Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Panel Vision - Guide to All CW Superheroes

If you liked this article, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and please consider Donating to keep the blog going

Edited by Robert Beach

In 2012, the world of TV superheroes changed forever. That was the year CW partnered with DC to produce a new superhero show after the success of their 10-year Smallville series. The show was called Arrow, and it wasn’t good. And yet, it persisted, and, in 2014, it spawned a spin-off show with The Flash. Then, in late 2014, everything changed with the first annual Flash/Arrow crossover. Suddenly, both shows were changed out stripped-down realism, empty cynicism, and minimal ambition. Grandiose vision, weird sci-fi exuberance, and an attempt to emulate the sprawling expanse of the Marvel Universe in the realm of TV took hold. 

This led to a third TV show of Legends of Tomorrow and a crossover with NBC’s Constantine. Finally, the little experiment CW started gave birth to its crown jewel: Supergirl, a hit family adventure series that has become THE version of the Superman mythos for a generation. Given that all 5 shows of the CW universe (CWniverse, CW-verse) are on a break (or canceled in Constantine’s case), I’ve taken it upon myself to make this semi-chronological guide to all 37 superheroes of the CWniverse. Yes, pull up a chair. 

We begin where all things in the CWniverse began, with Green Arrow. It’s weird to think that a character like Oliver Queen could lead to such a sprawling experiment, especially how much of the show’s early seasons played like a disappointing Batman riff. The show’s sporadic quality is a big part of why it ended up eclipsed by its own spin-off and why a lot of fans think that the 5th season might be its final go-round.  

However, I might argue that it’s Green Arrow’s curious lack of identity that allowed his show to serve as such an idea test kitchen. After all, we weren’t seeing the jubilant GA of the ‘60s or the fiery progressive Green Arrow of the ‘70s. We saw just a hooded man with a bow and arrow.  With that little actual identity present, it allowed the show to introduce all kinds of weird ideas like sci-fi suits, magic, and super powers without seeming to clash with itself.

Pretty much as soon as everyone found out there was going to be a Green Arrow TV show, we all knew Black Canary was going to find her way into it somehow. At this point, the two are so intertwined they’re one of the few remaining power couples in superhero comics. There’s also the little-known fact that Black Canary had her own show back in the early 2000s with Birds of Prey (and also a role in Smallville)she’d already been fitted into the realm of live-action superheroes

I don’t think anyone liked the weird and elaborate multiple canaries the show was pushing. And I’m still not entirely clear why the current holder of the mantel is called “White Canary.” Given how much of Arrow’s early seasons are mired in mediocrity, I’m willing to forgive it. 

Huntress is one of the stranger additions to the CWniverse and definitely one of the more forgotten characters. There are a few of those in Arrow.  If you only joined things with Flash, Huntress was another arrow-based vigilante who went around murdering mobsters and acted as an antagonist in Arrow season 2. She’s actually a long-running part of the Batman universe in the comics, originating as Batman’s daughter with Catwoman, a role she still maintained in the 2002 Birds of Prey show.  

Her origin in Arrow was closer to her ‘90s backstory that she was the daughter of a mob boss and is seeking to avenge her father’s assassination. She’s still alive and in jail in the CWniverse, so who knows, maybe we’ll see her again before this is all over. 

Aside from Black Canary, Arsenal was the only other hero who pretty much HAD to show up in Arrow. I don’t think anyone expected it as soon as season 2. In the comics, he’s basically Green Arrow’s Nightwing, starting life as the teen sidekick Speedy before becoming the adult hero Arsenal after a gritty battle with heroin addiction. Clearly, most of that got retooled for the show because it was still season 2, and they weren’t ready to explore kid sidekicks or child drug abuse just quite yet.  

Arsenal’s been a rather sporadic part of the CWniverse, appearing in Arrow with some regularity, but he’s struggled to find his place in a post-Flash world. He hasn’t appeared in any of the big crossover events or had so much as a cameo outside Arrow. Most likely his absence is due to being just a less charismatic Green Arrow, but there’s also the matter of someone else being a more engaging sidekick.

