The Arrowverse has revealed the strengths and limits of the shared universe

Over the past 14 years, the shared universe – once the domain of comic books – has become a staple of the living genre’s storytelling. The most prominent and profitable example of this is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, the strengths and limitations of the shared universe are most obvious not in the MCU, but in the soon-to-be-finished Arrowverse.

When I started in 2012, Arrow It was a fundamental exploration of Green Arrow and its origins. Then in Season 2, the book introduces a nerdy crime scene investigator named Barry Allen and the concept of metahumans, who begins SparkleIn the long run and the value of the growing universe of other heroes and series. The Arrowverse was definitely less budget friendly than the MCU, but it gave DC fans the opportunity to check out the world of their favorite characters a few times a week. Instead of only getting to know Star (ling) City, they had to spend time in Central City, Gotham City, National City, Freeland and even the time zone. While most of these places look somewhat like Vancouver, each had just enough of its own flavor to make the world feel big and diverse.


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This volume gave way to increasingly large crossovers, each featuring more characters and higher stakes than the previous one. The heroes of the Arrowverse faced immortal invaders, alien invaders, and Nazi spouses, rewriting reality and the possible end of everything…and their shared existence enabled them to do it together. Even with its relatively small budget, Crisis on Infinite Earths was, in many ways, as exciting as any Avengers Movie.


However, as exciting as the annual events were, what really made the Arrowverse feel connected were the smaller, less dangerous crossovers. Every now and then, Barry would move to Star City to lend a hand quickly or John Diggle would go with ARGUS as they help capture the super-villain in Central City. These visits did not have the effects of the end of the world. They simply served to remind viewers of the shared universe and create a sense that almost anyone could appear at any time. In that sense, the Arrowverse has captured a great deal of the joy that comes with reading comics.

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Unfortunately, no live-action adaptation can rival the greatest asset of comic books: longevity. The characters on the page don’t grow old or get tired and want to try other things. They stay around as long as people want them to. The same does not apply to actors. Starring in a superhero show over several seasons is a lot of hard work: learning lines, blocking scenes, long shooting days, and staying in superhero shape. Even the most passionate artists reach a point where everything becomes too much and they have to move on. But once they do, how does the shared universe continue?


For Oliver Queen of Stephen Amell, moving forward means death. It was a heroic death, but it was a death nonetheless. Such a final exit certainly provided ample reason in the universe for why it doesn’t exist anymore, but not every departing hero can take the same route without making the Arrowverse a darker, more bleaker place. Black Lightning is mostly retired, but not so much that he’s still able to help the Flash with the “Armageddon” story. Supergirl revealed her identity to the world and went on to act as a superhero. She was always off the planet when Team Flash needed her help.


This was fitting – but it’s also an example of how fragile the common universe can be. Supergirl is an indestructible kryptonian girl who is always ready to help save the day. Melissa Benoist is a human being with a life and other ambitions. When super girl Finished, the writers had to either remove her from the board or saddle up from the other Arrowverse series responsibly to come up with excuses for her absence. They chose the last option, which was right for the character but tough for the universe.

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This issue was further exacerbated by the cancellation of a new series featuring actors not yet ready to move on. For the common universe to flourish, new superheroes must be willing to step into the void that others leave behind. Supergirl being always in space isn’t a problem if someone else can pick up on the slack. If the CW chooses to spare The legends of tomorrow in the capital And the BatumanAnd the Sparkle It won’t be the last show standing and the look of the Arrowverse will be even brighter. In the grand scheme of things, cancellations are nothing. For the Arrowverse, that might be the difference between life and death.


For all the excitement that came with a shared world of superheroes on TV, it’s never going to last forever. Tastes, people and corporate entities change. The Arrowverse was a worthwhile and mostly successful experiment that lasted longer than anyone could have hoped. It wasn’t perfect. Its quality can vary from show to show and season to season, and the circumstances of its ending may be inevitable, but at its best it has made the most of what a common universe can be. May it serve as an example for all that comes next.