Since the advent of the comic book, DC and Marvel have had superheroes and villains that were similar to their competitor’s. Sometimes Marvel followed DC, like when Marvel debuted Deadpool, who is a lot like Deathstroke. Other times it was Marvel who got the jump on DC, like introducing Iron Man before DC’s Rocket Red, who also flies around in a red, armored suit.
For the small screen, DC appears to be taking notes on every successful Marvel movie that’s released. The Arrowverse seems to copy a lot of the elements that appear in Marvel movies. Some of the Arrowverse characters have morphed from their original DC comic book versions to be more like Marvel’s movie superheroes. There are also Arrowverse storylines that seem to mimic the more successful plots and themes of Marvel movies. With that in mind, here are all the ways the CW’s Arrowverse is following in the footsteps of Marvel’s movies.
WARNING: The following list contains spoilers for several Marvel movies and Arrowverse shows.
15. ARCHERS, SPEEDSTERS, MAGES
The Arrowverse has several superheroes whose skills make them almost carbon copies of superheroes in Marvel movies. For instance, both “Arrow” and Marvel’s Avengers movies star a sharp-shooting archer, Hawkeye debuting in 2011’s “Thor” and “Arrow” debuting in 2012.. Hawkeye is a spy-turned-Avenger who is an expert archer and martial arts fighter. The Green Arrow is also skilled in archery and martial arts; however, he is a former billionaire playboy who is now a vigilante in Star City. His trick shots look a lot like Hawkeye’s.
“Arrow” also re-introduced Constantine after the his NBC show went defunct. A detective who has a way with mystical powers, Constantine appeared only briefly on “Arrow,” to bring Sara Lance back to life, but now stars in his own CW Seed cartoon. Constantine has powers that are very similar to Doctor Strange’s. Both of them use magic to fight and protect. Then there are the Speedsters. In “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Quicksilver raced around Sokovia in order to fight Ultron’s killer robots and rescue its citizens. “The Flash” also stars a Speedster, who uses his speed to fight villains and to save Central City’s residents from danger.
We’re pointing this out as slot #15 for this list because, in fairness to the Arrowverse, a lot of these coincidences predate Arrow altogether. Throughout comics history, DC Comics (source of Arrowverse lore) and Marvel Comics copied each other all the time.
14. WE’RE NOT WORTHY
Two of the funniest scenes in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” are about Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer and its magical rule that only someone truly worthy can pick it up. After Tony Stark’s party, and several drinks, various Avengers try to lift his hammer. Poor Thor was slightly startled when Steve Rogers nudged it a bit. Later, toward the end of the movie, Tony, Steve and Thor are again discussing who can and cannot pick up Thor’s hammer, even wondering if an elevator would be able to lift Mjolnir. “Elevator’s not worthy!” The bottom line is only Thor (and Vision) can wield Thor’s hammer.
The Arrowverse borrowed this idea for the Vandal Savage storyline. The story began on “Arrow,” when Savage first arrived in Star City. Team Arrow eventually figured out that Kendra was the reincarnated Chay-Ara, and that only she or Carter, a.k.a. Prince Khufu, could use the Amon Dagger to kill Savage. The story continued on “Legends of Tomorrow,” where, eventually, Hawkgirl did use the dagger to kill Savage.
13. METAL MUSCLE MEN
The first time Dr. Nate Heywood went all silver and shiny as Citizen Steel on “Legends of Tomorrow,” it was impossible not to make comparisons to the mutant Colossus. Colossus first appeared alongside Wolverine in “X-Men 2.” Colossus was the muscled young man who first showed up on screen to help Logan evacuate Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters when Stryker and his team attacked in “X-Men 2.” He recently starred alongside the Merc with the Mouth in “Deadpool.” His metal body is impervious to bullets and he has super-human strength.
Having a teammate who can stop bullets with his body is definitely ideal. In the episode “Shogun,” Nate realized he had gained a new power. He could now turn into a man of steel to protect himself, and his friends, against bullets and other physical threats. After some training, Nate could call on his powers at will, and transform into a shiny, steel man, just like Colossus (minus the heavy Russian accent). It’s worth noting that in the comics, Nate’s powers don’t work exactly in the same way Colossus’ do. Instead, he still looks like his human self, except for the fact that his skin is as strong as metal and his abilities can’t be turned off.
