Ranked!: Takeways from the CW Arrowverse Crossover

The CW 4-show crossover event has ended and I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it… I think. I have many thoughts on what worked and what didn’t on Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow and there’s a lot to dissect within the 4 hours of superhero madness, so I’m just going to dive right in…

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As I said above, and I’m sure I will say 47 times throughout this article, there were things I loved (and actually jumped out of my seat and fist pumped Mario Bros. style) and disliked greatly (because I tell my kids at school not to say “hate”, and what kind of hypocrite would I be if I said “hate”) about the most ambitious undertaking the CW super shows have done so far.  I will do my best to alternate between the “highs” and “lows” of this time-traveling, metahuman, Flashpoint-driven extravaganza but I make no promises…

Top 10 Takeaways from the CW Arrowverse Crossover Event

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10. References, References, References

With Felicity and Cisco, you knew this crossover was going to be jam packed (or chock full, whichever old-timey phrase your prefer) with references to pop culture and meta jokes.  A Stranger Things reference? You got it.  A call back to the time when Brandon Routh, Legends of Tomorrow‘s Ray Palmer, wore the “S” on his chest?  The episodes even had a couple of Marvel Comics references, in Oliver calling his group “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”, and Heatwave nicknaming Citizen Steel, and his obvious Captain America inspired costume, “a Star-Spangled idiot.” My personal favorite was an aside about Oli’s old BFF Tommy Merlyn, who was missing from the dream sequence.  Characters talked about how he was “in Chicago” and that they “couldn’t believe he was a doctor now!”, an obvious shout out to Collin Donnell, who played Tommy and now plays Dr. Rhodes on Chicago Med.  Oh, and did I mention a Princess Bride reference?  They just keep coming, and coming and…

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9.  Supergirl needs to become the “Woman of Steel”

Let me start off by saying that I love Melissa Benoist as Kara Zor-El, aka Kara Danvers, aka Supergirl.  I know part of her “thing” is that she’s sweet and naive, but it wasn’t until she interacted with the rest of the group that her innocence annoyed me.  You have a bunch of people whose lives have been through the ringer, and Kara’s smiles and light-heartedness seemed out of place.  Even Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen, who has a very family friendly appeal, has some darkness to him.  I hope Kara’s character goes through hell this season, not losing her heart of gold and million watt smile, but putting a chip on her shoulder.  It doesn’t have to be the size of the boulder on Oliver’s, but still, we need to see a tougher, world hardened Supergirl at times when the situation calls for it, such as in crossover events like these.

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8. Dream Beings

The entire dream sequence for #Arrow100 was fantastic, and in my opinion was the best single part of the crossover.  Showing everyone what their lives would’ve looked like had  Oliver, Robert Queen and Sara Lance not gotten on the Queen’s Gambit that fateful day was an eye opening experience and a great callback to the origins of the show that started all of this.  Likewise, the scene that all but ended the dream sequence, where Oliver and Co. battled every major villain they’ve come across in 4+ seasons, was my favorite action sequence of the crossover.  They showed, quite literally, what these 5 characters, Oliver especially, were able to overcome since becoming a team of vigilantes.

Highlight within a highlight: While struggling with the realization that they had to say goodbye to their parents, again, we most definitely witnessed the best acting Stephen Amell or Willa Holland have ever brought to this show.  I applaud them both, and pray they’re given more scenes that hold so much gravity in the future.

Lowlight within a highlight: I was disappointed that Manu Bennett wasn’t able to reprise his role as Slade Wilson, and in his place we got a mute Deathstroke, but maybe I’m just nitpicking.  One question though: Where was Ra’s Al Ghul?

Invasion!
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow –“Invasion”– Image LGN207c_0277.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/Atom and Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl — Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

7. Where’s the Love?

Alright, I get that each episode has essentially 45 minutes of time to work with, and in a situation such as this, where every minute SHOULD matter, you cut out the fluff.  But most of these people are friends, and when we first see them together (in the airport hanger), they’re separated like 3 rival gangs who are forced to come together to take down the…alien…gang…or something.  They’re even referred to as “team Arrow”, “team Flash” and “team Legends,” as if Ray Palmer doesn’t go way back with the Arrow crew and the 2 halves of Firestorm aren’t super close with the team at STAR labs.  What really bothered me, and don’t ask me why this affected me the way it did, was that all we got about Sara and Oliver’s past together was a throw away line in #Arrow100 in which Laurel mentions that she’d always been surprised Sara and Oliver never hooked up.  As we all know, Oliver and Sara (Olara for all you crazy shippers out there) went through a traumatic experience together with the Queen’s Gambit going down, struggled to stay alive on Lian Lu, then were an actual couple back in Starling City when Sara first came back as the Canary.  These 2 mean A LOT to each other, and I’m not sure they’re shown ever looking in the other’s direction over the course of 3 episodes.  Would it be too much to see them hug when Sara gets off the Wave Rider?  Okay, I’m done. That was a pretty hardcore rant about something insignificant, my apologies.
EDITORS NOTE: Clearly I began writing this before the Legends of Tomorrow finale and it was as if God, or Greg Berlanti, heard my grievances and gave me the Sara/Oliver moment I longed for. At the end of Legends of Tomorrow, Sara notes that all of “this” started with both of them (her and Oli) on a boat, and I even got to witness that hug I desperately needed to see.  Could I have deleted the entire above paragraph? Sure.  But I needed you to understand and experience the inconsequential rage that I felt.  You’re welcome.

