ByMichael Johnson, writer at
I'm a regular guy with regular opinons about regular things.
Michael Johnson

With the holidays over, networks are gearing up for mid-season premieres and series renewals. And for The CW, that meant promising more of its DC shows: Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl will be renewed for the 2017-2018 season.

Fans of the will be able to keep watching our favorite crimefighting costumed heroes three nights per week, plus the new animated Constantine series. The CW has become the resident home for heroes, and we love it. Here's why The CW succeeded when so many other superhero TV attempts have fizzled out.

Arrow Proved That Marvel Isn't The Only Superhero Game In Town

You can't deny the sheer dominance that Marvel has over comic book cinema. The has desperately struggled to get an Avengers-sized hit — but when it comes to the small screen, DC has been killing it from the start.

With 's debut in the fall of 2012, fans got their first taste of what DC had to offer. Like Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, Arrow was a darker alternative to Marvel's lighthearted approach, but it gave fans a weekly dose of hero awesomeness; we no longer had to wait years between installments.

Critics and fans alike loved Arrow, and the series revolutionized its network.

The CW Gave Us More Than We Expected And Built A World

With the success of Arrow, The CW developed a world of its own. In Season 2 Episode 8, fans were introduced to Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) pre-lightning strike; the following episode was essentially a backdoor pilot for The Flash.

Two years after Arrow’s debut, premiered on the network, serving as the first extension of the .

The success of both shows gave the brains behind The CW the idea to take things even further with DC's Legends of Tomorrow, which follows a group of heroes and anti-heroes — Rip Hunter, White Canary, ATOM, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Firestorm, Captain Cold and Heatwave — as they use time travel to save the world. With enough comic characters to fill a stadium, the Arrowverse began to feel as big as the MCU.

The CW Figured Out Comic Book TV For This Decade's Sensibilities

Arrow was hardly our first brush with superheroes on TV. Previous generations had Adventures of Superman in the 1950s and Adam West's Batman in the '60s. The '90s had Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, plus classic cartoons such as X-Men and Batman: The Animated Series. In the '00s we had the long-running Smallville and Heroes.

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But until Arrow, nobody had quite figured out superhero TV for the '10s. The CW itself had some failed attempts, such as the lackluster Birds of Prey and the never-aired Aquaman pilot. However, somewhere along the way The CW was able capture lightning in a bottle; they came up with a successful formula that not only is enjoyable, but also serves as a model for other networks.

Post-Arrow other networks got into the comic book TV business:

And of course, we can't forget Netflix...

The Arrowverse Created The Formula That Marvel Borrowed For Netflix

The DCEU is often accused of copying the MCU, but ironically Marvel's TV approach closely mirrors DC's. Following The CW’s success, we have this slew of Marvel heroes whose world intertwines. Not only that, but the material is a lot heavier than Marvel's movies and viewer discretion is advised, similar to the Arrowverse.

Netflix’s first three Marvel shows also used the flashback element to tell the characters' backstory, which is exactly what made Arrow so great. Also like the Arrowverse, each Netflix series has introduced fans to a hero that would then spawn their own show.

Netflix started with Daredevil, which introduced the , who will get his own show in 2017. Jessica Jones followed and introduced fans to , whose show debuted in 2016. will follow in his friend Luke’s footsteps with a show in March 2017. All of their heroic awesomeness will culminate in a Defenders Netflix series.

If Marvel can pull of what Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl did with their four-show crossover — which earned the CW their highest ratings in six years — it'll be absolutely great.

In the meantime, as The CW continues to grow into a comic book network, one can’t help but wonder: Is Marvel's real competition the DCEU...or is it the Arrowverse?

The Arrowverse returns from its break with Supergirl on Monday, January 23, 2017.


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