• Television 

    Looking Back at the 2018-19 CW Superhero Shows

    By , , and | May 28th, 2019
    Posted in Television | % Comments

    Brian: Hello from your friendly neighborhood editor/interloper. The CW’s superhero shows just wrapped up for the year, so we’re asking our crack team of reviewers – Elias Rosner (Supergirl), Michael Mazzacane (Arrow), Ramon Piña (The Flash), and Christopher Chiu-Tabet (Black Lightning and Legends of Tomorrow) – to take a look back at the last year of the CW-verse and weigh in. I’ll get things started, and then bugger off: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rank the show(s) you reviewed this past season?

    Chris: I’d give Legends of Tomorrow an 9/10, and Black Lightning a 7/10.

    Ramon: I think The Flash deserves a solid 8/10.

    Elias: Man, if you had asked me at the mid-season, I’d be giving Supergirl an 8/10 but by the finale? 5.5/10.

    They really dropped that ball.

    I’m surprised you’re as positive as you are on The Flash Ramon. Maybe I was just dissatisfied with all the meandering around Cicada mid-season.

    Mike: I’d give Arrow Season 7 a solid 7/10.

    Elias: So, as a whole, the DCWverse is doing pretty well for itself this time around. Anyone feel that these were (with the exception of Black Lightening) the best seasons these shows have had in a while?

    Mike: Define “awhile.” making Barry and Iris parents on Flash got me to watch show consistently the first time since mid way through S3. Arrow had a better since of purpose compared to the previous season. The only one I was a lil let down by was Legends and that’s more for leaning into fantasy as genre instead of DC fantasy specifically, and even than it wasn’t much worse than prior seasons.

    Chris: I think Legends achieved apotheosis last season and only wobbled slightly this season because of the second half’s overemphasis on minor characters.

    Black Lightning continued to be solid; Supergirl soared to new heights with its social commentary despite a flat conclusion; Flash season 5 I didn’t find as much fun as season 4 due to a weaker main villain and endgame; Arrow I can’t comment on as I haven’t watched it since season 3.

    Elias: Too true with Arrow. I still find the flash forwards utterly boring. I get what they were trying to do but man, I did not care one iota for any of them or their stupid, stupid melodrama. Also, one armed Ollie wen?

    Ramon: I get what you say Elias, to be honest, if I were to give a rating to the first Cicada it’s a 5, just a plain character, the second Cicada to me deserves a 7 because she was so cheesy and over the top.

    What gives an 8 to The Flash is the overly complicated set-up for the return of Reverse Flash, every other villain of the week, particularly the all-female Rogues Gallery, and the personal growth that Flash Team had, Cisco, Caitlin, Barry and Ralph had great seasons with a lot of drama.

    Elias: I’m probably the only one here who was really disappointing with how much Supergirl continues to waste its side characters and interesting villains in favor of ones like Reign or Lex.

    Oh yeah! Those villain-of-the-weeks were a lot of fun

    Mike: Sadly Elias, they’ve fully commited to the “Star City 2046” being an Elseworld since main-Earth Ollie appears MIA after the finale. I was rather taken by the Flash Forwards, it took a while to get used to them being more their own distinct thread as opposed to thematic mirror but Team Arrow: TNG was a good excercise in reusing sets and small spaces and making them appear much larger.

    Ramon: I’m not up to date with Arrow, what was the purpose of the Flash Fowards? Just telling a different story (for funsies) or they used it to advance the present-time plot?

    Mike: The Flash Forwards were a way to explore the legacy of Team Arrow as a unit and Ollie and Felicity as parents and as well as foreshadow how things like working with the cops or making the survelince state in your pocket could be a bad idea. Also it let everyone get the treatment of wearing good-bad wigs and makeup!

    Continued below

    Chris: I just came away from Flash season 5 bummed out by the outcome of Nora’s story, and how it was all just a way to finally break Reverse-Flash (and Tom Cavanaugh) out of the erasure he’s been outrunning since season 1 ended.

    At least they won’t have to think up of a new Wells for the next season.

    Elias: But those were always the most fun parts of the season. (At least for me.)

    But yeah, it gets us Cavanaugh Wells back, which is a plus. Although, did anyone else notice he seemed more… breathy than usual?