So this is going to take a bit of explaining, which is one of the many reasons nobody thought Speedy was ever going to make it into the CWniverse. In the comics, Speedy was the name used by Roy Harper before he became Arsenal. After he outgrew the identity, the name and character just faded away till 2001 when a new Speedy named Mia Dearden was introduced. Mia is such a recent character, and with such a limited amount of content in the comics, nobody expected her to make it into the TV show. In a way, she didn’t.  

No, Arrow kept the basic “arrow girl” costume and name and created the character of Thea Dearden Queen as Oliver’s sister. I’m not necessarily sure I like this idea or the concept of her codename being a family nickname, but it’s certainly a better approach than the comics’ rigmarole. It also doesn’t help that Mia Dearden’s origin is wrapped in child prostitution, which is way too dark for Arrow’s sensibilities. 

Here’s another one for the list of forgotten CWniverse heroes. Ted Grant was a reoccurring supporting character all throughout season 3 of Arrow. He ran a gym that featured his codename (the Wildcat Gym), taught boxing to Black Canary, mentioned his son Tom Bronson who is a were-panther in the comics, and was even recast as a character of color for the show. Despite all that, and becoming a vigilante in his own right as the Wildcat, he was summarily written out of the show with no real reason or indication. 

I guess they felt season 3 was getting overly cluttered. Season 3 was filled with Ras Al Ghul and magic into the mix, but it’s still a shame he got chopped out like that. He and Huntress are the two Arrow characters I’d most like to see return, especially if they ever decide to create a modern incarnation of the Justice Society. 

Ray Palmer is really where things started to get strange for the CWniverse, even if he didn’t come into his own before joining the Legends of Tomorrow. Overall, he’s probably the most radically re-imagined hero CW has done, shedding nearly all of the characters original elements for something closer in style to Tony Stark.  Here, Ray Palmer is a CEO instead of a professor, and the Atom suit starts out as an Iron Man-style weapons system rather than a shrinking apparatus.  

In fact, for a character called “The Atom,” he doesn’t gain the ability to shrink till shockingly late in his inception. However, Brandon Routh’s portrayal of Ray Palmer is so fun, engaging, and unique it can’t help but cement this version as a favorite for the character.  

At this point, what is there even to say about CW’s The Flash?  Arrow may have launched this crazy adventure, but it was Flash that grabbed the wheel and became the rudder that steered the CWniverse to a better future. It single-handedly changed the style of the entire enterprise, launched a great spin-off of its own, and subsumed the only superhero show on TV better than it with Supergirl. At this point, I don’t even see why DC is bothering with a Flash movie. 

By the time they get their act together for a film, CW’s Flash will be the only version people have known for upwards of 5 years, and there’s no way a single film could hope to top what they’ve achieved in that time. The best evidence of this is that Grant Gustin isn’t even that compelling as the Scarlet Speedster. The show’s chemistry delights and its ambition electrifies. It's a super-speed cocktail all their own that puts everyone else in the rearview mirror. 

Flash may be the engine driving the CWniverse, but Vibe is unquestionably its heart and soul as well as its greatest miracle.  Before The Flash, Vibe was a joke, an insufferably shallow stereotype that exemplified everything wrong about one mercifully brief moment in comics’ history.  He was the punchline of the entire DC universe. And that’s a universe that’s included Kite Man, Crazy Quilt, and Arm Fall Off Boy.  

The fact Vibe received his own comic in 2011 had people screaming betrayal and now? He’s not only the breakout character of The Flash, he’s probably the second most popular hero of the entire CWniverse after Supergirl. It’s amazing that just making him a looser, funnier answer to Marvel’s Agent Coulson (complete with superpower) was enough to create such an enduring and beloved revision of a once-despised hero. This is like if Jar Jar Binks was the breakout star of Force Awakens. 

Much like Speedy, I’m surprised Firestorm made it to adaptation.  He’s only ever been seen previously on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. His origin and history is so weird, I dedicated an entire article to it (Link). However, unlike Speedy, Firestorm was more or less translated exactly to television with his adaptation. The main reason CW chose to adapt weird stuff like multiple people being able to bond together to form the Firestorm matrix was an accident. 

