If we’re in a golden age for television, we must be in something like a platinum age for comic-book TV shows. Dark vigilante shows Arrow and Daredevil kicked off TV-sized universes for DC and Marvel respectively. While Marvel’s seems to be disintegrating under the weight of Netflix and Disney’s competition, DC and Warner Bros. long ago shed their fear of a multi-verse and, in this year’s Elseworlds crossover on The CW, even embraced it. DC has films, network television shows, and streaming shows that are all doing their own thing. At the core of all this, though, is the Arrowverse. This week, Arrow was greenlit for an eighth season, and it’s hard not to take notice that some of the shows are aging and that things will have to change.
The CW network is aware of this. CW President Mark Pedowitz said recently that shows “will age, and we want to get onto the next generation of shows to keep the CW DC universe going for as long as possible.”
So where do things go next? The renewal of Arrow throws a wrench into one of the biggest theories about the 2019 crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths. Pedowitz acknowledged that it’s highly likely the crossover would feature a major character death, though that death may not be in complete lockstep with the 1985 comic mini-series. Elseworlds strongly hinted that Oliver Queen put himself in the line of the cosmic bullet to make sure that the younger, more powerful superheroes, the Flash and Supergirl, wouldn’t be the ones dropped by the coming crisis. Fan theories have also suggested that Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman might end up under the gun. He’s been well-received by fans but doesn’t have his own show, which would make him easy to kill off without disrupting the CW ratings machine.
But something still has to change. Oliver Queen can only fire so many arrows. Even the Flash is into its fifth season.
Pedowitz says that the CW DC universe hasn’t “hit that saturation point” just yet, and that there’s room for more shows. The Batwoman series is likely to get greenlit after her strong reception during Elseworlds, bringing the total up to six.
There’s still tons of DC to mine, though, especially now that Batwoman has kicked the doors to Gotham City wide open. Even if the CW didn’t do a Batman show – which it should – a Nightwing show feels like an obvious choice. Batgirl is out there, too. A crisis even could rewrite character identities and let a new actor take over for Keiynan Lonsdale as Wally West, who has distanced himself from the role, which would let the Flash go on without Grant Gustin. Heroes with multiple identities like the Flash and Robin are perfect entries into creating ongoing series that aren’t necessarily tied to one star as one hero, though the latter is obviously wrapped up in the DCU’s Titans show at the moment. A Green Lantern show is a tall order in the VFX department, but it’s not altogether impossible considering some of the genuinely impressive work the CW has done with all-CG characters like Martian Manhunter, Gorilla Grodd and King Shark.
Heroes like Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Doctor Fate, and The Question are all up for grabs – not to mention that I’d rather see Hoechlin’s Superman get his own show rather than bite it in a crossover.
One thing that all of DC’s disparate live-action universes have going for them is that they’re all under the Warner umbrella. Where Marvel’s Netflix shows were Marvel branded but licensed, The CW is a Warner network, just like DCU. Logistics are a more likely hurdle than licensing complications when it comes to having Dick Grayson pop up on Batwoman.
Arrow is going to have to hang up his hood soon. If I had to hazard a guess, I don’t think Arrow’s season is going to be a full-length one, but rather serious prep for a grand exit this fall. All this leaves me eager to see where DC and the CW will go next. Because really, the sky is the limit. While Batwoman is predicated on the idea that Batman has left the city, there’s no reason Batman and Batwoman couldn’t exist together, With Supergirl introducing Lex Luthor this season, that could certainly be preparation for a Superman show. Those things seem unlikely, but so did the idea of a Green Arrow show not only working, but spawning five other superhero shows.
The CW needs to keep moving, but the network’s own president is acknowledging that, which points to a bright future for CW’s superhero shows. The network has found a successful formula that it can keep fresh by going after both niche heroes and fan favorites in equal number. There’ll be a day when the CW presses pause on these shows, but it seem like we have a little while yet.
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