It’s that time of year again. Time for the DCW TV Critics Society of Multiversity to come together and discuss the annual crossover. This year, though, we’ve got something a bit different thanks to the MASSIVE event that is “Crisis on Infinite Earths;” This time, there are five of us. Yup, five people in one conversation? Chaos, you say! Well, fear not for rather than chaos, we got something more ordered and a little more scattershot. Coordinating between this many time zones and schedules with day jobs is a tough thing, y’all. So join us for some of our thoughts, a bit of a chat, and get ready for the conclusion to the 5 part mini-series within a series of series.
Editor’s Note: Conversation has been edited for clarity & to account for our, well, time zone coordination. If it seems like we jump around, just pretend that universe’s segment was wiped by the Anti-Monitor. Spoilers ahead.
Worlds will live. Worlds will die. And nothing will ever be the same again.
Elias Rosner: So does this mean that the NBC Constantine universe is officially on this Earth and canon? Because I’d like some closure on that CW. Please and thank you.
Mike Mazzacane: You can believe that, I like to think that the Ryan-tine on Legends is just ya know the best/good version of Constantine and that generic lifeless show was just forgotten and so never came back (but I guess eventually does because infinite earths)
ER: I won’t hear one bit of slander for that show gone too soon. But we’re not here to debate NBC’s failings, we’re here for “Crisis.” So, what did y’all think of the conclusion? Did they stick the landing or kinda fizzle out?
I’m kinda split.
Joe Skonce: I can’t get over how same-y the last two fights were. I never found the anti-matter ghosts all that threatening, and the Anti-Monitor becoming big just… didn’t seem to matter considering that he was just going to become small
If it were me, I might have considered one of the two fights (probably the Arrow episode) having… I dunno, anti matter universe doppelgangers of some fan favorite villains or something.
Ramon Piña: On the Arrow episode the fights were great because of the camera work, but I get why you think they seemed repetitive, on the Legends I feel like it was more like an “excuse” to put them against whatever in order to see them fight together in the post-Crisis (Rebirthed?) world, nevertheless I enjoyed them even though the stakes were very low at this point.
I agree with Joe, if they already showed us memories, they could have used old villains to add some extra flavor and meaningfullness to it.
ER: Right?! What was the point of repeating the battle? Did we need them to do it twice and awkwardly throw in Nash Wells?
JS: I watched it with a friend who had never seen an Arrowverse show before and he was concerned about the number of people who had guns. What are guns supposed to do?!?
Also, it felt weird that the Legends episode had more of an Arrow lineup than a Legends lineup. But I get it, this is Ollie’s grand farewell.
Overall though, I did like it. The character stuff out shined the superhero action in every way.
ER: Totally. And that’s why I think it worked so well, in spite of all the hiccups.
Christopher Chiu-Tabet: I lost interest over the break, and I remained disinterested for most of it – with Legends returning next week, I am very much glad, to quote Michael Bolton, to be “back to the good part.”
MM So some favorite parts?
ER: These two episodes had a lot of great moments, some fun fights, and another metric fuck ton of cameos but I gotta say, my favorite moment had to be the return of Beebo. Nothing can top seeing this terror child of blue fur on the rampage again. It’s the perfect encapsulation of everything that makes Legends of Tomorrow fun and fantastic. They’ve gotten such great use out of that gag and I am here for it.
I also found Barry’s search for the lost paragons in the Speed Force to be surprisingly moving. It was the celebration of Arrow, the friendship between Barry and Ollie, and reminded us of just how influential the show was on the whole of the CW. Arrow, for all its faults across its eight seasons, started something brilliant, modulating the Smallville formula to birth a universe that keeps expanding, succeeding where the DC film universe has not. The choice to go with the widescreen letterboxing was a smart choice too. It amped up the tension and claustrophobia and the unnaturality of the Speed Force without making the whole thing unwatchable.Continued below
JS: What a spoil of riches! This episode had so many moments that I could consider my favorite, so I am going to take the cowards way out and do a few moments that stood out to me. I’m going to have to agree with Elias in that the search for the paragons in the Speed Force was really good. It’s crazy to think that what was basically “The Robin Hood guy, but let’s do The Dark Knight” created such a fun and weird universe. These shows are what I think of when I think of comic book adaptations, they are pretty darn effective at balancing tone, both serious and silly, in a way that I want all my superhero media to reflect. Are they perfect? No. But they just feel like reading comics. Also, I’m excited to see how this impacts Kate and her story. Hopefully she will go back to Gotham and form her own little family to have fun Batcave banter with.
