Lockdown Breakdown: Arrowverse

Are you having a breakdown this lockdown? Then why not watch all the shows and films you’ve been ignoring for years! Lockdown may have driven me crazy, but maybe two-people watching 580 episodes of CW super-hero shows during it wasn’t the wisest way to recover.

So you probably remember the Arrow and Flash shows from back in the 2010s, they were a pretty big deal when they started. Now most sane people, including me, dropped them pretty soon after their first series. 

As with most CW network shows, as soon as they’ve finished telling that one good idea that the producer had when they pitched, the show will go on a hard shift into romance and tedious wheel-spinning. Each CW show rots at a different rate, but there are very few that aren’t at that point by their third series. 

For reference, Riverdale had got terrible by series two but entirely collapsed in on itself by the third. This isn’t going to stop me watching every episode, it’s a beautiful train wreck at this point, but the magic that made the first series somewhat exciting is long gone. 

Due to 2020 becoming a year where history stopped and nothing happened, me and a friend decided to take it upon ourselves to finish the entire Arrowverse. Now that may sound like just going back and finishing Arrow, but far from it. 

The CW really hit the golden goose when they started the CW DC universe, and have been generating non-stop spin-offs over the years, and only Arrow has ended properly. Supergirl came quickly after the Flash proved people enjoyed more bright-and-breezy heroes, while it was original on CBS they quickly bought her, starting a chain of less angsty shows rearing their heads.

Making use of this handy list on Geeky Regards we (mostly) watched every episode in order, just finishing up the finale episodes of Legends and Supergirl this week. This universe has a lot of highs, and a lot of lows. There’s a good reason why I dropped Arrow and Flash around their fourth and third series, but this big lockdown project has managed to find me one of my new all-time favourite television shows.

Arrow (2012-2020)

Oliver Queen was a billionaire playboy and man about town but everything changed when his boat tragically sank at sea. After spending five years trapped on an island he’s finally been brought home, but he’s a changed man. Obsessed with fighting crime he takes to the streets of Starling City to put down anyone he deems worthy.

Arrow is a wild ride. Starting as a very aggressive revamp of the character, it quickly softens him starting from series two. Stephen Amell really is the CW’s Robert Downy Jr. equivalent, without this man this empire would be non-existent. He carries his show, even at it’s worst he will always be entertaining.

The show is really good at creating fun villains each series, but the 20 episode run time cripples their time to shine, meaning we have to add so many random drug dealers and generic crime lords. The final series is a much shorter run, and it really shows how fun Arrow can be without the fat (and even that series had about 3 filler episodes).

As the only show to actually have finished, thank god, it was nice to get an actual wrap up for these characters. I love these guys but I think eight series is too much for any CW show. I wish that the other shows could follow by example, write a big finale, and then give a new set of characters the time and budget.

There’s no reason we can’t see the Arrow gang again, I’m sure they’d be happy to pop-up or join any of the spin-offs, they seem to have fun every time they’ve shown up so far.

Despite the show’s the lowest lows, the first three and five are worth a look, go further at your own risk.

Flash (2014-Present)

Barry Allen was a criminal forensics expert obsessed with helping people and proving his father was innocent of an accused murder. After an encounter with The Arrow, an explosion grants him super speed, making him the fastest man alive. Now he fights all sorts of freaks and felons across Central City.

For a very short time this was the peak of the CW. It managed to keep a massive cast relatively balanced in terms of story and screen-time, had good action and a strong lead. Originally I thought this all ended around series 3, but on the rewatch Flash managed to keep it’s solid fun episodes going until around the last couple of series.

Just when you think it’s about to become unwatchable they throw in a new character for a few episodes, and that breathes some new life into it. The fact that the villains for series one, two and three are all speedsters really drags, but they eventually shale things up for the better.

Glee alumnus Grant Gustin brings a lot of energy to his take on Barry, and while a lot less cocky and confident then I’m used to with the character, it really works. He’s endearing, believable as a hero, and pathetic enough in his social life that you really feel for him. It’s like a Peter Parker that actually has a decent work-life balance.

The last few series have been very mopey, and it really hurts the show. Once the happiest place in the CW, Central City has become rather down as-of-late. At this point I think maybe he has run his course, but I can’t deny I enjoy seeing the gang pop-up every time we get a cross over with the other shows, and even if I stopped watching the show following this marathon I will still be pleased to see Grant in the role.

A great start, but running out of steam.

