When The CW launched Arrow back in 2012, many were already upset and thought the show would tank largely just due to the fact that it didn’t tie to the network’s previous DC superhero hit Smallville or that show’s Green Arrow, played by Justin Hartley.
After taking a good few episodes to find its feet, Arrow was soon knocking it out of the park, and its second season ranks up there as one of the best whole seasons of genre TV in recent memory. From there, the Scarlet Speedster himself came into play as The Flash spun-off from the Stephen Amell-starrer. Then matters escalated further with the time-travelling adventures of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, all while CBS had debuted the Melissa Benoist-headlined Supergirl.
By the time The CW picked up Supergirl as its own last year, the Arrowverse had become a huge delicious ball of superhero fun. Despite that, though, this shared superhero universe has still had its problems since its inception.
Some of these problems are constant, unforgivable niggles that need immediate attention, whilst others are relatively small issues that we can let slide in the greater scheme of things. With that in mind, let’s have a look at where The CW’s Arrowverse has caused its fanbase some concerns over the past five years.
8 Things We Hate
16 The Extremes
When it comes to The CW’s shared DC realm, one of the constant themes is how everything is so full-on, so extreme, and so fast-paced when it comes to a whole host of things.
For example, when Laurel Lance had a glass of wine she was instantly portrayed as an alcoholic. After one glass of wine she’s attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings!
And then there’s the fact that usually a fortnight or so after two people become romantically involved, they’re all gushing about how in love they are and that things will last forever and ever and ever. Like, seriously, you’ve been on a date to a burger joint then went bowling a week later, yet now you’re already planning the wedding?
Maybe it’s just me, though, and maybe I’m just a cynical, unromantic sort who drinks too much wine.
15 That The DCEU Ignores It
This isn’t a problem that The CW or any of its shows are responsible for, more it’s a problem caused by the greater power of Warner Brothers. Yes, I’m talking about that elephant in the room: the fact that Warners’ cinematic DC Extended Universe totally ignores the small-screen outings of The CW’s DC heroes and villains.
After it took maybe half of the first season for Stephen Amell to really find his feet as Oliver Queen, Amell has gone on to wear Ollie as a second skin, becoming the perfect Emerald Archer as his character progressed from the Vigilante, to the Hood, to the Arrow, to now Green Arrow. Simply put, Stephen Amell is the Green Arrow. From there, Grant Gustin – who had fans shaking their head at the thought of that fella from Glee as Barry Allen – has knocked it out of the park as The Flash, with others following suit.
All of the great work the Arrowverse has done in establishing its characters, and yet Warner Brothers didn’t even give a passing thought at looking at ways to incorporate that into their big screen DC world.
14 Laurel Lance
Has there been a character in any of the recent spate of superhero-driven TV shows who has been as poorly written as Laurel Lance?
As soon as Laurel was announced for Arrow, many instantly thought of Black Canary - one of the most important people in the life of Oliver Queen. And while Arrow’s Laurel was indeed a big part of the Emerald Archer’s life, it soon became clear that she was remarkably hard to get behind, coming off as whiny, needy and unlikable in everything she did.
But at least they weren’t going to make her Black Canary, for badass sister Sara was given the Canary gig in Season 2, right?
After Sara was taken out of the Arrow equation, so began Laurel’s ascension to becoming Black Canary. Only she was still horribly written, still generally a bit of an ass, and a large part of the fanbase were cheering when uber-rogue Damien Darhk killed her in Season 4.
13 Forgetting Characters
Aw, remember baby John? Don’t worry, you wouldn’t be the only person who forgot about Diggle and Lyla’s young son.
Considering that Dig is so often out patrolling the streets of Star City and beyond as Team Arrow’s Spartan, plus Lyla is heading up the all-consuming ARGUS organisation, you have to ask why it’s never really referenced what their only child is up to or who’s looking after him. This, of course, coming fresh off the reveal that the Diggle/Michaels partnership now have a son rather than a daughter (baby Sara) following Barry Allen’s decision to create Flashpoint.
And John Jr. isn’t the only character to be forgotten about for months on end, with the Arrowverse having a far too frequent habit of doing this with many of its supporting characters and minor players.
12 Spoilers In The Credits
This isn’t a complaint that can be levied at just The CW’s DC shows or the network’s shows as a whole, more a painfully annoying complaint that spreads across the breadth of television in general.
