DC on CW: end of season wrap-up

I’m here to talk about the DC Comics shows on the CW, all four of which recently wrapped their seasons. You know, in these CW shows, they never use the word superhero, even though, as I understand it, both DC and Marvel share a trademark on the word. Instead, humans with powers are referred to as metahumans. I’ve grown accustomed to the difference, but they’ll always be superheroes to me.

Well, some of them are. Technically, Oliver Queen isn’t a superhero or metahuman. He’s just a super wealthy guy (or he used to be wealthy: it’s all kind of murky at the moment) who has extraordinary skill with a bow-and-arrow. It is his show, Arrow, that’s been around the longest on the CW, just finishing its fifth season, and renewed for a sixth season beginning in the fall. I’ve been on board this show since the beginning, even though it’s been an uneven ride at times, and this season was no exception.

Season Four ended with the defeat of Damien Darhk and the death of Laurel Lance. Season Five largely occupied itself with the recruitment and training of new members of Team Arrow. These members included Rene Ramirez, known as Mad Dog, a gun-toting vigilante who wears a hockey mask; Curtis Holt, whom we’ve known for a while as a science guy, but who now braids his hair and dons a mask as Mr. Terrific; Rory Regan, the Ragman, who left the team after his suit was damaged and who is missed because it was a real creepy effect; Evelyn Sharp, who was another archer as Artemis, but became a turncoat and sided with the villain Prometheus; and, later in the season, Dinah Drake, who is the new Black Canary. Felicity Smoak and Quentin Lance are still the support staff for Team Arrow, and John Diggle is still on hand as Spartan when he’s not in prison or in hiding. But, Thea Queen seems to have mostly hung up her Speedy togs.

This new team started off rough but eventually grew on me. This season’s villain arc really never gelled completely for me. I was confused by the introduction of Vigilante and Prometheus, even though we always knew that Adrian Chase was one of these. The Vigilante storyline never really had a satisfactory resolution. And I never really bought Prometheus’ motivation or his unlikely exploits. He just didn’t have time to pull all the stuff attributed to him on the show. And for me, even with the cliffhanger island explosions, the endgame lacked something. Heart, maybe. I’ve felt a curious lessening of heart for the entire season.

I’m glad Arrow has been renewed for a sixth season. It gives the show creators time to get everything pulled together, and maybe time for Stephen Amell to grow a genuine Van Dyke like the Ollie Queen from the comics. I’m on board for at least one more season. If the writers can recapture some of that magic from the first three seasons, I’ll remain in for the long haul.

Flash is the show that really captured the comic book experience for me. It actually featured a genuine superhero with super-powers. Metahuman, meta abilities, whatever. This may become a familiar refrain, but season three was not as engaging as the first two seasons. The Big Bad of the season—to borrow a Buffy phrase—was the self-proclaimed God of Speed, Savitar, who was a direct result of the Flashpoint universe created by Barry Allen when he went back in time to prevent his mother’s death. I liked the Zoom story in season two more, and the conclusion to season three was clumsily telegraphed. This has been my least favorite season to date, even though there were moments that I still really liked. A lot.

I will still be watching in season four, of course.

Supergirl made the jump from CBS to the CW, moving production from the US to Vancouver. There were abrupt changes to the show. The DEO was given a new headquarters. The burgeoning romance between Kara and James Olsen was scrapped. Cat Grant leaves the series until the end of the season. Alex discovers that she’s a lesbian. James becomes a vigilante superhero. Mon-El shows up.

This has been my favorite of the CW superhero shows. The show manages to go a bit dark during the season, but it still seems more positive than both Arrow and Flash. There is something reaffirming about the presence of Kara Zor-El in National City. Plus, we got the introduction of a new Superman in the series. It has been renewed for a third season, and I’m looking forward to more.

And then there’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. There is a lot here to like, and some genuine moments meant solely for the diehard comic book nerds. But, this is the weakest of the four shows. The stories are much more episodic that serial, even with the introduction of the Legion of Doom. This one will remain on my watchlist for season three, since the show was renewed along with the others, but it will have to come back with a big bang to keep my interest. I’ve been very close to bailing because nothing in the show seems to have lasting consequence. Nothing seems to matter. If that tone continues, I’m out.

These are definitely first-world complaints. We are lucky to live during a time where all of these comic book properties are being made into television shows. The 12-year-old me would have been absolutely euphoric. The older version of me is still pretty happy, if you haven’t noticed.

I’ll still be watching next season. And I’ll complain about the things I don’t like. That’s what fandom is all about.

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