Is the Arrowverse a thing anymore?
Last week was the first part of the ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’ finale, and needless to say, it is a complete and utter disaster on part of WBTV, the CW and DC Comics on top of being a scheduling nightmare. [Warning: Spoilers ahead]
So like one would expect based on the most recent scheduling, DC’s slot on the CW goes in this order: Supergirl, the show set on Earth-38 and therefore disjointed from the rest, then Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and to finally close the week off, we’ve got the grittier and darker Arrow. The problem is, last week aired an episode called “Doomworld” where all reality was changed by the Legion of Doom “Legends’ archnemeses”, now the big problem is, except for Supergirl, all the other shows reside in the same universe, and it has been an emphasis point since the start of this season, through the “Invasion!” crossover and the integration of past villains from other shows, it is now perfectly understood that “Flash”, “Arrow” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” all take place within the same timeline, the same Earth and most importantly, the same universe. They aren’t spin-offs in the traditional sense, but they are rather standalones that can far outlive the grandfather “Arrow” since they’ve built up their own continuity, set of events, threats, goals and objectives.
So going back to “Doomworld”. Eobard Thawne was in charge of STAR Labs, Flash’s HQ, and Damian Dhark was helming Star City’s executive branch by being the mayor (in the DC universe, federal policies are rather… useless for most of the time) now… you can see that with the episode before that, the Legion already had the Spear of Destiny, Shaper of Reality, and had made the changes to its fabric, so why am I seeing Flash alive and well, and Green Arrow being tortured by his past mistakes… Is the Legends’ universe parallel? Are we seeing the episodes from the perspective of the Legends’? The producers never made it entirely clear what their rules for time travel are, or whether we the viewers are supposed to watch with theconceit that whatever the Legends do is virtually inconsequential to the timeline since they were going to fix it anyway. We’ve got hints of that with the Legends taking back the ‘Legion of Doom’ members to their recruitment locations, further confirming that Arrow’s and Flash’s events integrity is indeed to be preserved by whatever changes the Legends make along the way. No matter how high the stakes are, if there’s a conflict with how Flash or Arrow proceeded in the first place, they must fix it before they head off into the next season. Now the question is: Should CW’s TV shows be separated anymore?
With many problems easily fixable through Green Arrow, Flash, and most certainly other undocumented vigilantes (Hell, Arrow made it abundantly clear that Dinah Drake was cleaning up long before the original Black Canary ran away from the League of Assassins) collaborating together, one should wonder why the existence of these shows is so fragmented, and why isn’t there a singular show, that’s almost an anthology, giving us the best of DC with focus on certain characters; and that could very well change from half-season to the next, kind of like how ‘Gotham’ does their storylines since the last season. You’ve got a villain Gordon is chasing after, but events between other characters are happening. The plot is progressing. It isn’t stale, waiting for the protagonist and antagonist to solve their entanglement.
One important strength that DC never tapped on was the importance of characters’ appearances on-screen. It is almost criminally underrated that the simple glimpse of a deep cut from a Silver Age comic book makes it worth the 40ish minutes a viewer has to put up through, simply for the nostalgia factor, and now that we’re seeing lots of TV shows, and movies take back from the 80s and 90s what appealed most to people, why not make it all about comic books? Take the most glorious events, throw in some New 52 and Rebirth sprinkles for new comic book fans, and have them enjoy the medium in an unconstrained manner. The Arrow doesn’t have to take a break during the summer, Flash doesn’t have to fight a Gorilla by charging straight into his shield with a weird close-up on droplets of blood flying from his badly CGI-ied body, but rather we can all have them collaborate in a meaningful manner with the only constraint being : Convenience and time.
With an overabundance of heroes, comes an overabundance of villains, and that should be the main trend-setter for the next -hopefully- phase of DCTV on the CW: Trying to reconcile the fact they aren’t isolated anymore, and embrace that technological superiority over our current reality allows extraordinary yields and imaginative decisions on what the villain(s) could be; and with creative teams from all different four shows joining forces, making the most out of their collective effort, great results are to be expected.
I’ve said it many times on social media; the Arrowverse remains DC’s strongest film universe, and if all they do is follow Marvel’s path without taking advantage of the separation they get to enjoy from the movie universe, they really are doing themselves a huge disservice; in the here and now, we’re left with an isolated team of incompetent superhero teams who only call upon each other when an Alien invasion is nigh… which by all means shouldn’t be a cheap crossover plot device and/or the single uniting point of these superheroes.
Green Arrow should be able to call on Flash’s help to apprehend Prometheus, Flash should be able to siphon Green Arrow’s strategic and intellectual know-how to avoid screwing up the timeline, the Legends should assist with whatever information Barry Allen needs on the future. It should be a joint effort of all three teams, and more. You don’t introduce interdimensional travel to just have Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin sing a song about how ridiculous it is, you embrace the ridiculousness.
So all in all, while it might seem inconceivable to air every remaining Arrow and Flash episode up until the Legends have stitched back together the timeline in an acceptable state, it is worthy of consideration to either embrace what the Arrowverse is or isn’t; unify them, or cut them separately so that everything can make even the tiniest bit of sense, if at all.
To DC Comics, WBTV, and Berlanti Productions : You have a huge overlap between the audiences of the shows you produce. Take advantage of it.