Comics / Cult Favorite

TV Super-Hero Half-Time Report: Arrow and The Flash


By Philip Schweier
December 16, 2015 - 09:06

We’re at the mid-season mark for American television, so let’s share some thoughts regarding DC’s comic book based TV shows, Arrow and The Flash.

ARROW: Over the past four seasons, the series has expanded its cast to include not only Green Arrow, but other heroes as well – Black Canary, Arsenal, Speedy, and the as-yet-un-code-named Diggle. Then, there’s often a guest super-hero; could be the Atom, could be Wildcat, or some other DC character.

So what’s the story arc so far? Well, it seems mystical bad boy Damian Darhk (sp?) is determined to ruin Star City, much like Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins. Motivation and end game are still shrouded in mystery. However, Team Arrow is not without leads, often presented by Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), current leader of the League of Assassins. He appears out of the shadows, imparts some arcane information, and then quickly fades away, fulfilling his dues ex machina role.

Part of the series’ narrative style has been the flashbacks of Oliver Queen’s five years away from Star City. Originally, we were led to believe he was stranded on an island in the North China Sea. It’s now come to light part of that time was spent as an agent for Amanda Waller, though this season’s underlying story arc is still rather vague. He’s infiltrated yet another group of mercenaries on the island, though why they’re there has not been adequately explained.

Recently, during one of the show’s ubiquitous fight scenes, I noticed a considerably diminished camera quality to the show, as if it had been filmed on someone’s cell phone. This seemed an additional layer of camera obscura, amidst the quick cutaways in poor lighting to prevent the audience from realizing, “Hey! That’s not Stephen Amell, that’s a stunt double.”

Another complaint I have is how carefully choreographed the fights seem to be. Each hero’s opponent matches them move-for-move, a ballet of brawling and head bashing. I would expect fights to be much more organic, landing awkward punches and taking clumsy spills, especially if those involved have been trained in different hand-to-hand disciplines.

Catie Lotz and Stephen Amell as Black Canary and Green Arrow
As the cast has grown over the course of the show, several supporting characters have been introduced – too many, in my opinion. In addition to the Atom (Brandon Routh), the show has literally resurrected Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), the original Black Canary. Now that her sister has adopted the super-hero identity, Sara is slated to become the White Canary, as a member of the forthcoming Legends of Tomorrow (more about that later).

Once these peripheral characters are spun off into another show, there will hopefully be more pruning of the cast. The fall finale (if taken at face value) telegraphed the demise of one of the long-standing characters. Throughout the episode, it was an excruciatingly obvious plot development – unless it all turns out to be a red herring. Time will tell.

THE FLASH: From the same team that brought you Arrow, we are given season two of The Flash. The two series are tied closely together, and cast members from one sometimes appear on the other. Unfortunately, it’s rare that it’s done with much purpose other than as a gimmick – kind of like when Fonzie would show up on Laverne & Shirley.

Flash of Two Worlds - Grant Giustin (L) and Teddy Sears (R).
The Flash
has also featured a sizable cast, and more have been introduced, thanks to the particle accelerator explosion that gave Barry Allen his super-speed. In addition, this season has featured the Earth 2 concept, allowing even more super-powered characters to pop in as needed: this includes the Jay Garrick Flash, and an assortment of villains.

Other new heroes debuting on The Flash include Firestorm, a hold-over from last year, but now played by Franz Drameh. I suspect Robbie Amell opted to leave the role for some reason, requiring a plausible explanation for the recasting. Future Hawkgirl Kendra Saunders (Ciara Reneé) was also introduced.

Arrow and Flash featured a cross-over episode which laid additional foundation for Legends of Tomorrow. It was refreshing, as it stepped away from their respective season storylines, much like life, when one personal crisis overrides another.

While both shows seem top-heavy in terms of major characters, supporting roles and seemingly endless guest heroes, I give the show runners kudos for trying to work in some genuine emotion into each show. The characters are often shown struggling with more emotional issues, such as trust, personal relationships, and potential self-destruction.

LEGENDS OF TOMORROW: For those not in the loop, Legends of Tomorrow is a new series scheduled for launch in January, 2016. One informed source said that the original intent was to launch a Suicide Squad series, featuring various villains from both Arrow and The Flash.

Instead, DC Entertainment chose to feature Suicide Squad in a feature film. The spin-off series was retooled to feature an assortment of characters introduced within the shared Arrow/Flash television universe, which is separate from DC’s movies.

My hope is that with Legends characters “harvested” from Arrow and The Flash, those shows can concentrate on engaging storylines, instead of gimmicky guest stars. Currently, Legends consists of a self-contained story, told over the course of the 16 episodes. Future installments could then serve as a launch pad for any future DC characters, rotating cast members on an as-needed basis.
Legends of Tomorrwo will feature (l-r) Rip Hunter, Hawkgirl, Firestorm, White Canary, Atom, Captain Cold and Heatwave

Praise and adulation? Scorn and ridicule? Email me at

Last Updated: April 9, 2021 - 22:22

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