From nearly the beginning, the Arrowverse has gone to impressive lengths and broken new ground to bring their heroes together in exciting ways. That first year of Arrow and Flash appearing on each other’s shows was everything we could have hoped for. Flash even breached to an entirely different network to appear on Supergirl (when she was still at CBS).
Then the crossovers began in earnest with Invasion!, followed by Crisis on Earth-X and Elseworlds. This seemed to all build-up to Crisis on Infinite Earths – the most ambitious thing the Arrowverse had ever attempted – a five-night crossover with not just a handful but dozens of heroes and DC properties.
Did they accomplish their goal and manage to tell a complete, satisfying story? SPOILERS AHEAD as we discuss…
Their goal of creating the most massive crossover in history with as many special cameos and fan service moments as possible was definitely a success. I wrote another article covering every cameo in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Marc Guggenheim and Co should get an award just for the sheer production challenge this must have presented. Tom Welling’s Clark Kent, Kevin Conroy’s Bruce Wayne, and Ezra Miller’s Flash?! Even the small glimpses of the worlds and characters of every hero we’ve seen in the past fifty years were special. It also really helped fill the crossover with that feeling of infinite earths.
Because that’s the end goal. The cameos were all really cool, but was the story? All in all, I really dug it.
Part 1 starts us right off with some of those amazing cameos from Burt Ward, Robert Wuhl and more to set the stage for what we would experience. The first episode does a good job of keeping the main conflict and the main protagonists really focused. The Monitor brings a small team of the main players to Earth-38 to “hold the line” against the anti-matter wave.
The end was definitely a surprise. Oliver is fated to die in Crisis but in the first episode?! Initially, I wasn’t thrilled about this – especially when the second episode became about resurrecting him with a Lazarus Pit. You had to know Stephen Amell was going to be part of the entire crossover, killing him off seemed like an obvious shock factor if they just planned to resurrect him right after. But they didn’t do that.
I really liked the decision to have Oliver become the Spectre. It seemed like a really fitting direction for his character and it allowed him to play a much more vital role for the remainder of the crossover.
I felt like Part 2 and 3 struggled a little bit with the weight of so many heroes, storylines and cameos. The Monitor sends the heroes on a hunt through universes for the Paragons, allowing for the inclusion of Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Kevin Conroy, and Brandon Routh’s Superman. These were all really amazing scenes, but it felt a bit disjointed.
There were definitely still a lot of amazing moments. Ruby Rose and Kevin Conroy have some amazing interactions that you could really feel would stick with Kate moving forward. Batwoman and Supergirl had both touching and tense moments that are helping to build up their relationship to be just as strong and special as Arrow and Flash. Routh’s Superman was spectacular in every scene, he really did make a fantastic Man of Steel.
The death of The Flash was a really well-done scene. Bringing in Black Lightning was a fantastic moment for the Arrowverse and it was cool to see he and Barry forming a connection. And then, John Wesley Shipp’s Flash makes the ultimate sacrifice in place of Earth-1 Barry. This was definitely one of the most difficult things for the crossover to do. They had to pay off the “Flash Vanishes Missing in Crisis” threat that had been building for years – especially in this past season – and deal with the reality that Grant Gustin obviously wasn’t going anywhere. I thought they made a great choice to kill a different Flash that would still mean a lot to the audience. The execution, with a clip of Tina from the1990s TV series, really helps this feel like the completion of Shipp’s arc as The Flash.
Another stand-out performance was from Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor. I’ve never really watched Supergirl, so this was my first time viewing his Lex, and I very much enjoyed his take. Bringing him in to add a foil in their plans to find the Paragon of Truth was quite entertaining and that final twist of him replacing Superman at the Vanishing Point was a true shocker. With Routh’s Superman doing a great job standing as a beacon of hope throughout the episodes, his death at Lex’s hand came as a real gut punch.
Then we played the waiting game…
I think the final two episodes of Crisis on Infinite Earths were its strongest two. It’s hard not to draw comparisons to another major crossover that concluded last year…While Avengers: Infinity War has to deal with a massive roster of characters for the entire movie, Avengers: Endgame spends the majority of the movie focused on just the core characters. Crisis is also able to kill off the majority of their heroes and focus Part 4 on just Green Arrow/Spectre, Supergirl, The Flash, Batwoman, Martian Manhunter, White Canary, Lex Luthor, and Ryan Choi.
This resulted in a really cool storyline where Barry moved through the speed force to collect his friends from key moments in their past. The other story involved Supergirl, Ryan and Lex going back in time to stop the Monitor from creating the Anti-Monitor. Of course, this results in some classic Lex Luthor scheming.
The battle between the Anti-Monitor and his shadow demons versus Spectre and the Paragons was a pretty spectacular sight to see. I think one issue was the fact that the shadow demons disappeared when hit, which took something off of the action, especially when Ryan Choi was apparently holding his own against them quite easily.
However, the battle ended with Oliver’s sacrifice to rebirth the universe. I enjoyed this Oliver death scene more than Part One’s although it was a bit more subdued.
In Part 5, we see the results of their actions as all of the heroes have returned and their worlds have blended into a single Earth-Prime holding heroes from Earth-1, Earth-38 and wherever Jefferson Pierce came from. Of course, the threat is not over yet.
I love the Legends of Tomorrow. It has by far become my favorite series of the Arrowverse because of its self-awareness and its willingness to take on some really zany plots. This episode continues the long-running joke that the Legends do not want any part of the crossovers. Throughout Crisis, there have been some really funny moments that reference they are currently taking part in a crossover. These are all pure gold. This episode also brings in a giant Beebo just because it can.
With only a little screen time left to rediscover the threat of the Anti-Monitor and defeat him for good, they come to a fairly quick and easy solution. However, the final fight is a lot of fun and gives more heroes like Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman a chance to shine.
This crossover ends as it began, with another flash of cameos that are all fantastic. Even more enjoyable is the final scene at the “condemned building” where they light a monument to the Green Arrow. Barry reveals plans to turn the building into a headquarters and shows the classic table with their emblems – including an empty seat for Green Arrow. This sets up a great joke when Black Lightning finds out how often world-ending events bring them together.
Seeing The Flash, Supergirl, Superman, Batwoman, Black Lightning, White Canary and Martian Manhunter sitting around the table enjoying each other’s company is a wonderful scene and also a reminder of how far the Arrowverse has come. With Superman & Lois getting a series order, that table represented SIX different shows all come together. While the CW may not attempt a crossover as ambitious as this next year or for some time, it is clear that the Arrowverse is showing no signs of slowing down.