I had fun going through Doctor Who’s Series 10 finale with Mark Twain’s rules of storytelling. I felt the Arrowverse deserved the same treatment. When I initially planned this post, I had only one rule in mind. But by searching through the rules to find the specific one I wanted, I found that the Arrowverse shows, The Flash, in particular, has violated several.
Before we begin, let me define terms for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term Arrowverse. The Arrowverse is made up of four television shows based off of various DC Comics: Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. All four shows air on The CW and have a habit of crossing in and out of each other on various occasions.
Background established, let’s examine the mistakes that these four shows have made.
4) They require that the personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there
Honest truth, most of the shows do well with this. The Flash is the one that drops the ball, with Iris West in particular.
If you take a hard honest at the first three seasons of the show, you’ll see that her sole purpose is to create drama. Her character has done nothing to move the story forward, and she has no character traits outside of “creating drama.”
When writing characters, make sure they serve a purpose a purpose within the story. They have to move the story forward. They cannot take it back in an attempt to create angst and drama. There are few things that will turn your audience off like forced drama.
6) They require that when the author describes the character of a personage in his tale, the conduct and conversation of that personage shall justify said description.
Once again, this goes to The Flash. With Barry temporarily out of the picture, someone has to take the lead on Team Flash. There are three characters who could take that role, all of whom make sense within the story that the creative team has set. There is one character that does not, Iris.
Yet, when the show returns back she is leading Team Flash. I’ve not-so-jokingly said that this is their attempt to give this character purpose.
These two rules play hand in hand with each other. The character must serve a purpose and they must fit the role you’re giving them.
In this example, nothing in Iris’ time on the show has justified the decision to let her lead Team Flash. These sorts of snap decisions, even if made with the intent of giving a character purpose, will turn off your audience.
Another example is Kara Danvers from Supergirl
From what was said, Kara is going to spend some time having a pity party over the fact that due to the events of the season finale her boyfriend had to leave Earth, never to return. This girl seems to be taking her forced breakup harder than she’s taking the death of her planet and people.
In fact, the so-called theme of the season is “what does it mean to be human?” A sensible measure of grief would be a great place to start.
Supergirl–who is supposed to be a strong, independent woman–is having a pity party and ditching her alter ego. She’s supposed to be the girl of steel. Instead, all of this is forced drama instead of a natural development to her established characterization.
This rule is about consistent characterization and having your characters not do things that seem out of character. Especially when you are writing a character in a series like these shows do. There’s a difference between letting your character grow and change and having them do something that doesn’t sit right with their character.
Make sure you’re on the right side of that line.
Those are the big two rules that were broken so far. I’m curious to see that if in the upcoming season, the shows course-correct. If you want more of my thoughts on the shows as a whole, check out my article on the Time Travel Nexus. (Speaking of, The Time Travel Nexus is doing an open submission period for new writers. If you are interested in writing about anything and everything time travel, take a look.)