The original DCU constantly faced issues when each of its films was compared to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While DCU films were brooding, dark, and without the excitement and emotional ties to the characters, Marvel was flourishing with every project. But, James Gunn has experience with some of Marvel’s fan-favorite projects, which included writing all three Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
So, James Gunn’s iteration of the DCU franchise may be significantly different from what the DCU had been previously. Blue Beetle, which premiered in 2023, has already introduced one of the future DCU protagonists, Jamie Reyes. However, the first official film to kick off James Gunn’s rebooted DCU is Superman: Legacy, which is slated to be released in 2025.
However, while the theatrical DCU was drowning at the box office and never quite able to keep up with the competition, the CW Network’s Arrowverse was succeeding left and right with shows such as Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Black Lightning, Bat Woman, and Legends of Tomorrow. Viewers became attached to the television show’s iteration of the DC Comics characters, who embraced a mix of seriousness with upbeat charisma, excitement, thrill, and love for each other and the world they live in.
Even if these actors do not become central figures in James Gunn’s DCU moving forward, it may pay off to somehow include some fan-favorite Arrowverse characters.
10 Grant Gustin
Perhaps the Arroverse’s most beloved actor, Grant Gustin, played Barry Allen/The Flash for nine years on The Flash. The show kicked off with Barry Allen’s origin story, showing the traumatic and devastating death of his mother and the imprisonment of his father. The series took liberties away from the comic books to introduce a different reality, one where Barry grew up with Joe West and his main love interest and future wife, Iris West. Along the way, Barry grew significant friendships with Team Flash members Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon. But, he would also get to face off against the Reverse Flash and finally gain closure against the man who murdered his mother.
Grant Gustin Portrayed the Best Version of The Flash
Grant Gustin’s performance as Barry Allen has him recognized as the best version of the character. He brings out Barry’s charismatic optimism and love for Iris, his friends, and his family. Grant Gustin is entirely convincing in his desperate desire to save Central City, his upbeat personality, and the emotional devastation that comes with recognizing that he had been tricked and that his hero, Harrison Wells, was actually the man in yellow. Over the course of nine seasons, The Flash got to fully develop and discuss Barry’s highs and lows as a person and as a hero. DCU movies have not always had the opportunity to experience the ordinary person as much as they focus on the bright colors of the hero’s cape.
But, Grant Gustin spent years giving Barry a solid set of morals and understanding his emotional state. Even if Grant Gustin is not James Gunn’s leading Flash in future films, he should definitely be considered, at least in a crossover multiverse arc. It would acknowledge the character’s past, rather than just throwing the actor into the hero’s suit, and maybe even create the opportunity to learn a little more about what happened to him after the show’s conclusive series finale.
- Release Date
- October 7, 2014
9 Stephen Amell
Stephen Amell started it all with his performance as Oliver Queen. Without Arrow succeeding, there would not be an extensive Arrowverse that spread the DC Comics into multiple television shows and exciting crossover episodes. Arrow ran for eight seasons and followed the dangerous vigilante lifestyle of the rich Oliver Queen, and how he became a particularly violent protector of his home, Star City. Still, Oliver Queen’s death was a massive part of the Arrowverse, while Stephen Amell had made his place known among the significance of the universe he had helped build.
The DCU Never Introduced the Green Arrow
In its strive to tell as many Superman and Batman stories as possible, the DCU never actually spent time introducing the Green Arrow into its universe. Even though Stephen Amell’s iteration of Olive Queen had died, bringing the actor into James Gunn’s DCU could be an exciting way to tease if the character could be more important to future adaptations. Stephen Amell brought out Oliver Queen’s anger, but also his willingness for friendship, loyalty, and love. He sacrificed himself for his loved ones, declaring himself to die so that Barry and Kara could live.
He recognized their significance to the world and, in doing so, made the ultimate sacrifice, knowing that it would mean his end. As portrayed in The Flash, Oliver Queen is not entirely dead either, as he exists in some sort of afterlife limbo. He was able to return to life briefly in The Flash, and if that was a possibility, why couldn’t he somehow make an appearance in James Gunn’s DCU?
- Release Date
- October 10, 2012
- The CW
8 Melissa Benoist
Melissa Benoist played Kara Zor-El in Supergirl for six seasons. The series followed Kara’s dedication to saving and protecting National City. As one of the longer-lasting Arrowverse shows, Supergirl got the opportunity to explore different heroes and villains, such as Mon-El, Lex Luthor, and Alex Danvers. Kara’s double life between her human job and her time devoted to protecting National City allowed the series to play into whether her identity would be revealed.