When Firestorm was introduced as Robbie Amell, he was meant to stay that way. Scheduling conflicts forced Amell out of the role, leading to Franz Drameh stepping in as Jefferson Jax. Thankfully, Victor Garber managed to stay on with the role as his portrayal of Dr. Stein is one of the best Jewish superhero adaptations we’ve seen. 

Constantine is another one of CW’s forgotten heroes, even if he’s allegedly going to be featured in Legends of Tomorrow Season 2B.  For those not in the know, John Constantine is a street wizard who appeared briefly in the main DCU before transitioning to be a staple of their adult readers imprint Vertigo comics. 

He was reintroduced to the mainstream in 2010 and has since become the face of DC’s magic users for reasons that aren’t immediately clear.  Those same opaque reasons are also what compelled WB to try and get him a TV show in 2014 on NBC, though that makes a bit more sense given how many supernatural series dramas have been big hits on the networks like Grimm, Supernatural, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The show as an absolute bomb and a tedious slog to get through, Matt Ryan was the one silver lining as a perfect Constantine.  Given that, and how gung-ho Arrow producer Greg Berlanti is about universe building, they had him reprise the role for a crossover with Arrow, even though Constantine was canceled by then. It was a decent enough episode, but it confirmed Constantine is in continuity with the rest of the Arrow universe, technically making part of the CWniverse and giving Ryan a free pass to return whenever he wants. 

A bit of a unique entry here, Specter was a supporting hero on Constantine in the time before it was canceled. Well, I say he was a supporting hero, but the truth is he never made it to realization. His character was SO heavily foreshadowed I’m counting him anyway.  This isn’t like Metamorpho or Elongated Man where all we’ve had is a throwaway reference in the background, Spectre’s realization was a major plot point and probably would’ve come about in the second half of the first season if they hadn’t been canceled.

The character is also one of my favorites as well as one of the weirdest aspects of the DCU overall. Originally created in the ‘40s, the initial pitch for the Spectre was that he was an avenging ghost. Over the years, that’s morphed into him literally being the wrath of God. Basically, he’s an avenging force tasked to carry out God’s ironic and gory justice upon the wicked, a powerful entity bound to a mortal soul to keep it grounded.  It’s a dynamite pitch and has led to some of the darkest and sleaziest comics you’ll ever read; it's a shame he couldn’t make it to the small screen.

Now we’re getting into the real prime of the CWniverse, even if the characters here are a little odd.  In the case of Mr. Terrific, he was built up for an entire season before he dawned his impossibly cool jacket, yet the version we got of him is bizarre.  In the comics, Mr. Terrific is the 3rd smartest man in the world, which still puts him ahead of virtually everyone else. He’s got degrees up the whazoo; he's a champion athlete; he sold his tech security company for big money; he has a dead wife for motivation, and the bizarre metahuman ability that he’s invisible to all electronic recording. 

That’s a great character pitch and a big part of why he’s one of the few heroes from the 2000 Justice Society of America comic to actually endure. Yet, for some reason, the show version of Mr. Terrific is a bumbler and shockingly incompetent. I get that this is the young pre-Terrific version of hero, but he’s still much more in the vein of sidekick material as opposed to leading the Justice Society or what have you. But hey, he’s got the T-spheres, the face paint, and the jacket, so I guess it works. 

Here’s a bit of a difficult character to pin down, mainly due to scheduling conflicts. Vixen first appeared on Arrow during the Mystic season of the show when they were going up against the immortal sorcerer Damian Darkh.  She was a cool addition, and it was decidedly impressive to see her mystic animal powers in live action. After that, she was meant to join Legends of Tomorrow, the home for cool CW characters not charismatic enough to carry their own TV show. Due to scheduling conflicts, the actor couldn’t reprise her role. The solution came with was to have it be a Vixen from the 1940s. 

That probably needs some explanation, so the deal with Vixen is that she has the power to utilize animal abilities through her magic totem, an ancient African necklace. However, because the amulet has existed for eons into the past, that means there have been several “Vixens” before the one Green Arrow met in the present, which is where the Vixen of the 1940s comes in. It’s an interesting conceit even if ‘40s Vixen ends up more or less the exact same hero as modern Vixen. They don’t even give her any ‘40s slang to throw around. 