Constantine (2014-2015)

John Constantine is an occult detective, and while he’s already lost his soul, he’s here to make sure you all keep yours. Fighting horrific demons and monsters along with the odd angel, Constantine is as dark as the Arrowverse ever goes.

This wasn’t an Arrowverse show originally, rather it was ‘obtained’ after cancellation. The fans loved Constantine too much to say goodbye, so the CW managed to save him from NBC and get his character back in through an Arrow cameo before setting him up with a huge role in a spin-off a few years later.

Not being a CW show, this is the least bound by formula. Despite lasting only a single series, we had time to see some quite horrible monsters and great action. Matt Ryan kills it as Constantine, and seeing him return after having to go through the initial cancellation is really heartwarming. I’ve not seen the Keanu Reeves film yet, but it’s hard to imagine another actor in the role after seeing this run.

Obviously as a cancelled show there’s a limit on how much closure you can feel watching it, no one but John returning properly following it. I can say however, a little knowledge of the character really makes you appreciate him when he’s back, finally finding the girl that haunts his tragic backstory in this show.

Short and sweet.

Supergirl (2015-Present)

In a separate dimension to Arrow and Flash, we have our new hero Kara. She is Superman’s cousin but has been keeping herself on the down-low all these years. After making her public debut, saving a plane from crashing into her home-city, she now has to face the music and commit to being a full-time do-gooder, and hopefully step out of her cousin’s shadow.

Supergirl starts weak, gets really strong, then loses any interest at all, which is a real shame. Once you get past a weak series one, you have a cast full of really likable actors and characters, and it’s a real treat to explore their lives.

As a big fan of Tyler Hoechlin from his Teen Wolf days, it’s great to see him back and better than ever, and Melissa Benoist (another Glee alumnus) brings the titular girl of steel to life.

Supergirl’s weird moral code really drags the show down, she is more than willing to do things she condemns others for, and it ruins her relationship with Lena Luthor. The chemistry in the cast is wasted when all they do is cause drama between her and Lena, and it’s a real shame because Katie McGrath really did a good job in the early show earning her spot.

The last series has no real conclusion sadly due to the Corona virus, which is the same with Legends and Batwoman too, but this is the one that hits hardest. The villains aren’t stopped, the secret societies are all on the move. This might not be quite so bad, but with the show only having one final series, I worry we’ll never get a decent conclusion.

Nearly ended, but maybe not soon enough. It’s had a good run, time to put it to bed, I hope the actors appear again in the other shows though.

Legends of Tomorrow (2016-Present)

Legends is what happens if you take all the random side-characters from Arrow and Flash that haven’t had anything to do in awhile, throw them on a time-space-ship and tell them to save the world. Seeing as half of the cast have been villains in their respective shows you can imagine how good they are at the job.

This show is on another level. After a slightly more grounded first series, they give up on rules for the rest of the show and it’s a decision no one should ever question. All they do is have amazing adventures, hilarious jokes and amazing characters.

You’d think so many of these heroes in the same team would be overpowered, but the show makes sure they are against the biggest threats in the entire arrowverse, even though they get no credit. Their second series sees them face the main villain from The Flash teamed up with two major Arrow villains, and still it feels like a fair fight for both sides.

The team is getting pretty massive, despite a few departures and some actually tear-jerking deaths, but every new character is as amazing as the rest. I’ve said so many times that I don’t want anyone new to join, only to change my tune within a few episodes, everyone getting time to shine. This is where people like Constantine end up when their time or shows run out, and I think it would be a great place to shove Supergirl now that her time is done.

They rip their own show to threads, mocking every plot point they’ve ever considered and their actors constantly, but it never goes too far. This is the hardest I’ve laughed watching an American show in a long time, and does some modern sci-fi shows to shame with how much it actually explores the ideas they present.

This is the only show with zero bad episodes, only ever getting better, and hopefully staying strong into 2021. I love every character in this show, and if this one ever gets cancelled it would be a crime.

Peak of the CW so far, five series in and it’s been nothing but gold.

Black Lightning (2018-Present)

Jefferson Pierce is a beloved headmaster, father of two and pillar of the community, but the residents don’t know he is the retired superhero Black Lightning. After the local gangs put his daughters at risk he comes out of retirement for one night, but after the people see he’s returned it’s much harder to stay hidden.

Tackling race-issues, parental struggles and having a much more seasoned lead, Black Lightning is a massive breath of fresh air from Arrow and Flash. Jefferson is a great lead, always torn between doing the right thing for the people of Freeland and the smart thing to do for his family. As he tries to resist getting sucked back into the hero-work the more he is forced to step up and get involved.