Supergirl Had Already Existed on a Different Earth
When Kara is initially introduced in the Arrowverse, she meets Barry Allen only after he runs fast enough to accidentally enter a different universe. The Multiverse played a significant role in the Arrowverse, even after Crisis on Infinite Earths, so, James Gunn’s DCU could play into that as well. Whether Melissa Benoist makes an appearance as Supergirl herself or is a cameo meant to acknowledge her previous involvement in DC Comics adaptations, she has still proven herself to be an integral part of the overall Arrowverse, bringing comedy and drama to the show as required. Seeing as Melissa Benoist created both a human side and a superhero side to Kara, it would be beneficial for the DCU to acknowledge the already developed and fleshed-out iteration of the character.
- Release Date
- October 26, 2015
- The CW
7 Cress Williams
Cress Williams starred as Jefferson Pierce, or Black Lightning, for Black Lightning‘s four seasons. Ultimately, Black Lightning appeared fewer times in the overall Arrowverse in comparison to other shows, as Jefferson Pierce only appeared a handful of times in crossovers, and the show only premiered toward the end of the overall franchise’s run. Still, Cress Williams portrayed a significant iteration of Jefferson Pierce, a superhero who worked to balance life as the protector of Freeland, Georgia.
Black Lightning Has Not Had His Own Movie
Seeing as Black Lightning has not had a large role in the DCU, nor has he had his own movie, Cress Williams may be able to fill those shoes. While Jefferson steps down from active hero work in Black Lightning’s series finale, content with mentoring others, bringing the character into the DCU could highlight his fighting abilities or his mentoring abilities, perhaps to another Earth’s Black Lightning. Cress Williams made an impact as the character, and regardless of how it would go, the future DCU would do well to follow the Arrowverse’s lead and introduce this character to the films, as it would be an interesting way to shake things up in comparison to how the DCU has mostly stuck to the same characters.
6 Caity Lotz
Originally appearing as a recurring character on Arrow, Caity Lotz made an impression on Team Arrow and audiences as Sara Lance, or the White Canary, before being moved to become a series regular on Legends of Tomorrow. In the second season of the popular spinoff, Sara Lance stepped up to become the leader of the group of heroes.
Legends of Tomorrow Was Canceled too Soon
The Flash was not intentionally meant to be the final surviving Arrowverse television show. Legends of Tomorrow was canceled in the CW Network’s slew of cut-short series that coincided with WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS selling the CW Network to Nextstar Media Group. Even though Legends of Tomorrow ends on an optimistic cliffhanger, the series finale still did not get to faithfully conclude Sara Lance’s storyline. She is left excitedly pregnant, as she and her partner are expecting a baby together.
But, while it may be a more happy ending for what the series was able to grant them, it was still not as proper an ending such a main character would have deserved after being significantly important in two Arrowverse series. A cameo appearance in James Gunn’s DCU could offer a more solid sense of closure for her character, or at least reveal where she ended up.
5 David Ramsey
As a fan favorite from Arrow and a character whose journey briefly continued in The Flash, John Diggle played a significant role in the Arrowverse. David Ramsey made many appearances in The Flash while still being a key player in Arrow. However, he never really got the opportunity to grow beyond Oliver Queen’s best friend.
David Ramsey Has a Lot to Offer The DCU
Regardless of whether it is coming in as a hero or a mentor, David Ramsey’s role as John Diggle portrayed how well he understood the Arrowverse. A prominent role in James Gunn’s DCU could give him a chance to shine that he may not have had previously. There are plenty of times in the Arrowverse that the rest of the characters supporting the leading hero did not get the acknowledgments they deserved from their supporting roles. The Flash did what it could to give extra support to follow up on John Diggle’s story after Arrow ended, but even then, not too much attention could be focused on his subplot in comparison to seeing The Flash work to save Central City.
4 Tom Cavanagh
Tom Cavanagh proved himself to be someone to watch when, after spending the first episode of The Flash being the supportive Harrison Wells, the final minutes of the episode teased that he may be more dangerous than he let on, including having significant knowledge of the future. While Cavanagh would go on to play various counterparts of Harrison Wells over the show’s nine seasons, he initially made waves by portraying Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, and Barry’s biggest nemesis.
