Here's the History and Inspiration of Superheroes on The CW

By Logan Tesmer, CBS 62/CW50 Intern

Almost everyone has a favorite superhero; and some of the most popular heroes are right here on The CW. This Saturday, April 28th, is National Superhero Day and there’s no better place to celebrate than with the network of superhero shows.

The CW has a long history of sharing the stories of these superheroes and why they chose to pursue a life of helping those who need it the most.  Here’s a little background on some of your favorite shows.

Going back 17 years to 2001, The WB (The CW before ’06) aired Smallville and told the origin story of one of the most popular superheroes of all time, Superman. The story showed its audience the life of Clark Kent before he became Superman. Clark was just a boy growing up in the fictional town of Smallville, Kansas. The series progressed through the development of Clark’s superpowers, but also showed his life as a teenager with normal human issues. It showed people that even though Clark had abnormal abilities and wasn’t from Earth, he still had the same emotions as humans and the same feeling of wanting to help others that we all have. He just had superpowers to help him do more than we mere mortals could do.

Smallville ended in 2011 after a 10 year run.  In 2012 on The CW, Arrow made its debut starting what would become a whole new universe full of superheroes. The series follows the life of billionaire playboy  Oliver Queen after he spent five years shipwrecked on an island. Oliver becomes much more than just a billionaire playboy throughout the show. Donning a hood and becoming the vigilante Green Arrow, Oliver decides to take down wealthy individuals who earn their money through crime. However, to become the hero that he needs to be Oliver has to vow to not kill his targets, but instead take their organizations down and have them exposed to the police. With help from the people that he loves and surrounds himself with, “Arrow” shows us that every hero will always need the help of those around them.

In 2014, The Flash joined the universe as the crime-fighting speedster who was just a streak of light to everyone in the city. Barry Allen was a crime scene investigator before a malfunctioning particle accelerator combined with a severe thunderstorm struck Barry, giving him the ability to run at lighting speeds. With the help of a few scientists who become Barry’s friends, he saw this as a chance to solve and stop crimes by doing more than just investigating crime scenes. He originally goes about fighting crime solo as The Streak. Eventually realizing that he needs the help of others to control his abilities, Barry turns to his friends as much as possible, helping him hone in his powers to become The Flash. The series, just like Arrow, shows us that heroes need help from others to be at their full potential.

To continue expanding the superhero universe, CBS moved the show Supergirl to The CW in 2016. Supergirl follows the life of Superman’s cousin, Kara Danvers, who was sent to earth to look after him. Kara’s ship made it to Earth well after Superman’s, leaving him to grow up and become the superhero he is before she even made it to him. Jealous of her cousin’s hero status, Kara reveals her similar powers to the world and takes on the alias of Supergirl. The series shows us the struggles that Kara goes through to help others while also keeping her true identity a secret. Also in need of help herself, she turns to her friends to help her become the hero and protector that she has always wanted to be. The show teaches us that just because someone else is a hero, it doesn’t mean that we need to be a hero just like them to gain recognition. We should be heroes to help others and not to help ourselves.

During the same year that The CW added Supergirl, the network also premiered the Arrow and The Flash spin-off, Legends of Tomorrow. The series follows a group of unlikely heroes who are recruited to stop Time Masters from dominating the world. Most of the featured heroes come from side-characters in other CW superhero shows from the same fictional universe. These heroes learn to put aside their differences and work together. The series shows us how with teamwork, anything is possible when trying to help those in need.

The most recent, but certainly not the last, superhero to share their story on The CW is Black Lighting which premiered in 2018. Jefferson Pierce is a high school principal who had given up his superhero alias of Black Lighting nine years ago. Jefferson gave up the life after seeing what it was doing to his family. Now, after the rise of a local gang that kidnapped his daughters, he becomes Black Lightning once again to save them. The series shows us that if we have the power to help others, especially our family, then we need to use that power.

In a media-filled world of superhero movies, TV shows, comic books, and much more, The CW continues to tell the stories of superheroes that children lookup to and generations of fans are inspired by every day. Celebrate National Superhero Day with The CW and continue to support and watch the shows that tell the life stories of these heroes.

Anybody can be a hero, you don’t need to have superpowers or be a billionaire, you can simply help others in any way and in any capacity that you can in your community and the communities around you.

Who is your favorite CW superhero or the hero you are inspired by the most in your everyday life? Let us know in the comments below.

Logan Tesmer is a graduate of Specs Howard School of Media Arts, perusing a career in Media Production.

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