He’s not the only one in on the action though, his daughters are quick to get involved themselves, one being the first black lesbian super hero in the CW. It’s a really nice show, asking much braver questions then a lot of the shows in the list. The family dynamic is seen a little bit in Flash with Joe and Barry, but here it takes the center stage, at no point feeling like they are just side-pieces in the show.

Three seasons in and it’s still feeling good, although they will have to change the status quo soon because the depressing tone of the recent episodes is starting to get to me. Luckily every series of the show manages to establish some sort of major shift and has large impacts on everything following.

Strong leads with even stronger themes, hopefully it can get a little more hopeful.

Batwoman (2019-Present)

Bruce hasn’t been seen in years, and Batman is all but a rumour these days in Gotham. When Bruce’s cousin returns to town, she picks up the cowl, only to find that things are worse than ever.

Ruby Rose brings us the first LGBT lead character in the CW so far and she manages to hold her own even when she’s surrounded by the more seasoned Arrowverse heroes like Ollie and Barry. While it got a some backlash online, we actually had a good time!

Despite being in Gotham it manages to be lit better than anything in Arrow, and doesn’t come close to it’s level of edge, although that could be half of it’s charm these days. Luke Fox is her designated tech person and he brings a younger energy to the cave, and her step-sister Mary is a nice addition to her team also.

Her main enemy, Alice, is up there with the best the CW has to offer. There’s plenty of twists to keep your attention, both before and after the universe shaking events of the latest crossover. Alongside her we have some good conflict between her and the security forces patrolling Gotham, and some well-known Batman rouges such as Hush.

The major problem with the conflict is that Kate has thousands of chances to bring Alice to justice and keeps letting her get away with it, all for the sake of character development. The first few times it’s okay, but after a whole series it starts to really grate on you. We’ll take it for more scenes with Alice as she steals the show. If she leaves when the new woman arrives the show will be pretty dead.

With strong supporting characters and a good start to a rogues gallery, it’s a shame to see that Ruby is on her way out already. Although that new Batwoman reveal looks pretty exciting! Due to corona, there’s no real conclusion to Hush and Alice’s schemes, but with some important deaths it at least could pretend to be a finale a little more.

An excellent addition to the world, with a very uncertain future.


Crisis on Infinite Earths Arrowverse Crossover 2020: Trailer, Release Date,  and More - TV Guide

Every year we get the big crossover, and these are normally huge, having one episode per show as one big long story.

  • Flash Vs. Arrow (2014)
  • Heroes Unite (2015)
  • Invasion! (2016)
  • Crisis On Earth X (2017)
  • Elseworlds (2018)
  • Crisis On Infinite Earths (2019-20)

These obviously only grow longer and in size and scope as the CW add more and more shows. Most of them are okay, the only downside to having a cast the size of a small army is that you can’t have that much dialogue when everyone is together. They normally split up the attention based on which show the part is in, for example the Flash crew getting to do the heroic thing of the episode in their part.

Crisis on Infinite Earths is the biggest yet, and marks the end of Arrow, along with promoting the ‘next-gen’ heroes like Black Lightning and Batwoman a little more. This becomes a little awkward now that Ruby has quit the role after one season, but how were they to know. The penultimate part is an amazing visual feat, and looks more like a movie than a tv finale.

The other crossovers are fine, the other highlight would probably be Crisis on Earth X, as it’s all about a cross-dimensional super-hero wedding being invaded by Nazi copies of themselves looking for a heart transplant.


This was nowhere near as painful as I thought it would be up until the tail-end of the big three. Flash, Arrow and Supergirl somehow reach a point where every episode feels like a 2-hour stretch of nothing.

However there is so much good quality fun here, I really don’t regret any of it existing. With shows like Legends and Black Lightning giving way more interesting stories, I have hope for the future of the CW Arrowverse. I can’t wait to see what our new Batwoman is like, it’ll be interesting to see such a major lead change, something that hasn’t happened quite so drastically so far in the CW.

I just hope we manage to rope groups like Titans and the Doom Patrol in more, because they could really spice up the next few crossovers. Who knows how many shows there will be in eight years time, even more spin-offs are being announced and hinted at constantly!

In summary, watch Legends of Tomorrow, it’s actually amazing, and then pick and choose at the others as much or little as you want.

Published by James Sumner

Writer, reviewer & journalist. BA: Multimedia Journalism. MA: PR & Digital Comms.

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