I don’t hold back on any Arrow/Flash spoilers in this article. So, if you’re not up to date on either show you’ve been warned.
Several years from now you might find yourself watching the CW and realize, “The CW so gradually morphed into the DC Comic Book channel that I didn’t even notice.”
First there was Arrow which gave birth to The Flash. They’ll both soon have a little sister running around in the form of the online-only animated series Vixen. All three of those share a cinematic universe. iZombie will be its own thing when it arrives next month, but it, too, is a DC property. We’ve known since the last Television Critics Association Press Tour that the Arrow/Flash people were prepping another Arrow spin-off, this time for Brandon Routh’s somewhat divisive superhero Ray “ATOM” Palmer. But then The Flash devoted two episodes to thoroughly exploring Firestorm’s backstory which inevitably resulted in plenty of fans openly asking “Wait, are they about to give him a spin-off too?” According to Deadline, neither Arrow nor The Flash is getting its own specific spin-off now. Instead, the producing trio behind both shows, Berlanti/Guggenheim/Kreisberg, is combining ATOM and Firestorm into some kind of potential superhero team-up show which would function as a general spin-off of the Arrow/Flash universe.
Or at least I think that’s what’s happening because, honestly, Deadline’s story is straight-up bonkers. It kind of reminds me of earlier this month when I saw the Deadshot/Harley Quinn-less line-up for DC’s New Suicide Squad (Parasite, someone called Black Hand, Poison Ivy, Reverse Flash, Cheetah, and Talon) and thought, “WTF!” This Arrow/Flash spin-off is going to be headlined by Brandon Routh (right, sure, what you’d expect), Victor Garber (can’t do Firestorm without him), Wentworth Miller (Captain Cold? What’s he doing here? Isn’t it a little too soon to take the leader of the Rogues away from The Flash?), and Caity Lotz (now you’re just making this shit up? Sara Lance is dead. Are we talking a long-lost twin sister or magical resurrection or just a brand new character who looks exactly like Sara Lance?).
What about Robbie Amell? Why would Victor Garber be involved but not Robbie Amell? Firestorm’s not just some superhero who suddenly decides, “Huh. I control fire. I am going to put on this costume and call myself Firestorm.” It’s actually a fusion of two people, Ronnie Raymond’s body and Dr. Martin Stein’s mind, as was so eloquently established on The Flash. Why would you then split those two up and put Victor Garber on a different show? Either Deadline doesn’t have all the facts here which would be understandable considering that they did stress we’re early on in the development process at this point, or The Flash is heading for a fundamental change to how Firestorm works before the end of its current season.
The additional details from Deadline are that due to the popularity of Arrow/Flash it is expected this new team-up show will go straight to series, possibly ready in-time for a mid-season premiere next year. They admit they have no idea who Caity Lotz will be playing for sure, and that “the new project will include three major DC Comics characters who have never appeared in a TV series.” Before you start wondering who those three characters might be, remember that Deadline said “in a TV series.” That means all 10 seasons of the increasingly Justice League happy Smallville as well as Arrow and The Flash.
In fact, since they didn’t specify live-action or animated it could also technically mean Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League/Justice League Unlimited, Young Justice, Teen Titans Go!, etc. Assuming they meant live-action, though, that would also technically include Lois & Clark and Superboy. That’s just my way of saying I have no idea who the characters could be because I lost track of everyone you would have to disqualify, and with Warner Bros. opting for a multiverse approach where their films exist in one continuity and TV shows in a different one it would seem just about anyone outside of the big three (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) is fair game.
As an Arrow/Flash fan, I feel like I should be more excited about all of this than I actually am. After all, I was skeptical back when they cast Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, and now I easily like The Flash more than Arrow. Even going outside of DC, I was one of the countless many who thought Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy would be terrible. My mistake. But with this potential superhero team-up show it’s like they’re simultaneously selling high and selling low. Taking a character from the current season of Arrow and putting him into his own show? Ugh. Why? Arrow is still watchable, but an increasingly frustrating show to deal with right now. Why would you want to expand even further outward from that mess?* Taking two characters from The Flash and putting them into their own show? Well, okay. Now we’re talking. The Flash also has its own issues, but it’s remarkably enjoyable and probably more competently put-together.
Caity Lotz is the wildcard here. That’s the part that makes no sense whatsoever, yet it’s the part that has truly piqued my interest. Wouldn’t resurrecting Sara Lance pretty much undercut everything Arrow has done to mourn her death? Yeah. Wouldn’t casting her in a different role just be flat-out weird, especially considering the odd fact that she was herself actually the second person to play Sara Lance making it seem like they just keep casting Caity in new roles? Yeah. If they do have Sara Lance back won’t that be rather damaging to Laurel, giving the impression that fans were so displeased with her Black Canary that the producers had to bring back Sara just to appease them? Probably. Yet I’m kind of okay with it because I really like Caity Lotz, or at least liked her as Canary.
Frankly, this all seems like the type of thing that makes total business sense but very little story sense right now. In the interest of guarding against market saturation (as well as stretching the producers too thin) I would almost prefer they develop this spin-off as an Agent Carter-like bridge series to air while Arrow or Flash is on winter hiatus. Ultimately, this news raises so many questions based on what’s happened on Arrow/Flash to this point that I come down on the side of being intrigued, but wanting to hear more concrete details. But if this goes through then I can’t wait to see who Felicity Smoak’s next love interest might be because after Barry Allen and Ray Palmer they, too, will clearly be groomed to get their own show.
What about you? Where do you fall on this spin-off idea? Have you been reading my Arrow reviews, and you’re just bummed the spin-off they’re going with is not one I pitched, like an Oliver Queen/Maseo buddy cop comedy or a workplace sitcom set at League of Assassins headquarters? I kind of am, too. Let me know either way in the comments.
*And, obviously, if you’re someone who totally loves what Arrow has done this season you probably have a very different reaction to this news.