With Arrow on its sixth season, The Flash on its fourth and both Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow on their third, the DC Comics-inspired Arrowverse has aired over 300 episodes. Since its debut, we’ve seen the eponymous heroes battle speedsters, psychic gorillas, immortal Egyptian priests and even a Teri Hatcher-shaped alien. Along the way, we’ve also seen them make friends, fall in and out of love and grow as people too.
But it’s fair to say that the Arrowverse isn’t on top form at the moment. Our slight superhero fatigue – strengthened by so many comic book outings being on the big screen too – isn’t exactly helping our waning enthusiasm.
Of course, there are still loyal fans that tune into Sky One – and The CW across the pond – to see what Oliver, Barry, Kara and co are getting up to but the Arrowverse’s viewing figures are depleting. People are getting bored. Here, SciFiNow attempts to pinpoint why, as well as coming up with ways they could make it good again…
1. Stop bringing people back
While most of the DC TV shows are aimed at young audiences, they shouldn’t shy away from saying goodbye to characters for good. Because sometimes, with shows of this nature, characters have to bite the dust in order for you to truly care. Sadly, it’s an area that the Arrowverse seems to lack conviction.
Across its run, multiple characters have kicked the bucket, from Damien Darhk to Captain Cold. But somehow – be it through time travel, mystical powers or the resurrecting qualities of the Lazarus Pit – many of them have made comebacks. We were happy when Sara Lance was brought back but now it’s become all too predictable.
It’s not just characters that have died either. Figures like Roy Harper, Nyssa al Ghul and Jefferson ‘Jax’ Jackson have each had affecting exits, only for their cameos to be scheduled in upcoming episodes. Elsewhere, actor Tom Cavanagh has played three different versions of the same character, essentially. There’s almost no finality within the Arrowverse anymore and whether they’re on the big or small screen, tales of good vs evil simply HAVE to have weighty stakes.
2. Find each show’s individual voice… again
You don’t have to spend hours scouring the internet to find opinion pieces that claim that ‘Legends of Tomorrow is the best show in the Arrowverse.’ It’s not difficult to see why so many have come to think that either.
Legends of Tomorrow has always been the one show in the Arrowverse that has unapologetically played by its own rules; adopting a comedic and zany tone from the get-go. It fits in with Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl when it’s time to crossover but it knows what it is as an individual show. The others just need to make sure they know it too.
The rest have all become a little melodramatic, leaning heavily on romantic relationships to carry their storylines. Arrow needs to remember its gritty roots; The Flash should put ‘family’ at its core again and Supergirl needs to continue dedicating time to its awesome female characters.
3. Better Big Bads are a must
Remember when the Arrowverse’s titular heroes were tormented by the likes of Reverse Flash and Slade Wilson? Oh, those were the good ol’ days. While we’ve had a couple of memorable antagonists since – (Grodd, Malcolm Merlyn and Killer Frost) – no one has really matched up to those names.
Supergirl’s latest villain Reign seems promising however, and proves that season-long big bads can be great. If you look at her as an example, it’s evident that an emotionally-charged motive is what makes a good big bad.
In the show, Reign is actually Samantha Arias. In the episodes of season three that have aired so far, Sam has been unaware of her murderous alter-ego, blacking out whenever that part of her takes over. She is also close friends with Supergirl and her sister. This layer adds intrigue to the whole season and makes the idea of them facing off even more exciting… or heart-breaking, depending on your mood that day.
4. Know when to quit romantic storylines
The Arrowverse has featured some questionable romances in the past. They didn’t necessarily start off that way but it seems to be a recurring theme in Arrow, The Flash or Supergirl that those relationships that should have ended a while ago… well… didn’t.
Arrow’s Felicity and Oliver are the most obvious example of such a pairing. The twosome have had a turbulent love story since the show’s third season, tackling obstacles such as secret sons, life-threatening injuries and mismatched feelings. They constantly lie to one another and it seems unrealistic that they would still be together after so much has caused them to doubt their relationship. Now it just feels forced rather than moving.
In our opinion, other cringe-worthy couples that are not working currently include Supergirl’s Lena and James and The Flash’s Cisco and Gypsy.
5. Stop making every character “super”
There’s an iconic moment in The Incredibles when villain Syndrome reveals his dastardly plan to turn everyone into super-powered beings. It doesn’t sound so bad at first, but when he explains that if he succeeds superheroes will essentially be obsolete, it’s pretty eye-opening. It’s also precisely why the Arrowverse needs to stop making every character super.
Since the earlier seasons, John Diggle has adopted the alter-ego Spartan and regularly joins Oliver Queen on missions; tech-wizard Cisco Ramon has discovered he’s a meta-human and James Olsen had a brief stint as National City hero Guardian. In a recent episode of The Flash, Iris West even became a speedster, albeit only temporarily.
Not every character needs superhuman powers, or heightened strength and agility, to be an asset to their crime-fighting teams. All kinds of people can be heroes by using their intelligence, kindness, bravery or understanding; let’s go back to showcasing that to younger viewers.