The DC TV primetime landscape just got a little more streamlined with The CW’s announced cancellations of the BATWOMAN and the veteran time-travel team show DC’s LEGENDS OF TOMORROW ending their runs and not coming back in the fall.
It’s a crisis on a whole other level, but one that many interpreted as an inevitability. The CW amidst an expected sale to TV network conglomerate Nexstar scaled back its primetime arena and canceled Batwoman and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow both shows part of the DC TV expanded television universe that was reignited by super-producer Greg Berlanti and his team with the premiere of Arrow in 2012. In the decade since the launch of that series based on the DC Comics archer the Green Arrow, Berlanti has spawned a connected universe similar to Marvel’s theatrical blockbusters.
The series which starred Stephen Amell was followed by the reboot of The Flash starring Grant Gustin and similarly contributed to the time-traveling team series DC’s Legends of Tomorrow which had a roster beefed up by additional super-powered characters spun out from both of those series. Eventually, Supergirl starring Melissa Benoist as the Maid of Might, became the third in the trinity of heroes and the first to be headlined by a lead character. The series evitably would “crossover” in cornerstone events leading into the winter hiatus that brought all the casts together over the course of multiple episodes, the most successful among these events, “Elseworlds” would launch a new star!
Introduced as part of the drama that unfolded in The CW’s 2018, 3-part “Elseworlds” primetime DC TV crossover event Batwoman was immediately pushed to series and introduced Ruby Rose in the lead role as Kate Kane, the first cousin of Bruce Wayne who is also Gotham CIty’s Dark Knight. Disenchanted with the direction her life has taken and feeling isolated, Kate stumbles upon her cousin’s secret identity and when a threat comes to claim their city, she assumes the cape and cowl in Batman’s absence and defends the innocent as Gotham’s newest winged avenger, The Batwoman. The series received critical acclaim in its first season, especially for promoting the lead role of an LGBTQ heroine.
Unfortunately Rose would not continue in the role after sustaining an injury while shooting and left the series after concluding Season One which was cut short due to the growing concerns over the COVID-19 global pandemic. The role of Kate Kane was expected to be immediately recast before the show returned to production for a Second Season, but instead took some creative license and introduced the non-canon character of Ryan Wilder, casting Javicia Leslie to take over the titular role and carry the mantle of Batwoman, at least until a proper fit for the Kate Kane role was found.
These Missions Concluded
For two-seasons Leslie did a remarkable job of building out the heroine as Ryan Wilder’s backstory filled out and made a sustainably interesting headliner, and admirably filled the void leading the show’s Bat Team, but the series just didn’t have the meaningful magic and tension that was necessary from an iconic character in the mythology like Kate Kane. Fans may have been holding out, but even when they had the chance, the writer’s apparently put all their eggs into the Ryan Wilder basket, even featuring Wilder as The Batwoman in the 5-part “Armageddon” story arc that opened Season 8 of The Flash
Concluding a very dramatic Season Three, The Batwoman faced off against her own half-brother Marcus Jet who had transformed into a Junior Joker and launched an all-out initiative to punish Gotham City. As The Joker’s heir apparent Marcus and Ryan battled for the soul of the city. In the end, The Batwoman and her team save the day, and in the wreckage of that climactic brawl, something emerged — an undead skeletal creature that may have been the first fatality of the toxic aftermath of Marcus’ plot to rain acid on Gotham. Unfortunately, that story may end up unrealized.
Similarly, the Season 7 conclusion of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow ended in a cliffhanger that left the Legends in cuffs arrested for crimes against time, its captain Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) pregnant, and the introduction of another DC hero, the long-promised Booster Gold (special guest star Donald Faison). After several largely incoherent seasons, the Legends had always proven themselves a critical success and had an undeterred fanbase, but poor ratings and too many plot potholes eventually caught up with the series which often found itself outside of the “Arrowverse” continuity.
With Batwoman and DC’s Legends effectively canceled, the primetime arena is a lot more barren with only The Flash and Superman and Lois (renewed for a Season 3), and DC’s Stargirl returning for a Season 3 later in the fall with a November premiere on The CW, and COVID still relevant, the possibility of a crossover is slim. There is no word yet if the network will give a green light to the freshman series Naomi also based on the DC comic, although that series does not (necessarily) exist in the same universe as the rest of the “Arrowverse” shows, the producers have expressed an interest in an eventual cross over.
Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) got another chance to bring it on as Black Lightning as part of “Armageddon” even though that character’s own show had wrapped up after four seasons and proved that the hero was indeed a part of the Earth-Prime continuity following the events in “Crisis on Infinite Earths” which reshaped the primetime multiverse.
No doubt, Batwoman and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow will leave a vacancy that will be hard felt across the fanbase which has been rallying for the renewal of both series. It is an inevitability though, to accept that in this day and age we’ve seen the last of any of these characters. The properties will likely live on as part of the catalog of shows appearing in the DC hub on the HBO Max subscriber service, and there’s always the hope that they could be resuscitated as a “limited series” or “one-shot” to help tie up loose ends left by the cliffhangers, but for now, we must bid a fond farewell with the knowledge that these heroes will continue as part of a larger television universe.
This story will likely further develop leading into the fall.