Arrow came out in 2012 swinging; it took what many assumed was a goofy Robin Hood knock-off and infused it successfully with a gritty Nolan-esque aesthetic. It was the first TV show to really get superheroes right on the small screen in the modern age, with it greatly responsible for starting the endless fad of comic book shows we're still in the midst of. More importantly, it also created the connected CW DC Universe known as the Arrowverse.
Yet, The Flash, which was a minor spin-off, has managed to greatly surpass Arrow over the years. Now, with Arrow coming to close with Season 8, what better time to analyze just what makes Barry Allen the best?
10 Special Effects
When it comes to special effects, frankly, the Speedster is heads above Oliver Queen. Sure, Arrow has never been an effects-heavy show, instead proudly taking Batman Begins' grounded angle with an emphasis on stunt work over effects. Yet, when it does delve into showy set-pieces, it feels very network TV-ish.
The Flash, on the other hand, has visual effects that impress to the point of rivalling some cinematic productions -- with a high budget and massively impressive showdowns that have rarely let the audience down.
When it comes to respecting the superheroes legacy -- both from the comics and the small screen -- The Flash is the way superior show. Arrow has given plenty of juicy nods to its comic book backlog, yet it has also played fast and loose with plenty of the characters milestone attributes.
The Flash instead revels in its past in tasty ways; readapting iconic storyline from the page into strong season arcs, or filling its supporting cast with honored actors from the underrated '90s TV show (e.g. John Wesley Ship as Barry's dad). It's clearly apparent the showrunners are fans of the character past and present.
8 No Flashbacks
It's baffling to think another show would naively throw themselves into the same hole that Lost infamously created for themselves, with episodic flashbacks -- yet Arrow managed to do just that. Like Lost, it started well; the island flashback structure was initially an interesting tool that helped fill in Queen’s backstory while throwing us plenty of plot twists.
Yet by Season 3 it became a painful obligation that contradicted plot points or was just plain boring. The Flash quite cleverly didn't touch that idea with a ten-foot pole and is much stronger for it.
7 Better Rogues Gallery
No doubt that Slade Wilson is one of the best villains in any of the CW DC shows. Malcolm Merlyn is no slouch either -- although he's since become a bit of an anti-hero -- yet besides from those two star examples, Arrow can't really compare to The Flash's rogues gallery. Don't believe us?
Just look at Zoom, King Shark, Grood, Captain Cold and Heat Wave. How about Mark Hamill returning as The Trickster? And, most importantly the best Arrowverse villain; the Reverse-Flash. There's just no arguing with that.
6 Lead Actor
Stephen Amell certainly looks the part of a superhero and when it comes to action he's one heck of a performer. And while you could never call him a bland actor, he is maybe a little limited. Grant Gustin as the Flash, on the other hand, is one versatile dude; funny, charming, likeable and impressively dramatic -- he's the full package.
Certainly, the character pushed our tolerance during Season 3's mopey arc, yet that was due to the writing and not Gustin's reliable work, where he always does his best even with the silliest of plot turns.
5 Crazy Time Travel
Arrow never lied about the type of show it wanted to be; a grounded Batman Begins style take on Green Arrow -- yet, an aesthetic based in the real-world has limited it to be flexible and inventive with its formula (and let's not bring up flashbacks as an example please).
Not the case with The Flash, with its crazy time loops, parallel universes and flipping the predictable on its head leading to the birth of the most clever and compelling storyarcs within the Arrowverse to date.
No one can fault Arrow when it comes to its action -- there is a great stunt team and main cast that give their all when asked. Yet, it's also something that displays its TV network's rough edges -- with the coverage being the usual two-angle and shaky cam set-up that we're used to seeing with the territory.
The Flash actually holds itself in higher esteem in this department; its effects and big set-pieces manage to surpass its TV roots and would feel easily at home on the cinema screen when it comes to effects, stunts and bombastic excitement.
3 Embraces Its Comic Book Roots
Arrow came out at a time when the Nolan approach to superheroes was in vogue. In fact, blatantly embracing its source material almost felt like a dirty word -- and for the most, it shows.
Comic Book adaptations have changed since the rise of the MCU and The Flash is fully onboard. It not only wears its source material proud but has delved into adapting classic storylines from the comic page into some crazy good season arcs that have stood as some the Arrowverse's best moments.
2 Remembers To Have Fun
Even in its strongest season -- and no doubt, the show has had some top-notch ones -- Arrow has suffered ever so slightly from taking itself way too seriously. The morose tone, serious faces and a grim synth soundtrack don't help, and sure Felicity was certainly the one cheery aspect in the darker arcs, but they even managed to turn that around on occasion.
The Flash has managed (Season 3 notwithstanding) to remember to not forget the vital element of why most watch these type of shows -- to have fun, and because it can deliver that in spades when it wants to.
1 A Better Ensemble
Stephen Amell is a likeable lead, yet the need for a supporting cast to balance out the show became apparent during Season 1. Yet, Team Arrow almost became a running joke of how ridiculously overstuffed it became. Not to mention, a lot of the members were just not very interesting.
On the other hand, The Flash has some heavy hitters on the ensemble. Cisco is a great comedy sidekick with plenty of warmth and pathos, Catlin is a strong and worthy counterpart too. And that's before we get to the fascinating and unpredictable Dr. Harrison Wells. Overall, it's just way more muscular in comparison.