Man, oh man, did we see some action this week in the Arrowverse as all four shows had their biggest crossover event yet, with tons of characters, tons of action and tons of fun.
Having 4 properties all operating out of the same universe was a good move by Team Berlanti, and the annual big crossover event has become a fan favorite. This particular version was a huge undertaking with the majority of the characters from each show’s regular casts making an appearance. The network also moved Arrow from its Thursday spot to a Monday spot allowing for a two night event with two hours per night. A great idea. Here’s Lou and Grumpy’s take on the biggest event of the season.
Grumpy: I think my favorite headline of the year so far was “The Year’s Best ‘Justice League’ Movie Didn’t Need Batman or Superman” by Scott Mendelson at Forbes. In short, Mendelson posits that this crossover event was more fun, and more successful because they took the same approach that the MCU took in building a universe first, and then having a major crossover. Even the past crossovers were smaller, less ambitious, because the capital wasn’t earned yet. The relationships weren’t built, the past experiences hadn’t happened yet to make the jokes about. I wholeheartedly agree with Mendelson’s take. Crisis on Earth-X was a better and more enjoyable ride than Justice League.
In the past the crossovers were told in the scope and/or from the point of view of the show in which the episode was airing, if that makes sense. It was an episode of each individual show that fit into the crossover. Another score for Crisis on Earth-X was that it was just a 4 part story arc. Episode 1, which would have been Supergirl, was the run up. Everyone getting together for Iris and Barry’s wedding. It included the rehearsal dinner and some great moments as these friends got together to celebrate their friends. My favorite part of the whole crossover was Sara Lance and Alex Danvers doing shots together and then, well waking up together. Alex doing the sneak out was one of the funniest scenes in Arrowverse history, and then the awkwardness after was hysterical. The beauty of the story laid out was that the real story, the bad guys, Nazis of all things, didn’t show up until the end of episode 1.
Once we got moving we got to see that the big bads were the dopplegangers of Oliver, Kara and Eobard Thawne (the Tom Cavanaugh version not the Matt Letscher version). But then we also got to see old characters in new situations – Quentin Lance as a Nazi General, Winn Schott as an angry rebel leader, Leonard Snart as a good guy. We got to meet some new characters Ray, and Red Tornado. The Red Tornado scene was pretty slick. Even Tommy Merlyn shows up, and it was a great scene…. yes, scene, singular.
The story was based on the Earth-X Supergirl, who was Oliver’s wife, dying as her heart was failing as a result of too much exposure to radiation. So the Nazis come to Earth-1, not only to conquer Earth-1, but to snag benevolent Kara and use her as a super organ donor. It was unclear whether Kara had signed the donation form on the back of her driver’s license.
The action was good, the effects were good, there was a ton of great humor and inside jokes. It was a well crafted event, and it was good to see Cavanaugh back in the yellow Reverse Flash suit. Only a few things made me grumpy, and mostly in the end. After being held captive on Earth-X, our team makes it back home to confront the bad guys. Now, here’s the thing – there is a pretty big team of good guys. Essentially the entire casts of Team Arrow, the Legends, Team Flash, and then Supergirl and Alex. From Team Fuhrer, there is really only the three – KaraNazi, OliNazi, and EobardNazi and then a battalion of Nazi soldiers, their only superpower being machine guns. (On a quick side note, I didn’t know how to spell fuhrer, so right now in 2017 America, my search history contains the words “Hitler was the fuhrer…” Can’t wait to see what ads I get on Facebook)
As I said, the end made me grumpy. When the good guys got home, OliNazi yells “Kill them all” and the Nazis, apparently pretty dumb on Earth-X, march 100 yards until they are within arm’s reach before pulling the triggers. Maybe they were that dumb back in real Nazi Germany and that’s why we aren’t speaking German today. As expected, the final showdown pitted Kara against her KaraKraut, Oli against ArrowFuhrer, and Barry against EoNazi. The Arrow and Supergirl battles ended exactly how I expected. EXACTLY as I expected. The final moments of Flash and EoNazi….. patooey. I was pissed. Seriously. So many better ways to handle it. Worst….resolution…..ever……
If I were scoring it, it would get a pretty great score – 9ish. There was so much great stuff that even after 4 hours I was sad it was over. I agree with Forbes that this was a much better team-up than Justice League, and I thrilled that DC, who has such a rich stable of characters, can produce awesomeness without any of the big three characters. A few episodes ago Oliver Queen added Batman to the Arrowverse with a Bruce Wayne name drop. Who knows, maybe DC and Warner Brothers will say “We aren’t doing it well on the big screen, and it is a separate universe, go ahead, add Bats to the Arrowverse.” We can hope, can’t we?