But also, we had Beebo back! We had fun cameos from Doom Patrol, Titans, and Swamp Thing! We had that beautiful shot of the Hall of Justice! It was just… it was all so much fun.
MM: There are a lot of little just fun “moments” Lex wondering if these “capes” ever watched a movie stands out. Marv Wolfman getting an onscreen appearance while George Perez gets a shoutout. Getting to see Ezra Miller wear a Flash uniform for like the second time was nice. The DCWverse subsuming the DCEU (or whatever it’s called now.) The ending montage with all the shows.
Overall I would have to say my favorite part is the storytelling choice to change the aspect ratio for the Lost in the Speedforce section. It immediately shifted the form in an obvious but subtle way that easily established “reality” on Maltus vs liminal reality. And it let Guggenheim and Perez run through some of Arrow greatest hits during the Arrow portion of the event.
CCT: It was nice to see everyone together again for what will likely be the last time in the foreseeable future. It’s cool now that Flash, Supergirl and Black Lightning all live on the same Earth now (which is funny given the DC Universe shows still aren’t, but whatever), and to see Sara visibly taking charge of Oliver’s legacy as the first among equals of the CW heroes.
RP: I get why you lost interest, the crossover had three episodes of pure set-up, but these two episodes were great to me, you could see this two and have a great experience of the crossover.
Weirdly enough, my favorite part of all, and I LOVED a lot of moments, was the reveal that Sargon the Sorcerer was behind the appearance of Beebo, it was sooo cheesy, so cartoonish, this is the reason I love the Arrowverse, it’s not meant to be the “serious, realistic” version of superheroes, it is its own wonderfully goofy thing.
ER: You know, much as I hate Lex’s presence (and I very much hate his presence,) the Anti-Monitor really was the weakest aspect of the episodes, and the series itself. He’s just not that interesting, and a lot of that comes down to his design. Oh, and the lack of much for him to do but that’s actually less important. Were he far more imposing, intimidating, stylized, him being there, monologuing and then being the big, bad boss would have been acceptable. As it is, sure the multiverse is destroyed, but it was an abstract action.
It’s hard to avoid comparisons to the comic, even though I really should, but there the Anti-Monitor is a constant threat, veiled in shadows, and when he’s revealed, he’s larger than life, with a horrifying visage, and from there is an active, visible threat. Here? He’s human sized, looks like he fell off the set of that Game of Thrones spin-off, and pulls a Thanos pre-Infinity War. It’s underwhelming and for all the build up, I guess I was just disappointed that his stupid shadow demon army did more of the menacing than he did.
JS: I mean, I knew that the Anti-Monitor was going to come back in Part 5, it wasn’t going to be just 40 minutes of them being happy and well adjusted in the new world. But man, it just felt tired. We had to give Ollie his big dramatic sacrifice in the Arrow episode considering that it was his bon voyage from the world he helped to create, I just wish it was somehow different. Two big action set pieces with those “Dementors” as my friend called them just pointed out the flaws of both of them. I don’t quite know what they could have done to give Ollie his big dramatic sendoff, but doing the same fight two different ways just felt disappointing to me.Continued below
MM: I loved the visual shift for the Lost in the Speedforce segment, the doubling of the audio was a bit much. It just went on for a little too long. Not going the FullLOST with unlocking everyone’s memories. I get why it happened that way, but darn it when you can go the Full LOST you should take it.
CCT: I wasn’t so keen on Beebo making an appearance, it felt like, “hey, this is the Legends part of the ultimate crossover, therefore we should toss in the most infamous character from that show.” I get they wanted to lull the viewer into a false sense of safety, but I wish they’d spent their budget more wisely on a bigger, more spectacular final battle with the Anti-Monitor – the location for that was so cheap!