Here’s a character that’s not at all difficult to get a handle on. Let’s do this fast because there’s a lot of comic history involved in explaining Jay Garrick that I don’t want to get bogged down in.  The original Flash was created in the early ‘40s as part of the superhero boom in the wake of Superman’s debut, he was a super speedster named Jay Garrick that looked like this. 

After World War 2 ended, superheroes fell out of vogue until the mid to late ‘50s when they made a return on the back of the weird science genre. DC Comics decided that rather than make new characters, they’d rework classics of the ‘40s for a new audience; therefore, the Barry Allen Flash, the one we know from the TV show, was born.

The only problem at the time was that Superman and Batman had both been continuously published during the gap years, so fans started to wonder why the Flash was now a kid named Barry Allen with no hat. To explain this and capitalize on nostalgia for the older DC characters, Earth-2 was created as a parallel universe where all their old 1940s heroes, like Jay Garrick, lived.  

And that’s the story of why, on The Flash, Jay Garrick comes from a parallel world where he’s the fastest man alive. Anyway, John Wesley Shipp is a perfect Jay Garrick and not just for the joke-y shout-out of him playing the Flash on the forgotten ‘90s live action show. He embodies the worldly wisdom of Jay as well as his friendly fatherly nature spot on. 

And now we enter the Legends of Tomorrow era for CW. Part of me has actually always wondered if CW created the Legends of Tomorrow as an excuse to explain why so many of their heroes didn’t crossover more often. I mean, it’s a little hard to believe a threat to Star City is that big if it’s not attracting the attention of folks like the Atom or Firestorm. Launching them into the time stream was probably the best way to solve that little problem, even if I’m not sure why they needed to take Heat Wave and Captain Cold with them. 

In any event, Rip Hunter is another character like Constantine who’s somewhat of an odd duck in the DCU. He initially debuted in the ‘50s weird science era of comics and, despite a few cameos, was summarily forgotten by most modern books. Then, in the mid-2000s, Rip Hunter came roaring back to take over a big chunk of DC’s story universe, mainly due to the fact DC architect Geoff Johns was a big fan.  

The version we have here is about on point with his comics counterpart, though he’s much more British on the show. I do like the cheeky in-joke of casting an actor from Doctor Who on a time travel show, maybe they should get Matt Smith to be the villain for an episode or two. 

If you’re wondering why I’m putting these two together, it’s that there’s never been enough to either of them to sustain a solo career. In any event, the Hawks entering into the CWniverse might’ve seemed like an odd idea at the time, but they make more sense than most. Even though feathers are difficult to render, the flying wing effects are still much easier to achieve than the Atom’s shrinking or Firestorm’s perpetual flame, especially considering that Hawkman was one of the many heroes who appeared previously on Smallville. 

Speaking of, I do like that Legends of Tomorrow turned that focus on its head, making Hawkgirl its central character while Hawkman tended to get shoved to the margins. It’s honestly a shame these two didn’t get to stick around for season 2 given how open they were about Hawkman’s position as a creepy stalker. At the very least, I would’ve liked a chance to check in on them during that giant alien invasion crossover, just to see what they were up to. 

Chances are if you know Jonah Hex at all it’s from that unfortunate live-action movie with Josh Brolin back in 2010. He’s another DC hero in the vein of Constantine and Rip Hunter in that he’s not really a superhero, but ends up lumped into the super universe by association. The scarred bounty hunter first emerged in the ‘70s when DC was actively diversifying their range of comics, adding stuff like westerns, horror, and fantasy back into their stable.  

He ended up as a synthesis of spaghetti western affects that made him a majorly popular DC hero, ensuring he stuck around in the margins of the Universe for decades to come. Hex has also traveled to the future, fought Cthulhu, and teamed up with demons in his solo adventures, so it’d be cool to see that show up in Legends of Tomorrow at some point. 

I’m not even sure I should count Connor Hawke as a CW hero given everything that’s happened, but their universe is so fluid I’m willing to make this call. In the comics, Connor is the son of Oliver Queen who took over as Green Arrow for a time when Oliver was dead (he got better.) He was a big deal in the mid-‘90s and early 2000s as he was a new, mixed-race hero and joined the Justice League alongside fellow hero of color Steel. Since then, however, he’s passed into the big bin of forgotten diversity along with Jakeem Thunder and Crimson Avenger. 

