The end of the Arrowverse
May 24, 2023 11:14 AM   Subscribe

The AV Club looks back at 11 years of interconnected DC superhero storytelling: With the series finale of The Flash on May 24, The CW’s ambitious and groundbreaking superhero saga known as The Arrowverse (first unofficially, then semi-officially) comes to an end. If not for the fact that it was focused on television, the Arrowverse would be regarded as one of the only cinematic universes beyond the MCU to actually work—and if you’re basing it on pure hours of content, the Arrowverse is completely unmatched.

For 11 years, the Arrowverse tied together one show, then two shows, then three shows, then four, five, sometimes six, then—once the multiverse was introduced in the Crisis On Infinite Earths crossover event—the entirety of all live-action DC superhero shows and movies that have ever been made. Michael Keaton’s Batman movie happened in the Arrowverse. The ’60s Batman show happened in the Arrowverse. Titans, Superman Returns, the 2002 Birds Of Prey show, NBC’s short-lived Constantine, Fox’s Lucifer, and Smallville all happened in the Arrowverse (at least on some level of its vast multiverse).

The Arrowverse has been a part of FanFare discussions for a long time--I could have sworn that there was a discussion about the first season of Arrow but it seems things kicked off late in season two--and that tradition continues until we're done rehashing the last episode of The Flash (which likely won't be today).

There are MeFites who have been part of the conversation since day one, and some MeFites who have left MetaFilter and others who have dropped off watching the shows as the quality dipped from their heydays (including season two of Arrow and season one of Flash). As a long-time participant, the community-discussion aspect was one of the best parts of the entire experience, and I'd like to say thanks to everybody who commented.

And for the rest of you--the people who have never seen these shows, or scoffed at them, that's fine. They're not for everybody, but they certainly don't deserve to be dismissed out of hand. Although there is a lot of bad in them (from acting to plotting to writing to some on-set abusive behaviour), there is also a lot of good in them, including some humour, some enjoyable musical moments, and some great storytelling that involves found families and diverse characters coming into the own.

*And before anybody says anything, yes I know the AV Club is anti-union, anti-writer and anti-worker. I stopped reading it when they moved offices without giving long-time employees good options for employment. Normally, I'd avoid linking to it, but this was the best article that I was able to find on the subject matter, and it kind of feels fitting as the website was, at one time, one of the best places to read reviews of the episodes.
posted by sardonyx (34 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The crossover between Supergirl and the Flash is one of my favorite episodes of TV ever. Kara's reaction to how Barry demonstrates his speed for the first time (by fetching ice cream) is great.

I fell off watching after a while just because I got distracted by other things, but I always appreciated what they were trying to do.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:19 AM on May 24 [17 favorites]

I fell off of Arrow around seasons 4/5 or maybe it was 5/6. Just never bothered with getting into the other shows as by then I was already knee-deep into the muck that is MCU and that's already one too many cinematic universes for me. But, agree completely with what fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit said, I appreciate what they were trying to do. Just too many things all at once. But huzzah for a weird experiment that worked pretty well from what little I've seen.
posted by Fizz at 11:29 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

Watching random episodes of Legends of Tomorrow, had the best, what, how are these on this moment. Still have not figured out the actual sequence of crossovers.
posted by sammyo at 11:34 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]

Had no idea they'd somehow looped the '60s Batman show into their continuity. Would love to hear how.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:49 AM on May 24

I used to love the Arrowverse shows but about the time my mom had her (eventually fatal) stroke in late 2017, I'd dropped out of watching most of them and since she died, I've never been able to consistently watch TV, not even my favorite (Doctor Who). I miss the Arrowverse, though, and maybe I should figure out how to catch up with Legends, which was my favorite.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 11:52 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

Artifice_Enternity: It's just a quick cameo (around the 1:15 mark), but it makes sense as part of the wider Crisis conceit (bad things happening to the multiverse).
posted by sardonyx at 11:56 AM on May 24 [4 favorites]

The Arrowverse was fun! It was a good time! But there were so many shows under its umbrella and I am now an occasional TV watcher at the best of times, so I ended up bouncing some time after the first Crisis crossover episodes. It was sensory and storyline overload.

