(Welcome to The Clock Tower, where we’ll break down the goings on of the The CW network’s Arrowverse. We’ll touch on things like themes, cultural impact, lead-ins to major events, ships, and more every week! Warning: this Clock Tower is filled with spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.)
It was Super Tuesday last week, which means all of the Arrowverse took a little mini-hiatus while folks around the United States headed to the polls. Some Americans waited up to seven hours at their respective polling stations in order to exercise their civic duty. Many woke up the following day to disappointing news. But don’t worry, that’s as close to talking directly about current events as we’re going to get.
We are, however, going to spend this week’s edition of The Clock Tower talking about the women of the Arrowverse. Why? Well, because it literally doesn’t run without them, they’re often overshadowed by their male counterparts whether they’re the lead or not, and none of them are appreciated the way they should be. And, yes, for the obvious reasons you’re assuming. Let’s go.
Who Run the World?
Girls. Doesn’t matter which show of the universe that’s in question. Arrow literally doesn’t work without Felicity Smoak, to the point that she went from a one-off character to the planned endgame almost immediately. Iris West-Allen spent several seasons as the heart of Team Flash and is finally being given the opportunity to do her own thing. It took all of one season of Legends of Tomorrow for creative to realize that Sara Lance needed to be the captain of the Waverider over Rip Hunter. Over on Black Lightning we have the Pierce sisters adding complexity and youth to the world of a once-retired hero.
We’ll get to Supergirl and Batwoman in a bit, because they’re a little different. None of the women listed above are the primary focus of their respective series, but none of the aforementioned shows would come close to working the way they do with their contributions. And that’s not even considering the Caitlin Snows or Nia Nals of the world. The Arrowverse is, thankfully, very progressive. It focuses on diversity and inclusion and important current events. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s not what a small subset of viewers want to see. Good thing the CW’s slogan is “Dare to Defy”.
The Girl of Steel
That takes us to Supergirl. I’ve written about this show since the series premiere. The most common complaint I hear? “The constant girl power stuff is too much.” Hell, just last week a commenter noted that they wouldn’t be surprised if it were replaced with Superman & Lois, and y’all? I’m just so tired.
Here’s the thing: the constant “girl power stuff” will continue until internalized – and external, for that matter – misogyny ends. Since that doesn’t seem likely to occur anytime soon, or at the pace we’ve been going at, ever, please expect Supergirl to stick it out for the entirety of its run. When it gets cancelled, expect another show to take its place. Rinse, lather, and repeat until letting women be strong and smart and flawed and capable and scared is considered normal rather than a chore for some viewers.
The funny thing is, there are plenty of reasonable complaints about the series! The problem is that those legitimate issues are so often drowned out by a chorus of folks going on about what’s outlined in the above paragraph. Exhausting.
Batwoman was always going to spend part of its time in Batman’s shadow. However, the show’s done a really good job keeping that short lived. Crisis on Infinite Earths managed to pretty much wrap up that idea by literally calling Kate “The Bat of the Future”. With the exception of Arrow – who, while annoying, does get a little more of a pass for learning through growing pains so the rest of the Arrowverse didn’t have to – most of these shows have spent more time doing right by their women than not. The Flash has had its stumbles, but that was more due to Kreisberg drama than it was the fault of the writers. Though it does remain ridiculous that it took six seasons to let Iris wear her natural curls.
Overall, the teams behind these series do their best to do right by their characters. It’s more that a few loud folks get extra loud when something gets a little more progressive than they like. Which feels like a good lead-in to the below.
If Your Feminism Isn’t Intersectional, It’s Not Feminism
If your feminism only means fighting for women who look like you, you’re not a feminist. Can’t put it any plainer than that. And yes, that very simple sentence includes trans women. This is another area that the Arrowverse has really started to nail over the years. More and more we see diverse characters getting added into these shows. Nia Nal might not have gotten the screen time she deserves so far this season (don’t worry, we have a Nia-centric episode in our future) but it’s awesome that we’re seeing a trans character played by a trans woman whose entire origin story focuses on the fact that yes, she is a real woman.
It can always be better, and that’s something the creative teams behind the shows all seem to acknowledge. If you’re wondering why, I invite you to check out who’s included in the writers rooms for these series. A diverse narrative starts with a diverse writing staff.
Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel
The Arrowverse was only off for one week, so we’ll have lots more juicy content to dive into in the next Clock Tower. Back in Central City, Barry broke the Speedforce. Can’t trust that guy with anything, really. Ray’s about to propose to Nora, like a complete cutie, over on Legends of Tomorrow. Meanwhile, Batwoman’s got some social media problems, and we’ll get to see how Kara’s speech to Lena effects their relationship going forward. Black Lightning will have its finale, too! Be sure to check that out.
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