    Mike: He’s been out of practice running, cardio has to decline after a while being stuck in a prison cell

    Chris: Haha. My hope is a new version of Nora with less baggage returns at the end of “Crisis.”

    Elias: Same.

    Although, in all likelihood, there will be none and we’ll get, instead, Impulse.

    Ramon: That’s a good guess, for me, the worst possible outcome is that their relationship end up broke forever

    Elias: I keep forgetting that we’re getting 9-10 episodes prior to Crisis

    Mike: I really hope we don’t get Impulse, that character is way to manic I can barely stand him in animation

    Ramon: I think that they will get pregnant the next season, but Nora is gone forever.

    Elias: Which means, Arrow may spend its entire final season without Ollie.

    Werid.

    Hmmm, maybe Ramon. I dunno, I’ve got a weird feeling your first guess is right.

    Mike: the synopsis for Arrow S8 mentions Ollie “Oliver will find himself pit against his most challenging battle yet, one that will leave the multiverse hanging in the balance. In Arrow’s final season, Oliver Queen is forced to confront the reality of what it means to be a hero. ” while also doing the Flash Forwards stuff. Seems like they will have three distinct threads running in episodes: present, future, Ollie

    Ramon: It’s a sad outcome, but it might be the most interesting to explore.

    Chris: Impulse is Bart Allen right? I’d much rather if NuNora replaced her dad if he goes the way of the comics.

    Elias: But what about Wally?!

    Chris: Well, Keiynan Lonsdale wanted to move on.

    I’m sure he’s doing a good job defending Asia.

    Elias: Fair point.

    Arrow is gonna be a weird final season for sure.

    Mike: With how this season ended, I wouldn’t of minded it being the series finale. IT left things in a good place with a nice COIE tease. An episodic multiversal adventure for Ollie sounds interesting but eh that’s kinda Legends game.

    Chris: God I wish the Waverider could visit alternate realities.

    Up and down, but never sideways.

    Mike: So what are some favorite episodes from this season?

    I’d put a favorite 5 Arrow this season at: “Level Two” “The Slabside Redemption” “Lost Canary” “Confessions” “Living Proof

    Chris: It’s not fair to say “all of Legends season 4 except maybe [this] or [that],” but they have so few episodes. Black Lightning is hard to pick from because it’s so deliberately placed that everything flows from one to next.

    Mike: I really like that about Lightning even if it perhaps isn’t as episodically sounds as I’d like it at times.

    They get an A+ for convoluted but overall effective naming conventions

    Elias: I think that’s what works best for Lightning too. It’s a much more grounded story that takes cues from less bombastic shows. I appreciate that a lot. As for favorites, I dunno. I think “Bunker Hill” Aka ep. 8 of Supergirl was the only one I really liked of the season. The other shows kinda blended together, although I did love the penultimate episode of Arrow and, as Chris said, all of Legends was a blast.

    If you forced me to choose, I’d highlight the mid-season finale and the episode with the Demon nipple

    Chris: Which one? It was in two.

    “Elseworlds” was a blast: I think that was the best Superman film since Superman II.

    Elias: The first [sic] one, where Gary Green is all you need. I am a bit disappointed that they made Gary so. . . skeevy for those episodes but, hey, I think that’s just because he’s the only Jewish character on the show right now

    Continued below

    Also, yes to that about “Elseworlds.” Poor Brandon Routh.

    Chris: Oh no, not the unfortunate implications.

    And to think I’m worried about Zari getting a personality rewrite next season.

    Elias: Will we be meeting her or are we having what’s his face, Zari’s brother, all season?

    Chris: So Behrad’s been resurrected and is now wielder of the Air Totem, but we will see Zari again. Phil Klemmer said, “I think we might experience what happened if Zari were a little spoiled. Because moving forward, she’s a bit of an internet celebrity of some sort. It’s the girl who tamed dragons.”

    Elias: Well, that’s certainly going to be an interesting change. Supergirl,at this point, has the smallest set ups for next season, mostly because I don’t trust that Lena thing at all.

    Ramon: to me, the best episodes were the ones with a villain of the week, particularly when Weather Witch was involved, she had a surprisingly great story for being a not-main villain. But obviously the best episode ever put on screen was “King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd”, I couldn’t care less about the love story in this episode, that was weird, but the fights between two giant CGI-monsters were awesome!

