Superhero TV season has come and gone, which means there’s yet another season under the belts of Supergirl, Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. Over the last year of TV some of these shows defied expectations, and some lost their way—but there’s always room for the things we want to see them do next.
Mon-El ultimately ended up being one of the biggest problems of Supergirl’s second season. The show wildly refocused itself around Kara and Mon-El’s will-they-won’t-they-now-how-do-we-break-them-up nonsense way too much this part season, and as alarmingly charismatic both Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood are on screen together, their relationship ultimately came at the cost of spending solid time with Kara as a character and watching her grow. Instead, we saw Mon-El basically become a Gary Stu while Kara stood by.
Given how poorly the show resolved Kara and James’ romantic tensions in order to bring Mon-El on the scene, it’s time to just let Kara be on her own for a bit. If we want more romance on Supergirl, focus it on Alex and Maggie, a couple that definitely needs more time under the spotlight.
Supergirl instantly gets better when Cat Grant is around. Calista Flockhart is an absolute joy to watch as she effortlessly barges into a room, puts everyone down, and comes off as only person around really having any fun, but with the unfortunate reality of the show moving to Vancouver to film, she can’t be on the show as much.
That’s okay—Cat Grant is a potent enough force that she can be bottled up and saved to be delivered in key moments, like weaponized camp—but if we can’t have Cat around as often, then Kara needs a mentor figure at CatCo., and James Olsen isn’t really cutting it (especially since he’s spending way more time being Guardian than working there). Snapper Carr is so rarely around that he might as well have never been there. Supergirl has a number of mentors, but Kara doesn’t, and it’s a glaring absence. She needs someone she can bounce off of for matters that can’t be solved with heat vision.
Between the overbearing weight of her romance with Mon-El, the arrival of Superman on the show, James becoming Guardian, and much of Supergirl’s supporting cast increasing their time in the limelight, season two lost its titular character much more often than we liked. The slow burn in season one of her growth as a superhero and in her personal life felt like it almost entirely dissipated in season two to focus on Mon-El. With him out of the way, the show needs to step back on broadening its cast of characters and remember that ultimately the show is about Kara’s journey and evolution, rather than trying to become Supergirl and Friends.
In some ways, the fact that Supergirl doesn’t try to bring in series-long foes sets it apart from its fellow CW/DC shows, and the few attempts its made to bring in bigger villainous forces have fallen a bit flat (remember when Non was a thing on this series?) It could do with interweaving its villains-of-the-week with a character that can act as a real, persistent opposition to Kara. The show seems like it could already do this in the form of major new big bad Reign next season, but it’d be nice to have an antagonist that acts as a bigger foil to Kara than her regular spate of villains.
The Arrowcave got way too busy in season five. Wild Dog, Artemis, Mr. Terrific, and Ragman jostled for the spotlight to the point that most characters ended up feeling like they got short shrift, especially with the show rightfully spending time with Diggle and Felicity over the new recruits. With Evelyn a traitor and Rory out of action, there’s already been some cuts, but honestly, Curtis could probably do with a shift from being a not-great-vigilante back to being Felicity’s support.
We know Rene and Dinah are being upgraded to regular characters for the next season, so Wild Dog, Black Canary, and Green Arrow seem like a much more reasonably sized team.
One thing Arrow has not really touched on from the source material is Oliver Queen’s deep passion for activism and social justice. These beliefs have long driven Ollie’s sense of heroism in the comics (and play a crucial part in the character’s current Rebirth series), but TV’s Ollie rarely dabbles in fighting for the people as opposed to just fighting bad guys. Plus, themes of protest, civil disobedience, and grassroots activism are kind of hot topics right now, so it’d be a great way to honor the comics iteration of the character and do something that feels timely.
When Arrow lost its way in season four, the cast and crew were quick to blame the introduction of mystical elements through the arrival of Damien Darhk rather than anything else, and then scurried back to a more grounded, pre-Flash version of the show to reassure disappointed fans. But as much as the CW might desperately want him to be, Green Arrow is no brooding Dark Knight. He’s the sort of character that can absolutely balance realistic villains like gangsters and corrupt officials with the wacky world of supervillains and space aliens. Arrow doesn’t need to go Legends of Tomorrow on itself, but it’d be nice to see it loosen up a bit again. Let that boxing glove arrow fly free!
