The Superhero Game is Changing

The Changing CW and the Functional End of the Arrowverse

With recent announcements out of both the CW (no longer controlled by CBS and WB but, instead, owned by Nexstar Media Group) and the WB (really, WB Discovery), we can now state, definitively, that the ArrowverseWhen it was announced that the CW was creating a show based on the Green Arrow, people laughed. The CW? Really? Was it going to be teen-oriented like everything else on the network and be called "Arrow High"? And yet that one show, Arrow has spawned three spin-offs, various related shows and given DC a successful shared universe, the Arrowverse on TV and streaming. is well and truly dead. This was all but assured after a number of high profile shows were canceled: Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Batgirl, followed by the announcement that The Flash would be ending with its ninth season. All that, plus the low-key ending for Black Lightning, the failure of related show Naomi to gain an audience, and then the surprise cancellation more recently of Stargirl, meant that there was little chance the 'verse was continuing on past next year.<

Frankly, just how much of the Arrowverse would remain once The Flash ended? Superman & Lois, which now doesn't take place on the same Earth as the rest of the franchise, and that previously announced but maybe already scrapped Justice U? Don't get me wrong, I love that SupermanThe first big superhero from DC Comics, Superman has survived any number of pretenders to the throne, besting not only other comic titans but even Wolrd War II to remain one of only three comics to continue publishing since the 1940s. show and would happily watch many more seasons of it, but I think we have to admit even Superman & Lois isn't going to be around for much longer.

Much of that is because of the shake-up happening over at WB Discovery. CEO Zazlav got his creative team together of James Gunn and Peter Safran to remake the DC Extended UniverseStarted as DC Comics' answer to the MCU, the early films in the franchise stumbled out of the gates, often mired in grim-dark storytelling and the rushed need to get this franchise started. Eventually, though, the films began to even out, becoming better as they went along. Still, this franchise has a long way to go before it's true completion for Marvel's universe.. Reportedly the plan is to unify everything together, from movies to animated films, video games, and crucially, television. Whatever shape the DCEU takes, the Arrowverse didn't fit into that plan. If there can only be one Superman, as Zazlav has said in the past, it will be whatever version appears on the big screen and, great as he is in the role, it doesn't sound like Tyler Hoechlin's Big Blue will be that guy.

At one point the argument could have been made that despite Nexstar CW getting rid of all the shows from the old library that they had to pay for -- not just the Arrowverse but apparently everything else in the stable is on the chopping block, from the new and successful Supernatural prequel, to Legacies, Nancy Drew, and everything else that defined the modern CW -- shows like Superman & Lois could have been saved by MaxThe oldest and longer-running cable subscription service, HBO provides entertainment in the force of licensed movies along with a huge slate of original programming, giving it the luster of the premiere cable service. Now known primarily for its streaming service, Max.. That shows episodes were streaming on HBO Max days after they debuted, so it seemed like a natural fit... right up until Zazlav came in.

Remember Zazlav is the guy that unceremoniously got rid of Batgirl right when the film was nearly done, along with a bunch of other programming he didn't want to pay for. The idea that his version of the company would save a CW-level series from destruction is laughable. He wants "One Vision of DC" and everything Arrowverse clearly stands outside of that vision. It's just not going to happen.

A few months back it was announced that Jordan Elsass would be leaving is role as Johnathan Kent on Superman & Lois. This was reportedly due to mental heath issues he wanted to work through, and I have no doubt that was part of the issue. Being on a long-running show can be stressful. At the same time, though, you have to think he saw the writing on the wall. If he had a chance to flee a dying show maybe he too the opportunity. Get out while you can and head for greener pastures.

Those greener pastures aren't in the "Snyderverse" version of the DCEU, mind you. New reports are making it sound more and more like the upcoming The Flash film will be less of a restart for the franchise then an end to it. A cameo filmed by Henry Cavill as his Superman is rumored to be on the chopping block, because Gunn and Safran don't want to reuse his version of the character going forward. >Black Adam didn't make enough at the Box Office to warrant a sequel, and Wonder Woman 1984 was panned so hard that it's three-quel is not dead as well. All the plans for the DCEU are scrapped. The few films still attached will likely come out and, barring some sudden massive hit, that will probably be it.

Clearing the board makes sense for Gunn and Safran. Get the last seasons of the Arrowverse out the doors and turn off the lights for those shows. All the contracts are up, the network hosting them doesn't want them anymore, so it's a nice, easy way to end the 'verse quietly. Meanwhile, the movies on the DECU side can be either released or canned, depending on how far along they were (or, in the case of Batgirl, canned despite how far along it was), and that side of the mega-franchise can be wound down as well. It's not like the Marvel Cinematic UniverseWhen it first began in 2008 with a little film called Iron Man no one suspected the empire that would follow. Superhero movies in the past, especially those not featuring either Batman or Superman, were usually terrible. And yet, Iron Man would lead to a long series of successful films, launching the most successful cinema brand in history: the Marvel Cinematic Universe. with eight things on the release schedule (between movies and shows) per year. DC can wind down quickly and there isn't much that has to be shelved.

And thus whatever Gunn and Safran have planned can be ramped out with an open schedule and a free hand. I'm sure there are fans that will be disappointed, both on the Arrowverse side as well as with the "Snyderverse" faithful. There are those that were desperate for Zack Snyder's next two Justice LeagueThe premiere team at DC Comics, their version of the Avengers (which actually came before the Avengers and, really, has existed in some fomr since the early 1940s), the Justice League is the team-up to end all team-ups, featuring some of the most popular, and longest running, characters in all of comics history (and also Booster Gold). films, but frankly the rest of the world should breathe a sigh of relief we don't have to suffer through that. I liked his four hour Justice League and I still don't want to see his sequels. If I'm one of the DC faithful and I want away from that, and I can't be the only one, that gives you all the evidence you need to show why DC is clearing their board.

Financially and creatively these decisions make sense. But it does mean that, after next season, the Arrowverse will be well and truly gone. An eleven year franchise on TV that featured seven main shows, two side shows (counting Constantine), two animated web series, and massive amount of crossovers; the likes of this TV universe likely won't be seen again. Only Marvel can compete for ambition and they had to build their shows into the main MCU to give them a chance. DC and the CW built something special here and, whatever your thoughts on the 'verse might have been, you gotta respect what they managed to create.

So pour one out for the Arrowverse as it's clear at this point the party is well and truly over.