I first jumped into the Arrowverse right as it really began taking off back in 2014. Though Arrow had been running since 2012, 2014 marked the moment that that little show kicked open the door to a larger universe thanks to the arrival of The Flash, whose first season ran concurrent with Arrow’s third. Since that time, the Arrowverse has only continued to get bigger via shows like Vixen and Legends of Tomorrow, and it’s even managed to retroactively fold NBC’s cancelled Constantine series from 2014 into itself thanks to the character appearing on Arrow in its fourth season. Even further, Supergirl is now making the logical leap over from CBS to The CW to carve out her own corner of the Arrowverse after crossing over with The Flash earlier this year.
The Arrowverse isn’t perfect, far from it, but I dig it. For the most part, it’s a lot of fun to watch and get lost in - frustrations I’ll get to soon aside - and I appreciate how all out some of the shows continue to go in embracing their comic book roots, particularly The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though, I don’t follow the off-screen developments of the franchise too heavily, meaning lots of things go unspoiled for me right up until new episodes air. As a result, I can’t really get too deep into talking about “news” or what we can expect to see coming up in these shows, which I’m perfectly fine with as it makes each new surprise even better, but I can still offer up my thoughts on the upcoming new seasons based on the footage we were given at this year’s Comic-Con simply as a fan looking forward to what’s to come.
With five different shows set to return over the course of the next few months, come with me on a short trip through what we learned this past weekend as I sort out my own thoughts, concerns, and hopes about the various shows and hopefully get you up to speed on anything you may have missed.
If you haven’t seen the first season of Vixen, you might as well do so. It’s a quick watch on CW Seed amounting to around a half hour, and though it doesn’t really flesh out its titular heroine, Mari McCabe, it’s still fun for its connections to the other shows. Characters like Barry, Ollie, and Cisco turn up at various points, and - if anything - it helps serve as a nice primer for the character’s live-action appearance in the fourth season of Arrow.
Season two is going to be another six-episode season, with even more Arrowverse characters turning up including Jax and Dr. Stein, the duo who make up Firestorm, Ray “The Atom” Palmer, and Laurel “Black Canary” Lance, all voiced by their live-action actors. I was personally hoping that Vixen would wind up joining the team on Legends for season two, and I somewhat got my wish. Though Megalyn E.K. - who both voices Mari and portrayed her on Arrow - won’t be turning up, Mari’s grandmother will be a regular on that show as a Vixen from the past, and I’m looking forward to how she plays into it and if, in fact, Mari herself will at least be able to put in an appearance or two as the team continues their time-hopping adventures.
Here’s our first look at the second season that was unleashed at Comic-Con:
I have to admit, I gave up on Supergirl several episodes into its first season, so I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. I completely dug that the show introduced Martian Manhunter into the mix, but for every swing it seemed to take at being a great comic book show, it missed just as often, its potential being reeled back by annoying decisions like keeping Superman himself off the show. After I gave up, I only returned to it for Barry’s appearance on the show, which I enjoyed, even if his mere presence proved how better off Supergirl herself would be on The CW with a larger world at her fingertips than confined to CBS.
And clearly those types of complaints were noted by those in control, as Supergirl is moving to The CW ahead of a massive four-show crossover later this year that will undoubtedly see Supergirl’s world - which we’ll just call Earth-3 - fully merged with the Earth-1 Arrowverse we’ve come to know. On top of that, Superman has confirmed to actually be a recurring character on the show, and characters like Batwoman and Oracle are heavily rumored to be appearing, suggesting that the corporate mandates that some of DC’s “big” characters were off-limits to the small screen over the last few years have finally been dropped, paving the way for the Arrowverse to be free of having to dance around DC’s budding film universe.
A trailer for the second season wasn’t shown at Comic-Con, but I do have an interest in seeing how the show goes through its rebirth on The CW. I’m not terribly excited, but it’s a smart move that should’ve been made from day one, and I’ve got my fingers crossed it only helps contribute to an even bigger, better Arrowverse.
The first season of Legends of Tomorrow wasn’t fantastic television. It tended to be dumb, had some awful characters in Hawkman and Hawkgirl that dragged the show down, and had a handful of narrative inconsistencies that would undo any other show. And yet, aside from all that, I had so much fun watching it. It was unashamed of what it was, took some awesome detours like visiting Jonah Hex in the Old West and Old Man Ollie in Star City circa 2046, and had a bunch of great characters, my favorites being the Rogue duo of Heat Wave and Captain Cold. I looked forward to each new episode regardless of “the bad” because of how pleasurable it was to watch, plain and simple, and I’m definitely looking forward to what’s to come in season two.
The Comic-Con trailer below gives a bit of a glimpse of what we have to look forward to, the show going even bigger and bolder in scope now that Vandal Savage has been defeated. Not only is the Justice Society of America being introduced - which means a whole host of new heroes to populate the Arrowverse across time and space - but so is the Legion of Doom, which will see a number of Arrowverse villains teaming up to cause trouble: Damien Darhk, Malcolm Merlyn, Captain Cold - he’s back! - and the Reverse-Flash. Whether or not any of this has to do with Barry Allen screwing up the timeline at the end of The Flash’s second season remains to be seen, but I’m curious to see how it all plays out no matter what, especially in terms of how this specific team of villains comes together, who else is joining the Legends team aside from the previously-mentioned Vixen, and what it all means for the Arrowverse at large when all four of the big shows have their publicized crossover at the end of the year. (I will say, though, I wish Deathstroke was part of the Legion of Doom, but hey, we can’t get everything we want.)