We all love a good surprise cameo appearance or shocking return of a once-beloved character in our favourite shows, right? Sure we do. Which is why it’s so, so frustrating when a series uses its opening credits sequence to outright slap you across the face with the advanced warning that so-and-so is making an appearance or that your favourite character of yesteryear is making a return that you never could have imagined would be possible.
The point is, this is something that has viewers regularly slapping themselves in the forehead due to outright frustration of having something potentially huge ruined for them before an episode even really gets going.
11 Barry’s Selfishness
Ever since first appearing in an episode of Arrow, Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen has become a huge favourite of many a genre fan. From awkward geek to everyman hero, the journey of Barry becoming Central City’s heroic Scarlet Speedster has been fantastic watch play out.
Still, one regular problem that many fans have with The Flash and its titular hero is how Barry Allen is regularly positioned as a hugely selfish character.
Obviously Barry has had horrible things happen to him – such as his mother being murdered, his father wrongly imprisoned (and later murdered), and seeing his ‘one true’ Iris being brutally killed by an alternative offshoot of himself – but Barry constantly going back in time to stop these things happening merely to improve his own personal situation is massively selfish.
This is something that many of us would do if we had the chance, but this is where Barry Allen should be different; this is where, as a superhero, he should be selfless.
10 Killing People Off To Please The WB
Ever since Warner Brothers decided to create a shared DC movie-verse – these days known as the DCEU – it saw the studio put huge pressure on The CW’s small screen DC adventures.
Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel was one thing, but Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad saw the pressure on The CW amped up. The reason for that pressure? That’d be due to the use of certain characters.
By that point in time, Arrow had already introduced characters like Deadshot and Amanda Waller in huge meaningful ways that were true to the comic book roots of them. Once it was decided that both of those characters were to feature in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, the WB put the call out to have the small screen takes on Deadshot and Waller axed – and thus both of these were shockingly killed off.
From that moment on, Warner Brothers flexed their muscles as it attempted to not be upstaged by The CW's Arrowverse.
9 Death Is Meaningless
Ever since Arrow kicked of The CW’s shared DC world, we’ve sadly been beaten over the head with one constant ideal: death is meaningless.
The comic book industry itself has suffered a similar problem ever since the Man of Steel failed to stay dead following 1992’s iconic The Death of Superman tale. After the Big Blue Boy Scout was revealed to totally, totally not be dead (he was just having a bit of a sleep, it turned out), all bets were off and death became a mere plot twist rather than a finite ending for a character.
On the small screen, we’ve seen the likes of Green Arrow, The Flash, Captain Cold, Sara Lance, Caitlin Snow, and more all “die” at one point in time. The turning point seemed to be Oliver Queen being ran through with a sword by Ra’s al Ghul then booted off a huge cliff during Arrow’s Season 3 midseason finale… only to then be all (relatively) well and good by the very next episode.
8 Things We Can Tolerate
8 “It’s Over!”
If I have to hear one more “It’s over!” I think my head will explode.
All of The CW’s DC shows seem to have the annoying habit of having every battle between hero and villain end with the good guy stating “It’s over!” before saving the day.
At least the good thing with Arrow’s first season is that this was largely skipped over – mainly because Oliver Queen was setting out to kill people rather than chat before locking them up. It seems that Grant Gustin’s Flash is the biggest culprit of this, though, with “It’s over!” being his painfully frequent line to deal out to the many rogues he’s faced.
Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl and the Legends team have all been guilty of this at times, too, and it’s something that makes episodes feel generic and formulaic as certain heroes take down their villain-of-the-week.
7 Taking Liberties
As fans, we’re all a little sensitive when it comes to things near and dear to our hearts. When it comes to comic book characters, that is often the case but ten fold!
So, when The CW has chosen to take liberties with certain characters whose stories we think we all know from the comics, that's caused many longtime fans to sigh in disapproval.
For instance, Oliver Queen being “brothers” with Slade Wilson; that Caitlin Snow has been working with The Flash rather than bad guy-ing it up as Killer Frost; the way that the various Canaries have been handled; how James Olsen is a suave chiseled black man rather than a nerdy red-headed white guy; and how, shock horror, Top was changed to being a woman!
While some of these changes may have taken fans by surprise, it’s fair to say that the minds behind the shows have proven themselves well and truly worthy of our trust.
For anyone remotely familiar with The Flash as a comic book character, you’ll know that the Scarlet Speedster (or Crimson Comet, even) has a history of all kinds of timey-wimey nonsense. Some of it has actually be pretty damn impressive, but some of those storylines and arcs were just a nonsensical mess by the time they played out.
