"Crisis On Earth X" crossover tests the future of comic book television
This review for Crisis on Earth X Crossover Part 1 & 2 contains spoilers.
There’s a moment in Part 2 of the Crisis On Earth X crossover where Oliver lays on the ground half-conscious from an explosion. As he spits out blood, catches his breath and regains his balance, time slows as he watches all the DCTV heroes fighting around him. Heat vision, streaks of red lightning, fireballs, swords and Nazis from an evil parallel universe paint a scene straight out of a comic book. In that moment, this epic television event showed fans how far DC Comics’ TV universe, eventually named “the Arrowverse,” has come since Oliver Queen changed comic book TV forever in 2012.
The Arrowverse has evolved to be greater than anything fans had ever expected—the action from this crossover event is unlike anything we’ve ever seen from an antenna TV channel. While it doesn’t have the production value of high budget Warner Bros. films like Justice League, it does capture moments from the DC comics that the studio struggles to replicate in its live action films. Crisis on Earth X recreated unbelievable scenes from the comics that made your heart race—Oliver swinging between the scaffolding of a building in construction, Supergirl sleep flying, or Oliver hurling himself into Vibe’s breach. There was never a missed opportunity.
As a standalone crossover, Crisis on Earth X is able to pick up with the cast of every show while fighting their respective villains of the week—ninjas for Green Arrow, King Shark for The Flash, aliens for Supergirl and random timeline intruders for the Legends. In the middle of the battles, the heroes casually discuss if they have RSVP’d to the West-Allen wedding. These brief introductions set the pace of Crisis for the hours to come.
While the Earth-X doppelgangers seem like an easy subject for a crossover, there’s the same timely, deeper meaning that is permeating throughout the entire DC Extended Universe: hope. The resistance on Earth-X vows to bring hope to a darkened world where Nazi’s won in WWII. The face of the opposition is none other than James Olsen’s Guardian (with his American flag SHIELD) and he is the first to die at the hands of Nazi Green Arrow. His murder is a symbol for the fact that everything DC heroes stand for is at stake.
All our favorite heroes gather to the city just 15 minutes into Crisis On Earth X Part 1, their lives seamlessly intertwined. Cisco and H.R. are already working on a way to separate Firestorm after Stein announced his retirement. Heatwave is fascinated by Killer Frost’s sharp icicles as it reminds him of his long lost buddy, Captain Cold. Alex and White Canary immediately hit it off, skipping out on the rehearsal dinner completely. But there are also some surprising serious plot points, aside from the possible introduction of Dawn Allen.
In the middle of rehearsal dinner, Oliver casually proposes to Felicity. Though he doesn’t get down on one knee because he’s supposedly still sore from fighting ninjas, he offers a lifetime of commitment to Felicity. But her answer would offend Olicity shippers—She declines, explaining she doesn’t believe in marriage. Felicity is just as committed as she would be with a ring, but prefers their relationship as is. Even though she persists, “No Oliver, I won’t marry you,” a little bit louder than she should have (a cringeworthy moment for Oliver), he doesn’t resent her for her unexpected answer. And either way, Oliver and Felicity have a lot of bigger problems on their hands.
Nazis interrupt the wedding ceremony and it’s the first time we see all the main characters fighting in their plain clothes. Wally West pulls some wild martial arts movies, catching bullets and tossing them back like Michael Jackson with superspeed abilities. Kara claps her hands and releases a burst of air that knocks over an entire room of Nazis. Killer Frost and Heatwave launch fire and ice back to back. It’s beautiful, organized mayhem.
The heroes manage to hold off their Earth-X counterparts and capture Prometheus, which reveals one of the episode's biggest twists. It’s not Adrian Chase behind the mask, but Tommy Merlyn, the first main character of Arrow to be killed off all the way back in Season 1. It was short lived fan service, as Tommy kills himself to avoid interrogation, but there’s immense resolution. Oliver finally gets at least a little bit of closure from his old best friend.
It’s in the wake of Nazi-Oliver’s best friend’s death that we learn Overgirl and Arrow are actually married on Earth-X. The real reason Arrow is involved in Eobard Thawne’s (yes, Earth-1 Eobard) plan to overtake Earth-1 is because Overgirl is dying. She’s been exposed to too much solar radiation and needs a heart transplant from Earth-38 Supergirl, Kara Danvers. But Thawne and Green Arrow’s two separate missions spark a divide within the Reich. Thawne is worried Arrow’s love for Overgirl will come in between his plan to turn a red prism (aka sublight generator) stolen from Earth-1 into a nuclear bomb.
And after the reveal of Thawne, Green Arrow and Overgirl’s plan, we’re left with a 20 minute battle scene. It starts with Oliver riding to the fight on a motorcycle and the show’s most memorable line: “Superspeed. I don’t have it.” The street-level hero proves to be the Batman the Arrowverse can never have with the reveal of his Kryptonite Arrow. How Oliver Queen managed to acquire Kryptonite is anyone's guess, but the comic book fan in us won’t ask any questions. If we think, too much, we’d have hour-long discussions about how Eobard Thawne is still alive even though he was killed by the all powerful grim reaper of the speed force, Black Flash.
By the end of Crisis On Earth X Parts 1 and 2, our heroes are stuck on Earth-X in an internment camp. The stakes are higher than ever and parts 3 and 4 are bound to be even more action-packed than the first. While we still don’t know how Green Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and the Legends will escape Earth-X and return home, one thing is for sure: this is the future of TV and we can thank Arrow for it.