Arrowverse overdue for change

Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow are losing viewers with every season, almost every episode. The only thing that can attract more viewers today are the annual crossovers between the three shows and Supergirl. And while The Flash has taken a better approach this year, with the main villain finally being a non-speedster, and adding one more distinctive metahuman to the team, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow are not as good.

The biggest error of Arrow to date is its complete discredit of death, one of the most powerful moves in storytelling. Since season 2 every time some one dies we are no longer touched, since we are not sure the death is permanent. Over the course of the series we have seen numerous ways dead characters are brought back. And it’s not only about the characters, but the actors’ faces too. By introducting the Multiverse, Season 2 of The Flash has opened the Pandora’s box along with interesting opportunities. Now every character’s doppelgänger can return without the need to be resurrected.

By introducing Laurel the metahuman from Earth-2 the writers did not start a new story but have continued the old one. All the tags of the original Laurel still hang on the characters, and the biggest proof is Quentin’s attitude.

Over six years a whole bunch of characters were brought back: Sarah Lance (more on her later), Laurel Lance, Harrison Wells, Damian Darkh, Malcolm Merlyn, Captain Cold and more. Moreover, if any one really dies, it’s usually supportive or extra characters, like the almost invisible death of William’s mother at the beggining of Arrow season 6, or one of the Wells’ at the end of The Flash season 3. He was more or less developed, but we got another Wells again at the beggining of season 4.

So far there were only three meaningful deaths in Arrowverse (now comprised of 13 seasons of the 3 shows): Tommy Merlyn, Moira Quinn, and Eddie Thawne. On the other hand, there are flat characters still running that are not interesting anymore, first and foremost John Diggle, Felicity Smoak and Quentin Lance. Even the passing of the hood to Diggle didn’t further his character development. Those three characters must either die permanently or drastically change their status, for example Diggle from hero to antihero. It was a mistake to drop the Suicide Squad storyline from season 2. That’s exactly where Diggle and Deathstroke could pair up, as their interactions were very limited. That way, both of their military pasts could be further explored. Felicity already had a chance to die back in season 4, but the writers decided to pass on it.

It was a good turn – passing the bow to some one, but a bad one to pass it to Diggle. Arsenal would be a much better choice, that would actually raise him as a character by putting in a leading position of the team.

And, finally, Sarah Lance. She is perhaps the most damaged character. Two times presumed dead, one time killed and resurrected. And White Canary in Legends is much worse than just Canary in Arrow. She only seems natural during tragic moments, but not when cracking jokes, and that is certainly a bad thing for comedy show.

Perhaps it’s time to switch the format entirely. 23 episodes are too long for a season, the plotlines are stretched and boring. Cutting down 10 or 13 episodes could do for better and bigger stories. If the Arrowverse doesn’t change soon – like 2018-19 season, it’s downfall will be inevitable. The recipe – new characters, permanent deaths, complicated character developement, shorter and more concentrated stories.

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