This week the CW featured the special 4-part crossover of its Arrow-verse shows (Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl) and I feel like I can safely say that if Justice League disappointed you, this iteration of DC comic book heroes more than made up for it.
Unlike last season’s crossover, the creative team decided to give Crisis on Earth-X the feel of one cohesive ensemble as opposed to four intersecting casts, which was a smart move. I was thrilled to see each show well-represented within the first two minutes of Part One, and it felt a lot more organic to have the supporting characters coming and going throughout as opposed to contriving reasons for them to only be around for their show’s hour.
The story centered around the wedding of Barry Allen (a.k.a. the Flash) and Iris West, an excellent excuse for all of these heroes to be gathered in one place from the get-go. Things go reasonably well at first, and many glorious jokes and moments were had as we got to see characters who never interact finally do so. Seriously, I could have watched a crossover about everything going well, so long as Mick kept making awkward conversation (“Didn’t I try to kidnap you once?”).
Alas, things do not go well. The officiant barely gets a word out before Nazis from Earth-X (because on Earth-X, the Nazis won WWII) zap him and attack the church. But why would they do such a thing? Not to spoil too much, but Supergirl’s Earth-X doppelgänger, Overgirl, is dying, and she needs Supergirl’s heart to replace her own. Also, you know, taking over another Earth and stuff, because they might as well while they’re in the neighborhood.
What made this crossover stand out is the amount of character moments they managed to squeeze into it. This cast was huge. 20+ heroes to highlight and balance while still providing a compelling story in less than four hours. Not an easy task.
The Jax/Stein storyline was gold, not only giving the two of them some great scenes, but also providing emotional stakes to the rest of the Legends cast, as well as Team Flash. The Felicity/Iris team up to defend Star Labs and rescue Supergirl was pleasantly surprising, seeing as I was expecting them to get sidelined as tech/emotional support due to their lack of superpowers, and I think it laid a nice foundation for future crossovers, giving Supergirl a bond to someone other than Barry.
There were a few missteps, though. The write out of Wally West (a.k.a. Kid Flash) to “keep his dad safe” was obviously powered by plot convenience and not character motivation, because, I’m sorry, nothing would have kept Wally away from that final battle. His dad, a cop, probably would have had a hard time staying away himself. And then there was the awkward fact that Diggle was not included in the original wedding because he was on a mission or something (I didn’t quite hear the whole line) but they still brought him in to officiate the second go-round, which made that original excuse all the flimsier. Also, I would have preferred less Oliver/Felicity angst and more Cisco or some of the other Legends.
The big takeaway is, even in superhero media, character is what sells a team-up story, not action, and I think the Arrowverse team showcased a pretty good understanding of that.