Anyway, I still wish Grant Gustin was going to be the big screen Flash.
posted by Kitteh at 12:01 PM on May 24 [9 favorites]

And if you aren't watching Titans, give it a shot. It has the feel of the Arrowverse shows, but without having to fill out a full 22 episode season, so it doesn't get quite as thin. And every now and then you get a little bit of Doom Patrol. Just a taste.
posted by Kyol at 12:38 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

Yeah, generally there's just so much stuff on, I never got past about the first season of Supergirl, and there generally seems to be more fandom unpleasantness around DC stuff in general (the Olicity ship and drama around that, all the #releasethesnydercut bullshit) that I was a little reluctant to dive in. Maybe now that a lot of streaming services are cutting back on shows, I'll have the time to catch up on Legends of Tomorrow, which is supposed to be hella fun. I also give them credit for having fun with the multiverse concept before Marvel jumped on the bandwagon; there was a scene involving Brandon Routh and Brandon Routh that was great.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:45 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

From online, I gathered that:

Part 1: Supergirl s05e09
Part 2: Batwoman s01e09
Part 3: The Flash s06e09
Part 4: Arrow s08e08
Part 5: Legends of Tomorrow s05e01

Are there any other episodes that are vital for 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' ?
posted by porpoise at 12:46 PM on May 24

Shepherd finished out Legends and said it was a blast. It finally finds itself after the first two seasons and becomes a rollicking good time, apparently.

Also, can I say that Brandon Routh is a delight? He's in one of my fave personal categories: Attractive Men that Poke Fun at Themselves. I hear he's really lovely IRL.
posted by Kitteh at 12:50 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]

Did Titans get any better, Kyol? I gave up on it after season two (I think). I've been aware of some of what's happened, just via general news (introducing Tim, killing off a major character), etc. but nothing I saw really convinced me to give it another try.

Legends is absolutely a blast, Kitteh, once you get past the very awful and truly terrible season one. It really deserved a better ending than it got.

As for Crisis, I think you've got the full official run, porpoise. I can't recall what else might be helpful to see prior to that actual Crisis episodes themselves. I mean all the shows had Crisis build-ups where things started going badly as the red skies appeared, but nothing particular is coming to mind.
posted by sardonyx at 1:12 PM on May 24

Crisis on Earth-X is a much smaller crossover, but it's also a lot of fun. (Nazis crash a superhero wedding.)
posted by sardonyx at 1:28 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]

There were small nods to the upcoming Crisis seeded in to the end of the 2018-2019 seasons of all the Arrowverse shows. Apparently most of them were pretty dark except for Legends, which was a riot. (Naturally.) I would not view them as mandatory viewing before you see Crisis, but they're worth keeping an eye out for if you happen to be watching those seasons of those shows.
posted by rednikki at 1:32 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed the Arrowverse for quite a while, but fell off after Legends of Tomorrow ended. To me the tv shows were much better at capturing the episodic feel of comic books than big tentpole blockbuster movies, and the fact that there were crossovers just added to the fun.
posted by indexy at 1:34 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

I thought Titans got better as time went on, yeah? Honestly, I think the first two seasons were sort of hung up on introducing the team, and sort of the downside to a short season is that they end up being maybe a little overburdened. By the third season they're starting to get into actual superhero plots, for better or worse. I thought the 4th season was pretty fun though, but it has a lot of callbacks to the previous seasons that might leave you scratching your head if you skipped them.
posted by Kyol at 1:38 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

Are there any other episodes that are vital for 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' ?

Nope, those are the five you want.

FWIW, Crisis on Infinite Earths is during Flash S06, and if they wanted to, they could have shut down the Arrowverse after Flash S06E13 -- the finale of the Gorilla Grodd arc -- and I would have been more than happy.
posted by mikelieman at 3:00 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

I recently saw the trailer for the Flash movie and was (pleasantly) surprised to see Michael Keaton's (I'm) Batman appear.
posted by chavenet at 3:24 PM on May 24

The building I work in has been used as a set for many Arrowverse shows. It was always fun to see how they reimagine the space, usually as some evil villain's lair (it's an old factory that has some very decrepit corners).