    Elias: How did I forget about that episode? It’s got King Shark!

    Chris: It is weird how forgettable I found that episode until Ramon brought it up.

    It was fun, but more often than not, this season of Flash left me reading while watching the show.

    Elias: What do we think is in store for our intrepid heroes in the upcoming year, now that we’ve done a bit of a post-mortem on the current season? What shape do we think it’ll take before and after “Crisis?” Also, did anyone else secretly wish the Monitor would have had a bit more fun with the Legends finale?

    Mike: in the lead up get your normal teases and stuff, but nothing to drastic since these shows have other business to handle.

    Post-COIE I expect little change honestly, maybe some people will act a bit darker or they’ll reference it a bit but largely just get back to normal afterwards. Continuity is a projection by the reader 9/10, and if the MCU has taught us one thing it’s that audiences don’t really care about continuity, they care about characters and emotional arcs which are the domain of their respective shows.

    I am really curious to see how the ratings track assuming the interpretation of Pedowitz at Upfronts “two quarter” line means the first 3 will be the mid season finale for all the shows there abouts and you have a two part come back.

    Elias: I dunno about the lack of effect post-COIE. I’ve got a feeling it’ll shake up Flash in some major ways and, while I’m not as certain with Supergirl, because of how far in advance they’re planning this, and how central it is, it’ll be built into the seasons in the way the previous ones have not.

    That said, I predict Legends will have a shake up in mission or makeup since it’s arriving only after COIE.

    You might be onto something with that reading of the two quarter thing

    Ramon: on the Flash front I often think that they are setting a grand finale for the end of the show, this season’s end was the worst one emotionally for Barry, and with COIE coming, I just can’t shake off the idea that it’s ending soon.

    BUT, that said, of course it’s not ending, it’s the best rated show and now that Arrow‘s end is confirmed, the speedster is becoming the backbone of the Arrowverse.

    Given that I am more of a casual viewer for the rest of the shows, I just expect that Supergirl keeps being the bastion for diversity that it is. Plus, I hope that people love Batwoman, to prove that the Arrowverse opening to a lot more directions is going to be worth it economically, (because Creatively I don’t have doubts).

    Elias: How the hell did I forget we were getting a Batwoman show?

    Maybe that’s how they’ll break it up. Arrow, Flash and Supergirl will be the three in the “first quarter” and Legends and Batwoman will be in the second, kicking off their seasons.

    Continued below

    What are y’all’s thoughts on what Batwoman is going to be like? Because, I am very excited and also terrified they won’t lean hard enough into the dark and strange and supernatural that is Gotham City.

    Although, now that the FOX show that shall not be named is off the air, maybe they’ll actually be able to give us a Renee Montoya.

    Mike: i wonder if they’ll bother trying to treat each episodes of COIE as a specific show and just go for it being consistent their own thing. Not specifically the Arrow version of COIE

    Elias: I hope they’ll be treated as a whole. Much as I love the specific stuff, it’ll be stronger otherwise.

    Ramon: If COIE is going to be a mini-series, Defenders-style, I want an ensemble cast, working together, I wouln’t like the regular “specific, but part of the crossover” style, that’s why we have regular-crossovers for.

    Mike:Overall I thought the Batwoman trailer was fine, curious how they make Toronto look like Chicago once they go into full production but one of the upsides of shooting in Chicago was getting plenty of transitory b-footage. If I had my way they’d lean into some Hannibal aesthetic and lean into that New52 era but I don’t think they’ll be able to go full weird. With them already doing Maggie, Renne seems like a given once they move past Megan Tandy’s Sophie Moore as a love interest.

    Mike: oh if Defenders was competent tv. I don’t expect avant- guard stuff but cmon just be competent is it too much to ask?

    Ramon: that could have been an excellent 4-episode mini, eight was too much for the story they had.

    To be honest, I don’t always like Ruby Rose’s acting but I think they will make the show in a way that allows her to exploit what she’s good at, so, I hope I enjoy that version of Kate Kane, “Ruby Rose being Ruby Rose”.

