Marvel Studios loves to tout itself as being filmmaker-friendly, but it’s an open secret that creatives only get so much wiggle room to deviate from the MCU’s formulas. Warner Bros. also tried to sell its so-called “Snyderverse” on the merits of being filmmaker-driven and, to their credit, it could be at times, swinging from the grimdarkness of Zack Snyder’s DC movies to the gee-whiz vibe of David F. Sandberg’s “Shazam!” But WB’s refusal to commit to this helter-skelter method would prove to be its undoing, as was its choice to let an artist as polarizing as Snyder lead the charge.
The Arrowverse, on the other hand, was comparatively comfortable with allowing its individual shows to form their own unique identities. “Arrow” was the franchise’s answer to Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, whereas “The Flash” was at its best operating as a silly and soapy but ultimately sincere superhero saga. “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” a spinoff of the two shows, started out relatively serious before undergoing a soft reboot during its second season, quickly becoming one of the zaniest (yet also thoughtful and uplifting) series to grace the small screen in recent memory.
Keeping with that trend, “Supergirl” (which emigrated from CBS to The CW after its first season) always strove to embody the ever-evolving progressive ideals of its optimistic, crusading namesake. Then came “Black Lightning,” a show that took the idea of being a Black superhero drama deeply to heart, examining themes of community, family, and racial injustice while still finding plenty of room for moments of joy and romance. Finally, there was “Batwoman,” which overcame having to cast a new lead after a single season to put a fresh spin on the Noir-flavored Bat-heroes, bizarre criminals, and corrupt police officers that populate Gotham City.