Oliver Queen’s passing isn’t only forcing the rise of a new Green Arrow, it’s also bringing to the forefront a new core relationship as his and Barry’s comes to a close: Superbat.
The death knell hasn’t finished ringing for Oliver Queen, and Arrow has yet to reach its series conclusion, but Marc Guggenheim is already making way for a new core dynamic in the Arrowverse. He said on Crisis: Aftermath, “I think in the years to come, we will see that the relationship between Kate and Kara is the replacement for the relationship between Barry and Oliver.” I’ve already said that it’s undeniable that the future of The CW’s leg of DC TV is female, but the rise of Superbat confirms it.
Arrow and The Flash set the path for the Arrowverse’s direction when it was first finding its feet. Barry and Oliver’s relationship was the catalyst for the first crossover, and their bond was the thread that tied the other shows together. They were the core pair and the first two DC TV shows on The CW. But with Oliver’s passing, that relationship will be gone, and another core pair will need to fill the void left behind. That’s where Kate and Kara come in.
Supergirl and Batwoman are the first prime time DC TV shows to be led by women. They are also The CW’s incarnation of Superbat, and they are beginning to take over the moniker that had been reserved for their predecessors, Bruce and Clark. As the television adaptations of beloved comic characters, the Arrowverse has a lot of sway over the general public’s awareness of the DC Universe. The elevation of Kate and Kara as the core dynamic has the potential to change The CW’s superhero landscape as we know it.
For instance, instead of a mentor-mentee relationship, like the start of Barry and Oliver’s, Kate and Kara are equals. Though they have different ways of looking at the world, these women find common ground in hope and courage. They are open with one another, and they support each other. It’s not that they don’t disagree on how to handle situations, but they do communicate with one another and work to see the other’s point of view. Kate was also open with Kara about keeping the kryptonite she’d taken from Bruce’s suit in Crisis on Infinite Earths, and it was her honesty that moved Kara to let her keep it despite the danger it may someday present her.
Superbat have a trust in one another that the OG!Superbat struggled to maintain in many iterations of their comic universes. Bruce and Clark’s world views often clash, and despite having a deep respect for one another, their friendship fluctuates between tenuous and tentative at worst and waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop at best. On more than one occasion, I have sat through Team Batman vs. Team Superman discussions/borderline arguments between friends and co-workers. It’s the nature of their dynamic to want to pick a side. That’s not, however, the nature of Kate and Kara’s dynamic.
Since last year’s crossover event, Elseworlds, Kate and Kara have gravitated toward one another. They’ve sought each other’s advice, shared their insecurities, and uplifted each other because they have a sense of camaraderie and kinship together. Seeing two women actively work together and not be pitted against one another is important. Both women are powerful and both women are respected. They are also allowed to be weak with one another, to struggle with a lost sense of self, guilt, and an inability to see a path forward in so much darkness. It isn’t so much “girl power” as it is recognition that this is what friendship between women looks like.
If the future of the Arrowverse lies in Kate and Kara’s hands, that means its future rests on the centering of a friendship between two women. It means the priority will be them and their struggles. They will be guiding the ship as Barry and Oliver did, and we as the audience will be taken into uncharted territory. That is as exciting as it is terrifying.
It’s exciting because focusing on Supergirl and Batwoman will bring with it new opportunities to spotlight female friendships potentially even an all-women crossover. Crisis on Infinite Earths saw the team-up of intrepid reporters, Iris and Lois. Sara and Mia may have butt heads over Oliver’s demise, but the potential is high for a mentor-mentee relationship between those two once Mia steps into the role of Green Arrow and she has her Canaries by her side.
But it’s also terrifying because the Arrowverse has never had so many women in lead roles. And if the future of DC TV is female, that means there are more women to come. It also means hopes will be as high as expectations and scrutiny. This isn’t a pressure-cooker situation; it’s a dream machine, and no one wants the dream to fail. I certainly don’t, especially when we have yet to see a woman of color lead a superhero show of her own.
My faith, however, is as intact as Kate’s courage and Kara’s hope. Superheroes are supposed to be the best of us. They are symbols meant to inspire. Barry and Oliver got the ship off the ground. They helped it soar and reach new heights. Now it’s Kate and Kara’s turn to help usher in a new era as we move out of this decade and into the next.