Superheroes have captured our interest for decades. For almost a century, really. Superman, who came out with Action Comics in 1938, was our first superhero. Today there is a superhero for everyone. Also, today, we have two main contenders for the most popular comic company, Marvel and DC. There are three main places to find them, Marvel is on Disney+, DC is on HBOMax, and for even longer, the CW.
The CW once upon a time was called the WB. For those who lived in the 90s remember it as a home to shows like Dawson’s Creek, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Felicity. It’s also been home to hits like Vampire Diaries, Everybody Hates Chris, Supernatural, and many more. Over the years, the network has seen some changes but strong tv series seem to be their bread and butter. When The Game of Nerds started just over ten years ago, the CW DC TV-verse was just beginning. But those series wouldn’t have even seen the light of day without Smallville, which made the WB/CW a DC television hub.
Smallville (2001 – 2011) was a take on Superman before he was Superman. When he was Clark Kent (Tom Welling), a teenager in high school. We saw him working his parents’ farm, struggling to find his place in the world while struggling with all the issues a teenager deals with. This show lets us get to know Clark as a person, not just Superman. We also meet Lex Luther (Michael Rosenbaum) and see what turns him into a supervillain, well, besides a stupid amount of money at his disposal. The series was a huge hit for the network and was the precursor to what was to come.
As the rise of superheroes came with Justice League and Avengers, the CW decided to start creating television series that was quickly noted as “not part of the DC movie universe.” The first one of these series was Arrow and would begin what DC fans called the Arrowverse, which connected multiple DC television series. Arrow (2012 -2020) follows, obviously, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) as the Green Arrow and himself. Through him, we meet Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), John Diggle (David Ramsey), and Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). When Oliver begrudgingly started to put together Team Arrow, he never dreamed he would work with so many people or the scale of the fights that were in store for him and the world. When it was clear that this series was a hit with fans, CW quickly rushed to make more series.
The Flash was the next to air for the CW. The Flash series (2014-2023) follows Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and his life after the particle accelerator incident. After his father went to prison for the murder of Barry’s mother, Barry lived with Joe (Jesse L. Martin), who is a detective, and his daughter Iris (Candice Patton). When Barry needs help, he meets Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker), Cisco (Carlos Valdes), and Dr. Wells (Tom Cavanagh). They help him push himself to better harness the Speed Force and help his city. You can check out our reviews of the final season here.
The CW is also home to Supergirl (2015-2021). It was awesome to watch Supergirl go from CBS to CW. The only other screen time she had was in the 1984 movie with Helen Slater in the titular role. Supergirl was the first female superhero with her own show. We wouldn’t see Wonder Woman under her own movie, and Justice League came out in 2017. In Supergirl, we got to see the sister, Alex (Chyler Leigh), that Kara (Melissa Benoist) grew up with. We watch her learn who she wants to be. She even gets a visit from her cousin Superman who set a precursor for another CW series.
With the success of Arrow and The Flash, Legends Of Tomorrow (2016-2022) was the next to premiere. This series is a collection of heroes and villains from Arrow and Flash meant to help save the Earth and time from an apocalypse. Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), Mick (Dominic Purcell), and Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) are some of those chosen by Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) to stop it. The series was another hit as not only did it continue to add to the Arrowverse, Doctor Who fans were excited to see Rory the Centurion take on another time-traveling role.
CW had thought it had figured out the secret to good superhero television series, but unfortunately, the market was saturated. Black Lightning (2017-2021), is about Jefferson Pierce and his return to the mantle of Black Lightning after his daughters were captured by a crime ring. He had retired from it because it tore apart his family. He was the principal of the high school his daughters were attending school when he donned the suit again. The series was great, but with lots of new content to watch and too many superheroes shows to keep up with, not many fans were tuning in.
The CW also has the short-lived Batwoman (2019-2022). Batwoman starts off as Kate Kane (Ruby Rose), a cousin of Bruce Wayne, and later it was Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie). Ryan had found Kate’s Bat-suit in the wreckage of Kate’s plane. Kate was the Batwoman in Crisis On Infinite Earths. The series was filled with BTS drama from start to finish. Ruby had to go through surgery at the end of season one for an injury on set that resulted in 2 herniated discs. The network, though, sited that they wouldn’t be continuing with Ruby as Batwoman due to “workplace complaints.”
In 2014, the CW network decided to start doing crossover episodes instead of guest appearances. To fan’s joy, Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, and Supergirl all participated in these crossover episodes and allowed fans to see their favorite DC tv superheroes together on one screen. But for some fans, it was too much. With already a lot of shows to watch and keep up with, the crossover episodes often added more chaos and work for fans. By 2020, we started seeing the announcements that the original DC television series were ending and new superhero series would begin.
The New Wave Of DC TV
After announcing the ending to multiple CW DC shows, CW attempted to get fans re-excited with a new superhero. Stargirl (2020-2022) follows a high school student, Courtney Whitmore, who founded Starman’s Cosmic Staff. She gained the powers of Starman with his staff and was introduced to the remnants of the Injustice Society of America. Courtney brings back the Justice Society of America. Unfortunately, the series did not last too long as the main character was often compared to Amazon Prime Video’s The Boy’s character Starlight.
Superman and Lois (2021- present) is from the perspective of Superman as a family man. They have teenage fraternal twin boys, Jonathan and Jordan, one with powers and one without. Clark must balance family with being Superman. Clark and Lois have come back to Smallville on the Kent Family farm. Lois took a job with the Smallville paper, and Clark is a high school coach. The series has already had some drama with re-casts, but the CW is really hoping it will stick around.
Gotham Knights aired in March of this year. This follows Turner Hayes, Harper, and Cullen Row and a criminal, Duela. Turner is the adopted son of Bruce Wayne and has been accused of killing Harvey Dent, along with Harper, Cullen, and Duela. Unfortunately, Bruce is dead, so Turner won’t have Batman on his back. The series has had mixed reviews at this time, and no news if it will be renewed for a second season.
Which of these have you seen? Did I miss one? Let me know in the comments below. Until next time, have fun storming the castle!