The DC Universe has been defined by crisis as much as it has its heroes. Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, and the recent Convergence show that when the DC universe is at stake, the heroes step up and save the day. There’s usually plenty of loss, including more often than not a certain Scarlet Speedster of some variety. As DC’s Arrowverse continues to thrive, hints of an impending Crisis level event have been tossed about, but so far the closest we’ve come has been the four-night “Invasion!” event.
But what if there was an Arrowverse Crisis? Ratings are steady, but they aren’t high, and the flagship Arrow is getting ready to go into its sixth season. The characters are starting to show wear and tear, and the writing just isn’t what it used to be. Would it be so bad for a Crisis-level event to wipe the slate clean and start over? We certainly don’t think so. It’s time for the Arrowverse to end, and there’s only way to do that: in a Crisis.
Beware of spoilers for the 2016-2017 seasons of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow.
15. NO CONNECTION TO THE DCEU
Fans of Arrow and The Flash were understandably disappointed to hear that there were no plans to incorporate DC’s Arrowverse into the DC Expanded Universe of films. Producers stated the tones didn’t match and even went so far as to cast Ezra Miller as The Flash for the series of films. Though the door is obviously open thanks to the Multiverse’s existence, it’s a bummer that there can’t be a crossover.
But post-Crisis, there could be. With a revamped set of series, the tonal shifts could easily be more in line with the DCEU. Sure, the shows don’t have to be as bleak and dire as the world established by Batman v Superman, but tonally a rebooted DC television line could at least position itself to resemble the cinematic world of the films, making crossovers and references much easier.
14. SMOOTHING OUT AN UNEVEN TONE
Arrow debuted in 2012, barely a year after Smallville went off the air. In stark contrast to Smallville‘s “no tights, no flights” rule, Arrow brazenly featured Oliver Queen in costume with a bow and arrow. However, Oliver was only known as The Vigilante and didn’t gain a code name until season 2, with the show featuring a darker, grittier tone and incredibly violent nature.
That first season of Arrow seems so quaint and far away now, as Oliver gave up killing bad guys just in time for meta-humans and magic users to show up. Arrow wasn’t built for the likes of the more fantastical elements the Arrowverse came to adapt, and the tonal shift can be jarring. With a line-wide reboot, this fantastical world can be established for everyone. As great as it was to see reactions to the rise of metas, it’s less impressive in its third year.
13. A HAPPY ENDING
Things haven’t been good for the heroes of the Arrowverse. Ollie has a string of failed relationships, accentuated by his strained relationship with Felicity and the death of Laurel Lance. The Flash has been a touch better, but every time Barry and Iris think things are okay something gets in the way, usually of Barry’s own doing. Kara has it marginally better on Supergirl, but her family is broken after her father’s abduction by Cadmus.
A Crisis doesn’t have to mean a bad ending. Wrapping up the universe now, on their own terms, the writers can craft the happy endings these characters deserve. Imagine how great it would be to see Barry and Iris go off into the sunset, or for the Danvers to get a happily ever after? There’s more to a Crisis than just misery. There’s hope, too.
12. FREE OF CONTINUITY
Remember when Oliver briefly dated Helena Bertinelli, the murderous Huntress for a few episodes of Season 1? Hopefully, you do, as she’s referenced in later seasons. So is Slade Wilson, the mercenary who helped train Oliver on the island of Lian Yu (which hasn’t been shown for the entirety of Season 5, despite Oliver letting everyone believe he’s stranded there). And “Flashpoint” threw a curve as it brought all of that history into question.
Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow are already confirmed for new seasons in 2017 – 2018, and the end is nowhere in sight. Continuity gets longer, the stories get more twisty and eventually writers start to miss things. Why bother? A Crisis level event can wipe the slate clean, or rewrite history, however the writers want.
11. THE AUDIENCE WILL ACCEPT CHANGE
The decision to have Barry rewrite history with “Flashpoint” was a pretty bold one. Saving his mother and then being forced to let history follow its original course, the Arrowverse was changed permanently. On The Flash, Cisco’s brother died, Caitlin Snow became a meta, and Joe and Iris West became estranged. But it wasn’t just The Flash, as Arrow saw John Diggle’s daughter, Sara, never exist, replaced by a son, John Jr.