In the CWniverse, they forwent Connor’s relation to Oliver to make him Diggle’s son in a possible future where Star City became an apocalyptic disaster area. He was pretty cool and even teamed up with robot arm Green Arrow, but the future setting means we probably won’t be seeing him again. What’s more, when the Flash altered history, he erased Diggle’s son from existence, so it could be that Connor Hawke just doesn’t exist in any future now. At the same time, CW has always played fast and loose with continuity and multiverse, so maybe he’s still out there in a parallel timeline or pocket dimension or something. 

It’s shocking to think now that right in the midst of the ongoing train wreck that is the DCEU we would get a Super-branded show as excellent as Supergirl, largely because Supergirl isn’t even that perfect. I mean, the show has many strengths, but the writing can often come off clunky and the villains disappointing. None of that really matters because there’s so much heart and quality at its core that it completely wins you over. There are a lot of things that contribute that quality, but the soul of the show really is Melissa Benoist as Supergirl. 

Benoist is easily the most earnest and caring vision of a member of the House of El we’ve had since Tim Daly from Superman: The Animated Series. She perfectly captures the morality and power of Supergirl without losing sight of the compassion and hope that so often eludes adaptations of the Superman mythos. If there’s any character on this list that CW got spot-on, it’d have to be Supergirl.  

This goes beyond just being a good adaptation as well. The Supergirl of the comics has always been a mercurial creation of middling quality. Benoist’s Supergirl is so far beyond that; it’s as if we’ve been unshackled out of the cave for the first time. 

I’ve been told most folks didn’t actually expect Martian Manhunter to be in Supergirl, but I saw it coming from the first trailers. That’s not a slam against anybody, it just struck me as obvious that the mysterious authority figure would turn out to be the Manhunter from Mars. That was partially based on him being one of the few alien heroes worth adapting in the first place. Moreover, CW pulled the exact same trick on Smallville.

Yeah, for those not in the know, Martian Manhunter appeared on Smallville as a mysterious and sporadically appearing black guy, using the same red-eye FX that Supergirl’s using for him now. As for the actual adaptation, I like Manhunter as a grumpy dad, but he does end up contributing to a lot of Supergirl’s plot holes. 

That’s mainly because Martian Manhunter is such a Swiss Army knife character. He can shapeshift, turn invisible, turn intangible, and read minds, and that’s in addition to super strength, flight, and invulnerability. With all that power, it’s a bit understandable that the writers might forget his massive host of abilities now and again.

This one breaks my heart and not just because it’s another bit of a cheat. In the comics, Jemm was known as the son of Saturn, a member of the Red Saturnian race that was itself an offshoot of the green Martians. He was one of several ‘80s curiosities from DC that were produced in an attempt to diversify the range of superhero books they were producing in the wake of the ’86 reboot.  

He had Martian Manhunter’s shapeshifting and telepathy powers, but that was it and rather than fighting villains most of his stories involved more existential or grounded threats. He’s got a bit of a cult following including yours truly, mainly for the weird uniqueness of his story being an urban set retelling of E.T. with a superhero. 

Unfortunately, his adaptation in Supergirl left a lot to be desired.  He was very much a “blink and you’ll miss it” adaptation, appearing as the central villain of an episode and only mentioning his name once. He was only around to force Manhunter to reveal his true self, which is a massive waste of such a cool and versatile character. Still, his appearance means his people exist and opens the door for a better adaptation down the line, much the same as the next entry in our list. 

Much like Jemm, Red Tornado was featured as a villain in the first season of Supergirl. In his case, it makes a bit more sense. Red Tornado is a cool character, but he’s ended up the pawn of his villainous creator T.O. Morrow on more than one occasion. In fact, in his premiere adventure, he was created specifically as a Trojan horse superhero to infiltrate the Justice Society and destroy it from within. Despite that evil streak, Tornado has proven himself to be a stalwart and heroic member of the DCU, even being the first hero to sacrifice himself in the midst of a crisis when a giant nebula hand was trying to crush reality (it was the ‘60s.)

