The CW's Arrowverse Shows: 10 Actors Who Played DC Characters
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The CW’s Arrowverse Shows: 10 Actors Who Played Other Iconic DC Characters

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BY March 12, 2021

The annual crossover event during The CW’s Arrowverse shows is coming up. It’s that time of year where all of their DC Comics shows team up for one giant story. And this year, they’re talking the Crisis On Infinite Earths storyline.

The biggest news about this crossover is the appearance of a plethora of actors from former DC properties joining the Arrowverse in new or reimagined roles. It’s a callback that the CW / DC shows have been doing for years.

So let’s take a look at 10 actors from the Arrowverse shows on the CW who have already been part of the DC Comics universe.

The Rise of the Live-Action Supermen

Dean Cain From The Adventures of Lois & Clark

Before the Arrowverse took off The Adventures of Lois & Clark was one of the most well-known TV adaptations of DC comics. Dean Cain was Clark Kent and Superman for an entire generation of audiences. The show was a fun and influential live-action show that saw comic book characters as serious characters on mainstream television.

Dean Cain in Supergirl. The CW's Arrowverse shows Image via The CW

In the Arrowverse, Cain was immediately cast as Kara Danvers’ adoptive father in Supergirl. He had a recurring role in the series, that amounted to more than just the father figure. Cain’s talents are never in question, and it was amazing to see one of the iconic Superman beside the current Supergirl.

Brandon Routh Will Now Be Two Different Supermen

Getting his start as an unknown actor in the first Superman movie in almost twenty years, Brandon Routh’s performance hearkened back to Christopher Reeve’s. The film, however, wasn’t all that well-received. Despite the outcome of Superman Returns, Routh was very much appreciated in the role.

Cut years later and Routh became The Atom in the CW Arrowverse shows, with a regular role in Legends Of Tomorrow. But in the upcoming Crisis crossover, he will be putting on a different Superman outfit. Brandon Routh will be the aging Superman from the Kingdom Come storyline of DC Comics. And boy, does he definitely look the part of an older Superman.

Could Tom Welling Finally Be Superman in the Arrowverse?

One of the most unsatisfying finales for Superman fans has to be the conclusion of the wonderful Superman prequel series, Smallville. The show was a landmark series that ran for 10 seasons and gave us a world of Superman before he was Superman. The series did everything to work around having to have the main actor, Tom Welling, actually suit up as Superman.

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Lois and Clarks 💓

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However, the last shot of the series saw Welling rock the iconic Superman, shirt rip-off. But it was less than satisfying. Due to many concerns, mostly from Welling that the show wasn’t about Superman, it was something audiences never got. The actual scene saw Welling, with Routh’s Superman Returns suit CGI’d onto his chest for the ending of Smallville. And it showed. It’s a wound that’s still fresh for many fans.

Welling will return to the DC Universe for the Arrowverse’s Crisis Crossover. And it is a big deal. We’re all hoping that they make up for that Smallville ending. But only time will tell.

Double the Supergirl in the CW’s Arrowverse Shows

Helen Slater from the Original Live-Action Supergirl

Helen Slater was the best way that Supergirl initially sold itself to audiences in its first season. Greg Berlanti and his crew proved once again their fan-boy creds by casting the first Supergirl in their own version. Slater was the one and only Supergirl in the live-action movie in 1984. It was the first time the character was in live-action in her own movie.

Helen Slater and Dean Cain in Supergirl. The CW's Arrowverse shows Image via The CW

So when Slater showed up in Supergirl as Kara’s adoptive mother in the Arrowverse, fans knew what was up.

Laura Vandervoort Went From Supergirl to Brainiac

From one Supergirl to another, Laura Vandervoort never actually got to be Supergirl. Appearing in Smallville, the character played Kara, but in a different context. She most certainly never appeared in costume, although, like Welling, she rocked the primary color scheme.

Laura Vandervoort as Supergirl in Smallville. The CW's Arrowverse shows Image via Jack Rowand / The CW

Smallville was Vandervoort’s first foray into the live-action DC universe. So, of course, the Arrowverse paid homage to her previous casting by bringing her into their own universe. Appearing in Supergirl, Vandervoort played Indigo, an offshoot relative of Brainiac. She ended up being a pretty formidable enemy for Supergirl, becoming a recurring villain.

The Case of the Multiple Lois Lanes

Teri Hatcher from The Adventures of Lois and Clark

Just like Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher redefined what we thought of like Lois Lane by being a smart independent and headstrong character. Being the first billed-titular character of the series, Hatcher provided the 90s a Lois Lane who wasn’t just a damsel in distress or recklessly naive. The charming and comedic elements of the character never took away from her intelligence.