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6. Dominator? I hardly knew her

The villains of this world altering event were an alien race known as the Dominators.  But they weren’t the cool kind of Dominator, like Dominik Hasek (Go Sabres).  They were one dimensional antagonists who were the perfect adversaries for this group of heroes to team up against, yet wouldn’t mess with the flow of each individual series when the crossover ended.  I’ve seen people complain about the CGI used for the aliens, and honestly I saw no issue with it.  TV shows are going to have much smaller budgets, so to expect big screen effects is silly.  To be truthful, I think the CW shows do pretty well with their special effects.  What bothered me was that this alien race straight vaporized the President of the United States, yet they still didn’t seem like a worthy threat to the world, or this team.

Also, they were here for Barry Allen, right?  Did they not realize that’s exactly who they ran passed when they first crash landed on the Flash?  Man, they could’ve grabbed him within 30 seconds of being on Earth, and avoided this whole battle!  So much for intelligent life on other planets.

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5. Arrowverse Trinity?

As excited as I was to see all of these heroes join up on screen, at times it felt overcrowded.  The action pieces were fun, and it’s always cool to see characters crossing over with each other, but with so many characters on board, it sometimes felt like there wasn’t enough time to give everyone the focus, or at least moment, they deserved.  The core character moments I enjoyed most were with the 3 Arrowverse leads: Green Arrow, Supergirl and the Flash.  The few times they were all on the small screen together was must see television, with the focus on their differences in personalities and outlooks, and the entertaining way they interacted with each other (ummm, other than that one scene…I’ll get to it below).  As cool as it was to see Supergirl roughing up the entire crew during training, another crossover should focus on these 3, because I could watch that all day.

Lowlight within a highlight: Oliver’s reasoning for not wanting Supergirl to help with the Dominators.  It wasn’t that he couldn’t trust her, but that he needed a sense of normal and she was far from that, being a flying, superpowered alien and all.  I actually said, “what?!?” out loud while watching it.  I doubt the CW writing team is up for any emmys in the near future, but that dialogue was a giant swing and miss.  You’re better than this “grown up WB”.

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4. Flashpoint

I love that Barry creating Flashpoint is showing itself to be a bigger issue than just Diggle’s son turning into a daughter.  In the literary universe, Flashpoint literally changed the landscape of DC Comics, creating the New 52 brand when Barry tried changing the timeline back.  Earlier in the season, it seemed as if Barry f’ing with the timeline again wasn’t going to have any dire consequences outside of Barry’s own life and that of the STAR Labs crew.  It was nice to see that his actions, while not delivering the “consequences” I was hoping for (ie, Supergirl’s Earth-38 merging with Earth-1, Laurel Lance’s death being negated, etc.), still had it affects that were far reaching (ie, breaking a 60 year intergalactic truce with aliens who will then vaporize the President and threaten to destroy your world). The stakes just got bigger, and for the duration of this universe, I hope we continue to see long lasting affects of Flashpoint.  But, with that said…

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3. Everyone Hates Barry

Time travel within the Arrowverse makes little to no sense on most days, and leaves plot holes galore with each time Barry creates a new timeline.  Truthfully, I’m fine with most of it.  It’s f’n time travel, guys.  Unless you’ve got 7 PhD’s in a bunch of sciences I can’t pronounce, you’re more than likely going to understand about 6% of how time travel could actually work.  So dramatize it, cut corners, I get it since we have an hour a week to explain some of this stuff.  My issue lies with the fact that everyone jumps all over Barry for this alternate timeline, when you have a team of people in the Legends who literally screw with history on a weekly basis and are never scolded about the repercussions of their actions, and a villain in the Reverse Flash who time travels through history as part of his shtick.  But those things don’t matter, only that Barry changed the timeline TO SAVE HIS MOTHER FROM BEING MURDERED, so he’s the worst human ever to exist, in this timeline or any other one.  Oliver seems to be the only voice of reason here (I know, I was flabbergasted, too) saying that anyone of them would’ve tried to do the same damn thing if it meant saving their mother.  Cisco and Caitlin may have legitimate gripes (I’ll get to those again later), but Diggle? C’mon man.  You’re upset that you had a daughter in another timeline that to you, in your life, never existed?  Not to mention the fact that you wouldn’t have the son you love so dearly?  No.  Just no.