“Flashpoint” proves that readers are willing to accept a change, even across multiple shows. A Crisis-level event would obviously be larger, and a lot more to take on, but audiences are willing to give such changes a shot, and “Flashpoint” proves it. Rebooting the universe with a Crisis event is a challenge, but it seems to be one the Arrowverse team is up to.
10. TOO RELIANT ON TWISTS
The first season of Arrow established the Arrowverse penchant for twists when it was revealed that Malcolm Merlyn was going to level The Glades. The late-season twist is an Arrowverse staple, but it’s become a crutch. Arrow‘s latest villain, Prometheus, is hyped up as someone from Oliver’s past, only to be revealed as someone we’ve never seen or heard of before.
A clean slate and a fresh start can wipe away this trope in favor of stronger storytelling. The best example? Savitar, this season’s big bad in The Flash, was just revealed as a future version of Barry Allen. Being attacked by a future Barry raises all sorts of questions about fighting destiny, but the reveal is so close to season’s end that it can’t possibly have a satisfying payoff. A post-Crisis Arrowverse can move away from huge plot twists and get back to solid, character-driven stories.
9. DC’S STREAMING SERVICE
DC made waves when they announced a new DC Comics streaming service spearheaded by a new season of Young Justice and a new series, Titans. Not likely to be a part of this universe is the Arrowverse, which exists solely on The CW at this point. But DC could always use the opportunity of a Crisis to restart some of these series on their new service as they see fit.
By utilizing the streaming service, even after a world reshaping Crisis, these heroes can carry on, and the shows may be better for it. Imagine a revamped Arrow running on a DC streaming service, unfettered by CW executive meddling and no longer needing to tone down violence. Imagine Supergirl having better access to Super-family concepts and characters. Moving some of these shows to DC’s streaming service as they get older is the perfect way to continue the stories.
8. LEGENDS OF TOMORROW’S GROUNDWORK
You can file Legends of Tomorrow under the hypocrite banner, as the team of time-displaced misfits did way more damage to the time-stream than what they chastised Barry for during “Invasion!.” But the benefit of this is that they’ve established, to some degree, the rules pertaining to recreating the universe almost exclusively during the second season of Legends.
We now know there are ways to reshape time and reality. And thanks to the existence of Martin Stein’s daughter Lily, we’ve established that time aberrations aren’t always the end of the universe. The Legends haven’t just established that time and reality can be changed, they’ve positioned themselves to be the gatekeepers, capable of existing (even if briefly) to keep viewers up to speed. With all we’ve learned this season, the Arrowverse is absolutely ready for a world changing Crisis event.
7. BEAT MARVEL TO THE PUNCH
Regardless of what Iron Man‘s post-credits sequence told you, no one thought The Avengers was happening until it was in front of them. DC was among those people, and they’ve been playing catch up with their films ever since. Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice have made their money back, but they’ve proven to be critical flops.
But DC actually managed to beat Marvel to the punch with their TV shows. When Arrow debuted in 2012, Marvel had nothing of the sort on television. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would soon follow, but nothing has come close to the shared universe of the Arrowverse, apart from arguably the Netflix shows. Now they can beat Marvel at their own game again, with a line-wide reboot to bring longevity to the brand. Marvel will fall victim to the same pitfalls the Arrowverse does. All that’s left is to see who will blink first.
6. A FIRST OF ITS KIND EVENT
Okay, doing something just for the sake of being first isn’t necessarily a good idea, but it still has its merit. The closest you could come to a change to reality on this scale would be something like Pam finding Bobby Ewing in the shower after she dreamed he was dead for an entire season. Nothing on par with a major event altering the reality of your shows has ever really been done before.
Something will have to give with the TV universes, just like with the film universes. By jumping on it now, DC and The CW can build off the simple hype that it’s the first of its kind. Promising several nights of epic action and dramatic events with sweeping repercussions is sure to draw in a few more viewers, and with any luck, they might stick around for what’s to come.
