By Jonathan Klotz | Published
There’s a Flash movie coming into theaters next month, and initial impressions are that it will be a good movie, despite the problematic star. The worst part of the film, though, is how it’s tossing aside years of amazing character work by Grant Gustin on The CW’s The Flash, and now with the Arrowverse coming to an end on the small screen, it seems like James Gunn is wiping the slate clean of the entire franchise. For years, Arrow, The Flash, Black Lightning, Batwoman, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl were the best part of DC, and now, in two weeks, the cast and crew’s hard work will be tossed into the dustbin of history.
When Arrow debuted in 2012, no one knew it would go on to launch a series of interconnected shows lasting over a decade, the Arrowverse. Stephen Amell‘s turn as Oliver Queen was dismissed for turning the vigilante into Batman. Still, the series had hit its stride by the show’s second season, with the excellent portrayal of Manu Bennet as Deathstroke and the introduction of Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen for the obvious spinoff, maintaining a 95 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes even today.
If Arrow was not a success, the entire franchise would have crumbled like a house of cards. Instead, the team that brought Oliver Queen and Starling City to life made a show better than any of the MCU offerings, which ended up working with The Flash to bring about one of the best sci-fi shows in history, Legends of Tomorrow. The Arrowverse’s time-traveling series stumbled out of the blocks by focusing on Hawkman and Hawkwoman, but by the time Season 2 came around, it was a fun-loving comedy caper about misfits messing around with the timestream.
Starring Caity Lotz (White Canary), Brandon Routh (The Atom), Matt Ryan (Constantine), Wentworth Miller (Captain Cold), and Dominic Purcell (Heatwave), among a cast of many, many others, Legends of Tomorrow was worth every disappointing episode of Arrow and The Flash. If none of the team gets to make a cameo in James Gunn’s new DCU, there should be riots in the streets. Routh in particular, before becoming the Arrowverse’s Ray Palmer, played Superman, and for everything he’s endured in between, the underrated star has earned a spot in the new universe.
Not only did the Arrowverse give us a laugh-out-loud comedy, but it also gave fans multiple series for some of the most overlooked characters from the comics, in Black Lightning, Batwoman, and Supergirl. Batwoman was undone by behind-the-scenes turmoil, leading to the rapid exit of Ruby Rose as Kate Kane, Bruce Wayne’s cousin, yet the show still ran for 51 episodes across three seasons, creating a new corner of the DCU, and giving fans the best Renee Montoya since she was introduced in Batman: The Animated Series.
Supergirl, a late addition to the Arrowverse, was never supposed to exist. Melissa Benoist instead took what was supposed to be a Superman series onto her back and turned in what is now the definitive version of the character outside of the comics. As with Black Lightning, D-list characters were given the spotlight and succeeded to such an extent that there was talk of even more spin-offs. Alas, none of that came to be when The CW decided it was too expensive to make so many shows and started canceling them, one by one.
The Arrowverse proved that large-scale crossovers on television work, from “Invasion” to “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” which is what makes the last four episodes of The Flash, the only show still standing, so disappointing for fans. Instead of bringing together the entire cast of characters, the latest episode, “A New World, Part Two,” focused on the side characters of The Flash, sidelining Barry for all but one minute of screen time. Grant Gustin deserves better, the fans deserve better, and The Flash series finale is not the ending to the Arrowverse that anyone wanted.
James Gunn needs to bring back these characters, either as a multiversal Justice League or in a big-budget Elseworlds finale, instead of tossing all the amazing actors and characters aside. A large contingent of fans wants Grant Gustin to replace Ezra Miller in the DCU, not just fans of the Arrowverse either, and frankly, that would be the best move. A decade of solid storytelling and worldbuilding is being tossed aside with a lackluster finale to be replaced with “MCU-lite” films and shows.
The Arrowverse is a landmark in television history and is still more successful than any Marvel show; it’s a travesty that Warner Bros Discovery is leaving it to be forgotten, as if all of those salmon ladders in the Quiver amounted to nothing in the end.