12. WWII SUPER-SERUMS TURN WEAKLINGS INTO SUPERHEROES
The situation in which Nate Heywood gets his powers on “Legends of Tomorrow” is different than the comics-verse version. Originally, in “Justice Society of America” #3 by Geoff Johns, Dale Eaglesham, Art Thibert and Ruy Jose, Nate’s powers were the result of a supervillain’s attack in 2007. On “Legends of Tomorrow,” Ray Palmer gave Nate a super-serum he took from a Nazi base when the team travelled in time to WWII. Ray tinkered with the serum before administering it to Nate when the latter was bleeding out after a fight in the episode titled “The Justice Society of America.” The serum not only gave Nate the power to transform into steel, but also cured his hemophilia.
Military serums are apparently the superhero drug of choice. In the MCU, plain old Steve Rogers became Captain America when he was given a super-soldier serum. His transformation in the lab was the money shot from “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Nate didn’t have to endure being strapped into a pressurized container and injected with a dozen needles, but the source of his Arrowverse powers came from serum, just like Captain America’s.
11. U.S. FLAG-THEMED WWII SUPERHEROES
Before there was Citizen Steel, there was Commander Steel. Hank Heywood, a Marine in WW II, became a superhero in “Justice League of America, Vol. 1 #2 by Gerry Conway and Chuck Patton, when he was rebuilt after being injured by a bomb. We met Commander Steel on “Legends of Tomorrow” when the team traveled back in time in the episode “Justice Society of America.” Nate was keen to meet Commander Steel because he was not only an American war hero, he was also Nate’s grandfather.
Commander Steel seems to be based on Marvel’s own American WW II hero. Captain America also wore a jumpsuit covered in patriotic symbols while fighting Nazis. Captain Rogers’ suit, mask and helmet have changed from movie to movie. In “Captain America: The First Avenger,” his khaki suit resembled a pilot’s, with some practical items thrown in. His latest jumpsuit, in “Captain America: Civil War,” was as practical as ever, decorated with a big star and red and white stripes. Like Cap, Commander Steel was known for fighting Nazis while wearing a mask and a strappy, patriotic jumpsuit.
10. WOMEN WHO INHERIT FAMILY MEMBER’S SUPER-MANTLES
A hero never dies. Well, they do, but their superhero alter egos usually live on. Sometimes a superhero’s costume and helpful gadgets are passed onto a team member. Sometimes the hero’s persona is passed onto a family member. During the credits of “Ant-Man,” we saw Hank Pym lead his daughter, Hope, to his basement lab where her mother’s Wasp suit was hanging on the wall. After she said, “It’s about damn time,” it’s pretty clear that Hope will suit up as the Wasp in the near future, and carry on her mother’s legacy.
Laurel Lance did the same thing for her sister on “Arrow.” After Sara died, Laurel began training in martial arts so that she could take her sister’s place as the Black Canary. She slipped on the black suit and eye mask, tied on the “canary cry” device, and joined Oliver and John Diggle, fighting criminals and villains in the streets of Star City.
9. TEAM LEADERS MISTAKENLY THOUGHT DEAD
Every superhero team has a leader, whether he’s appointed himself or he’s chosen by the group. Naturally, the Legends and the Avengers each have a team leader. What’s really coincidental is that both superhero groups have leaders who were presumed dead at one point. In “Captain America: The First Avenger,” Steve sacrificed his life for the greater good. He piloted his ship, which was carrying bombs targeting major U.S. cities, like New York, into the ice in order to save countless lives. However, in “The Avengers,” the Capsicle was thawed and recruited by Nick Fury.
On “Legends of Tomorrow,” Rip Hunter also sacrificed his life to save his crew in almost the same manner. He, too, steered his ship right into an atomic bomb so that his crew and the rest of New York City, coincidentally, would be saved. However, if the mid-season finale’s epilogue and CW’s mid-season trailer are to be believed, then Rip is alive again for the next several episodes. This time it’s time travel, not ice, that probably saved Rip.
