Flash, Arrow, Supergirl
It's that time of year again, folks-- Arrowverse Crossover time!
In this year's crossover, we see The Monitor arrive after "testing" Earth 90 and finding it wanting, leaving only that Earth's Flash (a role reprised by John Wesley Shipp) to warn other Earth's of The Monitor's wave of devastation.
The Monitor sets his course for Gotham City to deliver the Book of Destiny to an unhinged Arkham Asylum doctor by the name of John Deegan (Dr. Destiny, anybody?). Deegan is tasked with using the Book to rewrite reality on Earth 1 in order to determine the survivability of Earth 1 against a coming "crisis". Hilarity ensues.
The only noteworthy change in Deegan's first attempt (other than some red skies and lightning) is a Freaky Friday (or Quantum Leap, depending on who you ask) scenario that leaves Barry and Oliver body swapped. With most of their friends and family skeptical of the swap, the duo escape to Earth 38 to pay Supergirl a visit in an effort to see if only Earth 1 was affected. As they travel to the Kent Farm to see Kara, we are treated to the entry of Lois Lane to the Arrowverse canon as we swoop in like a bird to a familiar and comforting soundtrack in one of the crossover's most pleasing moments.
Kara confirms that the problem is localized to Earth 1 and returns, along with Kal, to Star City in time for a convenient vibe from Cisco to give our heroes a lead-- a lead that points towards Gotham City! There is also a brief Amazo battle in here which alerts Deegan to the presence of a certain Man of Steel.
In Gotham, it doesn't take long for our heroes to fall into a discussion of The Batman, leading to a first encounter with Ruby Rose's Batwoman character. With Batwoman's help, the heroes infiltrate Arkham Asylum only to be dosed with fear toxin and end up having the over-used trope of heroes fighting heroes while thinking they are fighting their most mortal enemies (Merlyn for Oliver, Thawne for Barry). As they battle, Killer Frost engages with Nora Fries in a fight that, combined with recent developments in Flash can't help but seem a harbinger of things to come for Caitlin Snow. Grabbing the Book of Destiny, everybody heads back to STAR Labs only to encounter The Monitor. The Monitor whisks away Earth 90 Flash (who had breached through to warn of the "crisis") and returns the Book of Destiny to Deegan. What a dick.
This time around, Deegan has a better understanding of how the Book works and rewrites reality more fully, including rewriting himself as Superman, while Ollie and Barry are cast as the villainous Trigger Twins. Good is bad, bad is good, total pandemonium erupts as Barry and Ollie flee Diaz and other villains, now cops in this new reality, only to run into a very non-Clark Superman dressed all in black.
As we careen towards the close of the crossover, we see the heroes have to dig deep into the core of their beings in order to discover their true selves, as the final part of The Monitor's test. Oliver embraces his darkness rather than hide from it, but at the same time, he believes in the hope represented by Barry and Kara. Kara connects to the Earth 1 version of Alex Danvers as sister to free herself from her cell in order to call in reinforcements, and by the end, Deegan is exposed for the fraud he is. In order to retrieve the Book from Deegan, Kara and Barry must slow down time by racing in opposite directions around the Earth (that would not work, but hey, people can fly here, so I'll allow it) despite knowing that it is their destiny to die doing this act. They don't hesitate. Oliver yells at The Monitor, essentially calling him an idiot for being willing to sacrifice the very people he thinks are most likely capable of standing against the coming "crisis" and manages to convince The Monitor to find a way to spare Kara and Barry. Reality is restored although threats still loom in the distance.
Kara returns home with her friends for a convenient sendoff to Clark and a pregnant Lois, who are moving to Argo for a while (they also get engaged in a hilariously charming sequence at the Fortress of Solitude). In one final sequence, we see Deegan occupying a cell in Arkham next to a familiar face for long-term comics fans-- Psycho Pirate! This sets up next year's crossover event:
I know the recap was too long and still skipped over a great many things. There was a lot to take in over these three episodes. The long and short of it was that this was a good crossover with many a fun moment, but the operative word here is “fun”. From body swaps to cameos, this crossover certainly delivered on the more uncanny elements of classic Elseworlds tales while setting up the event that everybody has been waiting for: Crisis on Infinite Earths. Rather than capturing the feel of a stand-alone event like previous crossovers, however, this year felt as if it was simply prologue to what is to come next year, both in terms of CoIE and the introduction of Batwoman.
Speaking of the introduction of Batwoman, that was the strongest point of the whole crossover. Rose portrayed the character perfectly and the Arrowverse/Earth 1 Gotham City, which could have been a disaster, was quite well done. The explanations of Batman/Bruce’s whereabouts landed well, having an almost pre-Dark Knight Returns sort of quality to it. I still think opportunities were lost for the character of Kate Kane by placing her on Earth 1 rather than Earth 38 with Kara, as the pair could have had untold adventures as The World’s Finest, whereas on Earth 1, Batwoman seems destined to remain in isolation with no competent counterpart.
One of the final points I’d like to discuss is regarding the “spirit of the character” that seems so easy to capture for The CW but so elusive in The WB. One of the central points of the crossover was the notion that characters needed to embrace their essence in order to prove themselves worthy of taking on the coming threat. Barry and Kara had to embrace their roles as beacons of hope while Oliver had to turn towards a different, more Grellian path to fully realize his role. Clark is charming and awkward while Lois is straightforward and gruff. These are essential elements to the mythos of these characters that has carried them through decades of stories, yet the cinematic universe seems unable to capitalize on. Many kudos to the writing and production teams for not losing the forest for the trees.
Not as good as "Crisis on Earth X" but still a very enjoyable event. If you've wandered away from the Arrowverse after the 2017-18 slump, "Eleseworlds" is worth checking out to get a solid take on where the much improved 2018-19 Arrowverse stands today.
The CW Arrowverse Elseworlds Crossover, Pt. 1-3
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Acting - 7/107/10
- Music - 10/1010/10
- Production - 7/107/10
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