The Marvel Cinematic Universe represented many breakthroughs in terms of commercial success and cultural impact, but it also provided a new dimension to storytelling by adapting the crossover nature of comic books to the big screen and Warner paid attention to it by creating its own version of it through TV, the Arrowverse.
The shared universe of the Arrowverse has gone on to become a commercial success and one of the most consistent offerings by Warner and CW, where the various shows are airing. While Marvel was the first company to do it with a film franchise, DC was the first ones to do it with a live-action TV series.
How it started?
The name Arrowverse comes from the series that started it all, Arrow, in 2012 and the crossover nature of the shared universe began when the Flash showed up in the show and in 2014 he got his own series, often interacting with the different characters and franchises that have been developed in CW throughout the years, even going as far as having special episodes to the crossovers itself.
One of the main events that happened in the Arrowverse was the inclusion of Supergirl in 2015, whose TV show was airing on CBS. And after a bit of negotiation, she became part of this universe and has become a pivotal element of it. The Arrowverse is also poised to have another new show in 2019, Batwoman, that is bound to take the place of Arrow after the latter ends this year.
What constitutes the Arrowverse?
As we have said before, the Arrowverse is a combination of multiple shows in a shared universe and now we’re going to tell you about all the different shows that constitute said shared universe:
- Arrow. The show that started the Arrowverse in 2012, the story is about millionaire playboy Oliver Queen (played by Stephen Amell), who came to his city after spending many years in a island where he learned multiple fighting skills and decides to take on crime as the vigilante known as Green Arrow. While the show has various characters from the Green Arrow comic books, it also introduces several other properties from the DC universe, such as Deathstroke (mostly associated with the Teen Titans) or Ra’s and Talia Al Ghul (mostly linked with Batman).
Arrow is not only the longest running show of the entire Arrowverse by lasting eight seasons and being the first one to kick start this shared universe, but one could argue that Oliver Queen is the main character throughout the seven years run of the Arrowverse.
- The Flash. It started in 2014 and it was the first attempt from Arrowverse to create a spinoff series, this time featuring Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, who fights crime in Central City as the speedster the Flash and tries to find a way to take his father out of prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Out of all the different series of this particular franchise, The Flash has been the one show that has extracted a lot more content from the source material and the one that has stayed true to it the most, which has been one of the main reasons of this show becoming a fan favorite throughout the existence of the Arrowverse.
- Supergirl. Not only is Supergirl the third and one of the biggest introductions to become part of the Arrowverse, but also the first female led series of the bunch. Starting in 2015, Supergirl is about Kara Zor-El, a girl from Krypton who is adopted on Earth when she was 13-years old and becomes the protector of National City as she got older, often fighting against multiple threats more linked to her brother, Kal-El, also known as Superman (who shows up in a couple of episodes of the series and crossovers of the Arrowverse, played by Tyler Hoechlin).
- Legends of Tomorrow. One of the most peculiar proposals of the Arrowverse and one that started in 2016, Legends of Tomorrow is about Time Master Rip Hunter who goes on a mission to stop terrible events from happening by gathering a team consisting of The Atom, Captain Cold, Firestorm, Hawkgirl, White Canary and Heat Wave.
The next seasons would feature occultist John Constantine, who is played by Matt Ryan after his show was cancelled, despite being very well-received from a critical point of view. This is a pretty interesting detail because it was one of the first times that a show that wasn’t ever mentioned as part of the Arrowverse joined it, with Matt Ryan’s Constantine also showing up in Arrow, thus becoming another piece of the large puzzle that is this shared universe.
- The most recent inclusion to the Arrowverse and one that is poised to take Arrow’s place in this shared universe, Batwoman is about Bruce Wayne’s cousin, Kate Kane (played by Ruby Rose), who takes over the mantle of the Bat and decides to protect Gotham from criminals while she struggles with her own personal demons and problems.
A trailer of the Batwoman TV series has already been released and it seems that Bruce Wayne has disappeared from Gotham, which is going to force Kate to take the role of protector of the city.
Crossovers have become an instrumental element of the Arrowverse, with many different threats and storylines involving all the characters that we have mentioned so far, plus a few Elseworlds episodes, based on DC Comics’ category of alternative timelines stories, where they allow themselves to experiment, which is quite likely the first shared universe to do so in the entertainment industry.
While the Arrowverse doesn’t have the cultural impact and success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it has been quite beneficial to further expand DC’s brand throughout the world and to showcase TV entertainment through a very different scope and with very different approaches, which is something that can have a much important impact as the years go by in this industry.
For more, visit out Arrowverse timeline.