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The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl: how CW can save their Superheroes!

I have previously written about how the progression of these shows could not only be catastrophic for the shows and the TV extended universe itself but could also signal the downfall of the entire superhero genre; extreme I know. So how can they ensure their relevance and future success going forward, its not like they have the weight of the genre on their shoulders right?

First things first, they have made a very good decision in bringing Supergirl into the shared universe of Arrow, The Flash and Legends on Tomorrow. The show has great potential, I adore the quirkiness of Melissa Benoist and I think the genre does need some more prominent female leads and successful standalone characters. She will bring a more positive energy and aura of hope in future crossovers, although I have expressed a desire for the dial to be turned down a notch or two on the cheerfulness indicator, it is still a distinctive attribute of the character and the series and could add a refreshing element to the other three CW shows.

Secondly, give Arrow a lease on life. The show is on its knees and desperately needs a boost in order to revitalise interest because it is running thin on ideas as it has insisted on escalating its sense of consequence to the levels of world nuclear destruction and magic. Perhaps they could make the entire focus of the series personal, make the issue personal and how Oliver can end his tenure as the Green Arrow, he seems to have been elected mayor and this season could be about him actually winning his freedom. Coming to see the cowl as a burden and a curse rather than a responsibility, make the persona the enemy rather than having an opposing villain. He has left the life behind before, but by choice and left it in the hands of others, this time it could all be about winning his freedom and saving himself instead of his city. The violence and destruction does not have to escalate in order to impact on the audience, battling our own personal demons can be just as soul-shattering. Stephen Amell has suggested there will be a toning down in this regard and more of a focus on issues in Star City so this would be a step in the right direction. Please can they also do away with the tragic dual storyline concept that has existed up until this point. The flashback sequences used to explain much of what was happening in the present and so often offered a useful devise to aid audiences understand and add context to the current day storyline. Now, it just seems to have lost its significance and seems to be acting as a parallel storyline rather than serving to add contextual information. Let’s also get Oliver away from the love stories too can we? He seems to be constantly in and out of love and, with the parallel storyline, seems to be in love with two people at once. It undermines the true relationships he does and has had and this repetitive theme is getting a little dull. Put love and peace at the end of a long tunnel that seems to only be getting more distant; make his life claustrophobic and make love something that seems out of reach and make that the aim of the season rather than adding it as melodramatic side note. The Green Arrow has somewhat acted as the TV version of Batman, in its mood and nature, so why don’t they borrow other elements of the Caped Crusader? Add in a greater emphasis on detective work. [Spoilers] At the end of Season Four he seems to have been left by most of his team, and should therefore have to rely on stealthier and strategic approaches. He has thus far used brute force, violent interrogation and computer hacking to get his information; if he is necessarily reconstructed so that he has to be more methodical and calculating it could make the show more gripping and suspenseful.

Regarding the Flash, I have already vocalised my frustrations at their constant exploitation, and confusing use of, time. [Spoilers] is now seems that they are introducing the ‘Flashpoint’ storyline and this can almost wipe the slate clean for not just the Flash but the entire DC TV universe. My hope would be that they do not change too much and follow it too closely, it will undoubtedly be a very difficult balance because many of the elements of ‘Flashpoint’ have already been introduced. Choosing whether or not to save his mother, losing his powers, having to reconstruct the conditions that gave him his powers and the Reverse-Flash’s involvement. Repetition of any if not all of these factors could have a significant negative affect on the show’s fan base and so should be treated with extreme caution. I would like to see a different type of main villain in Season Three, especially as they have portrayed them so well in the Seasons to date; but another speedster would be getting a little repetitive and please don’t just make it the Reverse-Flash again! They could be setting it up for ‘time’ or himself being the enemy, which would be an alternative idea, but given my reservation as to their use of this concept, there would have to be some exceptional storytelling for me to be convinced of this idea. I would have liked to see them make more of ‘the Turtle’ character as he could of acted quite brilliantly as a major opponent of the Flash, as he is literally the opposite in his abilities but sadly that does not seem to be happening.

Overall the major issue with the Flash is the time travel and the risk that it poses for introducing repetition, not just in its own series but in Arrow too as there was no solid indication as to what may happen next season suggests to me that they are leaving it open for some radical changes possibly due to the Flash’s intervention. Such as making deaths not-so-permanent and villains not-so-defeated so as long as they measure this out they should be fine.

One major structural changes to the shows should involve a decrease in the number of episodes per season. Supergirl did not have enough substance to carry itself for a full 23 episodes and suffers from the same issue as the Flash, in that the whole ‘bad guy of the week’ format draws out the main plot too long and we end up losing sight of the major goal which the production guys have actually developed and structured really well. Arrow has done much the same thing in that there is usually one major villain but they seem to be progressing towards taking him down and individual bad guys rarely act as a side-story within the series itself. However, it means that the story has to be written well in order to allow effective and believable manoeuvres made by said major villain otherwise it also gets tedious. So, to play it safe if they were to reduce each season to a maximum of 18 episodes then it will not seem like the story is dragging as much as it has been and yet still have enough length in order to develop and introduce depth to all the characters involved.

On a personal note, the final element the production guys at CW have to do is utilise the mechanism of crossovers as well as possible. Three episode crossovers are now a distinct possibility and would be absolutely awesome for audiences. They have been the highlight of the Flash and Arrow, and the Flash cameo in Supergirl was one of the most enjoyable episodes in all these superhero shows; purely for their chemistry which could be better explored given the stark contrast to Oliver Queen. My personal choice would be to develop an adaptation of the character Doctor Destiny and the episodes he dominates in ‘Justice League: The Animated Series’ (Episodes ‘Only a Dream: Part 1 and 2’). A character who can enter the mind and entrap, through dreams, those who fall asleep. I would envision a gradual escalation of his ambition as he would try to defeat or control the most powerful beings in the universe. He could start in an episode of Arrow, where he seeks to control Star City through the influence of Oliver Queen and then, he discovers, the Green Arrow, but through Oliver Queen he can discover the identity of the Flash. He then can take down and entrap the Flash but then discover the existence of Supergirl and that he could get there using Barry’s knowledge and Cisco’s power and technology. Taking over or capturing Supergirl, whilst Barry and Oliver pursue would be an brilliant idea for a three episode crossover and a great way for Oliver Queen to meet Cara Danvers. What I also loved about those episodes was exploring the worst fear of some of the best DC heroes; Flash was stuck living his life in super speed stating ‘I’m going to live my entire life in the time it takes you to tie your shoe lace”, whilst Superman (who could be assumed by Supergirl) was terrified he could not control his power and strength, leading to just the slightest touch destroying everything around him. Green Arrow would be a bit of a wild card but there are plenty of ideas for what Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow and his worst fears could be. I just think it would be awesome.

So that is my two cents on where CW should take the characters in their TV universe, I hope it was of value to you. What do you think? How can they make Supergirl more appealing? Do you think changing time will have a bad effect on the Flash series not just the character himself? What about Oliver Queen, where to next for him? Have you any ideas for a great three-episode crossover? Let me know your perspective.

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