RP: I think this crossover was trying to be new fan-friendly… or old fan coming back-friendly? I don’t know who they pointed as the target audience but every episode was slowed down with an “unlocking” mission, whether it was the hunt for paragons or finding the heroes in memories inside the Speed Force; every story had that “but first we have to accomplish this”, it slowed a lot the pace of the event, I mean, it allowed for the most DC fanservice ever put on TV and that was great, but it was hard to keep interest in the story of the Crisis and the threat of the Anti-Monitor when he appeared so little.
ER: Regardless of my gripes, there were a lot of fun moments, most especially in the Legends episode. They are the snark masters and every meta-joke was much appreciated. Plus, seeing Mick finally, fully comfortable as a romance author is a pay off four seasons in the making.
JS: As always, the Legends episode brought the fun. It almost felt like a completely different show after the (still very good, don’t get me wrong) very moody Arrow episode. Also that table reveal had me actively fist pumping, so if that isn’t a good metric for fun, I don’t know what is.
CCT: I really liked Marv Wolfman’s cameo, I think his lack of acting experience actually really sold his nervousness meeting these celebrities.
RP: I know Elias hates Lex, but I love him! Jon Cryer is perfect for that role, you can tell that he loves being Luthor and his performance is everything I expect from the Arrowverse version of the character, and now we all are going to have him more around, not just on Supergirl but on every other show.
ER: I still contend that this is the best crossover these shows have had thus far, with maybe the exception of “World’s Finest,” but putting these two back to back served to make me wonder: why was episode 2 necessary? I don’t mean why did we need 5 episodes instead of 4 but why did we spend the whole episode on the hunt for two paragons instead of speeding the pace up and allowing us to have more time here, once they’ve reached rock bottom.
Why didn’t we get more of Nash as Pariah? Why didn’t we get more of Lyla as both good and evil Harbinger? What was the point of merging Mar-Novu and Krona’s backstory? Actually, I did like that bit, I just didn’t get it because I kept trying to map the Monitor of the comics to the show, which is always a futile gesture.
RP: It was very different from the comic, on one side, I’m sure fans of the source material are disappointed, but it was its own thing and I love that, also, it fulfilled its mission backstage, they retconned what was needed of the Arrowverse and allowed for an easier way for the characters to interact, now every show of The CW is in the same world and every show from other place is connected to it but not part of the Arrowverse itself, it is a seriously big change, every single show is part of the same multiverse now.
ER: I do have to wonder about the new universe: is everyone on one Earth now but also the multiverse exists? They crunched the DCW shows into one but left the DC Universe shows on their separate Earths, right?Continued below
This raises a lot of questions, most notably around Black Lightning because if we’re now on an Earth with other meta-humans, how does that change the story there? Why won’t he speak up to Superman or Supergirl or The Flash about what’s going down in Freeland to enlist their help in some way, either using their clout with the government or as fighters on the ground? And what about Lena’s plans for making a “better world?” Is she suddenly good again?
RP: I’m sure every question will be slowly answered in each show.
Also, the fact that Marv Wolfman wrote episode four is just a blessing, he is a master of his art and it was shown in this episode, full of seriously good cliffhangers it was a masterclass on how to keep the audience (at least me) engaged and surprised and thrilled with every scene.
It just raises too many questions.
JS: We are entering a brave new world in the Arrowverse, one with a lot of possibilities. For a person who had fallen away from most of the CW shows outside of Legends and Batwoman, I was pretty interested and excited to see how the other characters had turned out in my absence. The ending sets up a lot of potential for new shows and new surprises.
There were obvious parallels here, starting with a very Endgame vibe, with our heroes sad and broken and desperate. It would have been interesting to spend more time there, really make them live with their failures. But it more than made up with it in the Speed Force trip down memory lane. Also, Oliver basically became a superhero Jedi, and that was cool!
I just think the fights in episode 4 and 5 were too similar for my liking. I never felt the power of those ghosts. There were a lot, sure, but the heroes seemed to take care of them in short order and having the Anti-Monitor come back in Part 5 just made Part 4 feel superfluous in a major way.
I was a big fan of the event overall, there were some really fun moments, good moments of character growth, and set up for the future. I think this one will be hard to beat, maybe take a page from the Legends book and take a little break from crossovers.
