Betty Cooper and her Archiekins, are, after nearly six years on-air, an official item on The CW’s wacky and genre-bending young adult drama Riverdale.
Throughout the series, Archie (KJ Apa) and Betty (Lili Reinhart) have had to handle not only “the epic highs and lows of high school football,” but also serial killer dads, cults, faked deaths, gangs, alternate universes, aliens, teen pregnancies, supernatural forces, tickle fetishes, and a fictitious addictive drug called “Jingle Jangle,” among other interesting choices cooked up by the show’s writers’ room.
It only makes sense, then, that the next nutty plotline turns Archie and Betty into superheroes.
Yup, Riverdale is taking a page from The CW’s tried-and-true formula for success, The Arrowverse, and giving its brainy blonde bombshell and redheaded Renaissance man superpowers following an explosion at Archie’s house in Season 6, before the show went on a four-month hiatus.
In the midseason premiere, Betty appears to be able to sense the auras of people and Archie can stick a knife through his skin and barely get a scrape. As for Jughead (Cole Sprouse), his hearing is now severely damaged and the rumor mill is indicating that this may be Jughead’s own Daredevil-esque origin story.
In the first-ever episode of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s culture-shifting show, Betty tells Archie she has a fantasy of them as a “power couple.” Not only have her wishes come true, but it seems like the young pair is unfazed by this new phase in their lives together.
Betty and Archie have experience with supes
Watchers and non-watchers of Riverdale alike went on social media to express how bizarre they found Riverdale’s turn to the superhero genre, but readers of the comics know better. If anything, Riverdale is only remaining faithful to the zaniness of its source material.
Freckle-faced, too-good-to-be-true Archie Andrews made his debut in 1941, and the comics’ many writers have had a lot of time to place Archie in all sorts of situations, be they of the romantic, horror, crime, adventure, comedy, action or, yes, superhero variety.
Archie and the gang met Batman recently, hanging with the 1966 animated show version of the Dark Knight in their neck of the cartoon woods in a series of comics than ran from 2018 to 2019. In the early ‘90s, Archie hung out with the hard-shelled, pizza-eating Ninja Turtles, and in the summer of ‘94 Archie had the unfortunate pleasure of becoming acquainted with Marvel’s Punisher. The vigilante was tracking down an Archie doppelganger by the name of “Red” to Riverdale in a one-shot crossover that included cameos from famous teens published by both companies, like Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Josie and the Pussycats. Even Sonic the Hedgehog has hung out with the Archie crew, appearing in three crossover scenes with them.
Betty, Archie, Veronica and Jughead have been supes themselves
In the first episode of Riverdale Season 2, Jughead makes a reference to Archie’s superpowered alter-ego in the comics, Pureheart the Powerful, observing that Archie is the town’s hero because he just saved his father’s life following an armed robbery of Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe.
Whether that was a throwaway reference or foreshadowing, superpowers aren’t new to the Archieverse. In the mid-’60s, and then again in the mid-’90s, Archie, Betty, Jughead, Reggie, Veronica and Moose were all supes. Archie taps into “PH Factor,” which can only be accessed by those pure of heart, and becomes Pureheart the Powerful, whose abilities include amplified strength, resilience and flight. Betty turns into Super Teen after twisting her ponytail, and her powers mirror those of Pureheart. Jughead is Captain Hero, who can transform his head into a steel drill and has explosive bubble gum in his arsenal, among other campy powers. Veronica is Miss Vanity, who has a sonic boom similar to Black Canary’s, Moose is Mighty Moose, who can fly, and Reggie is Archie’s foil as Evilheart the Mighty.
The Inverse Analysis— It’s difficult to anticipate anything that ever happens on Riverdale, given how many wide swings it’s taken in different genres. No matter how ridiculous, however, Riverdale remains a favorite for young adults and has recently been renewed for Season 7. The popularity of supes on TV, both on The CW’s own station but also across streamers and cable, could give this superpowered arc on Riverdale more longevity than its five-episode Rivervale alternate universe event, and its writers will have plenty of zany material to pull from.
Riverdale airs at 8 p.m. ET on Sundays on The CW.