Obviously given how The CW’s The Flash has seen Barry Allen travel back in time at several points, we’ve seen time-travel and the changes it can cause play a pivotal part as the show has developed over its three seasons. Meddling in such plot points is a fine line, but the series seems to be just about veering on the right side of things for now.
Then you throw Legends of Tomorrow into the mix, and that throws up more time-travel headaches for audiences to try and grasp.
For those eagerly watching every episode of every Arrowverse series, you just about stay on top of what’s happening. For casual viewers who drop in and out, though, they can easily get lost.
5 Supergirl’s Mixed First Season
There’s a strong argument to be made that the second season of Supergirl is right up there with the best stuff seen in The CW’s Arrowverse. Of course, the network only managed to nab the show itself after CBS decided against renewing the series after its debut year – and it was with that debut season that fans found themselves groaning.
Supergirl’s first season started off well, but it was let down by the last six or seven episodes. The reason for that, it seems, was due to the fact that the season was initially ordered for thirteen episodes. So, when CBS later decided to up the episode count to twenty, that meant a whole lot of reshuffling and having to quickly write new episodes in order to stretch the season out.
It felt like a losing battle and a completely unenviable task for the writers of Supergirl, but it’s fair to say that the series has gone from strength to strength since moving to The CW.
4 The Fall Of Felicity
For the first few seasons of Arrow, it would’ve been unimaginable for fans to dislike Emily Bett Rickards’ Felicity Smoak, but that has sadly been the case over the past few years.
Since her and Oliver got their brief happily-ever-after moment where they literally drove off into the sunset, Felicity has undergone some major character changes… and not in a good way.
This huge fan favourite uber-nerd started to become selfish, indulgent, and looking to scorn Ollie for any slight thing while holding more grudges than should be healthy. As such, her presence in Seasons 3 and 4 brought down the feel of the show – which would’ve been unthinkable to anyone who’d seen the first two seasons.
Where the recent fifth season has been concerned, it’s been a mixed bag for Felicity. While she acted like all kinds of an ass-hat by turning her back on Team Arrow by joining Helix, there were also hints of the old, enjoyable Miss Smoak glimpsed throughout the season.
3 Not Giving Instant Rewards
Comic book fans in general can be quite short when it comes to attention spans or waiting for gratification and conclusions these days, and that was certainly an early problem with The CW’s Arrowverse.
From the moment Arrow began, fans were clamouring for an Oliver Queen who was the Green Arrow. Not the Vigilante, the Hood, or even the Arrow - no, fans wanted a full-on panel-to-screen take on the Emerald Archer that they were familiar with.
Similarly, when Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow were revealed to be part of The Flash, those same loyal comic book readers instantly wanted to see Vibe and Killer Frost.
To an extent, this was a turnoff to some comic book fans when it came to accepting The CW’s DC world, but we’ve all been well rewarded since as these shows have delicately unraveled over time.
2 Legends Isn't "Must-Watch" TV
There’s no disputing that DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is often a fun, enjoyable ride full of nice little Easter eggs to both the DC comics book world and to history itself, but there’s just something that feels a little “off” about this team-up series.
No matter what happens in Legends, the show just never really gives off a vibe of must-see. Whereas Arrow or The Flash (and even recently Supergirl) has fans frantically waiting for their next episodes, Legends just doesn’t feel all that important.
Maybe it’s because apparent timeline changes aren’t felt in the other shows, maybe it’s because of the constant changing scenery, maybe it’s the characters themselves, but for some reason DC’s Legends of Tomorrow just feels like the runt of the litter when it comes to The CW’s Arrowverse.
1 Arrow’s So-So Flashbacks
For the first two seasons, Arrow made great use of its flashback moments as we saw Oliver making his way off Lian Yu (for the first time, at least!) and his relationship with Slade Wilson play out brilliantly in a way that also served to enhance what we were seeing from the ‘present day’ moments of the show.
Since then, though, the flashback moments have almost become one of the biggest problems for the series. This most recent season’s Russia and Lian Yu-set flashbacks were actually rather good for the most part, but Season 3’s time in Hong Kong and, in particular, Season 4’s return to Lian Yu were just dull.
Whilst the third season’s time in the past did at least have some decent moments, Season 4 did nothing but have viewers reaching to switch the channel. Luckily Season 5 delivered actually useful, purposeful flashbacks and, more importantly, brought the show’s use of flashbacks to a natural end.
Sources: Arrow.Wiki.com, Wikipedia, The CW