Lou: Now, while I can’t speak to whether or not this take on Justice League was better than its big screen counterpart (no, I haven’t seen it yet…shutup), I can conclude that the 4 hour superhero extravaganza known as Crisis on Earth-X was quite possibly the most impressive thing to ever come out of the Arrowverse… ya know, until it became the most infuriating thing to ever come out of the Arrowverse. But let’s start with the positives!
I agree with everything the Grumpmaster General said above me. Alex and Sara hitting it off was fantastic, and after an episode or 2 of awkwardness and unnecessary avoidance, I liked that the writers brought it back around with “Salex” having a deeper conversation about the struggles of wanting to go back to someone that you know isn’t good for you. And boy, can those 2 kick ass. The scene of the duo looking at each other and ripping their dresses before “going into battle” was fantastic (…and more on that scene later.)
While the plot wasn’t anything we’d call the “comic book equivalent of Citizen Kane,” it still had enough merit to carry throughout the 4 hours. The themes presented in the crossover were sadly relevant considering today’s political and social climate, and I found it refreshing that our major heroes were LITERALLY battling evil versions of themselves (aside from Barry, but hey, who’s a more worthy foe for Barry than Wells/Thawne). Thanks to the “Earth hop” that many of our main heroes made into the land of the Third Reich, we were able to see the mirror versions of many of the core cast members (Nazi General Lance was my favorite. He sold that character…), but were also (re)introduced to “new” characters from the DC’s long history. The Ray fit right in with the rest of the crew, the Red Tornado scene was one of my favorites of the crossover, and god d—it if it doesn’t make me happy every time a version of Leonard Snart shows up, this time in the form of hero Citizen Cold.
There were highlights scattered throughout the saga, which is testament to the writers for keeping this thing engaging from start to finish. Mick finding out his Earth-X twin was killed saving cops from a burning building was hilarious, I genuinely enjoyed the scenes that Amell and Benoist shared in both versions of their characters, and the scene of Kara floating outside the window of NaziKara’s flying Nazi-mobile was a brilliant callback to Richard Donner’s Superman II. I could fill this article completely with nerdy references and action highlights that made my superhero loving heart giddy, but the scene that blew me away was the first action set piece taking place at Barry and Iris’ wedding. Evil Nazis from another world arrive, straight vaporize the priest (poor guy didn’t even see it coming), and the best thing I may have ever seen in the Arrowverse ensues. It seemed as if every hero had a moment to shine, with Alex and Sara rolling through a hallway of henchmen on the ground, Cisco throwing breaches so that Oliver can sneak attack his a–hole twin, Killer Frost & Heatwave teaming up to clear out menacing forces, and Barry and Wally catching bullets left and right, getting all non-hero guests to safety. As soon as the scene passed, I immediately rewound it and watched it again. Kudos to all involved, the scene was spectacular. (side note: at the outset of this scene, there’s a waitress that seems WAY too happy to be serving at the wedding of Barry Allen, considering that unless you’re a part of this merry band of heroes, he would just be a normal AF CSI. The internet’s reaction was swift, and most assume that this is either Barry and Iris’ daughter Dawn, time-traveling from the future, or their granddaughter Jenni Ognats from the 31st Century. Her scene DID take place during the Supergirl hour, and with Mon-El coming from that same time, and 4 pods left unopened last we checked, this could very well be the case made for Jenni. Remember also that when Barry came out all nonsensical from the Speed Force, he was talking about a “Nora” that didn’t seem to be his mom, and something about running out of diapers. Could he have been talking about his daughter, and in this continuity her name isn’t Dawn, but instead she was named after Barry’s mother? Either way, her reaction lent itself to the belief that she had never met Barry, or at least didn’t know him long. In the comics, Barry dies in a Crisis event prior to the birth of Dawn-and her unfortunately named twin brother Don-so could The Flash be taking us down a similar path?)
