The State of CW’s DCU [UPDATE]: How the “Arrowverse” Survives Post-‘Arrow’

A couple of weeks ago, word came down that Arrow will conclude with a shortened ten-episode season next fall. We at Bleeding Cool watched as the news was first announced by Stephen Amell on Twitter, then confirmed by the series’s producers. In the ensuing hours and the days that followed, Amell, other current and former actors on the series, and stars from other “Arrowverse” series took to social media to share photos, videos, and words of positivity about the series to date and what’s to come in the remaining episodes.

The CW

The one question looming large over the announcement is what Arrow‘s end might mean for the larger Arrowverse. Since debuting in 2012, the series has directly or indirectly led to The CW finding a home for The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, and Black Lightning, with varying amounts of connective tissue between them, and with an additional pilot pick up for Batwoman. While the cancellation of any one of these doesn’t necessarily mean there has to be an immediate, direct impact on any of the others–particularly Black Lightning, which is not an official part of the Arrowverse–it does provide fodder for speculation, as we’re wont to do.

So fellow resident “Arrowverse” expert Andy Wilson and I speculate on how the announcement might ripple throughout the larger “Arrowverse.”

The CW

Joey: Not surprising. We’ve speculated that next season’s Crisis on Infinite Earths would shake things up. A 10-episode 8th season takes us right into Crisis. We know that in this season’s crossover, Oliver made some sort of deal with the Monitor to save Barry and Kara’s lives, two of the more high-profile deaths in the comic version of Crisis on Infinite Earths. It makes sense that Oliver’s deal trades away his own life in exchange for theirs.

I’m sure he’ll get a statue or something, right?

Andy: This sort of makes sense. We’ve seen Oliver go through a lot of different stages in his development as a hero: vigilante, less brutal vigilante, mayor, inmate, and now unmasked and working with the police. There’s not a lot of room left to go on the show before they start to recycle. And recycling is the one “green” thing we don’t want from Arrow. I’d rather have a satisfying ending than let him fade away. But, yes, I think signs point to Oliver Queen’s deal with The Monitor having something to do with his death.

Joey: You either die a hero or live long enough to see viewership drop to levels that require the network to give you the axe. But yes, the next logical step in Oliver’s journey is to sacrifice his own life to save the multiverse.

The CW

Without an official series pick up on Batwoman (The CW has only ordered the pilot, to date), getting rid of Arrow leaves only metahumans and magicians–be it traditional magic like Zari or scientific magic like Ray over on Legends of Tomorrow–headlining the remaining series. Any chance The CW loses the Dark Knight-esque grittiness and trips toward the more hopeful–like Barry and Kara–and the more fantastic?

Andy: I would almost say the opposite– that ending Arrow makes way for a grittier, Gotham-centric Batwoman. I would put money on a series pickup announcement in the coming weeks. But one of the things I always enjoyed was the CW DC shows have all been allowed to develop their own tone and style, from the street-level realism of Black Lightning to the wackiest of wacky Legends of Tomorrow. Even in the same universe, I appreciate that Star City and Central City are very different places with different types of problems. There’s a flavor for everyone to find what they want.

Joey: This season’s crossover made reference to previous DC Comics television worlds. Earth-90 with John Wesley Shipp’s version of Barry Allen. “Somebody Save Me”, the Smallville theme song, during the scenes with Kara, Clark, and Lois on the Kent family farm. If Crisis on Infinite Earths is going to do for the Arrowverse what it did for the comics, is there any chance we see former actors reprise their roles coming out of Crisis?

Which is a long-winded way of asking whether you think we’ll see Justin Hartley as Oliver Queen in whatever passes for the Arrowverse after Crisis on Infinite Earths?

Andy: If only! I miss his clocktower and his green hoodie. If Justin Hartley shows up with a little goatee as an older Oliver Queen I will lose it. Don’t get me wrong– I’ve loved Amell and most of Arrow (let’s not talk about a few of those seasons, though) but he’s never fully captured what I loved most about the character, and that’s his actual Robin Hood type schtick of taking down rich guys who are hurting the little guy. That was Season 1 and we sort of fell away from that and I always wished we’d return.

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The CW

Joey: Any chance this is the first in a series of cancellations? Could the CW be giving Arrow–the father of the Arrowverse–the chance to bow out first, let that have the space to breathe, then start announcing that none of the other Arrowverse shows will remain on the air after Crisis on Infinite Earths?

If The CW is looking for a way to reinvent, recharge, reinvigorate, reboot, and rebrand these properties, then using Crisis to end them all and launch something new in January after the holiday hiatus would certainly be one major way to do so.

Andy: Yikes. I can’t even imagine that. Yes, I believe they will use Crisis as a way to do a lot of housecleaning. But I think the most likely victims will be Arrow and Legends. They have larger principle casts and you have to remember as TV shows go on they become more expensive. If you sign a 5-year contract to be on a show and the show’s successful, every year after that you demand more money. And at some point in the property, the money seems to make less sense to the suits upstairs. And since Netflix/Amazon will probably pay the same amount to license 170 episodes of Arrow as 180, you think about ending with a big finale. Stars on Legends of Tomorrow like Brandon Routh and Caity Lotz ,who got their start on Arrow are probably costing more, too.

Truth? If you cancel Arrow, replace it with Batwoman, then cancel Legends and replace it with a solo Constantine show? I ain’t even gonna be mad. But I also can’t get it out of the back of my head that Supergirl’s death is one of the most iconic Crisis moments. . . and I think if they replaced Supergirl with a Superman/Lois and Clark show I might punch through my TV.

About Joey Mills

Host of Pop Goes the Culture podcast. Contributor to BleedingCool.com, ComingSoon.Net, GeekDad.com, and PopGoesTheCulture.com.

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