The future of the Arrowverse

 How 2021 is shaping up for the DC superhero TV universe on the CW.

I’ve already taken a look at what I think the future AKA the year 2021 will be for Nintendo and the MCU. Now, it’s time for DC’s TV universe: the Arrowverse. I feel that 2021 is going to be a very integral year for the Arrowverse. Why? Because you can start to see the writing on the wall that the Arrowverse itself is (at the very least) at the beginning of the end. 

Let’s dive into why I think that is and what the Arrowverse itself is doing for the 2021 TV season.

The Arrowverse in 2020

To begin, 2021 will have to some catchup in regards to the previous TV season. Due to the pandemic, the Flash, Supergirl and Batwoman all ended their seasons early. Legends of Tomorrow and Black Lightning finished filming before the pandemic hit, so there 2020 seasons were unaffected by it. As such, their storylines still have to come to an end. For the Flash, showrunner Eric Wallace has already commented on how he plans to finish the story from season 6. The first few episodes of season 7 will conclude the Mirror Master arc, give Ralph Dibny his send-off after Hartley Sawyer’s sacking, and then move on to a new storyline. We don’t know a heck of a lot of details about the season 7 story yet except the aforementioned details, that the ‘real’ Godspeed will appear and that the season will be divided up into ‘Graphic Novels’ like season 6 was.

For Supergirl and Batwoman, the situations for the new season will be quite different. With Supergirl, the upcoming 6th season will be its lasts. It’s not too big of a surprise if you ask me. Supergirl’s ratings and have been going down over time. Last season was also not received all that well critically. The central message of the dangerous of technologies, humanities over-reliance on it and getting lost in the digital world came out at a time in which we were all forced to rely heavily on tech and said tech was the only way we could keep in contact with our friend and family. In other words: bad timing. Then there is also the upcoming Superman TV show. Let’s be honest here, Superman is just a much bigger character then Supergirl. There’s a high chance that the Superman & Lois show will overshadow Supergirl. Ending it before such a thing can happen at least lets Supergirl go out with dignity. Due to the pandemic and Mellisa Benoist's pregnancy, the season will start much later in the year. We’ll thus have to wait a while to see how the final season shapes up, as it's so far away the CW hasn’t revealed anything about it yet.

In a similar boat as Supergirl is Black Lightning: its upcoming 4th season will also be its lasts. This has, I think at least, everything to do with the ratings. Black Lightning’s ratings have been very bad during season 3. The season never managed to crack the Million mark in live viewers. The season was already facing budget cuts, no doubt in part due to its lower ratings and the expenses of filming not in Vancouver but in Georgia. That’s another obstacle, another reason why I feel that it got cancelled. Unlike the other shows, it never really felt like a part of the wider Arrowverse. It was set on a different earth for starters. Unlike Supergirl, it also never crossed over or referenced any of the other shows until Crisis on Infinite Earths. Even in that crossover, Black Lightnings role was minimal. An obstacle created by the different shooting locations which make crossovers more difficult and expensive to shoot. The fourth season will be very interesting in that it will feature a backdoor pilot for a potential new spin-off, though more on that later.

The weird position of Batwoman

The second season of Batwoman might as well be the first season of a new show. Ruby Rose, after only one season as Kate Kane, left the show. She just couldn’t get used to the often intense shooting schedule of the show. The back injury she suffered early on in filming didn’t help the matter either I can imagine. Instead of a simple recast, the CW has opted to give the mantle of Batwoman to an entirely new character. Javicia Leslie’s brand new Ryan Wilder. While most of the supporting cast has stayed the same, the new lead will no doubt change the feel of the show. With how the first season underperformed and all the talk of the producers about how excited they are that they get to create an entirely new character for the Batwoman mantle, I’m quite certain that season 2 will feel quite different from the first. If this new Batwoman will strike a chord with fans and make the series a success is something we’ll have to wait and see but one thing is certain: Batwoman season 2 is going to be quite interesting to see unfold. Buzz and reviews from the premiere is positive toward Javicia Leslie's Ryan Wilder, but the rest of the season feels very much like the 'meh' of the first season. We'll just have to wait and see if this is a trend that continues throughout the 2nd season.

New VS Old.

Losing out the upcoming seasons of the current crop of shows is my favourite of them all: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. The weirdest (and that’s a compliment) off all of the Arrowverse shows, the 6th season of the show is set to debut sometime in the mid-season as always and will this time focus on aliens. Supergirl is a show that deals with aliens and is set to air in the mid-season as well. Will there be a crossover? A man can dream! Anywho, there’s not a that much to talk about with Legends besides that. No shortened season, no cancellation no nothing. I am worried about one thing with the show though: that this season will be its lasts. Legends have never been the best performing show in its live viewership, but its performance with DVR, the good ranking in demographic in the critical reception is what I feel has kept it on the air for so long. This won’t last forever though and I do fear that the shows time will come to an end soon.

