After Olicity crashed (hard) and burned (in a gigantic dumpster fire), I had the comforting realization that now, finally, Oli and Laurel could rekindle their fatalistic romance. This, on top of the fact that, at that very moment in the shows history, Laurel Lance as a character had never been better.
But…then she was killed.
The mid-season finale ended with “Laurel” alive and well inside the Arrow Cave, but judging by the sneak peek trailer for the back half of the season, and, ya know, common sense, this Laurel will ultimately end up being a doppelganger from another Earth, possibly Earth-2’s Black Siren (considering her “Canary Cry” in the preview is natural, not artificially produced). It’ll be a slight tally in the win category if this Canary is reformed and ends up being the one Oliver falls in love with, or any other Laurel-clone from across the multiverse, but in the end, we know that the original Laurel, and Black Canary, are never to return to us.
Until she does. I don’t know, it’s a comic book show. Oliver could literally birth a new character out of one of his abs, and I guess I wouldn’t be completely shocked. Anything can happen. But until that day comes, I will mourn the death of Laurel Lance.
1. Flashpoint: the Ultimate Eraser
To say that Seasons 3 & 4 of Arrow had its issues would be an understatement that most fans, regardless of how they felt about the episodes as a whole, would agree with. Magic, Ra’s Al Ghul, an entire American city being nuked off the map, Laurel’s death, the romantic death plot known as Olicity, etc. etc. etc. Then Season 2 of the Flash happened and low and behold, we had an answer to all of the asinine crap we’d witnessed: Flashpoint! In the DC canon, “Flashpoint” was a huge crossover event that affected everyone and everything relevant to the company. For heaven’s sake, the events of Flashpoint created its own, new continuity, the hit or miss 5 year experiment known as “The New 52.” So when the sophomore season of The Flash ended with the realization that fans were going to get a live action “Flashpoint event,” my first thought was, “Holy sh–, how are they going to pull this off with a fraction of the DC roster?” but my SECOND thought was, “Thank God, this story line just became the ultimate do over.” Narrator: But alas, it was NOT the ultimate do over.
Instead of an event that reshaped the very fabric of this universe, we got 1 whole episode in the alternate timeline, which changed Diggle’s son into a daughter, sort of/kind of killed Cisco’s brother (who was a ginormous d-bag to begin with…just saying) & may have given Caitlyn powers… that she might’ve received in the future anyways. Yeah, it brought about Savitar, Alchemy & the very creation of Kid Flash, but the affects are not as far reaching as they could be. Earth 1 Laurel is still deceased, as is Ronnie Raymond, as is Leonard Snart. Kara and her crew are still on a completely separate Earth, meaning Supergirl, Superman, Martian Manhunter and presumably any future Batman we might see (and his colossal cast of characters) are nowhere near being part of whatever Justice League the DCTV brains decide to create. And the Legends crew still continues to dick with the timeline week after week with almost no repercussions (<—– that should’ve been on this list, my apologies-LM)
I can guess one of the reasons this was done: I know people who watch The Flash but don’t watch the other 3 shows. Therefore, what if someone who loves the crap out of Supergirl, but couldn’t care less about the extended universe, tunes in to Season 2 and all of the sudden things are completely different from what he/she remembers from the inaugural season? Would that ultimately affect their viewing pleasure and their desire to watch said television program? Possibly. Hence, one of the deciding factors for the major ramifications to occur solely on The Flash, with a small ripple affect touching the other shows. Does it make sense from a network standpoint? Yeah, of course it does. But as a comic book reader, I never read every single comic that was involved leading into a major event, yet during crossovers, I became more interested in the overall scope of the event, and would start reading issues I might not normally have picked up. The same, can be said, for TV viewers. What I would’ve given to have seen the Flashpoint event affect the entire DCTV slate, with some of the universe’s biggest mistakes wiped clean and a fresh start born from it.
If you made it to the end of this article, I applaud you, because I barely did. Tune in again next week when I promise this article will be much more bearable. Also, tune into The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow & Legends of Tomorrow as all 4 shows return the week of January 23rd with brand new episodes.
Lou Mattiuzzo is a full time husband, full time father, full time teacher & full time superhero enthusiast. He’s well aware that you just read an entire article of him complaining. He’ll make it up to you sooner or later.
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