So the back half of the CW Arrowverse's epic Crisis on Infinite Earth's crossover finally aired this week, and I promised more words about the Arrowverse and the crossover last month, so here we are. Spoilers abound!On I wrote:
#CrisisOnInfiniteEarths spoiler free review: low budget, pacing and writing issues, but idc because all the dc comics fan service kept making me smile
First the bad: as noted above, writing and pacing and budget issues plague the crossover, but this is typical of the Arrowverse as a whole. TBH sometimes I question why I still follow (most of) the shows. This has been CW's problem with trying to make their superheroes shows more appealing to a mainstream audience, they end putting in a lot of nonsense and drama that often don't make sense or just pad the runtime. It's been a problem since Smallville even. This crossover in particular had a lot of things that felt like they were just there to pad the runtime to make sure we got to have five shows represented by one episode each. I feel like they could have covered what they wanted to cover with just four episodes. The Batwoman episode in particular was pretty weak, and the whole chasing Oliver around the afterlife into purgatory only for him to become the Spectre was pretty weak as well. I loved the Beebo bit in Legends, but that also felt inessential and was there just to pad the time and give the heroes something to do until the Big Bad showed up again.
The good: All the DC comics fanservice and shoutouts and callbacks and cameos, everything was great and made me smile every time. Personal highlights for me were the '89 Batman theme, Kevin Conroy speaking as Batman before appearing as Broken Bruce Wayne, Smallville Clark just yeeting the Kryptonite out of Lex's hands, and of course, surprise Ezta Miller cameo.
The execution and adaptation of the Crisis storyline itself is a mixed bag. While understandably they don't have access to the whole multiversal cast of the comic book and had a limited budget, there are still some poorly explained points like why are these seven people the paragons? (Particularly Ryan Choi!). Lex Luthor even showed that the paragons are replaceable - he was not originally the paragon of truth! Couldn't Pariah have sent more people to the Vanishing Point? Still, they did manage to hit the major plot points of CoIE:
- universes dying one by one
- heroes assembled to fight the anti monitor
- harbinger betrayal
- showdown at the dawn of time
- multiverse reborn as a single universe (kind of... they walked it back at the end!)
The rewriting of the Arrowverse as a single, shared universe was probably something they wanted to do as soon as Supergirl got adopted by the CW, but I can't help think of what a mess this does to existing storylines. I suppose we'll see when the shows resume, but there are so many questions raised, with Supergirl and Flash status quos being the ones that suffer the most.
All flaws aside, we have to give it up for the CW Arrowverse for doing something that's never been done on TV before. While technically only a crossover between 5 (maybe 6) shows, it also pulls in references to dozens of comics, shows and movies from the whole history of DC comics. It's something that couldn't have been done by a single show like Smallville or Justice League Unlimited, or a small set of films like the DCEU. Make no mistake, this is an accomplishment of Endgame proportions, even though it didn't have Endgame's budget and writing quality. If you'd asked me ten years ago, I would never have imagined that a Crisis on Infinite Earths adaptation is something that I would have seen in live action, small screen or no, and I'm glad to have been proven wrong!