The DCEU and the Arrowverse grew in opposite directions to become the two longest running DC live action franchises but things could have been very different if Stephen Amells Green Arrow and Grant Gustins Flash were part of the DC films. Two very distinct interpretations of the DC universe the Arrowverse and the DCEU started at about the same time the former in 2011 with Arrow and the latter in 2013 with Man of Steel. A decade later both the Arrowverse and the DCEU collect hits and misses and often lead to a discussion about which one is the best portrayal of the DC universe.After the end of Arrow and the cancellations of Black Lighting and Supergirl the Arrowverse now only consists of The Flash Legends of Tomorrow Batwoman and Superman and Lois. The DCEU meanwhile is trying to find new a direction after Justice Leagues box office failure actor departures and behind the scenes controversies. Following the release schedule change that pushed The Flash and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom to 2023 the next two DCEU movies for 2022 will be Black Adam and Shazam Fury of the Gods.
Arrow was heading for season 3 and The Flash was about to premiere when the Justice League cast was first announced for Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice. If Warner Bros. had instead opted for Arrow and its spin off The Flash to be part of the planned cinematic universe then there would have had to be a lot more collaboration between The CW and the studio and most of Zack Snyders plans for the Justice League storyline would have had to be changed to incorporate at least the events of The Flash season 1 as well as to find a spot for Oliver Queen in the Justice League lineup. Both Suicide Squad films would have been a lot different as well or perhaps never happened given that the team had already appeared on Arrow.
Why Werent Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin In The DCEU?
Despite being franchises born at roughly the same time the DCEU and what would later be called the Arrowverse were different projects happening at different segments of Warner Bros. While Arrow was an attempt by The CW to capitalize on the success of the recently ended Smallville Man of Steel came to be as a parallel project of Christopher and Jonathan Nolan during the production of The Dark Knight Rises. At the time there were no plans for Man of Steel to be the start of a cinematic universe nor for Arrow to be the first in a series of superhero shows.
Things changed after The Avengers smashed box office records and showed that audiences were craving superhero crossovers and cinematic universes. By the time Man of Steel was released Arrow was already in its second season and Warner Bros. realized that starting a cinematic universe was the way to go. However there was little connection between what The CW was doing with Arrow and what Warner Bros. was envisioning for the movies except they were both working with the DC brand. From producers to the creative team the minds behind the DCEU and the Arrowverse were almost entirely different.Arrows success naturally led to a spin off and the character chosen to receive his own TV show was Flash. However as the project was getting off the ground Warner Bros. decided that Man of Steel would be succeeded by Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice and a Justice League movie. By the time Grant Gustins Flash pilot aired director Zack Snyder had already locked his cast for Justice League including Ezra Miller as Barry Allen.
How The Arrowverse Would Have Been Different If It Was Part Of The DCEU
For years Arrow and subsequent spin off shows had to deal with various restrictions as to what characters and storylines they could use depending on what Warners Bros. was envisioning for the movies. Had the Arrowverse been part of the DCEU from the start the no use mandates such as the ones for Booster Gold and Deathstroke wouldnt exist and CW and WB would instead have to work closely in the making of the movies and shows. That would have been a complex challenge considering that the creative structures of a movie studio and a TV network are quite different.Furthermore the Arrowverse as audiences know it was built exactly around the restrictions and limitations the CW had on its use of DC characters meaning that shows like Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl could perhaps never exist in this hypothetical scenario and the same goes for Superman and Lois. To maintain interconnectivity between the shows and the movies it would fall over Warner Bros.s shoulders the role of deciding which series would and would not be produced and even A list characters could have gotten their own CW shows. Not only that many of the storylines that the Arrowverse utilized would also have been modified or completely scrapped to ensure greater synergy with what the DCEU directors were envisioning. The priority of course would always be the films as those are the most expensive and profitable projects.
How The DCEU Would Have Been Different If Arrow and Flash Were Part Of It
Bringing Stephen Amells Arrow and Grant Gustin Flash to the DCEU would mean bringing at least three seasons of Arrow and one season of The Flash to the story of the DCEU. That creates a problem as director Zack Snyder had a very specific plan as to where he wanted the Justice League story to go. Flash for example had an important role in Snyders Knightmare timeline which could have created an inconsistency with what Flash season 1 had established in terms of time travel. There would have had to be major rewrites in both Batman v Superman and Justice League and both films would have to mention or at least acknowledge the existence of other masked vigilantes besides Batman and other strange metahuman events besides Superman.
In Batman v Superman the existence of metahumans was merely a thesis while The Flash established right from the start that superpowered beings exist. Another challenging change would have been Oliver Queens addition to the Justice League movie. While the Green Arrow is often part of the Justice League in the comics he was not a founding member of the team. Given what was established on Arrow it would have been odd to have a less experienced hero like the Flash join the Justice League and not the one person who basically prepared Barry Allen for the superhero life. A lot of Cyborgs Justice League story would also have to be tweaked to incorporate the CWs version of STAR Labs and both Suicide Squad films might not have even happened considering Arrow had already shown a version of the team with its own Deadshot and Amanda Waller.
Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin Could Have Saved Justice League
The addition of Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin to the DCEU wouldnt have been easy but the popularity and dedicated fan base that both Arrow and The Flash created could have helped improve the DCEUs reception. The first three DCEU films were too divisive to launch a solid franchise like the MCU and a lot of it has to do with all the three films being tied to only one specific vision. If the Arrowverse were part of the DCEU then Justice League and the franchise as a whole would have had a much more plural tone that could cater to many different audiences.Instead a large part of the audience that didnt connect with Snyders DCEU felt alienated by the franchise which resulted in Batman v Supermans underperforming and Justice League failing at the box office. Not only that the time has proven that audiences are found of interconnectivity and crossover between different media when it comes to superheroes. That means Stephen Amells Arrow and Grant Gustins Flash would have made DCEUs Justice League a much bigger movie in terms of scale.