The DC television shows Arrow, The Flash, Super Girl, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, and Batman all share a common universe known as THE Arrowverse. The long-running franchise began in 2012, and it will come to an end with the premiere of the final season of Flash on February 8, 2023. Although the Arrowverse is coming to an end, the end of the original DCEU and the start of James Gunn’s new plans for an interconnected DCU have received more attention in the DC universe.
Even so, it would be a mistake to ignore the Arrowverse, as the series—more so than any comic books or DCEU attempts at interconnected movies—might have been one of the 2010s’ greatest boons for the DC brand.
The Arrowverse revolutionised superhero television, had an impact on both DC and Marvel, and made a number of characters well-known to general audiences who had previously only been known to comic book fans.
Before the Arrowverse, television was different, and DC’s various characters are the company’s overall brand, which is unquestionably in a much different place now. These are the top five ways the Arrowverse has had a significant impact.
Marked the beginning of a new era for superhero television-
At one point, the idea of superheroes appearing on television seemed risky. Now it’s hard to believe how much superhero media influences the public discourse. Despite being popular and running for 10 seasons, Smallville was the exception rather than the rule. The popular superhero TV series No Ordinary Family and The Cape were abruptly cancelled in the 2010–2011 TV season, which was also when Smallville came to an end. Meanwhile, David E. Kelly’s Wonder Woman was skipped.
When Arrow made its television debut in the 2012–2013 television season, it was such a success that in season two, the seeds of the Flash, which would air in the 2014–2015 television season, were planted. Around this time, Marvel established Agents of SHIELD and agreed to a deal with Netflix to produce Iron Fist, The Defenders, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Daredevil. Several films that had been in development for years as television projects, including Umbrella Academy and The Boys, were converted. Arrow and its many spin-off series contributed to establishing the viability of superhero stories in television as well as on the big screen.
A powerfully unified DC universe-
Eight months before Steel Man would kick off Warner Bros.’ plans for a shared cinematic universe of films called DCEU, The Arrowverse debuted with Arrow in October 2012. The Flash, Super Girl, and Legends of Tomorrow joined Arrow during the three years between Steel Man and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Following Black Lightning and Batgirl, fans had access to an entire interconnected universe of DC heroes on television that operated steadily as the DCEU’s film division struggled on.
It was possible for viewers to fully immerse themselves in this shared universe in a way that movies could never achieve thanks to the simultaneous airing of multiple television series with more than 20 episode seasons. Heroes, antagonists, and character relationships that pervaded the entire series were all present in the Arrowverse. The shared mythology and story between the shows gave the universe a fuller, more complex feel that rivalled the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Multiverse Was Helped to Integrate by the Arrowverse-
In 2014, the first episode of The Flash ended with a tease for an adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths. What at first seemed like a simple Easter egg turned into a significant plot device for the entire Arrowverse, not just the flash series.
The epic Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, which featured character cameos in a variety of DC adaptations including Lucifer and The Return of Superman, took place in 2016, when Supergirl was still airing on CBS. In that crossover, Barry Allen travelled from his universe to that of Supergirl. This helped popularise the idea of the multiverse. even the DCEU, Birds of Prey, and Adam West’s Batman.
The MCU’s Spider-Man: No Coming Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Oscar nominee Everything everywhere at once have made mainstream audiences quite accustomed to the multiverse, but the Arrowverse undoubtedly laid the foundation for it for those audiences, particularly younger viewers who tuned in to the Arrowverse series while streaming or streaming on Netflix.
Superhero stories that use progressive storytelling-
From the earliest Superman tales to the X-Men comics’ civil rights allegory, superhero stories have always had their roots in social change. While the MCU and DCEU movies have tried to advance in terms of socially progressive stories and excellent representation, it’s frequently been slower. This may be due to the length of time required to produce a movie, as well as the need for movies to appeal to as many viewers as possible, particularly those in foreign markets.
The Arrowverse, however, was ahead of the two shared universes in terms of portrayal and addressing social issues while the MCU and DCEU took their time, as the TV series cost less than the movies, allowing them to take more creative risks.
Super Girl was an allegory for immigration, xenophobia, and the influence of journalism during the Trump administration. Super Girl was a female superhero project that was released two years before wonder woman would be seen in theatres. For instance, the show debuted Dreamer, the first transgender superhero, who was so well-liked by fans that DC decided to include her in their comic books.
The Black Lives Matter movement in the real world and the role of police in these superhero tales were topics that were addressed by both The Flash and Batgirl. Before Black Panther debuted in theatres a few months later, Black Lightning was the star of his own television series. The first Muslim superhero was Zari Tomaz from the TV series Legends of Tomorrow. Batgirl debuted two queer superheroes at a time when neither the MCU nor the DCEU had thought to include one. The presence of people from all walks of life on the Arrowverse set gave it a more authentic feel and made it a welcoming environment for all viewers.
Promoted lesser-known figures and ideas-
It goes without saying that the sheer number of characters and ideas that the Arrowverse has popularised for general audiences may well be its greatest contribution to popular culture. Prior to the franchise, viewers may have had a general idea of who Green Arrow and The Flash were, but they probably weren’t familiar with their true identities or much of their mythology. They, their supporting players, and their villains are now well-known to audiences.
In the Arrowverse, heroes like Supergirl, Black Lightning, Batwoman, and many others have received unprecedented attention. The popularity of cult characters like Ragman, Vibe, Batwing, Brainiac-5, The Atom, and Vixen has greatly increased as a result of the Arrowverse.
Comic books and the overall perception of a character in popular culture are frequently influenced by TV shows. Due to their participation in the 1960s Adam West Batman series, the Penguin and the Riddler turned into recognisable Batman villains. The overall character and motivation of Mr. Freeze are based on his portrayal in Batman: The Animated Series. The public is most familiar with Static Shock thanks to its well-liked anime series. To see these characters in the Arrowverse has given life a whole new meaning.
DC always prioritised iconic characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman before the Arrowverse. But while the excellent Arrowverse was on television for a decade, audiences met a tonne of new characters who won them over and will keep them as fans for years to come.