    Elias: Especially if it’s in Supergirl‘s universe, where the DEO is about as milquetoast as any stock military organization. Although, I believe Batwoman is happening on a totally different Earth than the others? Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Ramon: Dang, I don’t know, I tought it was on the same earth, but they meet when Elseworlds happened, so you might be right, it even could be a good strategy to keep Batman out of the Arrowverse a little longer.

    Elias: If they ever bring him in at all.

    Mike: Batwoman is on the main Earth with the Arrow and Flash, barring any COIE fusions

    Brian: My unrequested opinion is this: post-COIE, all the shows, even Black Lightning, will be on one Earth. Like the comic equivalent, it will flatten the multiverse.

    Elias: Do you think they’ll want to do that though? Having all these different Earths has made it possible to silo the narratives. I’m thinking specifically about Black Lightning. But, then again, having them interact with the rest of these heroes could complicate the narratives in interesting ways.

    Mike: other than Grace Choi suddenly reading a DCWverse themed issue of COIE I doubt Team Lighting will be interacting with the rest of these shows. I don’t see much of a point in fusing them everyone together, other than the ability to lead a less contrived reason for Convergence to occur.

    Ramon: I have the fantasy that we could get Black Lighting appearing at least in a deus ex machina moment, at the climax of the fight, Captain Marvel in “Engame”-style.

    Elias: That would be a cool surprise.

    Chris: While I’d love to see Black Lightning and his kids cameoing, I’m not gonna get my hopes up, given the show’s production is based in Atlanta, far away from the other shows. Look at the Marvel TV shows: they’re unambigiously part of the MCU, and all that’s led to is HYDRA’s absence after Ant-Man and Jarvis’s cameo in Endgame – they are doing their own thing.

    Green Arrow’s on his way out and I guess he’ll sacrifice himself to ensure Barry survives to play out the rest of Flash season 6.

    Supergirl being folded into the other shows’ universe will be fascinating because of all the aliens you can introduce on them now. I’ve always loved their presence on her show and think it’ll open a lot of opportunities on the others.

    Continued below

    Like, the Waverider visiting, say, Rann, or Thanagar, or Mogo (because who’s more Legends than the Green Lantern planet? Ch’p? Maybe.)

    Mike: If Legends got a Lantern it’d have to be Guy, and I’d hate and love that.

    Given their love of animals, a meeting with Dex-Starr would be adorably comedic as well

    Chris: OMG that would be amazing – too bad it’ll never happen.

    Warner Bros. behaves like the dog in the manger with a lot of characters who’d be perfect for Legends *cough*Booster Gold*cough*

    Mike: apparently that Booster script got turned into Berlanti recently.

    Elias: If they do bring in Guy and Booster, then they’d have to complete the trifecta and bring in Blue Beetle. You think they’d finally bring in the Rip Hunter connection?

    Chris: Yeah, that does seem weird, but Berlanti’s not the showrunner on Legends, Phil Klemmer is.

    And yeah, Blue Beetle is another character WB is jealously guarding even though a movie is years off.

    Mike: Considering Ray Palmer is their Blue Beetle replacement, going back to Arrow S3, they could patch him in an it’d be fine most likely

    Elias: Dang it WB. Flash could be a good intro for Booster too, considering all the time travel shenanigans.

    Chris: I wonder if the CW are under pressure to end Flash soon because of the movie from the Game Night guys in the works – like Ramon said, this season finale of The Flash felt a lot like a series finale.

    Mike: I doubt much at all, considering Miller’s contract is reportedly coming up and he’s trying to get his own script with Grant Morrison going instead of theirs. And just the buisness case to be made that letting the show continue is just good for Warner all around.

    Chris: I’m sure they can recast, and since the movie’s not out until 2021 at least that’ll give the show some time to wrap up satisfactorily.

    Elias: I do think Flash is nearing its end, despite the high numbers. What I think is happening is that it will stay around until one of the newer shows has strong numbers and then they’ll make the call. If it doesn’t happen, they’ll renew Flash. If it does, they may give it a send off season or have this be the final one. I’m hedging on the side of at least one more season.