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2. Mad Cisco

Cisco’s brother Donté was killed in a car crash, presumably because Barry screwed with time again.  In the OG timeline, his brother was still alive, and Cisco finds this out prior to the crossover.  So apparently Cisco’s way of handling this is to be the world’s biggest passive aggressive d-bag to Barry and erase any and every aspect of his personality that made his character likable.  Does Cisco have the right to be upset? Of course.  But to essentially try and turn everyone against him, RIGHT before they are set to do battle with mind controlling aliens is one of the dumbest decisions a character has ever made on any show in the history of television (mmmm, too much?  No. I stand by it).  The passive aggressive, sullen version of Cisco is damn near actually painful to watch on screen.  I’m incredibly thankful that by the end of this “event”, they put Barry and Cisco back on the path of friendship, because the core group at STAR Labs, and Cisco and Barry being BFF’s, is one of the best things this multiverse has going for it.

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1. Bringing back Oliver’s TRUE Love

My feelings on Dinah Laurel Lance have progressed as such throughout the four seasons of Arrow:
Season 1: Meh, she’s alright
Season 2: Dear God, I loathe the sight of her
Season 3: Meh, I don’t mind her now
Season 4: This character is finally legit, is she the only one on this show with a brain in her head??

And then, she was killed off…oh crap, uhhhhh, SPOILERS, I guess.  But yeah, she was killed off.  This affected me on a few different plains.  A). she was JUST becoming the kind of character that I believe she was originally envisioned to be: strong, empowering, level-headed and the voice of reason to Oliver’s rage.  2). she was finally proving herself as a legitimate part of the vigilante team (let’s just skip over how fast she was able to become a martial arts master, shall we?).  Finally, D): Now that the epic disaster known as Olicity was over, moves could be made to bring Oliver and Laurel back together, the 2 characters that through comic book lore, and through actual on screen chemistry, were meant for each other.

It might have been in a dream like sequence brought on by alien produced coma pods (what even IS this show anymore!?), but seeing Oliver and Laurel as they might have been intended all along was a treat for fans.  At the time of Laurel’s death, she told Oliver that he was her true love, even if she wasn’t his.  I found this to be utterly ridiculous sentiment, and I hated Oliver for not returning those feelings.  Cut to #Arrow100, and it was nice to finally hear from Oli the “I love you” directed to Laurel that should’ve come a long time ago.  Granted, the show might not ever be able to come back to that relationship that SHOULD’VE been, but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Oliver and Laurel as they were meant to be: one hell of a powerhouse, vigilante couple.

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The crossover extravaganza was a success, and overall I had enjoyed it.  It was fun to see our favorite heroes interact with each other, but I hope that in the future the CW doesn’t always go to the “bigger is better” formula, because the small character moments are what I’ll remember most from this television experiment.
Thanks again for reading, because without you, I would not be doing this….no really, if you don’t read this, Josiah will fire me…so quite literally, I need you.  No pressure.

 

Lou Mattiuzzo is a full time teacher, full time husband, full time Dad & full time superhero enthusiast.  Should we just start the #bringbacklaurel hashtag now?

 

 

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Ranked!: Takeways from the CW Arrowverse Crossover”

  1. DAMN!! I wish I would have read this before wee talked today. I totally missed the Merlyn reference and the GROWN up WB comment had me dying. Ollie’s reason for not bringing Kara was one of the DUMBEST things ive ever heard and Im so glad that someone else caught that Bullshit! Well done like always Mon Frere!!

    1. @Kyle dude, I’ve witnessed Oliver say some nonsensical things over the course of 4 1/2 seasons of Arrow, but that was by far the most ridiculous. Other than that, Oliver was probably the most level headed main character in this arc, which made that dialogue with Kara all the more ridiculous. I was listening to the Screenrant podcast on the topic, and one of the guys mentioned that if Oliver had said, “Ya know, you were just braincontrolled, and with your powers, it could be catastrophic. I can’t risk that happening again.” then we could’ve reacted in a way of “Oh, yeah that makes perfect sense.” But, “I can’t have you out there, because in this situation where we are fighting mind-controlling aliens, I need to have a normalcy to it” just seemed like sloppy work from the writers. And even at his most idiotic, Oliver has never been outright stupid. This was stupid.

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