Here's How The Arrowverse Will Be Different In 2021 And Beyond
With the end of Arrow and the conclusion of the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover last season, it was pretty clear that things were going to be different going forward in The CW's shared DC Universe of TV shows (colloquially, "the Arrowverse"). When the final installment of "Crisis" aired on January 14, though, it would have been virtually impossible to guess how different the Arrowverse would be by the time the next crossover aired. With casting changes, shows ending, and new shows beginning, it feels like the aftermath of the Crisis has given fans a soft reboot of the Arrowverse, and at this point it's a lot to keep track of.
At first, it was just the departure of Arrow, the universe-defining series that came to a close with the death of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amlle) at the end of "Crisis on Infinite Earths." But it wasn't long after the season 1 finale of Batwoman aired that series star Ruby Rose announced she was leaving the show, with her character to be written out and a new character taking up the mantle of Batwoman.
Since then, it's been a roller coaster ride, with new cancellations and new pilots announced at a clip that casual fans are likely having a hard time keeping up with.
So, we're here to break down the highlights. A little note, though: while the Crisis established that basically every show on TV and every movie ever made is part of the Arrowverse's multiverse, we're going to stick with the primetime shows airing on The CW and created FOR The CW (so, no Swamp Thing). We're also going to say up top that since Stargirl is not making any significant changes that we know of yet, and it won't be regularly crossing over with the Earth-Prime shows, we're going to let that one slide.
But beyond that, what's going on in the next year or so of the Arrowverse? Let's take a look...!
New: Batwoman II
As we mentioned, Ruby Rose is leaving Batwoman, and Kate Kane is going with her. That frees up the cape and cowl for Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie), who will have a different approach to the superheroine (and a much better wig, to be honest). The new character will have to deal with Kate's disappearance as well as fully re-establishing herself with the supporting cast, since virtually every character in the show was tied closely to Kate's life and family.
No word yet on how this will impact the planned crossover event, which was to be much smaller and simpler than Crisis but was set to take place between Batwoman and Superman & Lois.prevnext
New: Superman and Lois
Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois Lane (Bitsie Tulloch) will finally get their own show, as the couple heads back to Smallville to juggle raising two teenage boys with the responsbilities of being the world's most famous superhero and one of the planet's (no pun intended) most recognizable investigative journalists, respectively.
This likely changes the least in the Arrowverse, since Hoechlin's Superman has been around for a while and it's basically just the Supergirl spinoff we have all been asking for. Still, with the Arrowverse's merging of its multiple earths still fairly recent, and Superman being the hero that the world looks up to and has expectations of is something they can definitely play with as he struggles with kids who maybe don't look at him the same way that the world does, and/or heroes who don't remember him because of timeline shenanigans now having to adjust their thinking.prevnext
After six seasons, Supergirl is hanging up her cape. Melissa Benoist announced earlier this fall that when the series returns in 2021, it will have a final, 20-episode season and then conclude.
There is no word yet on what fate might befall Kara Zor-El, although it's unlikely she will die. Arrow was something of an abberation there, since the nature of the story kind of demanded that Oliver go down swinging like that. Kara, as a symbol of hope, will likely survive and maybe relocate to the future or something.prevnext
When Black Lightning comes back to the airwaves in 2021, Jordan Callowan's Painkiller will reportedly be front and center. The character, who was originally the boyfriend of Black Lightning's daughter Jennifer Pierce (China Anne McClain), was given super powers by series big bad Tobias Whale after an injury that left the former high school sports star unable to walk. He has been through a lot in the last three seasons, even dying at one point and then being brought with no memory of his previous life. His past and those challenges have come together to make him the show's most compelling and sympathetic villain.
Now, The CW has reportedly asked the producers of Black Lightning for a backdoor pilot that would help set up a potential Painkiller spinoff. While the hope is to launch a new series, the pilot will not be a stand-alone Painkiller episode but rather an episode of Black Lightning that will air during the upcoming fourth season.prevnext
New: Wonder Girl
Greg Berlanti's next DC project in development at The CW will be Wonder Girl -- but it will not be Donna Troy (Conor Leslie), the version of the character seen on Titans. Instead, the series will star the relatively new character of Yara Flor, daughter of an Amazonian warrior and a Brazilian river god. The newly-created character will be the Wonder Woman of DC's upcoming Future State event in the comics, which time-jumps its universe forward to see a new and more diverse DC Universe led by new versions of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and other key heroes. It launches in January.
There is no indication in this initial announcement whether Yara Flor's story will be part of the shared Arrowverse continuity or not. If so, it may acknowledge the third season of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, when the Legends sent Helen of Troy to live on Themyscira, and she later returned in Amazonian armor to help them battle a demon.
Popular DC TV series have started to seep their way into the main line comics in recent years, with the return of the long-unused Firestorm supporting character Felicity Smoak as well as the instroduction of Ryan Wilder, the new Batwoman, in a recent issue of Batgirl. Such a quick turnaround on the Ryan Wilder and Yara Flor stories likely signals an increased back-and-forth between the film/TV side of DC and the comics side, in spite of numerous painful layoffs on the comics side in recent months.prevnext
Out: Black Lightning
The CW's Black Lightning will join Supergirl and Arrow in the history books. The acclaimed superhero family drama is set to conclude its run after its upcoming fourth season, which begins in the spring of 2021. The series, which centers on superhero and educator Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning (Cress Williams), debuted in January 2018 and became the first of The CW's numerous superhero shows to center on a family of heroes, with Pierce's daughters Jennifer (China Anne McClain) and Anissa (Nafessa Williams) taking on the roles of Lightning and Thunder.
It seems from the first official comments by the production staff that Painkiller is being viewed as a continuation or evolution of the story they were telling on Black Lightning. How many, if any, of Black Lightning's cast members will play regular roles on that series, assuming it goes forward, is anybody's guess at this point.
"When we first started the Black Lighting journey, I knew that Jefferson Pierce and his family of powerful Black Women would be a unique addition to the super hero genre," series creator Salim Akil told Variety in a statement. "The love that Blerds and all comic book fans around the globe have shown this series over the past three seasons proved what we imagined, Black People Want To See Themselves in all their complexities."prevnext
Up in the Air: Green Arrow and the Canaries
Green Arrow and the Canaries, the planned Arrow spinoff that woul star Katherine McNamara, Katie Cassidy, and Juliana Harkavy, seems to be trapped in limbo. There's been no signal that Warner Bros. TV and The CW have given up on it yet, but it certainly seems to be dead if you're looking at it from the outside.
That wouldn't impact the day to day operation of the Arrowverse a ton, since that show would be set in the future, but it's definitely interesting that with the ends of Arrow and Black Lightning and no pickup for Canaries, it now seems that the DC Universe on The CW has landed itself firmly in the realm of the fantastical.prev