Now, had Crisis on Earth-X ended after part III, I may have agreed with my grumpy colleague above, but that last episode killllllllllllllllled it for me. Did you count all of those L’s? That means I’m being super dramatic and I’m extremely unhappy with the way this crossover ended. I won’t harp on the criticisms Pete already mentioned, although I agree with them completely. The first of my major offenders came in the form of Martin Stein’s death. I get it, stakes are high and not everyone is going to make it out alive. Besides, it was well known information that the always brilliant Victor Garbor was leaving LoT in order to star in the Broadway revival of “Hello Dolly,” but…didn’t you have a completely competent plot line running through the last 4 EPISODES explaining how he could leave the show with his life? Ray Palmer was assisting Stein and Jax on how to separate themselves from each other and, in turn, the FIRESTORM matrix, because Stein wanted to get home to his wife…and daughter…and grandson. And you f—ing kill him?!? The man may have had more to lose than anyone else on ANY of these shows, and yet he’s the one who dies…essentially destroying the lives of Jax, Stein’s wife and Stein’s daughter (the scene of Jefferson telling them Stein didn’t make it? Heart breaking). I’m sure the writers added all of the backstory of Stein wanting out of the Legends so that the stakes were much higher when he died a hero, but still, that loss was crushing…and unnecessary.
My final criticism will come to the surprise of absolutely no one who actually knows me. You mean to tell me, that getting BACK together, permanently, the relationship equivalent of a raging dumpster fire, if that dumpster was full of dirty diapers, heroin needles and puppies, was the BEST idea the Arrowverse powers-that-be had to end this massive event!? As if the viewers needed any further explanation for how awful these 2 are together, you have Oliver pseudo-propose at the rehearsal dinner of some of their best friends (dick move), only to have Felicity interrupt the WEDDING of said friends and ask if her and Oliver can get married too (bigger dick move). The idiocy and audacity of these 2 fan favorite characters when they’re together never ceases to amaze me, and the fact that Barry and Iris, a couple very much meant to be together, just went with it with smiles on their faces, well, those 2 are not only couple of the year, but friends of the century.
All in all, Crisis on Earth-X was STILL more than likely the most impressive thing this Universe has ever churned out, and one may wonder where they can go from here, considering it would be hard for the stakes to get any larger. The first night of events I’d give a solid 9.5 based on pure freaking enjoyment, with the second night getting a 6.5 based on the pure freaking rage I experienced. Average it out, this crossover gets an 8 from me. That first night saved it. Olicity, as always, nearly ruined it.
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The Grumpy Geek, Pete Herr is the author of “10 Things We Should Teach You In High School and Usually Don’t”. He is the oldest geek in the Geekiverse by a factor of two. Follow Pete Herr on Facebook, Twitter,and Instagram . If you don’t he gets Grumpy. You don’t want to see him Grumpy.
Lou Mattiuzzo is a full time teacher, full time father, full time husband & full time superhero enthusiast. You can follow him @Sweetest_Lou on Twitter. He believes they show episodes of Season 4 where Oliver and Felicity act irationally on repeat in Hell.
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