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'The Flash': How the CW is doing superheroes right

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(Read caption) 'The Flash' stars Grant Gustin.

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Marvel Studios may be getting all the attention at the multiplex, but TV viewers settled in at home are getting to see satisfying superhero stories on the small screen – and it’s not on one of the big networks, but on the channel best known for such series as “The Vampire Diaries” and "Gossip Girl."

The CW is currently host to the TV shows “Arrow” and “The Flash.” “Arrow,” which follows Oliver Queen, better known as Green Arrow, who fights crime with a bow and arrow, premiered in 2012, while “The Flash,” which centers on quick-moving police investigator Barry Allen, debuted this past fall. Barry was introduced to CW audiences on “Arrow” before he received his own series.

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Green Arrow and the Flash belong to the same DC universe as Batman and Superman and so presumably reside in the same fictional world as “Gotham,” the Fox series which debuted this past fall to much fanfare. The show is an origin story for many "Batman" characters.

But “Gotham” has received mixed reviews as the series has gone on. “It still remains very difficult to make anything on this series feel like something other than filler for a future Batman story,” IGN writer Matt Fowler wrote of the show’s midseason finale, while Vulture writer Simon Abrams wrote of the most recent installment of the show, “Gotham's tonal inconsistencies are still its biggest problem. Its creators try to be simultaneously brooding and goofy, and the result is a show that suffers from a bad identity crisis.” 

However, “Arrow” and “The Flash” continue to receive mostly positive reviews. Flavorwire writer Pilot Viruet wrote of the show in November, “’The Flash’ [is] the 2014 TV season’s best comic book adaptation… it has come out on top as a bright, optimistic light in a season of dark and dreary comic book adaptations… There’s room on television for these serious but lighthearted stories, these tragic but ultimately optimistic characters, and these compelling but fun plots – and The Flash proves it.”

Meanwhile, io9 writer Rob Bricken called the newest “Flash” episode “unbelievably thrilling,” though he wrote that parts of the romantic storyline were “annoying,” and A.V. Club writer Alasdair Wilkins gave the newest episode of “Arrow” an A-, calling it “a fine entry for the show.” 

Many fans are anxious to see how DC is going to juggle Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman (as well as many other superheroes) at the cinema. DC may want to look to the CW for tips.