MM: I need the ratings to come out – not that the CW (rightly) puts much stock in the usefulness of Neilson ratings these days – but I’m very curious to see what the overnights look like and eventual +3 numbers. There is a nice sort of symmetry to making this crossover act as the mid-season finale of the 2019-20 DCWverse. It’s the kind of old school event TV scheduling I can get behind. That said, man I kinda forgot really the emotional beats in the interim period – you could easily stream the first 3 episodes on their website. The first three chunks and this twofer work mostly well enough as discrete parts of a connected series, but I wonder what it would’ve been like to just get this done in a week.
Overall this was a really nice adaptation of COIE, it got to the spirit of the piece. Even if Marv Wolfman would likely argue that spirit fans have projected on to it wasn’t there (see the Behind the Panel special on COIE.) It fit that big maxiseries stuff into a DCWverse sized bag, which means the B-movie standard of fighting in large uninhabited spaces. Them using the forests of Toronto for an alien planet via a purple color correction and lighting is the best. Them using the SAME gulley where Team Arrow fought the League of Assassins in Arrow Season 3 for the Dawn of Time in the Anti-Matter universe, but with a green color correction, was even better.
CCT: All in all, it’s gonna be fascinating seeing the alien-filled world of Supergirl and the isolated one of Black Lightning co-existing with the one of Barry and Sara – hopefully we’ll finally start seeing the Waverider visit other worlds.
JS: So where do you think we go from here? Do you think we will get a Wonder Twins show? Or a TV budget Green Lantern show?Continued below
RP: I think this makes HBO’s planned Green Lantern show official.
CCT: I wouldn’t take this as a sign HBO Max’s GL series will have any connection to the CW verse – at the very least, I hope they’re not reusing assets from the film, ‘cos that version of Oa was pretty ugly.
For sure, we’re getting Green Arrow and the Canaries and Superman & Lois, ‘cos superheroes are the CW’s bread-and-butter, but I think anything more interesting will be on DCU or HBO Max.
MM: I thought the GL bit at the end was a nice lil reference to the thing that put Berlanti and Guggenheim on that path that led to this, which is kind of absurd when you thnk about how at best middling that Lantern movie was. Still not sure how they pull it off on a TV budget but they’ll get to play with HBOMax money.
Final thoughts before we inevitably reconvene this council for next year’s crossover?
ER: “Crisis” was not perfect. It was oftentimes stretched too think thanks to the numerous cast members, scheduling conflicts and the desire to be reflective of all of the DC shows and films to date in one way or another. It’s villain wasn’t the best handed but for a TV universe, this was fan-fucking-tastic and I will take this over 90% of the overblown event comics we get out of Marvel and DC any day.
It was a celebration of Arrow, a send off, and a mission statement for the future of the CWverwse. I love it for that, for all the fan moments, and for being the best set up crossover of them all. They did the work and I’m glad they did.
Now if only they could’ve made the new universe more understandable than the regular DCU post Crisis.
RP: It was slow paced sometimes, but the scope of what they tried to accomplish here makes Crisis on Infinit Earths my favorite crossover so far, I loved how it ended and love what this means to the future of not only the Arrowverse on the CW but for every DC show in the future.
JS: This was an incredibly impressive crossover event! Outside of some Legends, everyone got a chance to shine and reminded me why I fell in love with these shows in the first place. As I’ve said before, these are in many ways my ideal comic book adaptations. They are able to tell stories that are sometimes moody but without losing a little bit of that pulpy flavor that makes comics memorable.
I will also say this. My friend, who has never watched one of these shows, looked at me when we were done and told me he “got it.” These are shows that know what they are. As I watched Crisis, it made me want to go back and revisit some of the shows I had fallen away from. At the end of the day, isn’t that what a good crossover is all about?
CCT: How come all these big DC crossovers always end with the introduction of the Hall of Justice? “Dark Nights Metal,” the Justice League movie, this… it’s no Watchtower, or is that too godlike?
ER: I think so. It’s not down to earth enough. Plus, I’m sure it’s cheaper to have a set like that than floating spaceship
MM: Yeah my no fun answer is why build a new set that you’ll have to strike and remake next year and include transitional establishing shots when you can just use a room with a table.