In a genre that is primarily male-dominated, these women are the heart and soul of superhero shows on the small screen.
From the underrated to the underused, DCTV just wouldn’t be the same without them. It’s unfortunate that a number of these women often serve as a “love interest” to the male lead, but this list will show you all the ways in which they stand on their own.
This list contains spoilers from the latest seasons of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, so consider yourself forewarned.
Kara Danvers (aka Supergirl) – Supergirl
It’s only natural that the Girl of Steel herself should kick us off. This leading lady is one of the most complex female characters to grace the small screen. Losing her family and home planet of Krypton as a child, Kara Zor-El is sent to Earth to protect her cousin Kal-El. Her spacecraft is knocked off course, keeping her from reaching Earth for 24 years. She finally arrives, still aged 13. Upon realising Kal-El doesn’t need her protection, she goes about living a (relatively) normal life with the Danvers. That is until, years later, she decides to embrace her powers as Supergirl.
Season 1 brought Kara to life as a woman who has lost everything but still chooses to face the world with kindness and respect. She tackles family issues, along with coming to terms with who she really is. She also has a brilliant dynamic with sister Alex (Chyler Leigh), and any emotional scene actress Melissa Benoist attempts is magical. If you ever need an example, just watch the episode ‘Falling’. You won’t regret it.
No doubt Season 2 has had its flaws (a former slave-owning frat boy immediately comes to mind), which greatly reduced the amount of individual story Kara received. To see her development sidelined for a love interest is frustrating, and something that shouldn’t happen to a titular character (especially knowing this would never happen to Barry Allen or Oliver Queen). However, alongside saving the world as Supergirl, having Kara dipping her toes into journalism is fulfilling to watch. To see her struggle and own up to her mistakes just proves that she is a realistic, flawed hero, and Benoist gives one of the most authentic performances in the entire Arrowverse.
Sara Lance (aka The Canary / White Canary) – Arrow / Legends of Tomorrow
Sara has one of the more tumultuous backstories on this list. She’s also the only one on this list to feature prominently on two Arrowverse shows. Starting on Arrow, she returns after being presumed dead and having trained to be an assassin for years. Later on, she actually does die, but of course, she’s resurrected by the Lazarus Pit and goes on to join the cast of Legends of Tomorrow. Not only that, she goes from being The Canary to the White Canary on Legends.
Caity Lotz’s fight scenes are always something to look forward to. She brings something to Sara that nobody else could. Giving Sara her own show was a great move, as there wasn’t as much room for her to shine on Arrow. As of the second season of Legends, Sara’s the captain of the Waverider, the ship that the Legends time travel on. Again, this is probably the best move the writers could’ve made. Seeing her lead the group (one filled with men, no less) is rewarding and the season finale is a satisfying conclusion to Sara’s arc. To top it off, she’s a bisexual superhero, something rarely seen on television.
Iris West – The Flash
There is no doubt that Iris West (Candice Patton) brings something to The Flash that the other characters in the series simply can’t. Despite her skills and qualities being sidelined so she can solely be Barry Allen’s love interest, she truly is the heart and soul of the show. Iris is the one character the show just couldn’t work without, and I hope it never has to. Iris is charming, kind, selfless, and a beacon of light in the lives of many characters.
A talented journalist for the CCPN, Iris’ day job is the perfect way to integrate her into Team Flash. Even before she knew Barry was a vigilante, she took a special interest in writing articles about him. Iris states throughout the series that you don’t need powers to be a hero; further proof that she’s the kind of hero we need on television, especially when it comes to influencing young women. Hopefully The Flash writers realise what they have on their hands and begin to completely utilise the qualities Iris has.
Alex Danvers – Supergirl
Alex Danvers could easily carry her own show. Kara’s older sister is a powerhouse and one of the most well-rounded characters on this list. Chyler Leigh (who I have adored since Grey’s Anatomy) is incomparable in this role, and I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing this kickass DEO agent. Although she has no superpowers of her own, it wouldn’t be wise to bet against her in any fight. From launching herself into space to save her sister’s life, to self-surgery with a credit card, Alex is a hero in her own right.
Despite not having a lot of solo development in Season 1, the relationship between Alex and her sister is probably the best familial dynamic in the Arrowverse, which is saying a lot considering the other women on this list. Complex and realistic, the bond between them has proven to be unbreakable. If anyone is Supergirl’s hero, it’s Alex.
Season 2 saw her come into her own, exploring her emotional side for the first time. This leads to her having one of the most realistic and genuine stories on television today, as she comes out to the world as a lesbian. She falls in love with NCPD Detective Maggie Sawyer, and their arc continues throughout the rest of the season. However, her ‘coming out’ arc doesn’t slow the rest of her story down. She wrestles with looking for her missing father, becoming the temporary director of the DEO, and being constantly caught up in life or death situations. All in a day’s work.
Laurel Lance (aka Black Canary) – Arrow
From the beginning of the series, Laurel Lance has been the anchor of Arrow. Entering as Oliver’s love interest, she proves very quickly that she stands on her own as a strong, capable woman. After her sister dies, she becomes the Black Canary to honour her, even when she’s eventually brought back to life. Not only is she a vigilante, she has a legal career up until she becomes the Assistant District Attorney of Star City. She works hard, and doesn’t take anything less than what she deserves. She’s the perfect example of a woman who knows what she wants, and fights until she gets it.
Her unfortunate death was probably the most controversial in the entire Arrowverse. Katie Cassidy brings something unique to Arrow, and I’m glad she’s not gone entirely, even if is in the form of Laurel’s evil Earth 2 counterpart, Black Siren. Although I labelled Kara/Alex as my favourite family dynamic on this list, Laurel/Sara come in a close second. Both have died at some point in time, and both choose to carry on the legacy of the other.
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