Teri Hatcher has been no stranger to other DC universe shows, having a small cameo in Smallville during its run. Her most recent inclusion has been as Queen Rhea in Supergirl. Seeing a classic DC character interacting with the current generation is the entire point of casting these greats.

Erica Durance Was Another Import from Smallville Into the CW’s Arrowverse shows

Erica Durance was a newly interpreted Lois Lane for the new millennium. Appearing in the later seasons of Smallville, Durance’s Lane was much more stubborn and very tom-boyish. Raised by a military father, this Lane was a whirlwind through the life of Clark Kent.

Durance was cast in the role of Alura, Supergirl’s mother in Season 3 of the series. She is also set to return as Lois Lane in the CW crossover, presumably with Welling.

The One and Only Wonder Woman

There have been less live-action incarnations of Wonder Woman than there has been of Superman and Batman. Gal Gadot is the current cinematic Wonder Woman who is pretty pitch-perfect. However, before her, Lynda Carter was the first-ever live-action Wonder Woman, in her own show in 1975. (Editor’s Note: Cathy Lee Crosby did play a character called Wonder Woman/Diana Prince in a 1974 ABC made-for-tv movie, but the character she played was almost an entirely new take on the character, including removing all of her superpowers.)

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Met a wonderful woman today @reallyndacarter

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So, of course, the iconic legend that is Carter has to join the CW’s Arrowverse shows in some capacity. Appearing as the President of the United States, Carter debuted in Supergirl in a recurring role as the President of the United States. There’s still no official confirmation of Carter will return to any of the shows for the annual Arrowverse CW Crossover. But if she does, there’s a huge chance that she will be playing some version of Wonder Woman or Diana Prince.

The Multiverse in the CW’s Arrowverse Shows

The Tale of Two Flashes in CW’s Arrowverse

The Flash was the second show to spin-off from Arrow into what is now the Arrowverse. While Grant Gustin played the titular Flash, the creators once again wanted to homage what came before. Naturally, they cast John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen’s father. Shipp is famously known for being the first live-action Flash, with his own TV show in the 90’s. While  this was a cool nod, similar to the ones we’ve discussed before, The Flash took it a step further.

Grant Gustin and John Wesley Shipp In The Flash. The CW's Arrowverse shows Image via The CW

The Flash‘s story eventually saw them introduce a multiverse of various realities, with various heroes. One of those heroes, a Flash in his own world, was portrayed by Shipp himself. In an amazing idea that also brought together the Golden Age Flash with the modern day, Shipp played the Jay Garrick Flash form the comics. So even before the CW’s Arrowverse shows’ cross over, an actor who previously played the superhero, got to suit up in the same frame as the current version.

Different Realities but the Same Legendary Mark Hamill

The multiverse element also allowed the show runners of The Flash to have another famous actor return to their previous DC Universe role. With Shipp back as The Flash, another of his cast-mates from the 90s Flash show returned as the same character. Mark Hamill was able to become Trickster again, the same role he played decades ago in the original Flash series.

Hamill is no stranger to DC Comics’ however. Having voiced many iterations of an Animated Joker, he is known as being the definitive Joker. And speaking of the DC Comics Animated Universe…

Animated Batman Goes Live-Action The CW’s Arrowverse Shows

This live-action TV universe of DC Comics characters has only been a recent development of the past few years. Before that, the only way to see these characters on the big and small screen was the DC Animated Universe. And the one person who has been a consistent Batman in that world is Kevin Conroy.

Known by many as the definitive Batman, Conroy has been portraying the character animated TV shows and movies since 1993. So it’s no surprise that The CW’s Arrowverse shows will be bringing the actor to the screen for the first time, as the iconic character that’s he’s voiced all these years.

Kevin Conroy will play Bruce Wayne in the Kingdom Come Crisis Crossover. No word yet on if he’ll actually don the cape and cowl. The rights to Batman are tricky. Shows like Gotham and Titans, despite featuring Batman characters, have to fight to even show glimpses of the caped crusader.

So that’s the 10 actors who have been significant in their contribution to the DC Universe of comic book characters over the years. And ones who have been the few to be part of the same universe, in a different incarnation, through The CW shows.

Who is your favorite actor that has returned as another DC character? Who are you most looking forward to in the CW Crisis crossover? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured image via the CW


Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at or on Twitter @theshahshahid.


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