The Fall 2018 storylines of three of the shows that make up the Arrowverse – Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow – all heavily involve potential futures. Whether this is part of some grand plan on the part of The CW or simply odd timing remains to be seen, but the possibilities have fans’ heads spinning. They also have some fans seeing red, due to the perceived impossibility of the three futures existing as part of a single unified timeline.
In the past, changes to the timeline of one Arrowverse show have affected the others, with one of the consequences of Barry Allen’s time travel on The Flash being that John Diggle’s infant daughter, Sara, was suddenly changed into an infant son named John Junior on Arrow. It is also possible for potential futures to be averted and not come to pass. For instance, the events of Legends of Tomorrow since its first season have almost certainly prevented the dark future seen in the pilot episode. Likewise, the third season of The Flash was largely concerned with the unintended consequences of Barry Allen stopping his mother from being murdered by the Reverse Flash, resulting in a divergent timeline called Flashpoint.
To that end, here is a brief rundown of what is know about each of the three relevant alternate futures in the Arrowverse this fall. This rundown will examine how the individual timelines might connect as well as what sticking points might keep them from linking together. It is entirely possible, however, that no links are intended and that these futures could ultimately be undone by the events of their respective seasons.
- This Page: Arrow’s Star City 2038
- Page 2: Legends Of Tomorrow’s 2042 and The Flash’s 2049
Arrow’s Star City 2038 Explained
Arrow season 7’s premiere stunned Arrow-heads with a shocking reveal in its final moments. After detailing the efforts of a young man to reach the remote island of Lian Yu, where Oliver Queen spent most of the five years of pure hell that turned him into Green Arrow, the episode revealed that the young man was captured by a hooded figure who demanded to know why the young man had come there. The young man was revealed to be William Clayton, Oliver Queen’s son, and the hooded figure was shown to be an older Roy “Arsenal” Harper – Green Arrow’s first protege. This further revealed that what was presumed to be a flashback was truly a flash-forward, twenty years into the future of Arrow. So far, the full purpose of these jumps is unclear, although many fans suspect William is the new Green Arrow.
In “The Longbow Hunters“, William revealed that a GPS device hidden inside a stone arrowhead his stepmother Felicity Smoak had given him had guided him to Lian Yu. The exact coordinates led to a grave containing a cache of Oliver Queen’s old gear, including his first bow. This, in turn, led William and Roy to Star City, which had changed drastically since they had both been there. It was here that viewers learned that The Glades – the worst neighborhood in Star City in 2018 – had been gentrified into some kind of fascist gated community for the rich and the powerful, with the police force acting as their private army and the working-class forced into the largely lawless domain that Star City had become.
William and Roy ran afoul of the police in “Level 2“, but were saved by Dinah Drake, who had apparently abandoned her Captaincy in the SCPD to become Black Canary once again. Dinah was also revealed to had trained Zoe Ramirez (the daughter of Rene “Wild Dog” Ramirez) to become a vigilante. Apparently, Star City’s laws against vigilantism in 2018 had been expanded to include a shoot-on-sight order. Nothing was said about the rest of Star City’s heroes from 2018, beyond Felicity Smoak being dead and Rene Ramirez not daring to show his face in Star City for some reason.
Legends Of Tomorrow’s Seattle 2042 Explained
It was in the third episode of Legends of Tomorrow‘s third season, “Zari“, that the dark world of 2042 Seattle was first revealed. Though the exact details of how it happened were never discussed, it was explained that the United States had devolved into a fascist society sometime after metahumans were outlawed in 2021. This also led to religion in all forms being outlawed and ARGUS – a covert anti-terrorism organization in 2018 – becoming the main police force of the new regime.
The episode also introduced the character of Zari Tomaz. A hacker and resistance fighter, Zari was wanted three times over by the regime that ruled the United States in 2042. This was because she was a devout Muslim, a rebel fighter, and she possessed a magic totem (later revealed to be the lost Air Totem of Zambesi) which granted her the power to control the wind and fly.
Zari became a powerful addition to the ranks of The Legends, but she rankled against the team’s rules against using time travel for their personal benefit. However, a relative eternity stuck in a time-loop drove home the point to her that trying to change history was incredibly risky and not easily accomplished. Still, this hasn’t stopped Zari from finding creative loopholes to spare Helen of Troy the sad existence of a trophy wife in ‘Helen Hunt‘ or saving a young widow from being burned at the stake in “Witch Hunt“.
The Legends of Tomorrow season 4 premiere, “The Virgin Gary”, featured a scene where Zari lamented that for all her power she could not use her ability to time travel to save her family from being killed by the government in her time. She also discussed how she was afraid that doing something to prevent her future from occurring might undo her existence and every act of good she had performed to save countless lives in her time as a Legend. This theme came up again in other season 4 episodes, in relation to Zari talking to other characters about the desire to change the past to prevent something bad from happening. Given that, it seems to be foreshadowing that Zari’s life is about to change in a fairly major way.
The Flash’s Central City 2049 Explained
The Flash season 5 premiere picked up immediately where the fourth season ended, with Barry Allen and Iris West meeting their daughter from the future. Introducing herself as Nora West-Allen (aka XS), the young time-traveler claimed to have become stuck in 2018 and unable to return to her time, about 30 years in the future. This was later revealed to be a lie and the young woman revealed that she had come back in time to meet the father she never knew, because Barry Allen disappeared following a crisis of some kind in 2024.
The fact that The Flash vanished at some point in the future was established by a newspaper from 2024 in the very first episode of The Flash, but Nora added a few interesting wrinkles regarding the future of the Arrowverse. She revealed a newspaper from 2049, which discussed the 25th anniversary of the battle in which The Flash disappeared and how The Flash was never seen again afterward. She also mentioned the creation of a Flash museum which taught her almost everything she knew about her father’s exploits as a superhero and one brief flash-forward showed her visiting the museum as a child in 2032.
While it is possible that the anti-vigilante future of Star City 2038 is part of the similarly dark world of Seattle 2042, it seems all but impossible to reconcile Nora’s future with either of the realities seen in Arrow or Legends of Tomorrow. It seems unlikely that Central City would be allowed to have a museum honoring their greatest superhero in 2032 if metahumans were outlawed nationally in 2021. This also raises questions about how Iris West would be allowed to write two articles detailing the exploits of superheroes favorably in a public newspaper in 2024 and 2049 respectively.
One possible answer may be that Nora’s traveling back in time has formed a divergent timeline akin to Flashpoint and all of The Flash season 5 so far is taking place within a paradoxical timeline that has yet to be refitted into reality. Another possibility is that Nora is lying about her future – something she has already tried to do several times over the course of the season and which she was seemingly caught doing again by Sherloque Wells in regards to why she chose to expose herself by helping her father destroy the STAR Labs satellite. Hopefully, the events of the 2018-2019 season will eventually come to reconcile these conflicts between the various futures of Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash.