It took the Marvel Cinematic Universe
eleven years to bring us their over-the-top, self-indulgent and
thoroughly enjoyable time-travelling crossover. So for the CW's
Arrowverse to get there in just eight years is pretty swift. Although
I've never been the biggest fan of Arrow itself,
it's a testament to the huge franchise of DC superhero shows that it
has spawned that, in its final season, it would be part of a
five-part crossover with all of its sister shows involved. Although
that's not the half of it; this is as much an event for Supergirl
, and particularly, The
Flash, which has been counting
down to this Crisis since its first season, with glimpses of the
inevitable future marking Barry's time.
it's a much-needed boost for Batwoman (a
show I'm behind on, but still, from the evidence of early episodes,
one that needs an injection of fun) and a celebration of the
ridiculousness of Legends of Tomorrow.
Even that doesn't cover it, though. By taking the idea of Infinite
Earths to its logical extreme, Berlanti and the CW team realised they
could put everything in
there, if they could get the right people involved. And they got away
with it; Crisis on Infinite Earths is
an absurd celebration of the entirety of DC's live-action screen
history, and a fair bit of the animated universe too. It's amazing
that they got so many actors from DC productions past to get
involved, even if some of them were just fleeting cameos.
nicely balanced on that front, too, with the regular cast still
carrying the bulk of the story. The only alternative version of a
character to get a big cut of the action is the Earth-96 Superman,
and he, of course, is played by Legends regular
Brandon Routh. It's particularly lovely how the reuse of actors isn't
glossed over, but commented on by the characters. Superman
productions in particular have a tradition of reusing actors in new
roles, so there are a lot of characters who look like other versions
of people they know. It's ridiculous, but as always, the Arrowverse
embraces that ridiculousness.
also a nice balance to how they manage the repercussions of the
Crisis. The original comics events used it as a way of tidying up
continuity, starting a tradition of periodic DC universe makeovers
that only ever made things more complicated. This was more
straightforward – it got the main Arrowverse series, Arrow,
The Flash, Batwoman and Legends,
into the same reality as those acquired later, Supergirl
and Black Lightning.
But really, this just seems like an excuse to have fun. Yet it still
left us with a multiverse, so there's no disjoint between the joy of
seeing your favourite version of a character make a cameo and
realising they've been killed along with everyone in their universe.
It's all still out there, so we can still enjoy the infinite versions
of this nonsense.
starts beautifully, with a knowingly daft and over-the-top voiceover
from the Monitor that leads into a multiversal montage of multiple
Earths. It's a damned shame Adam West is gone, because I'm certain he
would have jumped at the chance to appear alongside Burt Ward on
Earth-66. Then we're into the action, with the universe of Earth-38 –
the “Superverse” - under threat from the antimatter wave. One
thing that this crossover managed very well was keeping each episode
feeling part of its parent series, with this episode focusing on
Supergirl and her friends and their reaction to the devastation. And
it's pretty full on – Kara loses her entire world, and Argo, bar
the lucky few survivors. Rightly, Superman and Lois are part of the
team, not just because they're setting up their own series, but
because they're pretty bloody important. But Supergirl herself is
bloody impressive here, saving millions by working with the DEO and
sundry aliens to evacuate people from their Earth. It's a shame we
couldn't actually see much of this, but I guess a planetary
evacuation is a rather expensive thing to put on screen. Still, it
really makes it clear that this is a big event,
with repurcussions. Supergirl's Earth is gone, and billions are dead.
We know they'll find a way to put things right, somehow, but
nothing's going to be the same after that.
works very well as part one of the overall story, as well. It sets up
the new Arrow spin-off
by focusing a section on Oliver's relationship with his daughter and
bringing in Laurel, and rightfully having Oliver lead the battle
against the wraiths that precede the coming of the Anti-Monitor. It's
the best battle of the serial, because it's relatively small scale,
and features characters who fight without superpowers. It ends with
Oliver's death, which is very poignant, even though we can already
sense that he's going to be back before the end.
bits I loved:
and Ray just chilling at a pub quiz, with no idea that the Crisis is
on Earth-89 (the Keaton movies) and Earth-66 (the West series and
included as Earth-9 – there's too much comicbook TV to watch right
now, and I've just started this, but I loved seeing it included.
It's another Berlanti one, although not one that's getting folded
into the main universe.
Wells in a brilliantly comicky Pariah costume.
this one does put a lot of emphasis on Kate Kane, her friendship with
Kara, and her complex relationship with Bruce Wayne and his memory,
there's a huge focus on the Suerman mythology. However, for that
reason this is my favourite of the episodes, as I just love the
interaction between multiple Supermen. The visit to Smallville's
Earth was a special treat; we'd all heard it was coming, but there
was a spectacular frisson seeing Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch
meet Tom Welling. It's a pity we didn't get any interaction between
them and Erica Durance's Lois, though. It's perfect that this version
of the character gave up his powers to live an ordinary farmboy life.