    Ramon: a good thing they could do is make half-seasons of The Flash for the first quarter and then another half-season of a new show, that way they can get strong ratings and engagement because the “prestige” that shorter seasons imply

    Guys, do you see future in CW Seed’s animated Arrowverse? I think they should exploit that a little more, especially with the aftermath of COIE expanding the universe, for example, they could introduce a Green Lantern and then make an animated series of the Corps

    Elias: I’m wary, only because of the style of the animation. It’s always kinda felt. . .off, which may be due to it being treated as a “lesser” series of shows or WB hating its own animation department. That, and most of the actors really weren’t prepared to do voice work. That said, if they got VAs from the get go, I could see something like that working pretty well.

    But, on the whole, I don’t see much future unless they really make an effort. Maybe they could even air episodes in place of a commercial break or at the start/end of an episode (if they’re only 3-4 minutes each.) It’d be pretty cool to see the network playing with the format and bringing back the short to the screen like Disney is doing.

    Ramon: yeah, the animation tends to look… Cheap, but there are big areas of potential they could exlpoit: Shorts, CW Seed, a DC Universe show

    Chris: Half-seasons is an interesting idea, it’s what Agents of SHIELD seems to be doing. I think Legends benefits a lot from more money per episode and not having to drag out storylines as much.

    I’m indifferent to more CW Seed animation projects – still bitter about how Megalyn Echikunwoke was wasted as Mari McCabe on those, I guess.

    Continued below

    Elias: Oh, totally on that Chris.

    And yeah, I’m a huge fan of the half-season. I say it way too often that Riverdale is written like it’s a 13 episode per-season series and then padded out to “full order.” It’s also one of the reasons I think a show like Sleepy Hollow worked super well in its first season before dropping the ball hard in the second half of the second season or how Black Lightning is able to keep its narrative focused.

    Chris: Oooh, look at the time, let’s wrap this up shall we? Any hopes, final thoughts going into the 2019-20 season?

    I’m not a picky person, I’ve been happy to watch the cast of these shows through good and bad times, so unless the shows do something really stupid like say, killing Dreamer off, I’m generally happy to put them on.

    Elias: Same here. While I hope Flash regains some of the fun of earlier seasons, my big hope is that the writers of Supergirl take the time to really consider what they want to do with these characters and how to build a season around them, instead of around a series of villains. Set things up, let them breathe and then pay them off instead of introducing something in one episode out of the blue and then expositing by the end of it or the next about what it means/wrapping it up then and there.

    The DEO especially needs to take a cue from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, in terms of making the organization feel real and whole, instead of a plot prop. Colonel Haley is gone again so there’s gotta be something. Incidentally, Briana Venskus, the person who played Vasquez, my favorite DEO agent who hasn’t been seen since, like, season 2, is over on S.H.I.E.L.D playing agent Piper.

    Mike: I hope Batwoman pulls off a good season. I’m curious to see what kinda physicality Rose brings to the role and how arts and moody they decided to get with Gotham. Legends continues to be fine, I just hope for more DC specific goodness. Supergirl was solid enough. Basically I hope none of them pull an Arrow S4.

    Ramon: COIE is going to be the “Endgame” of the Arrowverse, I’m eager to know how they close Arrow, and what they come up with after the crossover, I hope for a great Batwoman and the same cheesy fun in The Flash, Supergirl and Legends.

    But the most important thing, I hope that Carlos Valdés is still in for a new season, The Flash couldn’t be the same without Cisco.


    //TAGS | Arrow | Black Lightning | Legends of Tomorrow | supergirl | The Flash

    Elias Rosner

    Elias is a lover of stories who, when he isn't writing reviews for Mulitversity, is hiding in the stacks of his library. He can be found on twitter (for mostly comics stuff) here and has finally updated his photo to be a hair nicer than before.

    EMAIL | ARTICLES

    Christopher Chiu-Tabet

    Chris is a writer from London on the autistic spectrum, who enjoys tweeting and blogging on Medium about his favourite films, TV shows, books, music, games as well as history and religion. He is Lebanese/Chinese, although he can't speak Cantonese or Arabic. He also writes for Nerdy POC.

    EMAIL | ARTICLES

    Michael Mazzacane

    Your Friendly Neighborhood Media & Cultural Studies-Man Twitter

    EMAIL | ARTICLES

    Ramon Piña

    Lives in Monterrey, México. He eats tacos for a living, literally. You can say hi on Twitter and Instagram. Besides comics, he loves regular books and Baseball - "Viva Multiversity Cabr*nes!".

    EMAIL | ARTICLES


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