Following in the Jemm mold, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Red Tornado pop up on Supergirl again despite his “death.” On the one hand, his episode ‘Seeing Red’ is widely considered one of the best of season 1, so bringing back a cool element like him would help smooth the show’s transition from CBS to CW. Secondly, Tornado’s status as an android has always left him an easy target for resurrection, especially if CW wanted to have his creator’s consciousness download into the robot body. 

Now we’ve caught up to the fall 2016 season at CW: Supergirl was officially added to their channel; Legends of Tomorrow entered season 2; Arrow underwent something of a soft reboot. The show shifted gears to bring in a bunch of new heroes to replace folks like Arsenal and Speedy, which is where this entry comes from.  

In the comics, Wild Dog was basically a parody hero who popped up in the ‘80s. He had a ridiculous costume that looked like if Jason Vorhees was rooting for an imaginary football team and was pitched as “the Punisher but funny.” For instance, his big debut series was about taking down a group of religious fundamentalists looking to destroy several shipments of porno magazines. 

Arrow decided to take a much less comedic approach with Wild Dog, though he still ended up funny if unintentionally so. Firstly, they made him a latino hero, which I like as a change up, and secondly, he’s been re-imagined as a much more serious hero. I do think we’re supposed to find Wild Dog a little silly as he snarls and shoots his way through villains in that ridiculous costume; it’s just a bit less obvious in live action. He’s definitely the serious tough guy of the new team Arrow. Then again, having him try to out-tough Green Arrow at every turn is a comedic contest all its own. 

Here’s a character I was worried about when I first found out was being adapted. In the books, Ragman is the latest iteration of a folkloric being of the same name who protects the world using Jewish magic. The idea is that his rags contain the souls of the wicked and cursed to remain within the prison of his suit and contribute their strength to him in order to commute their sentence within the rags. 

It’s a screwy concept, but it’s always been a favorite for me. I like urban fantasy characters more explicitly because Ragman is one of the only openly Jewish superheroes.  Seriously, the number of out and proud Jews on-panel in superhero books is shockingly small, even more so given the fact superhero books are still basically the house that Jews built. 

What had me worried was the report that, in Arrow season 5, there wasn’t going to be any form of magic. I was concerned that they were going to erase Ragman’s heritage along with his powers. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Ragman is still pretty defiantly Jewish on Arrow, to the point it got me interested in the show again after a long time away. 

It’s a refreshing change-up. Combined with Wild Dog and Mr. Terrific, they form the heart of the season. There’s also some background stuff about Ragman’s hometown getting nuked by team Arrow in a previous season, but let’s not dwell on that. 

Much like Jemm and Red Tornado, Vigilante is technically appearing as a villain on Arrow season 5. He’s honestly more of an anti-hero than anything else. Where Wild Dog is the "gruff but still a team player version of the Punisher," Vigilante is the heavy-duty combat suit version of the Punisher. In the books, he had a pretty similar role as a superhero that was willing to kill that eventually went off the deep end with several people taking up the mantle after his suicide. Most notably, the third Vigilante was for sure one of note, a demolitions mercenary who had a fling with Deathstroke (hope that makes into the show.)

The show version isn’t as much of an antagonist as I would’ve thought given Arrow’s predilection for ripping off Daredevil, but he’s a fun presence. I don’t think the mystery aspect of his character works; he appeared at the same time as the angry new DA who has the same name as Vigilante’s civilian identity in the comics. However, his costume may be the best costume to come out of the CWniverse, and there’s always real menace whenever he’s on screen, which is pretty fun. 

Speaking of costumes, I think Jesse Quick’s design might be the most disappointing page-to-screen transfer of the CWniverse. I understand that we were probably never getting the swimsuit + thigh-high boots of the comics, but there had to have been a more vibrant solution than just giving her the Flash’s costume with a domino mask instead of a cowl. 

As for the rest of the character, I like the idea of her on the shows, but I wish we’d get to see more of her. In the comics, Jesse Quick was the daughter of Johnny Quick, a superhero from the 1940s who used a mathematical formula to accelerate to extreme speeds. Jesse used the same formula, though that idea was later retconned to be that she was using the formula to focus her mind to access the Speed Force. 