The Arrow shoots had a reputation of being very nice to work with and also tended to break things. One time they drove a truck through a garage door for a Batgirl episode. It was fascinating to see them dismantle the real door, build a fake one, rehearse the shot over and over, and then put it all back by the next day.
posted by beepbeepboopboop at 3:43 PM on May 24 [9 favorites]

Grodd appeared in the Vampire Diaries spinoff series Legacies, so technically the Arrowverse also includes all of The Vampire Diaries continuity. Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen/Green Arrow from Arrow) also appeared as a werewolf in The Vampire Diaries.
posted by cruelfood at 3:50 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]

The other outside crossover that got a bit of attention was when a certain key member of the Supernatural team made an appearance on Legends.
posted by sardonyx at 4:46 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]

i still can't get past this moment of the grodd arc from the third season of legends of tomorrow, which did of course reference the flash.
posted by i used to be someone else at 5:24 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]

Yeah, for anybody who hasn't seen Legends, that is pretty much the epitome of Legends being Legends.
posted by sardonyx at 6:16 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]

The crossovers also featured Kevin Conroy doing a turn as an older Bruce Wayne.

Legends was certainly the most fun, but I really did like the positivity present in a lot of Supergirl. There was also a musical episode crossover with The Flash where Barry and Kara sing together and it's super dorky and cute (both actors are Glee alum, as well). Kara also does Moon River.
posted by Pryde at 7:36 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]

Barry and Oliver swap bodies. "Deck'em Barry." "I don't think you can go nine hours without some motivational speech."

Musical episode with Kara and Barry: "Everything really is easier in musicals." "I'm your super friend." "Put a little love in your heart."

Puppets of Tomorrow: Please, no more singing plus "This is therapy, not acting class" "Mr. Parker's Cul de Sac"

When Barry meets Kara

Oliver fighting: Doing his shirtless Bruce Wayne routine against Ra's; In a warehouse; In a hallway; In prison; Against gravity (on ladders, ropes and chains) plus Sara Lance fights against gravity

Beebo: Shanghaied into a crossover (plus Rebecca Silver); "Beebo want cuddles." "Worst orgy ever."
posted by sardonyx at 7:49 PM on May 24 [6 favorites]

Since I was posting and didn't see that Pryde posted the duet, I'll put up Barry's proposal number to Iris.
posted by sardonyx at 7:52 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]

It got watered down over the years, but the visual of someone holding the corrupt to task with the phrase "You have failed this city" was really powerful. We need more of that spirit in the real world, minus the arrows.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:42 PM on May 24 [6 favorites]

We need more of that spirit in the real world, minus the arrows.

Por que no los dos?
posted by Kitteh at 9:33 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]

When Barry meets Kara

When those shows were good, they were so good
posted by Devoidoid at 11:04 AM on May 25 [4 favorites]

The best thing about the Arrowverse was casting Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold and then, when it became clear that they weren't going to get cancelled after the initial episode order, casting his Prison Break costar Dominic Purcell as Heat Wave.
posted by mightygodking at 11:10 AM on May 25 [5 favorites]

Shepherd finished out Legends and said it was a blast. It finally finds itself after the first two seasons and becomes a rollicking good time, apparently.

For me, it really went god-mode-nonsense with s4, and one of my best life happenstances was being a little in the Woodstock-way myself when I watched the unicorn scene in s04e01. I was honestly sure that it had been cancelled and the writers had decided "fuck it" and let their freak flag fly.
posted by Buntix at 2:53 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]

I got a chance to watch the finale tonight, so I posted a few thoughts about it in FanFare, so I guess I'm officially done.
posted by sardonyx at 9:21 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]

Legends gets better and better. The only bad thing about it is that it ended abruptly.
posted by signal at 8:24 PM on May 26 [5 favorites]

As mentioned above: Barry Allen explains the multiverse to team Supergirl, complete with ice cream.

"What if there's a universe where everyone was evil?"
"Been there. It SUCKS."
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:44 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]

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