Is Having Superman on ‘Supergirl’ Unfair to ‘Arrow’?

The Man of Steel will appear this fall on ‘Supergirl,’ while plans for the Suicide Squad on ‘Arrow’ were shot down
When Supergirl makes its debut on The CW in October, it will bring with it a host of changes: not only a new network, and a new production location, but the show will finally unveil their version of Superman — a character alluded to but never fully seen in Season 1. In doing so, though, are they setting an unfair precedent?

Unlike their major competitor, Marvel Studios, DC Comics has chosen to keep their television and movie universes separate. Daredevil, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Jessica Jones may not interact much with The Avengers or even show much similarity to the Marvel big screen adventures, but they do all technically take place in the same universe.

Meanwhile, as DC is building a movie universe with Batman v Superman and the upcoming Justice League movie and its spin-offs, the universe of Arrow, The Flash, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow remains separate (not to mention Lucifer, Gotham, and well, Supergirl, which is only tangentially related to the rest of the Arrowverse — for now).

There seems to be a general rule that characters being considered or planned for use on the big screen are off limits for the television shows (with some exceptions). It was generally accepted that this was the reason Superman was never fully seen in the first season of Supergirl. But the precedent for this type of exclusion was actually set on Arrow several years earlier.

The cast of the upcoming ‘Suicide Squad’ movie (Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)
The cast of the upcoming ‘Suicide Squad’ movie (Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)
In Season 2 of Arrow, Amanda Waller, A.R.G.U.S., and the Suicide Squad were all introduced and became an integral part of the story. Iconic Batman villainess Harley Quinn was even teased in one episode. Yet, when Warner Bros. began to make plans for a Suicide Squad movie (coming to theaters this August), the Arrow producers were told those characters were off-limits.

Drastic changes took place, with Harley Quinn never mentioned again and Suicide Squad member Deadshot was quickly killed off, followed shortly thereafter by Amanda Waller herself. While A.R.G.U.S. has maintained a regular presence on the show, the Suicide Squad disappeared altogether. Cast member Willa Holland (Thea Queen) has regularly spoken about her displeasure with these moves, as recently as last month.

So if Arrow can’t have the Suicide Squad, then why can Supergirl now have Superman? It could certainly be a slight against Arrow, but there are a few other possibilities that actually make sense.

First, it’s worth considering how integral Superman is to the Supergirl story. Kara Zor-El is Superman’s cousin, and her story is hard to tell without the Man of Steel present. It would require significant changes to the the mythos, and would essentially make Kara into the female version of Superman. She may have similar powers and origins, but her relationship with her famous cousin is part of what makes her Supergirl.

The Suicide Squad may a longtime DC Comics mainstay, but their existence is not directly tied to Green Arrow in any significant way. That makes it easier to justify removing them from Arrow without making a major impact, especially when compared to the absence of Superman on Supergirl.

“She may have similar powers and origins, but her relationship with her famous cousin is part of what makes her Supergirl.”

The other possibility is that there’s a change in the wind. It could be that the strict rules that led the Suicide Squad to be ripped away from Arrow could be softening. It’s no secret that DC’s big screen universe is in a state of flux after the box office disappointment of Batman v Superman. Reconsidering the exclusivity of their characters could explain why Superman was off limits in Supergirl‘s first season, but can now be shown in Season 2. It could also account for Amanda Waller’s surprise reappearance in the Arrow Season 4 finale.

So could we see a return of the Suicide Squad on Arrow sometime soon? It’s doubtful, as the show has moved on and, as we’ve established, they’re not an essential part of the Green Arrow mythos.

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