On the show, she’s the Flash of a parallel universe who gained her powers during an experiment to replicate the chemical lightning bolt that gave Barry Allen his powers. That’s a good way around needing to introduce Johnny Quick and the formula nonsense. Although, it ends up keeping Jesse at the same arm’s length as Jay Garrick. 

Maybe she’ll show up more on the show in episodes to come, but currently, they don’t use her nearly enough. Given her blossoming romance with Wally West and the promise of Gorilla City showing up in season 3, we definitely haven’t seen the last of Jesse Quick.

Another recent development for the Flash family, Kid Flash has only joined the series for about 2 episodes tops. It’s still weird to me the amount of hoops CW has had to jump through to get Wally West on The Flash, but I’m glad he's there now. In the books, his origin was simple. He was hanging around with Barry Allen one day when the exact same accident that created the Flash happened to him. Sure, that was a goofy idea, but at least it wasn’t the same convoluted and complex origin story the show has cooked up for us.

In the show, Wally got super speed in an alternate timeline called Flashpoint where his car was struck by lightning while using an experimental new fuel. In that timeline, he became Kid Flash only to get killed by Rival, a villainous speedster. After history had been set back to normal, the villain Dr. Alchemy used his not-terribly-well-explained powers to fuse Wally’s main timeline body with his Flashpoint body, basically giving him the super speed he’d enjoyed during the Flashpoint timeline. As I said, that’s a lot of hoops to jump through for Kid Flash, but he’s definitely proven worth it. The promise of getting a weekly super speed duo is exciting stuff. 

I understand in theory why Citizen Steel exists. The Legends of Tomorrow needed a white historian dude to fill in for Rip Hunter, and that CW is keen to collect all 4 heroes of the Justice League Detroit. I’m not sure he ever really justifies his own existence.  

Don’t get me wrong, I like Citizen Steel well enough. Legends of Tomorrow is aware that he and the Atom are basically the biggest boy scouts in history and are in active competition over that; he just feels more like an extended cameo than a full-on cast member. I do like that he managed to come with Vixen as a replacement for Hawkgirl, but now that Rip Hunter’s on the way back he seems a lot less necessary. 

In the books, Citizen Steel was a third-generation superhero. His grandfather, Commander Steel, was a WW2 hero whose body had been replaced with robot parts. His father, Steel, was turned into a synthetic being by a mad scientist for unclear reasons. Citizen Steel was a football star whose leg was amputated by an incompetent surgeon and had liquid metal poured over his body that gave him super strength that he couldn’t control.  

That’s convoluted, and I’m not even mentioning how they deal with the uncontrollable super strength. I get changing up the powers, though I just wish he had more to do than compete with the Atom for “most star-struck lovable do-gooder goober.” 

Speaking of wasted potential, despite featuring 6 individual heroes, CW’s stab at the JSA is so non-descript only Vixen was worthy of her own entry. I’m hoping that the team is going to come back later. These heroes are defined by family and legacy, and the fact Citizen Steel is already following in his grandfather’s footsteps. I’m not that hopeful.  The heroes assembled are pretty great, and a few of them could work this way, though.  

Hourman was actually supposedly going to get a CW show as his third incarnation, Rick Tyler, had the ability to see 1 hour into the future. That’s an interesting pitch, and if CW wanted to bring in his android duplicate from the distant future, I’d be fine with it.  Stargirl, wielder of the cosmically powered gravity rod, is a little harder to justify as she was originally a legacy character in the comics, following in the footsteps of Star Spangled Kid. 

Obsidian we’ve already seen show up again on Legends of Tomorrow, though there’s been no hint of his father, Alan Scott Green Lantern, or his sister Jade. Dr. Midnight is actually a synthesis of 2 versions on the show, wearing the costume of the original blind surgeon superhero while ending up black like the character’s 2nd iteration Beth Chapel. While there’s certainly room for a JSA of the Future in the CWniverse, I do seriously doubt we’ll be seeing it unfortunately. 

From CW’s biggest misstep to their greatest success, CW’s Superman is easily the best iteration of the character since the DCAU version. It’s honestly amazing that Tyler Hoechlin could show up for an extended cameo on Supergirl and come off like a true legend and a full-on revelation. 

