Wednesday, August 12, 2020

DC Superfan vs CW's DC Universe

I was born in DC. I grew up in DC. I didn't like Marvel until I was a man.

Okay I'm not that bad.

Honestly I did grow up with everything DC. I love DC comics. I don't just like Robin, I have a favorite Robin (Tim Drake, obviously). So when the CW started churning out superhero shows I of course hopped on board and after 8 years I have some... Critiques.

Beware they're be spoilers.

Also they're be catty remarks.

The Good
Let's just get out of the way that they're are plenty of parts of the Arrowverse I do like. I was invested for a while before giving up (we'll get to that later). I love seeing superheroes on TV, and more importantly being part of the common dialogue rather than confined to comic book stores and certain friends. I get that they couldn't be 100% true to the comics, they were telling their own stories and for the most part the changes were fun. The shows were able to expand on the stories of the heroes that are rarely if ever told. Green Arrow's origin story usually takes about a comic book panel, and here it was elegantly woven over seasons. The Flash usually works alone but here he has his own Scooby gang to help him out. I love most of the story beats they added.

Most notably is Felicity Smoak, the quirky hacker of Team Arrow. Invented just for the show she was later incorporated into the comics like my favorite hench-girl Harley Quinn. Felicity was a fun opposite to Oliver's dark and broody personality, bringing light to the show without overshadowing the deeper story lines. Felicity is a hero without having to put on a cape, being a support to her super hero friends by using the skills she has to feed them the information they need to get the job done.

The Bad
So what did I hate? Let me take a moment to explain a storytelling trope: The "Will They/Won't They". The trope introduces two characters who have chemistry together and a romantic tension but for some reason don't get together right away. As a garnish to a story these can be fun, like Firefly's Mal/Inara, or if it emphasizes the main overarching story like the Buffy/Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer which pitted Buffy's wants vs her need to be the Slayer.

Where this goes bad is when it overshadows the main story. A superhero story can of course have romance, but when it becomes a will they/won't they then we lose the epic superhero story and fall into soap opera territory. Green Arrow has three or four he goes through, including the aforementioned Felicity Smoak. What's worse was the Flash romance which isn't even a will they/won't they, revealed when we first see the newspaper from the future showing us that Flash and his love interest will eventually get married, so the will they/won't they became old fast.

By the time Flash's romance was getting old, Arrow was on its third will they/won't they with their main character, with piles of mini romances throughout the side characters. I wouldn't mind romantic storylines being woven into the main thread but here it started to feel as though superhero stories were being woven into the romance, like flipping to Batman The Animated Series during commercials while watching As the World Turns.

The Not-So Ugly
In the end my petty issues were enough to turn me personally off of the CW DC lineup, to the point where I haven't been interested in newer shows like Batwoman, but I get why people like them. The characters are strong despite being overly-focused on their relationships and the stories themselves are the same WWE with superpowers that are found in the comics, but it wasn't for me.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to get back to watching Sailor Moon. Oh I hope this is the episode where Usagi and Mommaru get back together....

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