All right, so far for all of the current shows. Well most of them. There’s also Stargirl but its not technically a part of the Arrowverse so I’m not discussing that shows upcoming 2nd season in length. This mention is all you’re going to get. Now on to all of the new Arrowverse shows that are currently in multiple stages of development. The only one of these that we know for certain will be gracing our screens is the earlier mentioned Superman & Lois show. It will focus on Clark and Lois as they move from Metropolis to Smallville with their two teenage sons. I don’t know how the show will turn out. Focusing on Clark and Lois as parents is certainly an interesting premise, but the promotional material has been more miss than hit. The official character descriptions read like your typical ‘CW drama tropes’ and the first trailer has not been received well by fans. Oh well. The show will grace the screens only a month from now in February, so we don’t have to wait long to see how it’ll turn out.

Then there are three other superhero shows that the CW has currently in development. The aforementioned Black Lightning spin-off Painkiller and the new Wonder-Girl show. From these shows, I feel that Wonder-Girl has the biggest chance to make it to series. Its set to star the new Future State Wonder Woman Yara Flor whose issue is at the time of this writing out, but haven’t had the chance to read yet. I thus don’t really know anything about her yet, but what I do know is that she is the most anticipated addition of Future State. From all of the new legacy characters revealed for Future State, she’s the one with the most buzz around it. Wonder Woman is very popular in the South American market so introducing a new Wonder Woman that’s from that reason specifically is a smart move business-wise. She also has a lot of potential, potential that could translate to a TV series. It would also be able to take the place that Supergirl currently has. A female-lead superhero show whose primary audience is women. Green Arrow and the Canaries was also a spin-off in development, but the CW officially passed on that project two weeks ago. Painkiller I don’t know enough of, I don’t know a lot about Black Lightning in general, but I don’t think that a backdoor pilot from an already ‘failing’ show will have great chances either.

Naomi and Green Lantern

And I’m now realizing that I’m forgetting a project! Just last month, it was announced that Brian Michael Bendis’s Naomi has also entered the first stages of development for a show on the CW. However, I don’t think we’ll really hear or see anything from that project for a while. It’s more of a 2022 thing if you ask me. I’m excited about it, I really liked the Naomi comic series, but I’m not expecting it anytime soon.

Alright, starting to come to the end here. There are really only two more points worth talking about. The annual crossover and John Diggle actor David Ramsey. After the massive affair that was Crisis on Infinite Earths, the CW is taking it slow with this year's crossover. It’ll be a crossover between Batwoman and Superman with perhaps a few characters from the other shows popping by. My expectation is that it’ll be a ‘Worlds Finest’ thingy. With maybe a little of Arrow’s John Diggle thrown in? At least, those where my thoughts. In the time between of me writing those sentences and you, dear reader, reading them the annual crossover has officially been cancelled. It is yet another victim of the pandemic. With Arrow ending, people have been wondering if any of its characters might show up in other shows going forward. The only that has been confirmed to be doing this is John Diggle. Everybody’s favourite family man is set to appear in one episode of the Flash, Batwoman, Supergirl and Superman next season. David Ramsey himself will also direct five episodes in the Arrowverse. But here’s the kicker: David Ramsey will also appear in an episode of Legends but not as John Diggle. What character could that be? Well, many people (me included) think that it might have something to do with his final appearance on Arrow. In the final episode of that show teased John becoming Green Lantern, a fan theory since Arrow’s first season that the show has teased in its later seasons. Could this mystery character be John STEWART? We don’t know, but I sure hope so!

Will we finally see the Arrowverse follow up on this Green Lantern tease?

And now, we’ve finally come to the end. My final remark about the future of the Arrowverse. I still have that opening remark hanging the air and now it’s time to address it. I feel that the end of the Arrowverse is nearing. Many of its shows are ending in rapid succession. First Arrow, now Supergirl and Black Lightning. There’s a high chance that Legends will end after its upcoming season as well and Batwoman’s longevity is solely dependant on how well season 2 performs. The CW has plenty of new shows on the horizon, but the Arrowverse we know will never be the same again. These shows are also facing stiff competition and not just from Marvel. Warner Bros is eying HBO Max as a platform for many new Superhero shows. Shows that will tie-in directly with the movies (ala MCU) and with much bigger budgets behind them. These shows could simply be so much better than those of the Arrowverse that they will bury them outright. A dour prospect, but, nothing lasts forever. The end of the Arrowverse will come at some point. And hey: maybe these new shows and a different approach to them might breath fresh air into the universe and keep it on the air for more years to come.

However, it’ll shape up we still have one more TV season of DC Superhero goodness on the CW to look forward to. Whichever way it might go however I know one thing: I’ll be sure to enjoy the upcoming season of my favourites show as much as possible and I recommend you to do the same.