Tom Cavanaugh Was a Brilliant Reverse Flash
As exciting as it was to see Cavanagh take on the various different portrayals of Harrison Wells, which included a scientist, detective, and more, it was his performance as Eobard Thawne that really captured and elevated the series. Cavanagh brought a mutual hatred and interest to Barry Allen in his separation to return home to the future, mixed with his own hatred of Barry Allen for preventing him from being a real hero in the future, creating a complex character and relationship between the Reverse Flash and Barry.
Although Eobard Thawne eventually meets his end, Tom Cavanagh’s performance as the character, or any Harrison Wells counterpart, would still be great fun for James Gunn’s DCU, especially as The Flash established that so many iterations of Harrison Wells existed throughout the Multiverse.
3 Tyler Hoechlin
Initially brought on board to portray the recurring role of Clark Kent/Superman on Supergirl, Tyler Hoechlin eventually went on to star as Superman in his own separate Earth in Superman & Lois. Superman & Lois sees Clark Kent as a family man, watching out to be a good husband, father, and protector of Smallville. However, this series has no significant connection to the DC CW shows that came before it.
DC Could Have Their Own “No Way Home”
One of Marvel’s strengths is its ability to lean into jokes and references when the moment is right, and as the MCU approached its Multiverse arc, Marvel leaned into Spider-Man’s previous Sony films to introduce all three iterations of Peter Parker in Spider-Man: No Way Home, and allowed them to interact with each other. James Gunn’s DCU’s first project is meant to be Superman: Legacy, which already promises that Henry Cavill will not be reprising his role as Clark Kent to address the changed outlook on the DCU.
But what if the DCU leaned into Marvel’s way of thinking and, at some point in the future, allowed these three iterations of Superman, including Tyler Hoechlin’s portrayal, to interact and try to save the world together? The DCU previously used a similar method, acknowledging the multiverse in The Flash, where Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck, and George Clooney, who have all portrayed Batman, appear as Batman in the film.
Superman and Lois
- Release Date
- Greg Berlanti, Todd Helbing
- Main Genre
2 Danielle Panabaker
Danielle Panabaker was a series regular for all nine seasons of The Flash. But, she also played multiple characters during her time on the series. Initially introduced as Caitlin Snow, a scientist, and doctor, her role initially consisted of watching and studying Barry’s alterations that occurred after being hit by lightning and becoming the Flash. Then, she became integral in helping save Central City. But, once Killer Frost became more involved, Danielle Panabaker’s role became significantly more intriguing.
The Duplicity of Caitlin Snow and Killer Frost Adds Extra Depth
Killer Frost was initially introduced as a danger to society on Earth 2. Once Barry returned home after living in Flashpoint for a few months, not everything returned to exactly as it was, including the potential Caitlin Snow had to become Killer Frost. Killer Frost was a villain who became a hero, and a redemption story could be an exciting avenue for the DCU to go down.
Danielle Panabaker lost access to Frost and her second alternate personality, Khione, at the end of the series finale. However, having Danielle Panabaker appear in James Gunn’s DCU could offer the opportunity for Caitlin to come across Frost, her friend and sister, and potentially get the chance to see another version of the person she had loved so much and maybe not have gotten the closure she needed for.
1 Javicia Leslie
In season two, Javicia Leslie entered Batwoman as the new title character, Batwoman, this time portrayed by Ryan Wilder, taking over for Ruby Rose, who portrayed the original main character, Kate Kane. Batwoman was one of the shortest Arrowverse shows, only lasting three seasons. Due to its short lifespan, Javicia Leslie would be an ideal candidate for James Gunn’s DCU.
Batwoman Didn’t Have the Spotlight for Long Enough
Javicia Leslie had the integral job of keeping the audience attached to the show as the new protagonist. But, two seasons were not enough time to get to know Ryan Wilder as much as fans would have liked. While The Flash did find ways to bring her into the fold every once in a while, it was enough to give fans a taste of the woman they were missing without the ability to give her character a real concluding arc. James Gunn’s DCU could be an exciting place to expand the character’s involvement, or at least acknowledge her past and create an opportunity to know how things turned out in Ryan’s life as Batwoman.
- Release Date
- October 6, 2019
- Rachel Skarsten