One of the original ideas for Xandrama, when it was still just a twinkle in my eye, was to perform a long, in-depth, retrospective of a lengthy television series. Television has the luxury over films in that it’s capable of telling stories over the course of years rather then the two-hour film standard. It has more room for character growth, world building, and story development. This can be a negative for some shows. With more room to write comes a necessity for episodes that exist solely to pad out the season as well as more room to screw up. In most cases, there’s usually more to talk about with a television show rather then a film.
Which lead me to my first major decision: what show would I analyze first? I can think of a plethora of shows that deserve high recognition as well as those that deserve to have their DVDs smashed to pieces with a jackhammer. Then a thought crossed my mind…why look at just one show? Why not look at a bunch of shows that exist in the same fictional universe?
What is the “Arrowverse”?
The Arrowverse is a term to describe a series of CW television shows that are all based on DC Comics and exist within the same fictional universe. These shows at the time of this posting include Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Vixen, and possibly Constantine, but we’ll talk about that one at a later date. Every show focuses on a superhero or a group of superheroes as they live their lives and fight the evils threatening their cities, world, and occasionally all of time and space.
What makes these shows unique is, because they exist in the same universe, there are plenty of opportunities for crossover events, very similar to what you would see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One episode might have the Flash and Green Arrow working together, maybe the cast of Legends will show up in another episode, and of course you can have ALL of the characters come together for an Avengers style team up. As we’ve seen in Hollywood now, cinematic universes are all the rage. But apart from the occasional spin-off, there are barely any television shows that utilize a shared universe to such a degree. It’s honestly surprising that more networks aren’t trying to cash in on this concept, similar to how film franchises are jumping at the chance to have cinematic universes.
So do these shows stand up on their own two feet or do they rely on each other to stay afloat? We’ll get into that more next week, but for now, let’s talk about…
The Origins of the Arrowverse
CW is no stranger to DC inspired television shows. Right around the time the Arrowverse started, they were just wrapping up production on Smallville, a Superman-inspired television show depicting the life of Clark Kent before donning his cape.
After ten seasons, various accolades, and a solid fan following, there were some pretty big shoes to fill.
In January of 2012, it was announced that CW ordered a pilot episode for a Green Arrow inspired television show under the creative direction of Andrew Kreisberg (Eli Stone, Fringe, Warehouse 13), Marc Guggenheim (Eli Stone, Green Lantern, Trollhunters), and Greg Berlanti (Dawson’s Creek, Green Lantern, Riverdale).
Strangely enough, this wasn’t the first time the Green Arrow would be portrayed on television. He was actually portrayed in Smallville by Justin Hartley (The Young and the Restless, This is Us).
With that in mind, the three opted to not cast Hartley as their Green Arrow, with Guggenheim claiming,
“We wanted to chart our own course. Our own destiny.”
After a successful pilot, the show was picked up. Thus, Arrow was born, as well as the foundation for the Arrowverse. So next week, we’ll begin our discussion of Arrow, going a few episodes at a time depending on the amount of plot within the episodes. But for now, we’ll end with one of the biggest questions I hear whenever I’m discussing the Arrowverse.
How do I watch the Arrowverse?
On multiple occasions, I’ve found that some people only watch certain shows in the Arrowverse, not all of them. That’s perfectly fine, no one should be obligated to watch all of the shows if they don’t want to. However, this has lead to some viewer confusion due to plots tying in with the events of other shows in the Arrowverse. On other occasions, I’ve met people who love the idea of the Arrowverse shows, but have no idea where to start watching.
For newcomers, I recommend you start by watching the first two seasons of Arrow. It’s what we’ll be discussing for the next month or so before we get into the other shows. The first season of Arrow is very grounded, developing a solid foundation for the character of the Green Arrow as well as telling a concise story. The second season is all about world building. The cast increases to include new vigilantes and the first appearance of everyone’s favorite scarlet speedster.
After those two seasons, the other shows slowly start to pop up. Fortunately, there are a number of recommended viewing orders that may take you down different paths but eventually lead you to the same final destination. The one I recommend, and will be following is this one:
So go ahead! Start watching away and prepare yourself for next week as we’ll be discussing everyone’s favorite dark and brooding vigilante: Bat Arrow-CRAP! I mean the Greenman-NO! I mean BATMAN-UGH! SO CONFUSING! I need to figure this out. This is Xander signing off.