8. HYPER-SMART FEMALE DOCTORS WITH POWERS
The Arrowverse has a heroic brainy female doctor on “The Flash,” just like “X-Men” had Dr. Jean Grey and “Fantastic Four” had Dr. Sue Storm. Jean Grey was the go-to physician in the first two X-Men movies. She regularly patched up Logan and assisted Professor Xavier, when she wasn’t using her telepathic powers to, you know, destroy the world. Sue Storm was a brilliant genetic scientist in 2005’s “Fantastic Four.” She headed up genetic research for Doctor Doom when she wasn’t traveling through space or turning invisible. Both women were highly intelligent and very talented in their fields.
On “The Flash,” Caitlin Snow is also a highly-respected doctor. She is a bioengineer at S.T.A.R. Labs. Like Jean Grey and Sue Storm, she has a superpower. After The Flash reset the timeline, she gained the power to freeze stuff. In “Killer Frost,” the strength of her power became evident, as (like Jean Grey in “X-Men: The Last Stand”), she used her powers for evil. Luckily for Central City, Caitlin is currently a good guy again. She wears power-subduing bracelets so she won’t turn into Killer Frost, something she fears above all else.
7. STOP THE PRESSES!
Even superheroes have to pay the bills, which means they need a place to work. Writing a media company into a story is helpful in more than one way. It provides a place of employment and creates a way for the superhero’s good deeds (or mishaps) to be shared with the world at large. The Arrowverse took a page out of Marvel’s script to create a newspaper and multimedia company run by an abusive employer that does both.
In “Spider-Man,” J. Jonah Jameson presides over the newsroom at the “Daily Bugle.” He barks out orders to his reporters while railing against Spider-Man. His employees respect him and kind of fear him. Brusque manner aside, he must know what he’s doing to keep the “Daily Bugle” afloat.
The same goes for Cat Grant on “Supergirl.” She started out as a reporter at the “Daily Planet” and eventually founded CatCo Worldwide Media. She, too, was intimidating and a bully, but she knew what was best for the company. She even credited herself with naming Supergirl.
6. RADIATION + EXPLOSION = UNSTABLE SUPERHEROES
Folks in both the Arrowverse and the MCU depend on scientific geniuses to help figure out their gnarliest problems. These scientists are often also superheroes, thanks to being exposed to unhealthy radiation. Dr. Bruce Banner is the Avengers’ bespectacled scientist who can not only design artificial intelligence, but also collar Tony Stark when he gets overenthusiastic. Plus, he can turn into the rampaging Hulk, thanks to being exposed to gamma radiation.
On “The Flash,” Dr. Martin Stein was a physicist who wound up being one-half of a superhero. When the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator blew up, his molecules merged with Ronnie Raymond’s. Eventually, a nuclear blast separated them, and a special device allowed them to merge at will and become Firestorm. Plus, Dr. Stein’s impressive intelligence and work as a physicist made him Team Flash’s go-to scientist for a while.
After Ronnie died, Dr. Stein found he needed another person to merge with or else he would die. Enter Jefferson Jackson, his new partner. The two of them, and their alter ego Firestorm, now star on “Legends of Tomorrow.”
5. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU (IF YOU HAVE POWERS)
Where there are super-powered people, there must be an agency of secret operatives to keep tabs on them, as well as cage them when they get out of control. Marvel has the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division — or S.H.I.E.L.D. “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” details the agency’s attempts to rein in Hydra and keep the peace between humans and Inhumans. S.H.I.E.L.D. also has a starring role in the Avengers movies.
“Supergirl” has its own secret organization to deal with aliens and other super-human threats. It’s called the Department of Extra-Normal Operations. The D.E.O.’s agents dress in all in black and use tasers to subdue their targets, just like S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. And just like S.H.I.E.L.D. has their Advanced Threat Containment Units that can transform to counteract whatever abilities its prisoner possesses, the D.E.O. has special, clear units that can contain aliens and metahumans, no matter what powers they might have. Both agencies are funded by the government, and known to the public, even though their specific missions are kept secret.
