To many, as far as the quality of the content and the strength of its characters are concerned, the Arrowverse has been more successful than Warner Bros.’ DCEU. The CW’s expansive superhero franchise didn’t get to where it is without a few growing pains along way. Interestingly, some pains were inflicted by the very folks responsible for the source material the Arrowverse brings to the small screen. Fans need only recall the loss of the Suicide Squad in Arrow’s second season, which some contend set the series off course a bit, to see evidence of the ongoing push and pull. Apparently, there are, understandably, rules in need of following when it comes to the development of the shows.
As Arrowverse executives often remind curious fans, they’re merely “borrowing” DC characters. What one borrows can be effectively taken back upon the owner’s request. And borrowing is the very foundation upon which The CW franchise is built. However, it’s been known to not always act in everyone’s favor. The DCEU has claim of certain characters that the Arrowverse is not, or is no longer, allowed to feature. The list below notes 15 questionable restrictions regarding Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow.
15. THE SUICIDE SQUAD IS OFF-LIMITS
One of the Arrowverse’s more compelling storylines involves Task Force X. During Arrow’s sophomore season, Amanda Waller assembles a team of supervillains to carry out a deadly mission. Debuting the first live action Suicide Squad meant Arrow had a high bar to set. Fortunately, the series set it well. Unfortunately, the possibilities were halted; thus, the Squad didn’t get to live up to its fullest potential.
With the development of a theatrical Suicide Squad came news of Arrow’s having to ditch its own plans.
What’s odd is that as the show dismantled its version of the villainous team, another two years passed before these characters hit theaters. This is especially perplexing when we consider The Flash premiering days after the character’s announced to appear in the DCEU. If these decisions are made on a character-by-character basis, what makes some more eligible than others to feature in two franchises at once?
14. NAME-DROPPING BATMAN SEEMS FORBIDDEN
Batman is confirmed to exist on at least two Earths in the Arrowverse — Earth-1 and Supergirl’s Earth-38. The confirmations are never explicit, though. Superman having worked with a “brooding” vigilante and Oliver’s announcement that the title of Oracle is taken supplies plenty of implicit evidence. Yet, Batman himself has never been name-dropped, and, no, the recent Bruce Wayne nod doesn’t count.
With the debut of Superman in Supergirl’s second season premiere, confusion only doubled. Why is the Man of Steel allowed to feature in two different live action universes like The Flash? The general consensus posits the reasoning rests on money and/or legalities. Fox does own the television rights to the Dark Knight, after all. But, again, Bruce Wayne’s recent mention on Arrow leaves us collectively scratching our heads.
13. MIXED-MESSAGING ABOUT DEATHSTROKE
Arrow’s Deathstroke will be remembered beyond his time as one of the Arrowverse’s greatest villains. The reformed and troubled mercenary may go down as one of the better developed antagonists in genre television. However, there’s constantly trouble marring fans’ enjoyment of the Terminator.
More so than any other shared Arrowverse/DCEU character, the rules governing Deathstroke’s usage seem arbitrary.
After being locked away on Lian Yu in Arrow’s second season, Slade makes some unfavorable appearances in season three. Apparently, Arrowverse executives were told the mercenary was off-limits. Of course, his then hopeful appearance in the DCEU benched him on television. The fifth season sees him return in grand fashion and the show’s sixth run couldn’t have provided him a better send off. Again, thanks to big screen plans, Deathstroke is officially benched again on television. Unfortunately, the perplexing back and forth will probably never receive a genuine explanation.
12. DEADSHOT HAD TO BE KILLED OFF
Deadshot’s featured in less than a dozen episodes, but his time on the series is as memorable as any. Given a redemption arc courtesy of his recruitment into the Suicide Squad, the character’s story at least concludes in an appreciated manner. Floyd Lawton is seen twice more after his death in Arrow season three. His first post-death appearance is on The Flash’s Earth-2 episode, where Lawton is a meek detective and a terrible shot. Lastly, he pops up during Arrow’s fifth season, acting as an imprisoned Diggle’s subconscious.
Like others, his Arrowverse departure coincides with production of the live action Suicide Squad film. It’s hard to imagine the logistics behind what fuels such decisions. Yet, we’re left to wonder why he was killed off. Could he have received the Deathstroke treatment, allowing him to feature on television as the films permitted? An answer may never be given.
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