5. VILLAINS WASTED
The Arrowverse has made great use of a number of classic villains. Supergirl is introducing Zod and had the Girl of Steel contend with Parasite and Metallo. Arrow revamped Merlyn and had an excellent Deathstroke. Legends of Tomorrow made great use of The Time Masters. There are genuinely a number of well-handled villains. Unfortunately, there are plenty that have been flagrantly misused.
Perhaps most apparent is The Flash. For decades, The Flash has been defined by his relationship to his Rogues, but the Arrowverse has seemingly gone out of the way to split them up. With Captain Cold dying a hero’s death, Heat Wave (somewhat) redeemed and the rest not necessarily even aware of each other, it seems unlikely that The Flash could do a proper Rogues story justice. Rebooting the universe creates the perfect opportunity to get a second chance at doing comics’ most notable villains justice.
4. HEROES WASTED, TOO
Mister Terrific was one of the DC Universe’s most versatile characters, a genius inventor and the third smartest man in the world. Ray Palmer, a brilliant scientist and tragic hero in his own right, has been a DC Comics mainstay for decades. These characters are beloved classics. So, naturally, the Arrowverse made them jokes.
Ray Palmer is now a huge dork wearing a suit of knock-off Iron Man armor, while Mr. Terrific is slowly turning into a revamped Felicity Smoak. Even Adrian Chase/Vigilante is reduced to a forced red herring. Obviously, characters are going to change from adaptation to adaptation, that’s unavoidable. But some of these characters deserve a second chance, and a line-wide reboot is the way to do it. The Arrowverse already gave us one line of great heroes. Changing things now can give us another set, and create something truly memorable.
3. IRREDEEMABLY AWFUL HEROES
Nothing has hurt recent seasons of Arrowverse series more than the depiction of its heroes. Where do we even start? In The Flash, Cisco acted like a huge jerk in “Invasion!” when he nearly jeopardized Earth with his vocal distrust of Barry for no real reason. Then Cisco did it again, trapping the current era Barry in the future against his will.
The heroes aren’t exempt either. Barry has acted like a self-righteous jerk, constantly ignoring other people’s problems for a one-man pity party after “Flashpoint.” Arrow may have irrevocably broken Oliver Queen by having him admit he killed because he enjoyed it, not because he felt it was necessary. These were attempts at creating new character plots, but instead, the heroes of the Arrowverse are possibly beyond saving. Wiping the slate clean with a Crisis gives writers a chance to undo these mistakes and start from scratch.
2. NOBODY STAYS YOUNG FOREVER
At one point, the now 35-year-old Stephen Amell expressed fans likely didn’t want to see him as Green Arrow when he was 40. Grant Gustin, now in his late 20s, has a wide range of non-Flash interests to dive into. Traditionally, a TV show may recast a role or two, or maybe even the lead if it’s doing really well, but it’s unlikely.
It’s just a fact of life: no one is going to stay young forever. Eventually, these actors will decide they’re ready to move on. But why wait? Restarting the Arrowverse with a Crisis gives producers the opportunity to recast these roles and hit the ground running while the originals are still able to make guest appearances and pass the torch. DC is known for its legacy heroes, and this is a prime opportunity to make use of that.
1. CRISIS IS ALREADY COMING
It’s been a plot point since the first season of The Flash. “The Flash Missing – Vanishes in Crisis” reads the headline of a 2024 newspaper which details The Flash fighting alongside Green Arrow and Hawkgirl during a crisis where the skies turn red. The future headline has been an on-going trope of the series, referenced as recently as “Invasion!” and an ominous plot element behind Iris’ potential death.
2024 is a long ways off, but time isn’t what it seems to be in the Arrowverse. Barry’s zipping back and forth through the time stream has had a number of effects, so who’s to say the Crisis in question can’t be moved up? Fans have shrugged off the Crisis as an easter egg that can’t happen because of budget and story concerns, but as an end-game and a reboot button, the impending Crisis may be closer than ever.
Do you think the Arrowverse should end, or keep running until it can run no more? Let us know in the comments!