Are Flash And Arrow Pulling An Iron Man 2 Right Now?
Before we start, let me preface this by saying that I love Arrow and The Flash with all of my heart, so any criticism hurled their way at this moment is a result of wanting them to be the best super-shows they can be. But let’s be real, here: they’re giving us some Iron Man 2 realness right now, and both series are suffering—to varying degrees—for it.
Iron Man 2 realness, of course, refers to what happens when a show (or in Marvel’s case, a movie) is tasked with the responsibility of preparing viewers for a future event that everyone knows is coming in its universe. In the case of Iron Man 2, that event was the building of The Avengers and the establishment of S.H.I.E.L.D. In Flash and Arrow, that event is the various Legends of Tomorrow team-members believably coming together to form a cohesive unit. This task has somehow fallen on Oliver Queen’s (Stephen Amell) and Barry Allen’s (Grant Gustin) ridiculously broad shoulders, and while I’m excited to see how Legends goes down, I’m also a bit… confused… by some of the choices being made when it comes to the formation of the team.
Let’s start with Arrow, because this is where the Legends sins have been most egregious. Now, the 10 minutes or so that have been dedicated to Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) finding Ray’s (Brandon Routh) mysterious cell phone messages over the past two weeks I can deal with, even if it did get in the way of her fantastic jaunt with the original Team Arrow in “Restoration.” The audience knows that it’s Ray, and we can pretty much gather what’s going to happen, here, but I’ll take it since no real plot or character damage is being done.
The same cannot be said for whatever the heck is going on with Laurel (Katie Cassidy). Oh gosh, poor Laurel. This is a character who has suffered greatly over the past few years, and not only because the show has often painted her in a selfish (read: unlikable) light. However, after the terrific episode “Canaries” in season three, we saw Laurel grow and learn as a fully formed human-slash-vigilante, and this only happened when she was able to get over her sister Sara’s (Caity Lotz) death, finally accepting that Sara could not be the most important thing in her entire life if she wanted to survive.
So when Laurel went back to Nanda Parbat earlier this season with Thea (Willa Holland) to raise Sara from the dead—despite Malcolm and Thea and even Nyssa, Sara’s ex-lover, telling her that it was a terrible idea that would be detrimental to Laurel, Sara, and their father—it felt like a major step backwards. Yes, Sara needed to come back in some way, shape or form to be a part of Legends (which we’re happy about, as Lotz is fantastic), but did it have to be at the detriment of a year of character development for Laurel? Did they have to make her look incredibly selfish and immature by bringing back an actual monster?
Nah, they didn’t. We now live in a world where The Flash has King Shark and Damien Darhk can move things with his mind, so no one would complain if they went with, say, an alterna-Sara Lance from Earth 2. (Fringe played with alternate reality versions of its characters for years, and it was so, so awesome!) Laurel Lance is one of the most important characters on Arrow, and dedicating a half-season’s worth of plot to her recklessly bringing back a dead girl for selfish reasons is just not a good look.
Then there’s The Flash… which has still been consistently excellent in season two, of course, but when two weeks straight are spent developing Legends characters instead of spending time on this insanely intriguing Earth 2/Zoom business, it feels like a detour. I mean, I’m down for anything that involves Cisco’s one-liners and Patty Spivot, but while Arrow is making great strides with its big bad, I do wish that The Flash wouldn’t take the long, Legends-developing road instead of introducing Zoom straight off the bat, just so we can all learn why Captain Cold decides to pick up his gun and fight for the good guys.
Look, at the end of the day, I do really love both of these shows, and will follow them to the end of the road. But Marvel has received criticism for its “you think this is insane, wait’ll you see what’s next” strategy, and it would be not-so-great if DC’s excellent TV series suffered the same fate. Laurel Lance shouldn’t have to see her character degraded for a show that’s coming months from now, and whatever madness is happening with Barry Allen doesn’t need to be put on the back-burner for Legends. It’s time to get back to “Flarrow.”