Of all the DC/CW shows, Legends of Tomorrow probably has the least to improve on, because season two already did so much of the hard work in reforging the show as the wacky, super fun corner of the this TV universe. So season three, give or take a few tweaks, needs to pretty much keep on keeping on: embrace the fact that these characters have no right being anywhere near the controls of a highly advanced time-traveling spaceship, and then let them have access anyway. It is so much fun to see these guys try, screw up, and then grow as characters, but still be hilariously goofy in the process.
One of the strongest points of Legends’ second series was its sheer earnestness in bringing us to a new time period and new location every episode. I mean, when you’re a time travel show, you might as well leap on the narrative opportunity of being anywhere and any time every week, right? The climax of season two might have given us the messed-up, mashed-up, time-altered Los Angeles for the Legends to play with, but if the show can keep on its toes when it comes to settings in season three beyond that, it’ll be great.
Rip Hunter is a wet blanket in human form, and the minute Legends dumped him was the moment season two really got fun, as we watched a motley crew of screw-ups try their hands at becoming the Legends they were supposed to be. Unfortunately, even though season two ended with Rip out of the way again, we know he’s coming back next season—which is fine, if only so the show can dump him (again) and get back to focusing on Sara leading the team.
Legends has already proven it can handle some weird comic book nonsense—hell, the Justice Society was a major faction in season two!—and it’s done a pretty good job of introducing some out-there characters as additions to the team (even if Hawkman and Hawkgirl didn’t quite pan out as well as we’d hoped). If there are going to be new Legends coming in and out of the roster each season, then there’s definitely room for the show to loot decades and decades of DC comics history for ideas, instead of staying largely connected to characters we’ve seen on Arrow and Flash. (Also, I wouldn’t say no to having Matt Ryan’s Constantine return for a stint on the team, either.)
Time travel has become woven into the very essence of The Flash at this point, but it’s also the big thing that’s crippled Barry Allen’s ability to learn from his mistakes (and most of his time travel causes those mistakes, anyway). The show is much too quick to lean on Barry’s ability to alter the future or go back to the past as a crutch for its storytelling. Time travel has become as synonymous as “it was the speedforce!” as an excuse for some serious bullshit on Flash, especially in the last season, so Barry Allen needs to have his time-and-space privileges revoked for a while.
Three seasons of The Flash, three overarching villainous speedsters with links to Barry and the people he’s close with, three bad guys that Barry Allen has to beat by being struggling to be faster than them. For a guy who opens almost every episode with “My name is Barry Allen, I’m the fastest man alive!” that is objectively not the case most of the time. It’s just boring to see the same formula used over and over again, and season three’s reveal that big bad Savitar was a future, emo incarnation of Barry is the straw that broke the speed-camel’s back.
Admittedly, season four seems to be doing something new, dropping big hints that psychic comics villain the Thinker will be the big threat of the season. But hey, season three made it look like Dr. Alchemy would be the overarching threat, and we saw what happened with that, right?
Or maybe the show should just not have a big bad for a while? The more Flash has rooted itself in extended arcs, the less fun it is (Flashpoint last season, case in point), so spending time away from building up one big threat to bring the show back to a more villain-of-the-week sort of thing for a while would be very welcome. Variety is the spice of life and all that—but also, Legends proved just how much fun you can have in flipping the script repeatedly last season. There’s no reason The Flash couldn’t do the same.
Look, I get it. Part and parcel of a CW drama show is endless romantic tension, and the thought of a happy, stable lead couple is almost too much for your average CW executive to bear. But the insane lengths Flash has gone through to keep Iris and Barry apart from each other are becoming insulting. That the show basically broke the pair up for a few episodes last season just so the Supergirl crossover could have a song and scene where they get back together was bad enough, but the contrivance of season three’s cliffhanger ending separating the two yet again more was just tiresome. Let Barry and Iris get married, and let them live them in domesticated bliss for a bit. There are plenty of other ways for this show to stir up drama than by going back to that well again.