I think there’s definitely a temptation to say that Hoechlin, as well as Supergirl overall, just seem good in comparison to how bad Man of Steel and the DCEU are, but that would be unfair. Hoechlin’s take on Superman really is that good.  

Part of that is Greg Berlanti and company genuinely get Superman in a way no one has since Lois & Clark, so their writing and directing for the Man of Steel is way better suited to a blend of classic Clark’s adorkable nerdiness and a modern Superman’s confidence and awareness.  It’s a tightrope to walk. While the writing contributes a lot, it’s ultimately Hoechlin that carries the performance through. 

He occupies the unique space between genuine and ironic.  Basically, he works as a Superman that’s aware enough to realize his nerdy farm boy aesthetic is more than a little corny and confident enough in himself to be fine seeing the humor in his own corniness. 

Miss Martian’s origin on Supergirl has been more or less the same as her origin in the comics: she appears as a green Martian and female version of Martian Manhunter only to eventually reveal she’s actually a repentant white Martian. I  like that her story got played out A LOT faster on Supergirl than in the comics where her villainous origins were teased out over a long period in Teen Titans. I do wonder if we’re going to be seeing any more of her now that she’s been locked up in the DEO’s skyscraper, which, incidentally, seems like a terrible place to store alien threats. She’s a cool character to have on hand even if I’m not sure what she offers that Martian Manhunter isn’t supplying.  

Actually, I think I can answer that one. Miss Martain's White Martain origin means she’ll probably have some insight into their plots once Supergirl remembers all the White Martian stuff they set-up.  Supergirl has a really bad habit of forgetting stuff when it comes to the Martians. I’m fairly certain they’ve forgotten that Martians can turn intangible at will, so there’s no way they could hold Miss Martian in custody. Hopefully, they haven’t forgotten her as well. 

Mon-El is probably the most different from his comic book self of all the characters we’ve seen.  In the books, Mon-El was an explorer from the planet Daxam, a Kryptonian colony that evolved into its own planet. He came to Earth seeking Kal-El and became friends, only to learn that the lead in our planet’s atmosphere was toxic to him. 

After a fatal dose of lead poisoning, Kal had to put Mon-El in the Phantom Zone where his body was held in a ghost-like state. The intention was to wait for a cure for lead poison to be discovered to then un-phantom him. That didn’t happen until the 31st century; Mon-El joined the futuristic team of teens known as the Legion of Superheroes. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if some of that eventually makes it into Mon-El’s TV iteration. We’ve already seen him becoming close with Kara, and if they wanted a dramatic way to resolve that plot, forcing him to join the Legion in the future would be a smart move. Supergirl already hinted at the Legion in a S1 episode, so it’d be easy enough to introduce them. 

The big change seems to be to Mon’s origin, now making him a Daxamite refugee and Daxam a sister planet to Krypton. That’s a clever way to make him part of this season’s emphasis on themes of immigration. 

And so we reach the final name on our heroic list, for the moment anyway. Supergirl’s take on the Guardian is also one of the most complicated superhero set-ups on the show. The original Guardian was a Captain America knock-off that had the distinction of being made by Cap co-creator Jack Kirby. He was a super-soldier type with a shield weapon during WW2; the only difference was the Guardian defended the home front instead of being deployed.  

After the war, Guardian took over as a government hero, running security for some major projects and even joining Metropolis PD as their superhero in residence. Speaking of, there was a second version of the character known as the Manhattan Guardian who also functioned as a superhero in residence, though he worked for a newspaper instead of the police. This is the version of the character that was a black man, setting the early precedent for Jimmy’s tenure on Supergirl. 

Jimmy Olsen as the Guardian is a clever reference to his Silver and Bronze Age comic adventures. He would routinely go on outrageous adventures at the time, gain random super powers, and was close with the original Guardian. I’m still thoroughly interested in how Jimmy will swing his superhero adventures with Kara, but he’s a nice shake-up to the show’s roster regardless. It’s impressive how cool his costume and gadgets look in live action. 

If you liked this article, please like us on 
Facebook or follow us on Twitter and please consider Donating to keep the blog going 

No comments:

Post a Comment