Color me excited for the show’s return on October 13th.
Oh, Arrow, what have you become?
I binged the first two seasons of Arrow on Netflix prior to the premiere of its third season, and instantly fell in love. Season two in particular was great, and set the standard for which I hoped the show would continue to live up to. And while the first part of the third season was good, it took a notable downturn in the back half of the season, and season four finally broke me. The increased presence of Felicity, the drama surrounding her relationship with Ollie, the very existence of her ditzy mother, and all the other baggage that came out of the dreaded “Olicity” ship killed the show for me, and after a certain major character’s death near the end of the season, I couldn’t take it anymore, giving up on the show just a few episodes before the season ended.
I still dig many of the show’s characters, like Ollie, Diggle, and Captain Lance, but it feels like they’ve been pushed to the side, the great character work and interplay from the first two seasons gone to give more screentime to Felicity, who seems to have taken over the show from its own titular hero. It’s cloying and annoying, and I personally can’t trust season five to be any better despite desperately wanting to see it return to its former glory. I’m happy to see The Wire and The Walking Dead veteran Chad Coleman joining the Arrowverse as the Green Arrow's latest nemesis and that Ollie is finally headed to Russia in his flashbacks, but the possibility of the show backsliding even further than last season is keeping me from picking up where I left off and giving the fifth season a chance.
The show returns on October 5th with a whole new roster of faces in the fight to save Star City, but it’ll be doing so without me save any and all crossover story arcs. Should critics praise the season and/or word gets to me that the show is, in fact, better, I might go back to it, but for now it’s the show I’m least interested in, a sad fact considering that it was once the very thing that got me so excited about the Arrowverse in the first place.
What’s there to say about The Flash that hasn’t been said already? It’s awesome, and any faults in its storytelling are repeatedly made up for by the fact it’s just such an endearing show, with characters I actually care about and a staggering sense of fun. Barry’s a great lead, and the show does a great job demonstrating the balance between the joys of being a superhero speedster and the dangers that come with it. On top of that, the show's supporting cast is solid across the board - who doesn’t love Tom Cavanagh, for instance - there's been more than a few epic, cheer-worthy moments, it's introduced a number of awesome villains like the Reverse-Flash, Zoom, the Trickster, and Captain Cold, and it embraces the fact it’s a comic book show in such a delightful way that when larger-than-life characters like Grodd or King Shark show up, we know we’re in for a good time rather than an eye-rolling, perhaps painful hour of television.
Yet through all the action and spectacle, the show never forgets to wear its heart on its sleeve, consistently taking time out for these characters to just talk now and again; some of the most powerful moments from the show have come out of Barry’s relationships with characters like Henry and Joe, for instance, and the show wouldn’t be as strong as it is without having earned our investment in the characters. Season two ended on a wild note, with Barry going back in time (again) to finally stop the Reverse-Flash from killing his mom, kicking off the Flashpoint event that’s going to turn season three into a whole other show until Barry inevitably fixes it.
Judging from the Comic-Con trailer, we’re in for quite a ride, with character dynamics completely turned on their heads, villains old and new around to cause problems, Kid Flash showing up, Tom Felton joining the main cast, and one hell of a situation on Barry’s hands as everything begins to fall apart. Undoubtedly, too, his actions will have consequences throughout the entire Arrowverse, and it’ll be interesting to see exactly how it plays out and if Barry can fix some things that have gone wrong along the way - like saving Laurel Lance, for starters - once the timeline is back in place.
Guess we’ll start finding out when the show returns October 4th.
To sum up, it looks like the 2016-2017 season is going to be a huge one for the Arrowverse. It’s only getting bigger by the moment, and Barry’s actions in particular could have huge ramifications for every single show. I’m really excited for the massive winter crossover, as that will likely be the moment when it all comes to a head and the Arrowverse is changed for good headed into next year. And with more DC characters being allowed to make the leap to the TV, there’s no end to the possibilities and stories the franchise can explore now, and hopefully unique characters we’ve already met like Constantine and Jonah Hex will keep resurfacing rather than exist as one-offs.
It’s also been announced that Wentworth Miller and John Barrowman have signed unique contracts to be regulars across the entirety of the universe as Captain Cold and Malcolm Merlyn, respectively, which means the two can leap in and out of any show, giving them more narrative freedom than simply being locked into one show. This weekend saw the announcement that Katie Cassidy signed the same contract, meaning Laurel Lance - a character I love, as I mentioned - hasn’t gone anywhere, though whether she’s back as Black Canary, her Earth-2 counterpart Black Siren, or a new version entirely remains to be seen. I wouldn't be surprised at all if even more announcements continue to be unveiled over the next months.
Ultimately, I’m most excited for The Flash and Legends, am curious about how Supergirl shakes out, and am rooting for Arrow even if I won’t be watching anymore. I know a lot of people knock the franchise simply for being on The CW, but to me it’s proven to be a lot of fun to see evolve, for better or worse. The upcoming season is going to mark a whole new era for all the characters we’ve come to know, and I personally can’t wait to see what happens next.
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