This week, The CW announced that they were renewing the entire slate of Arrowverse shows, Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow for new seasons next year, joining Jane the Virgin, My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Supernatural.
It shouldn’t be a huge surprise, given that all four of these shows routinely outperform everything else on the channel, and as I remarked last year, each of them has been doing incredibly well in their respective seasons this year. What was a bit unexpected was the announcement that Constantine would join the CW line-up of shows, albeit as an animated series on CW Seed. It disappointed some who thought the CW might pick up the entire show that NBC discarded, but it should please fans that star Matt Ryan is voicing Constantine, and surely the character will be appearing in the flesh in other CW shows. CW Seed’s last Arrowverse outing, Vixen, ended up not just guesting on Arrow, but becoming a regular on Legends of Tomorrow this season.
Still, it raises the issue, is it possible for The CW’s Arrowverse to continue to grow at this point with four shows now in its quiver? Obviously, there are still major DC characters missing from the roster, but I have to wonder if the universe has hit a logical limit.
This might be the “sweet spot” for DC TV, given that adding any more shows to the Arrowverse would not just stretch the budget of the network, but the patience of fans. Keeping track of four shows in a given week (plus other superhero shows geeky fans might be keeping up with on other channels) is already a tall order, and adding another to the mix might be too much of a good thing. Before this, the fate of the Arrowverse seemed a little unstable with Arrow dragging last year and The Flash repeating itself and the fate of Supergirl unknown on CBS, but this year, the four shows have been working like a well-oiled machine, creating a more interesting JLA-type formation than what we’re seeing out of Zack Snyder’s big budget Hollywood outings.
If The CW Arrowverse was to expand again, it would be a little hard to know which direction it might go, as it’s run into a few limits with certain DC properties.
Superman – He’s been introduced on Supergirl, at last, which has been a long time coming, but now that’s sort of put the character in a box. A Superman show would feel more than a little unnecessary when Kara already sort of exists as the Superman of this team, so it seems like he has to effectively remain a supporting character in this world, as weird as that may sound.
Batman – Gotham is kind of the elephant in the room at this point, the one piece of the DC TV puzzle that doesn’t really fit, given the difference in timeline, tone and channel. It seems unlikely that the Arrowverse would “adopt” Gotham into its family, given all that, and even if the show was cancelled, it would feel odd to immediately start up a new Batman series on The CW. Given DC’s tight control over Batman stories lately (no Harley Quinn/Joker allowed on CW or FOX, etc) due to their films, it feels like it’s Gotham or nothing.
Wonder Woman – I remember a long while back there were rumblings of “Amazon,” a sort of “young Wonder Woman” type idea for a CW show that ultimately never materialized. Out of every possible addition to the CW universe, this seems like the most viable. There is no female-led Arrowverse show right now (you could argue Sarah Lance leads Legends of Tomorrow lately, but it’s still an ensemble) so this would be a nice addition. With that said, again, five shows would be a lot, and this would compete directly with DC trying to make WW happen for the first time onscreen.
Green Lantern – Hah, I remember a while back when there were rumors that DC was setting up Arrow’s John Diggle to become the Green Lantern someday. That would be sort of awesome, but I highly doubt it will happen. DC is still reeling from Ryan Reynolds’ Lantern, and will try to have a do-over on film in a few years in the form of Green Lantern Corps. But for TV? I just don’t see a show that revolves around never-ending CGI ring projections being in the budget.
Aquaman – If there’s no budget for a Green Lantern show, imagine trying to film something in an underwater kingdom. Also Aquaman still isn’t cool until Jason Momoa proves otherwise.
The rest of the JLA – A ton of other JLA members have already shown on in the Arrowverse in supporting roles, Martian Manhunter, The Atom, Zatanna, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Firestorm. It’s hard to imagine any getting their own show, past what we’ve seen in the Legends of Tomorrow ensemble.
In short, the only addition to the CW universe at this point that I can see making much sense would be a Wonder Woman offering, but even that is rife with its own kinds of challenges. And given how much DC dislikes overlapping its movie and TV series, despite their separate universes, it’s hard to imagine this coming to life when Gal Gadot is just about to find her footing in her own feature.
I rarely like to argue for the status quo, but in this case, with each of these current shows performing well both ratings-wise and creatively, I think the Arrowverse is actually right where it needs to be at the moment.
In related news, have I told you about my dream of a CW Xavier’s School for the Gifted show?
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