Plus, Lex became president on that Earth, just as was foretold. It's
slightly odd having Iris along for the ride, but Candace Patton is
pretty great here, and after all, they're all journalists, right?
Cryer might be the best Lex Luthor ever (still a huge surprise), and
seeing him travel to multiple Earths to do what their Luthors
couldn't and take down Superman repeatedly is wonderfully villainous.
Of course, he uses magic, always Superman's other weakness.
Could the Book of Destiny be a hint of some Sandman
elements being incorporated
somewhere down the line? Even more wonderful than Smallville
is Earth-96, both the universe
of Superman, Superman II
and Superman Returns,
but also the live action version of Kingdom Come.
It's great that Routh finally gets to play Superman again, even
playing him alongside himself as Ray. Wonderfully daft.
the biggest treat and the most aggravating decision, though, is Bruce
Wayne. Kevin Conroy is my favourite Batman, but this is clearly not
the Bruce Wayne of the 90s animated series and/or Batman
Beyond. No, Earth-99 is more
like The Dark Knight Returns and
the grim Frank Miller canon, with a bit of Kingdom Come and
even a touch of the DCEU movies. It's wonderful to have Conroy appear
in the flesh at last, but did they have to make him such a miserable
version of the character?
to the plot, and Oliver is back already, but not quite himself. Love
that they got Constantine involved for this, as is all right and
proper. There's a distinct lack of Legends in the crossover so far,
even as we get a version of Mick Rory providing a Waverider to act as
a base of operations. Still, there are a lot of characters and you
can't fit everyone in. The Paragons idea is very daffy, but very
comicbook and it's a nice way to get a core team together.
bits I loved:
are a lot of nods to the Superman movies,
but the best was giving Bruce a Lex Luthor line just to show how
villainous he's become.
he refers to Superman as “a strange visitor from another planet,
with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men,” which
is straight from the really old Superman material – on TV and
love how Routh's Superman references fighting himself before, ala
Superman III, but that film
isn't in continuity with Superman
with the voice of Leonard Snart. This crossover has a dissapointing
lack of Snarts so I'm glad he's in there somewhere.
Rory is good with babies!
Three: The Flash
one really feels like an episode of The Flash,
which is quite right. The Flash was always headed here, destined as
Barry was to sacrifice himself to save the multiverse from the
Crisis. At least, in the comics, things work out rather differently
here. Was anyone really surprised when the Barry who sacrificed
himself turned out to be the one from Earth-90? A cop out, perhaps,
but not an unwelcome one, and it gave John Wesley Shipp the final
send-off that he deserved. He's been wonderful all through this
series as Henry Allen, Barry Allen and Jay Garrick, giving them all
distinct characters, and it's a rather beautiful goodbye for him.
are some very nice character moments for Team Flash, which is
important, since while Grant Gustin's Barry doesn't die, he instead
loses everyone. Indeed, everyone does. The episode ends with the
destruction of the multiverse. I mean, we all know it'll be sorted
out, but wow, that's a cliffhanger-and-a-half. Even so, the strongest
moments of this episode were the character interactions, between
Barry and his friends, between Kara and Kate, between Barry-90 and
everyone who'd listen. It's a bit harsh on Hoechlin that Routh gets
to be the “main” Superman, but it's not like he lasts long as a
Paragon. The switch of Lex Luthor to take over his role is fantastic
– ad the clear reason that the Monitor brought it back. You can't
save everything just with heroes, you need a bit of villain in there
are some fluffs, though. Bringing in Ryan Choi (destined to become
the new Atom when Routh leaves Legends later
in 2020) is nice, and making the ordinary guy the Paragon of Humanity
is a great touch. (I say ordinary, he's still a super-genius.) But
his inclusion is underwhelming and feels undeserved (that said, he's
much better in the following episodes). The introduction of Cress
Williams over from Black Lightning is
handled poorly. I'm miles behind on that show, so haven't seen its
tie-in episode, but the guy has just lost his family and entire
world, and he just has to shrug it off and get on with things. And
after all that, he's fairly pointless, just a lightning zap here and
there that could have been provided any number of ways. Also, after
practically vanishing from events in Part Two, J'onn J'onnz is
suddenly back as a Paragon. Not that he shouldn't be there, but the
writing was sloppy there.
bits I loved:
Birds of Prey. I'd
practically forgotten that one.
Dibney gets a few nice moments, particularly “Holy All-Star
I really don't like
Lucifer, it gets the
comics and character so completely wrong, but it was still a nice
moment having Constantine meet him.
like Earth-73 is Black Lightning Earth,
but it's not spelled out. Going with that one though. Still pleased
they incorporated the series even if they did fluff it.
