The future of the Arrowverse is in question after the finale of The Flash series. Originating in 2012 with the action-adventure series Arrow, the shared setting that became known as the Arrowverse was one of the most ambitious achievements in the history of fiction. Originally unifying the DC Comics superhero series created for The CW network, the Arrowverse grew to encompass every adaptation of a DC Comics property ever produced for film and television, from the 1966 Batman television series starring Adam West to the cinematic DCEU.
The Arrowverse peaked with an adaptation of the classic comic book miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths in 2019, which reset the multiple realities making up the core Arrowverse onto a single shared world dubbed Earth-Prime. Unfortunately, a number of factors averted the increased potential for more crossover events between series promised by the Post-Crisis Arrowverse. The series stagnated, and now the fate of the Arrowverse setting has been called into question in the wake of a wave of cancelations and new management at both DC Studios and The CW.
The Arrowverse Is Essentially Done After The Flash
Coming to a close after a nine season run, The Flash is the last of the series set on the Arrowverse Earth-Prime. With The CW having ended development of the spinoff series Justice U, there are no plans for any further shows set on Earth-Prime after The Flash finale. Featuring prominent cameos by the leads of other Arrowverse shows that have already come to a close, like Batwoman‘s Ryan Wilder and Arrow‘s Oliver Queen, it seems that The Flash season 9 has been turned into a capstone for the Arrowverse setting as a whole, as well as The Flash series.
Despite this apparent winding down, The Flash showrunner Eric Wallace has said that there is nothing to stop the Arrowverse from continuing after The Flash ends. In an interview with FlashTVNews, Wallace revealed that there is one moment in The Flash series finale which will show that it is “just the beginning of the Arrowverse and the adventures of The Flash. Not the end.” This may suggest an ending similar to that of Stargirl, which closed with the words “NEVER THE END,” after a flash-forward revealing that the series’ heroes grew up to reform the Justice Society. It is unclear, however, how the Arrowverse might continue literally, if not spiritually.
Superman & Lois Could Continue And Return To The Arrowverse
The strongest avenue for the continued existence of the Arrowverse is Superman and Lois. Focusing upon Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s adventures as they raise twin sons in Smallville following the death of Clark’s mother, Superman and Lois was originally believed to be set on Arrowverse Earth-Prime, with Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch playing the same characters they portrayed in Crisis On Infinite Earths. However, it was revealed in the Superman and Lois season 2 finale that Clark Kent was the only superhero on his Earth, confirming that the Superman and Lois was set on another world entirely.
With the story of Superman and Lois season 3 centering around a new wave of super-soldiers being created by Intergang, it is possible that new heroes, similar to those on Earth-Prime, might rise up to join Superman. Todd Helbing, the showrunner of Superman and Lois, has also voiced his support of the idea that Earth Prime’s heroes might make cameo appearances on Superman and Lois after The Flash comes to a close. Indeed, he specifically singled out Barry Allen and Iris West-Allen, saying it would be fun to pair Iris up with reporters Lois and Clark.
The only problem with this possibility is that Superman and Lois has yet to be renewed for a fourth season. While the show is one of The CW’s most popular series, it is also one of their most expensive. With the current owners of The CW proven to be incredibly budget conscious, the best hope of a continuing the Arrowverse may rest upon Superman and Lois being picked up by the Max streaming service. Yet even that prospect is not as certain as it once seemed.
Why The Arrowverse Is Ending Explained
Budgetary concerns are the chief reason why the Arrowverse is in such dire straits. While some Arrowverse series, like Supergirl and Arrow, came to a close because their lead actors were ready to move on to new projects, most of them were canceled because they were seen as too expensive to produce relative to their ratings. This was the case for Legends of Tomorrow, which was canceled after Warner Bros. declined to renew the lease on the Vancouver soundstage where the show was filmed, despite Legends of Tomorrow season 7 being one of the few on-goings series at The CW to see its ratings go up in 2022.
Another factor is the new management of The CW, which was sold to Nexstar Media Group in late 2022. Almost immediately after the sale, Nexstar announced plans to shift the network’s focus, producing less original dramas and reducing the network’s licensing fees. This was taken as a bad sign for the continuation of the Arrowverse, even before it was confirmed that Justice U had been shelved. Hopes are not high for the network’s last two superhero shows, Gotham Knights and Superman and Lois, surviving to see 2024.
Could Arrowverse Characters Return In Future DC Movies & Shows?
The final nail in the coffin of the Arrowverse is a reorganization at Warner Bros. which named filmmakers James Gunn and Peter Safran as co-CEOS of DC Studios. The two spearheaded a radical new plan for establishing a new DC Comics cinematic multiverse. However, this new design seems to be cleaning house, with most of the original series based on DC Comics properties at Max having been canceled, including Titans and Doom Patrol. This seemingly ended any chance of the Arrowverse being revived on Max, despite a wildly successful fan campaign to #SaveLegendsOfTomorrow that continues to trend on Twitter over a year after the show ended.
Despite this, James Gunn has responded positively to the #SaveLegendsOfTomorrow campaign on social media. While he has yet to green light a final season of Legends of Tomorrow or a direct to Max movie that would address the show’s cliffhanger ending, Gunn seems agreeable to considering the possibility. While noting that his immediate focus was on building a new DCU, Gunn mentioned on Twitter that “we are listening & open to everything as we embark on this journey, & will continue to do so for the next few years.”
This means that it is entirely possible that actors from the Arrowverse might be able to return to their roles for new projects at DC Studios after the first chapter of the new DC Universe begins. Both Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin have expressed an interest in recreating their roles as Barry Allen and Oliver Queen for the right project. While this might not be the definitive answer as to the final fate of the Arrowverse, the possibilities are, much like the DC Universe itself, near infinite.
The Flash series finale airs Wednesday, May 24, on The CW.