Crisis On Earth-X has reinforced the fact that the DCCW consistently outperforms the DCEU.
As I watched Crisis on Earth-X, I kept thinking one thing: This is so much better than Justice League. Fair warning to anyone who hasn’t finished the crossover, this review will contain spoilers.
The CW shows are really far better than they have any right to be. Though Arrow took itself a bit too seriously in the first season, the shows have now embraced their superhero roots. The Flash has managed to take zany, Silver Age superhero concepts and make them work in a modern-day TV show. Supergirl has succeeded largely by following that same model. And though Legends of Tomorrow is the weakest of the bunch, it still manages to be an entertaining distraction.
Ever since The Flash premiered, the shows have crossed over at different points. But last year’s Invasion crossover brought all the characters together. Crisis on Earth-X took it a step further, creating a new title card just for these episodes, which gives it the feeling of a mini-series.
The story opens with the heroes coming together for Barry and Iris’ wedding, but it’s quickly interrupted when Nazis turn up, led by goosestepping versions of Supergirl and Green Arrow. Though it was initially believed that there were fifty-two Earths in the multiverse, the heroes learn there’s a fifty-third one. The aptly-named Earth-X is one in which the Nazis developed the atomic bomb first and went on to conquer the planet.
After having conquered their world, they’ve now set their sights on Earth-1. But there’s another reason—the Earth-X Supergirl needs a new heart. And her husband, the Earth-X Oliver Queen, will stop at nothing to get a replacement from our Supergirl.
Crisis on Earth-X spins a tale expertly combining several classic superhero tropes. We get villains crashing a wedding and evil doppelgängers of the heroes. But my personal favourite is a time-honoured trope of superhero comics: Nazis get punched—a lot.
The Characters Bring It Together
Though there is plenty of action in Crisis on Earth-X, what drives it are the characters. Kara and Alex are both suffering from recent heartbreaks. Meanwhile, Oliver and Felicity are in a tough spot because they want different things. And on the Waverider, Jax wants to stay Firestorm while Martin wants to return to his family.
The Nazi doppelgängers, dimension-hopping, and a massive cast of characters would seem to leave no room for characterisation. On the contrary, the best thing about the crossover is how it deals with these characters. Martin and Jax’s interactions have always been great, and this is no exception. In addition to those, we also get some incredible moments between Alex and Sara and Felicity and Iris.
The return of Wentworth Miller as the Earth-X Snart provides a familiar yet at the same time fresh relationship with Heatwave. And the revelation of his relationship with the Ray was a nice touch. And as great as Tom Cavanagh is as Harry, it’s a lot of fun watching him chew all the scenery as the Reverse-Flash once more.
Dominic Purcell has some great one-liners throughout the event, as always. And watching Mick try and scare Caitlin into becoming Killer Frost is hilarious. Though it is curious why Barry would invite a former rogue to his wedding but not someone like Ray Palmer.
And by far, the greatest moment of the two-night event? Supergirl’s words to her Earth-X doppelganger in the final battle—”General, would you like to step outside?” The DCCW’s callbacks to its film and TV predecessors are fun. But that was in a class all on its own.
If there’s one downside, it’s that several characters kind of fall by the wayside. Wally gets sidelined to protect Joe and Cecile offscreen early in part one, Diggle only appears at the very end of part four, J’onn has what amounts to a cameo, and the other Legends are missing for most of the event.
The event sadly isn’t all laughs. Though handled extremely well, I was extremely saddened by Martin’s death. Of all the Legends, Martin may have grown the most as a character. Going from a cold, aloof man who buries himself in work to someone who understands the value of family has been wonderful to watch. Victor Garber is one of the standout actors on the show, and his chemistry with Franz Drameh’s Jax never missed a beat.
Seeing Martin die after he was so close to getting what he wanted was the hardest part of the event. But the series gave him the perfect send-off. Martin went out a hero in the end, and provided inspiration for the others to keep going.
New Things Ahead?
A few big changes came out of Crisis. For one, Barry and Iris and Oliver and Felicity are now married. Though significant, it’s not the biggest change. Instead, the biggest changes fall on the Legends.
With Martin dead, the team is short one man. Jax is now a one-man Firestorm. But Crisis ended with Citizen Cold, the Earth-X version of Snart, deciding to stick around. Leo is much more heroic than Leonard was, as was his world’s Heatwave. Watching Leo interact with the rest of the crew, especially Mick, will make for some interesting episodes.
But the big takeaway from Crisis on Earth-X is that the DCCW consistently outperforms the DCEU. It’s a pity that I now care more about characters like Green Arrow and Firestorm than I do about Batman and Superman. And with Black Lightning on the horizon, it looks like the DCCW is only going to continue its winning streak.
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