Crisis On Infinite Earths Parts 1-3 (2019-2020 Arrowverse Roundup - Week 10)
The Arrowverse's biggest crossover is finally here. For the most part they delivered everything they promised, and more. The first episode was Supergirl. The second was Batman, and the third was The Flash. This will not be formatted as usual, but instead it will be one big rundown.
The event wasted no time in getting going. There was a ton of exposition happening at first, but once that was out of the way, the first hour really soared. Of the 3 hours, Batwoman was the only one that didn't feel like a Batwoman episode. Hour 1 was very Supergirl (and supporting cast) focused. As was hour 3, with The Flash cast. There were two big surprises of the crossover. The first was all of the cameos they were able to nab, which shows just how big this event is. The second was the story of Oliver Queen.
Audiences were told he was going to die, but no one expected it in the first hour. Amell has barely been in Crisis at all. He had his normal sized role in Hour 1, but just one scene in each episode after. His death was a catalyst for many other character's stories though. Sara and Mia had the heaviest lifting when it came to that, but Constantine, Barry, and Diggle also had stories come from it. The Lazarus Pit has been a staple of the Arrowverse from very early on. For that to play such a big part of Crisis is celebrating the legacy of Arrow, and showing how far hope can bring people.
Every story needs a macguffin, and the 7 Paragons served as the macguffins of Crisis. Each one fits their role, and leans into the character traits that have been developed for a long time. For the macguffins to be people, let a lot of fun possibilities happen. It was fun seeing Tom Welling as Smallville's Clark again. It was fun seeing Kevin Conroy as a beaten, broken, rock bottom Bruce. But it was most fun to see Brandon Routh don the cape and S once again.
I am not the biggest fan of Superman Returns, but it is always fun to see an actor return to a character they never thought they'd play again. Routh pulling double duty as Ray Palmer, and as a Kingdom Come Supes was a stroke of genius. He portrayed both (well, all 3 because his Clark is much different from his Superman) so well. It was a joy to see. While Routh's time in the Arrowverse is short-lived, it means a lot that he was able to do this before he leaves for good.
There was only one bigger joy of Crisis than Routh, and that is seeing Jon Cryer play the most comic-accurate version of Lex Luthor ever. The Arrowverse was only ever allowed 3 episodes to use Lex. So Cryer came in and out with a memorable splash last season on Supergirl.
But they bent the rules for Crisis, and not only did he return, but he is one of the most important pieces of the story. His journey was very organic. Of course if he got his hands on the Book of Destiny, he would try to eliminate every Superman on every Earth in existence. Of course he would. But Lex, smart, cunning, 3-steps ahead Lex, is always playing the long game. So the dire cliffhanger with the 7 paragons sent to a point outside of space of time is bad enough. Then for Lex to insert himself in that situation leaves the heroes even worse for wear. It is so genius, and the way Cryer portrays him is pitch perfect. Lex sees himself as the hero. He legitimately believes that, and is baffled as to why no one else does. Cryer sells that so good, that he is rapidly becoming the MVP of Crisis On Infinite Earths.
The part of the story dealing with Barry Allen's fate got to have its cake and eat it too. Everyone knew Grant wasn't leaving and that Barry wouldn't die. But the seeds were planted for Barry to die very early on. John Wesley Shipp's Barry Allen died instead, allowing every contradiction to be true at the same time. It was such a beautiful moment. They even found a clip from the old 90's show to use, which just enhanced the moment tenfold.
Marc Guggenheim and co. pulled no punches, and even included Black Lightning. Cress Williams got to play in the Arrowverse, and formed a really strong bond with The Flash, which will hopefully continue in the future. Even this week's Black Lightning dealt with Crisis in their own way. They tackled a fun Christmas Carol type story with Jen experiencing her doppelgangers on different Earths.
For as big of an event this is, the magic of it is that it still feels so intimate. The story takes it's time with the characters, and the deep character interactions sometimes feel more important than the big battles and exposition scenes. The Kate/Kara relationship is forming fast, as is the Sara/Mia relationship. The big scenes work because the small scenes make you care about the characters that are fighting.
There are still two more episodes to go, which will air next year. But there will never be a TV event like this again, so it's great they are nailing it. It is a love letter to the Arrowverse fans, and DC fans in general.
Crisis On Infinite Earths Parts 4 and 5 (Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow) air January 14.
You can read the rest of my Arrowverse reviews for this season right here.
If you want to start the Arrowverse from the beginning, you can use my viewing guide, located here.