Warning: spoilers ahead for Episode 16 of Arrow Season 7, called "Star City 2040," and for The Flash Season 5.
The Arrow-verse has becoming a defining element of The CW ever since Arrow hit the airwaves back in 2012, with show after show joining the lineup. With the exception of Supergirl, which started over on CBS, each of the spinoffs launched in an episode or episodes of the other shows. Batwoman was kinda sorta launched back in the "Elseworlds" crossover, and Batwoman hasn't even received a series order yet.
The latest episode of Arrow was set almost entirely in the grim flash-forward timeline of 2040, and the way it went down raises the question: is the Arrow-verse setting up a spinoff set in the future? Here's why the idea might not be as wild as you'd think.
There's Going To Be An Opening
The Arrow-verse is going to lose the show that started it all in the not-too-distant future. Although Arrow was renewed along with the rest of The CW's superhero lineup (and plenty of other shows) back in January, news broke earlier this month that Arrow would be back for a shortened eighth and final season. There will only be ten episodes in Season 8.
So, there's going to be an Arrow-verse vacancy in the not-too-distant future. Admittedly, the Batwoman series could fill Arrow's time slot, but that would leave the Arrow-verse without an archer, and would it really be right if the Arrow-verse didn't have somebody firing arrows at baddies? What if the archer is Mia rather than Emiko?
It's also worth noting that The CW president Mark Pedowitz weighed in on the question of whether there are too many DC TV shows on the network, and his words didn't exactly rule out another spinoff. He stated that "things will age," and the folks at The CW "want to get the next generation of shows to keep this CW Universe going for as much years as possible."
Funny he should mention "the next generation" in the same season that features the kids of multiple superheroes throughout the Arrow-verse! Speaking of which...
Arrow Delivered A Backdoor Pilot
Arrow traditionally delivered one episode each season that was almost entirely told via flashback; given that Season 7 went with flash-forwards rather than flashbacks, it came as no surprise that the majority of an episode called "Star City 2040" was set decades in the future. What may have surprised viewers is that "Star City 2040" plays out in a way that felt an awful lot like a backdoor pilot designed to set up a spinoff.
Yes, "Star City 2040" did feature major characters from the present timeline and finally introduced future Felicity, but the focus was on the three super-kids: William, Mia, and Connor Hawke. The relationship between the siblings got some development, hints at deeper feelings between Mia and Connor were dropped, and more of the world and time was built. Dinah, Roy, and Wild Dog were all but secondary to the plot, with Felicity as the main character from the present with the biggest role.
The episode did a great job of setting the stage for what could be a truly unique spinoff. While a future-set spinoff would potentially interfere with the annual Arrow-verse crossover, "Elseworlds" proved that huge crossover events can happen without including every show in the universe, and there's always time travel thanks to The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and even Supergirl as of the end of Season 3.
A Lot Of Backstory
As much as time travel has become a significant source of drama in the Arrow-verse thanks to Barry Allen, it's difficult to imagine any of the Arrow-verse shows set in the present bringing adult Mia, William, and/or Connor on board, and Arrow has put a lot of time and effort into expanding their characters as of "Star City 2040."
Assuming the flash-forwards are done or mostly done at the end of Season 7, all of the world-building and characterization from the future stories will be wasted. When the flashbacks were in action, there was always the possibility of Slade Wilson or Maseo or some of Oliver's Bratva bros turning up in the present. The future characters will be stuck in the future, and the relationships that have been built in the flash-forwards will no longer be relevant.
Wouldn't it be a waste of both time and potential if all of the stories from the flash-forwards just end after Season 7? And wouldn't a spinoff taking advantage of these already-established histories be a solid way to try and fill in the Arrow vacancy? I'm not saying it needs to be called Arrow: The Next Generation or anything, but it could work.
Speaking of the next generation, it just so happens that there's another super-kid from the future who could use a way to return next season: Nora West-Allen.
There's A Speedster Waiting In The Wings
Rather conveniently, there's a next generation superhero in the mix over on The Flash thanks to Nora West-Allen. The Flash never specified Nora's age, but given all the clues about her lack of memories of her father prior to his disappearance, it's probably safe to assume that she was in her mid-to-late 20s by the time she decided in 2049 to run back in time and hang with her parents.
Given that Mia would have been 21 at the oldest in "Star City 2040," she and Nora are likely around the same age. Connor Hawke looks around Mia's age. William is the only one with more than ten years on the others, but he's still not exactly over the hill. They could work as the core four of a spinoff set in the late 2040s or early 2050s, or even just four of a Legends of Tomorrow-esque ensemble.
Granted, Nora has become a key part of The Flash in the present, and her parents are probably going to be reluctant to say goodbye to her, but even Barry Allen can't possibly justify keeping her around and risking the timeline indefinitely for selfish reasons. Nora is going to have to go back to the future, and there she could team up with the future heroes of Arrow. Throw in the sidekick about to debut on Legends of Tomorrow, and it's a real party.
Hey, maybe this is the way for The CW to finally get a Nightwing of its own! Introduce Dick Grayson as Robin on Batwoman, and there's a Nightwing ready to go by 2049. A girl can dream, right?
Only time will tell what's in store for the Arrow-verse and the spinoffs that may or may not launch in the future. There are plenty of superhero options on the airwaves this midseason, with new episodes of Arrow airing on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. Nora West-Allen's shenanigans continue on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The Flash.