For the past seven years, superheroes in the Arrowverse have had a tenuous relationship with law enforcement. On Arrow, the Star City Police Department has always been after the Green Arrow. At the end of last season, Oliver unmasked himself and was even sent to prison for his crimes. On The Flash, the Central City Police Department supports the work of The Flash, but they don’t know The Flash is actually Barry Allen. On Supergirl, the National City Police Force does openly work with Supergirl, but again, they don’t know Supergirl is Kara Danvers. Besides Legends of Tomorrow’s Time Bureau, no official agency knows and supports superheroes.
However, Arrow recently changed this dynamic by having all of Team Arrow unmasked in front of the SCPD. Not only that, but the Mayor chose to deputize each member of Team Arrow, making them part of the police force. Now they don’t have to worry about working in the shadows or hiding from the police. This is quite the turn around from earlier seasons of Arrow and is a groundbreaking step for the Arrowverse as a whole.
A History of Hiddenness
Since the inception of the Arrowverse, heroes have had an extremely difficult time working with anyone from law enforcement. One of the biggest arcs of Arrow Season 1 was Quentin Lance’s manhunt for “The Hood.” This manhunt lasted for three years. Oliver even gave himself up at one point during Season 3, until Roy Harper confessed that he was the true Green Arrow. Quentin Lance did discover the truth about Oliver, but his anger towards him, his rage, and his vendetta dissipated when he started working with Damien Darhk. It was during this time, in Season 4, that Lance became an ally of Team Arrow.
Still, Lance couldn’t tell the SCPD about Oliver’s identity, nor could he tell the public when Oliver became mayor. The rise of Arrow copycats and other dangerous villains like Prometheus then prompted Star City to pass the Anti-Vigilante Act. This made heroes public enemy number one again. Finally, that act and Oliver’s confession as the Green Arrow led to the disbanding of Team Arrow.
This put our heroes in an interesting position at the start of Season 7. Lance was dead, Dinah was the new SCPD Captain, Diggle was at A.R.G.U.S., and Oliver was in prison. It appeared as if Team Arrow was gone for good. However, a resurrection was being orchestrated. First, Earth-2 Laurel Lance got Oliver’s sentence reduced which led to his release form Slabside. Second, Dinah deputized Oliver as an official police asset. Oliver could work in the light of day, as the Green Arrow for the first time in history. This moment was huge. Seven seasons of being on the run with a cumulative 12 years of working from the shadows.
The ground-breaking event didn’t end here, however, as the rest of Team Arrow would soon be deputized as well. In the episode “Emerald Archer,” all of Team Arrow reconvened to take down someone who had a vendetta against Oliver for what happened when the Queen’s Gambit sank. The team was led into a trap, and Dinah was forced to unleash her Canary Cry in front of Mayor Emily Pollard.
Under the anti-vigilante act, this action could have gotten Dinah’s badge revoked and everyone on Team Arrow arrested. However, Mayor Pollard showed her true colors of compassion and chose not to punish the heroes for saving her life. She instead deputized them. This was such a huge moment because no superhero in the Arrowverse has ever been brought onboard to the police force before. Fans everywhere unleashed tears of joy that their heroes could finally acknowledged and supported by the police.
This one action completely changed the show in an instant. Team Arrow can now work with the police, instead of being hunted by them. It was a profound moment to witness and one that will hopefully stay in motion throughout the rest of Season 7.
How This Could Work on Other Arrowverse Shows
With Arrow leading the way in this move, could the other Arrowverse shows be far behind? Let’s look at The Flash. Barry and Joe both work at the CCPD, so it would be pretty easy for Barry to unmask himself to Captain Singh. What’s different from Arrow here is that the CCPD has never seen The Flash as a threat. They’re always loved when The Flash shows up to help them bring in a criminal. This is mostly because Central City is home to so many meta humans and they need The Flash to fight them. However, that doesn’t mean the city couldn’t benefit from The Flash, calling him when they need him the most. This could also ease tensions between Barry and Captain Singh, because Barry is still keeping this massive secret from him. (Editor’s Note: And rarely shows up for work).
And what about Supergirl? The issue of Supergirl’s identity has been a huge storyline this season. Supergirl has worked openly with the DEO for the last four seasons, and the DEO has always supported her and helped her defeat any enemy that was too much for her to fight on her own. However, in the mid-season finale, President Baker gave Supergirl an ultimatum: reveal her identity or leave the DEO. Kara chose to leave because she refused to be bullied into exposing her family to greater harm.
While Barry exposing his secret to his co-workers might be the best move for him, it might not be the best for Kara. This has less to do with co-worker relations and more about Kara putting Alex at risk. Alex is currently the head of the DEO. If the President discovered that Alex knew Supergirl’s secret, she could lose her job. Kara loves her family more than anything and would never want to compromise Alex or her career.
So, should Kara tell the President? Should she unmask herself to the public like Oliver? Should Barry unmask himself to his co-workers and Captain Singh? How much should the other Arrowverse heroes take cues from Oliver and company? At this point it seems like a fantastic move for Arrow, and perhaps the other shows will follow in step.
Arrow returns Monday, March 4th on The CW.