Corrigan shows up! Now that's a development. It's a pity they didn't
get Emmett Scanlan back from Constantine,
but Stephen Lobo's suitably grim.
they make us wait, don't they? More than a month without an episode,
then two on the same night. I love how that month has passed in the
show too, with the Paragons being stuck in the Vanishing Point all
this time. There's an interesting universal set-up here: the
multiverse has been destroyed, yet it would seem only in the present.
So time travel is still possible, and timeless realms such as the
Vanishing Point, Purgatory and the Speed Force continue to exist.
Thus, we go back to the very beginnings of the multiverse to set
things right, and get a time-travelling greatest hits parade to boot.
it's very Avengers: Endgame,
but hell, these guys have earned it too. This is Arrow's
show this time round, and Oliver Queen gets to shoulder the burden.
Making Oliver the Spectre is an amazing move, one that's over-the-top
but that seems right given the huge stakes here. Given that his
character and series have evolved from vigilante-versus-assassins and
criminals, to superhero-versus-metahumans and magicians, it follows
that he ends up with powers of his own. And not just powers, he's an
ultra-powered ghost! Somehow, even with something this silly, even
though we've just done the same thing, Oliver's death is poignant.
It's a hell of a move, killing off the star of Arrow
halfway through his final
season. It's a pity that Stephen Amell spends so much time with his
voice so heavily modulated.
final battle is a little underwhelming, if only because fisticuffs
seem like a daft way to save the totality of existence. The build-up
is more enjoyable, with Choi and Lex making a bizarrely effective
team. Cryer's obviously having a fantastic time and is one of the
best things about this crossover. Good to see that Supergirl doesn't
deal well with working with him. She can be too saccharine at times,
it's good to see her pissed off.
then: the multiverse is restored, with tweaks.
bits I love:
Garrett is awesome when he's playing Mar Novu before he becomes the
have failed this universe.” So cheesy. I love it.
does get a really great final scene.
cameo. Ezra Miller drops by as
another Barry Allen, bringing the DCEU into the great DC screen
multiverse. It really feels complete, now that the current cinema
version is included. I like that they pointed out that his
inclusion, at this stage in the story, made no sense, but it was the
only way to get him in there, since he could only be squeezed in
after most the filming was completed. Then again, the Speed Force is
outside of time.
Flash gets the idea for the name from CW Flash.
Spectre fighting the Monitor while reality reforms around them is
straight from the comics, although this time we have a different
I didn't love:
Five: Legends of Tomorrow
rightly so, the Legends episode
is the silliest of all. I'm a bit disappointed that we didn't get
more Legends in there, but we got some great stuff from Sara, Ray and
Mick, even if the rest of the team was either absent or reduced to
cameos. Again, though, with so many characters to include, it's
understandable (presumably why the Legends were left out of the last
now we have Earth Prime, the combined elements of Earth-One, Earth-38
and Earth-73-or-whatever. Possibly the old Earth-Two as well, given
that it seems to have been replaced. It's a weird place, with Oliver
having used his infinite powers at the moment of his death to reboot
the universe and do some tinkering while he did so. Questions abound.
Why is Lex suddenly in position of trust and power? That can't have
been Oliver's choice. An effect of the Book of Destiny, perhaps?
We'll see the fallout of the Crisis on all six series, but things
can't ever be the same after this. On one hand, it threatens to
invalidate everything we've already experienced on the shows so far.
On the other, characters can interact with each other more easily,
and it looks like they're pulling out all the stops when it comes to
final battle against the Anti-Monitor manages to somehow be more
absurd than the confrontation with Beebo, but it works, mainly
because the various heroes feel like a real team, all bringing their
own elements to it. There are still strange omissions and inclusions
– J'onn is mainly included as a Paragon so he can infodump people
psychically in the new universe – but on the whole it works.
nothing else, it's worth it for that final big scene. After all this
time, we finally have a live-action TV Justice League. The Flash,
Superman, Supergirl, Batwoman, the Martian Manhunter, Black
Lightning, White Canary, and whoever's going to take over as the Green Arrow. It's
been a wild, eventful, ridiculous ride.
bits I love:
multiverse continues. There's a new Earth-Two, it seems, which will
include the upcoming Stargirl
series. So even though they've gone to all this trouble to bring the
shows together, they're keeping some in their own continuities.
set up for a Green Lantern show.
cameo of the crossover: Marv Wolfman himself. If you don't know,
that's the modern DC equivalent of all those Stan Lee cameos.
gets to have both his son and his daughter in the same reality. One
got switched with the other due to Barry's Flashpoint foolishness.
to see Mick's literary career is going strong.