Supergirl x Flash x Arrow x DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (CW 2016)
Monday through Thursday nights this week saw something I don’t believe has ever been done on American television – a four-night, four-show, four-way cross-over event, one story told in multiple series the likes of which has only ever, as far as I know, ever been attempted in the comic books which are the inspiration for the only block of television shows I’m currently watching with any consistency.
Based conceptually on DC Comics’ 1988 three-issues-plus-a-myriad-of-cross-over-issues event entitled, as was each of the cross-over episodes from each of the series represented here – except for Supergirl – “Invasion!,” this epic told how the alien Dominators were determined to eliminate the threat they perceived to exist in the metagenetic potential of humankind giving rise to the dawning age of the superhero, and how a coalition of such metahumans ultimately beat back this threat to our existence.
It was ambitious. And although the execution ultimately fell short, on balance I found it very satisfying.
I watched all four nights as close to live as I could manage given my very busy schedule these days – but generally within no more than an hour of the original airing. Here are my reactions to the parts and the whole.
Ultimately, as it’s variant title “Medusa” would indicate, although the ads built Monday night’s Supergirl into the beginning of the cross-over, it really wasn’t. It was mainly its own thing, except for these mysterious vortices that kept randomly and mysteriously appearing, ultimately in the very last scene debouching Barry Allen and Cisco Ramon into Kara Danvers' apartment – which was repeated exactly the next evening.
It was on Tuesday night’s Flash that we got the real beginning of the story – the events leading up to Barry and Cisco creating the interdimensional portals that would eventually (after several tries, apparently) take them to Kara’s apartment on her Earth – the final in-story confirmation of what we all knew, that “Earth-Supergirl” is separate from the “Earth-Arrowverse” of Arrow and its spinoffs. In-show parlance would have them as “Earth 38” (I think) and “Earth 1.” We also got to finally see a dangling Arrowverse plotline dealt with – that the Flashpoint Event created by Barry at the beginning of this season would have had much wider consequences. I still wonder why the “Legends” would not have shown up immediately to deal with an event that had to have created a “time quake” of immense proportions, but at least it’s been acknowledged to have affected them too. It’s less clear (at least to me) whether it was multiversal in its effects, i.e., did it affect “Earth-Supergirl” as well, but I like to think it did and is the explanation for some abrupt changes between the first and second seasons of that show.
Wednesday night’s Arrow was, as I feared from when I learned a couple of weeks ago that it would largely be another “It’s a Wonderful Life” tale, the weakest link in the chain, but it was better than I imagined it would be.
Finally, Thursday night’s Legends of Tomorrow (I do wish they would just drop the “DC’s” part) had the task of pulling it all together into a conclusion. This it accomplished capably, albeit unevenly, with some logical plotholes here and there, but overall quite satisfyingly, using the cross-over not just to tell a geeky event but to advance individual shows’ plotlines especially from Flash and Legends. My overall assessment would have to be that the Flashpoint connection and hence the Flash plotlines were the best part of the crossover. Especially satisfying was seeing Cisco ultimately realize that Barry’s mistakes were ones that anyone – even himself – in the same position would make, and them being reconciled (again). Conversely, although it was cool seeing Supergirl interacting with the characters from the other shows, the way the story played out pretty much all in those other three shows and on the “Arrowverse” Earth meant that she was the only one from her show who played a part in the sprawling cast of characters from all the other shows. And frankly, I’m not sure she was ultimately a necessary part of the story. Even the ultimate resolution of the crisis, which had her and Flash “tagging” all the aliens on Earth at super-speed, could have been accomplished by Barry alone or by Barry working with Wally. I hoped for something a bit more epic and even in its treatment of the four CWDC shows, with full participation by other characters of “Earth 38” alongside those of the “Arrowverse Earth 1.” Nevertheless, it was fun as all get out, especially the interaction between Heat Wave Mick Rory and Kara from beginning (“I’m not going to call you ‘Supergirl’ – That’s stupid. If I need your help – and I won’t – I’ll call you ‘Skirt’.” Followed within five minutes or so by him, having been knocked on his ass, calling her “Supergirl!”) to end (“Call me, Skirt!”). I think he’s smitten…!
As a first attempt at such an ambitious event, I’d say “Invasion!” was great. We even got a Hall of Justice out of this. (I so wanted the new President to declare them a “Justice League” in that scene near the end….) I hope it is followed up, however, by even bigger, truly “multiversal,” cross-overs, even – especially since it’s been teased since virtually the beginning of the first season of Flash – “The Crisis [on Infinite Earths]” – although I would not want that story to result in the death of either Flash or Supergirl.
But can you imagine a yearly television event like this, like the old "Justice League-Justice Society" team-ups that were an annual staple in the pages of Justice League of America? That would be so cool!
Cheers!, and Thanks for reading!