Arrow may have started it all—it’s called the Arrowverse after all—but it’s no longer the best DC show on the CW. There’s a lot to look forward to this season: exploring Flashpoint, a major crossover between all four shows, a musical crossover between The Flash and Supergirl, and the reveal that a character on one of the four shows will come out this season.
The Flash and Arrow premiere this week, while Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow premiere next week. With the premieres so close, I think it’s time to see how the shows stack up against each other so far.
Minor spoilers for past seasons of these four shows below.
4. Legends of Tomorrow
Thursdays. Season two starts at 8 ET/7 CT on Oct. 13.
Legends of Tomorrow is fun and flashy, but when it comes to depth, it’s lacking. Its first season had an unexciting villain, which kept the tension low and derailed much of the series. Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) wasn’t intimidating, and he felt unrelated to most of the main cast. Luckily, he won’t be back in season two, which already has a much better set of villains: at Comic-Con, Legends executive producer Marc Guggenheim announced that the “Legion of Doom” would appear in the series. The Legion is composed of Reverse Flash (Matt Letscher), Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), Damien Darhk (Neal McDonagh), and former Legends protagonist Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller). These villains have all appeared in either The Flash or Arrow, so they’re already more connected to the Legends cast than Savage was.
But season one did have its successes. Thanks to its time travel basis and rotating team—season two adds Vixen (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) and Nathan Heywood (Nick Zano) to the main cast—this show has the most flexibility and potential. One of the best parts of Legends of Tomorrow is the sheer diversity in its main cast. There are heroes and villains fighting alongside each other, resulting in extremely interesting character relationships. Season one capitalized on this with many of its characters, especially Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) and Captain Cold.
The first season of Legends may not have outdone the other CW series, but the show is still full of potential, so it could rise up in the ranks after season two.
Wednesdays. Season five starts at 8 ET/7 CT on Oct. 5.
Arrow may have been the first of these four series, but it’s had much better years. The show has been faltering over the last two seasons. At this point, Oliver Queen’s (Stephen Amell) flashbacks might as well be commercials, and the show overall has lacked strong direction and focus. Season four would’ve been a bore if not for the strong performance from Neal McDonagh as antagonist Damien Darhk. That being said, Arrow was incredibly strong for its first two seasons; that’s why we now have four shows in the so-called “Arrowverse.”
Of the four shows, Arrow is the darkest and least flashy. Its vigilante lacks superpowers, and its setting is nearly as gritty as Gotham. But as the Arrow team has fallen apart in the show, it has lost the chemistry that gave the dark series its heart. Arrow’s shaky storyline is no longer fresh and original; it pales in comparison to the CW’s other DC shows.
The plan is for season five to return to its roots, and thankfully, it will also be the last season with flashbacks. So there’s hope for Arrow to rebuild its foundation before it’s too late.
Mondays. Season two starts at 8 ET/7 CT on Oct. 10.
If it wasn’t for Arrow’s recent weak seasons, Supergirl would be in the number three spot. But that doesn’t mean the first season failed to excel. Supergirl is the least tied to the Arrowverse, only crossing over with The Flash and starting with its first season on a different network. For season two, however, Supergirl is moving to the CW and is set to join the network’s four-series crossover. It’ll be interesting to see how the change in network will affect the show, which has already announced several new characters for season two.
The strength in Supergirl is its heart and the performance of its lead actor Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers. Its tone is closest to The Flash, much of it lighthearted and hopeful. The villains weren’t the best (in fact, it sometimes felt like there wasn’t even a central antagonist), but Benoist’s performance as Supergirl easily anchored the show. Kara was strong but vulnerable, optimistic but flawed. The lead cast also included other strong female characters, from Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) to Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh). Among the Arrowverse’s mostly male-led series, this was very refreshing. Supergirl also had some strong twists throughout that kept the tension and pace at their best.
We’ll see how the switch from CBS to CW impacts the show, but if it builds upon its season one foundation and brings in a better villain, Supergirl shouldn’t have any trouble.
1. The Flash
Tuesdays. Season three starts at 8 ET/7 CT on Oct. 4.
You could say I’m biased here since The Flash is my favorite superhero, but it’s hard to argue that The Flash is currently the strongest of these shows. The Flash is a bright and fun show, but it also has an emotional depth that takes it to the top. The focus on family is clear, with much of Barry Allen’s (Grant Gustin) motivation coming from protecting his family and his team at S.T.A.R. Labs.
The show uses time travel and dimensions sparingly, but enough to freshen up the series and show different sides of the characters. In Earth-Two, we’ve seen a powerless Barry Allen, evil Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and evil Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), and detective Iris West (Candice Patton). The Flash always has a purpose to these fun reveals though. Barry’s time in Earth-Two hugely affects the plot, his character and the others on his team. This is a well-balanced, well-paced series with strong writing and acting, so it’s no surprise it has done so well during the first two seasons. The series also embraces its comic book origins; season three is kicking off with the show’s own version of Flashpoint, which has potential to shakeup the series and add to its depth.
At this rate, it’ll be a challenge for any of the other shows to outspeed The Flash in this ranking.
Wondering about diverse characters in these shows? The shows each feature multiple characters of color, with more being added this season. Supergirl is the most female focused, but each show has female characters in its main cast. Also, in addition to the announcement that one already established character will come out this season, each show has at least one LGBTQ character.