4. STRAIGHT OUT OF AFRICA
In Season 4 of “Arrow,” Oliver called on an old friend, Mari McCabe, to help him fight Damien Darhk. Vixen and her African Tantu Totem were especially helpful in fighting Darhk, who had his own mystical totem that was the source of his power. She called on the animal spirits and destroyed it. Before her guest appearance on “Arrow,” the CW gave Mari McCabe her own animated series on CW Seed. On the “Vixen” cartoon, it was explained to us that the Arrowverse version of Mari was raised in Detroit by foster parents since she was a baby.
Prior to Vixen’s move to “Legends of Tomorrow,” Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” was released. That movie was the first time audience’s got to see Black Panther in action. T’Challa has the abilities and fighting prowess of a black panther, an animal spirit that is revered as a god in his fictional African country of Wakanda.
Is it a coincidence that after Black Panther made his debut, and Marvel announced they were developing a Black Panther movie, that the CW switched up the Vixen character for “Legends of Tomorrow?” Instead of Mari McCabe, it is her African ancestor, Amaya Jiwe, who wears the totem and calls herself Vixen while fighting alongside American superheroes (the Justice Society originally, but now the Legends).
3. COSMIC RAYS GIVE EVERYBODY POWERS
Sometimes superheroes are born, sometimes they’re made. Marvel is full of superheroes who gained their powers after being hit by cosmic blasts. The Fantastic Four, specifically, were changed from human to superhuman after being in the wrong place at the wrong time while in outer space. The cosmic rays they encountered altered their molecular make-up in both the 2005 and 2015 Fantastic Four origin movies.
The Arrowverse is full of superheroes who also got their powers after being blasted by cosmic radiation. Rather than being transformed by energy in outer space, the metahumans on “The Flash” were created after the particle accelerator exploded, sending a shock-wave of energy throughout the area. Although the comic book version of The Flash got his super-speed from just a bolt of lightning, the CW’s version was boosted by the particle accelerator’s explosion. Of course, Barry wasn’t the only superhero created that day. His friends got jacked too, because like the Fantastic Four, superheroes work better when they’re a team.
2. KILLER INSTINCTS
One of the most valuable team members on “Arrow” is the Black Canary. In Season 2, Sara Lance returned from the dead as the Black Canary, dressed all in black leather and wielding a staff. She had previously been brainwashed and trained by the League of Assassins. She showed up in Star City with serious hand-to-hand combat skills and a headache from trying to find her moral compass again.
“Arrow’s” Black Canary sounds a lot like Marvel’s Black Widow. As she revealed in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Black Widow was brainwashed and trained to be a Russian spy and an assassin. She also struggles with her identity as a hero, who mostly feels like a villain. She’s a strong martial arts fighter, just like the Black Canary. Both women are also reformed, first killing people for the groups that trained them, then becoming a hero and saving people.
1. MULTI-BILLION-DOLLAR SUPER-SUIT USERS
The most obvious, and possibly most egregious, way that the Arrowverse copied the Marvel movies is in the portrayal of Ray Palmer, the Atom. On “Arrow,” and now “Legends of Tomorrow,” he looks a lot like Iron Man. Tony Stark is a genius scientist, whose tech innovations make him billions. He invented a metal suit that allows him to fly and blast away enemies. His Iron Man suit also protects him from bullets and other attacks.
Ray Palmer’s superhero is nearly a carbon copy of Iron Man. Originally, in “Showcase” #34 by Gardner Fox, Gil Kane, Murphy Anderson and Julius Schwartz, Ray Palmer was a college professor who discovered how to shrink himself. He used matter from a white dwarf star to create a belt that would let him shrink down to the size of an ant. However, the Arrowverse version of Ray Palmer and the Atom is much more like Marvel’s billionaire superhero than the shrinking college professor. Ray may be a lot less rude than Tony, but otherwise he’s pretty much the same thing, as the CEO of a cutting-edge multi-billion-dollar global corporation who flies around in a red metal suit.
Have you seen any other similarities between the Arrowverse and the MCU? Tell us in the comments!
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