The Arrowverse crossovers have become somewhat of an annual event for DC fans everywhere to come together for a few nights and geek out. This year’s crossover might have been the most ambitious one yet as they brought in John Wesley Shipp’s Barry Allen, introduced Batman and Lois Lane to the universe, and juggled the Freaky Friday (or Quantum Leap) storyline of Barry and Oliver. Now the big question here is, were they able to pull it all off?
Starting out the crossover we see the fallen heroes of Earth-90, many of them familiar faces, across a battlefield, as Barry Allen (John Wesley Shipp) is groveling to Monitor and asking why he is doing this. Monitor states that they (the heroes) will all perish. We then see Monitor give the reality-changing Book of Destiny to struggling Arkham Asylum doctor John Deegan to change reality as he sees fit. Immediately this crossover starts out with one of the biggest instances of fan service since this universe began. John Wesley Shipp has now portrayed 3 different DC characters since his stint as the Flash back in his 1990 Flash series. As many fans were excited to see the return of this version of the Flash, I have to admit that ultimately this story point means nothing in the end of the crossover, which I will get to later.
As part one of the crossover unfolds, we see Oliver Queen and Barry Allen have now swapped lives. We see that both of them are not happy with this change to reality and are trying to convince the team over at STAR Labs of what is going on, to which no one believes them. I must admit that this particular storyline of the crossover was weak for me because in the end we never really find out why Deegan wanted Flash and Green Arrow to trade places and a lot of the humor written for Stephen Amell just didn’t really work. I honestly feel like Stephen Amell works best with more dramatic work—even on Arrow I personally feel that when they try to make him be funny or be “lighter” it just doesn’t work. There is one gag in the crossover that I did enjoy and that was the throwback to the first Arrow/Flash crossover when Barry was shot by Oliver in the back and now Barry had the chance to do it back to Oliver. Despite my issues with the life swap story, I do think that Grant Gustin and Stephen Amell both did a damn good job of keeping this an entertaining crossover.
The crossovers every year are usually built on fan service. Whether it’s acknowledging other DC characters, other DC roles the actors have played, or paying homage to other DC properties, these crossovers always end up putting a smile on the faces of fans. The biggest instance of fan service from this crossover was definitely the throwback to Smallville. After Barry and Oliver manage to convince Iris West that they are who they say they are, they travel to Earth-38 Smallville to find Kara (Supergirl) and as they do the Smallville theme plays over the scene transition and the shot pans to the same Kent Farm set used in the series. It is here that we are finally introduced to this universe’s Lois Lane portrayed by Bitsie Tulloch. Smallville is still my favorite television series of all time so when this moment happened I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic and happy. Between the battle with A.M.A.Z.O, the introduction of Lois Lane, bringing in Superman to Earth-1 for the first time, part one of the crossover had enough in it to be entire crossover.
As we go into part two of the crossover, we are teased with the introduction of Batwoman and Gotham City to the universe. Most of the episode is spent in Gotham City setting up the world of Batwoman as well as establishing Bruce Wayne and Batman in the universe. Batman is the one characters that fans have been the most divided on when it comes to introducing him to the Arrowverse. Many fans want to see him but many others feel that the small screen will not do the character justice as the overall quality of the shows has gone downhill in the eyes of many fans.
That being said the way that they established Gotham and Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) was really well done. Having a Bat-family character that doesn’t have to be forever tied to Batman makes for so many interesting stories since this episode confirmed that Batman has been gone for 3 years. The action scenes and theme for the character were among some of my favorite things about the episode. While some scenes could have been better as far as performance goes, I honestly feel like Ruby Rose did a pretty good job in introducing Batwoman to the mainstream audience and hopefully she gets her own spin-off as the producers intended.
After Oliver, Barry, and Kara find Deegan at Arkham Aslyum, all hell breaks loose. Inmates are released (many inmates are teased to be most of Batman’s Rogues Gallery) and the team go off to find Deegan and the Book of Destiny. Oliver and Barry crash into some of Scarecrow’s fear toxin and are both forced to face the mental manifestations of Reverse Flash and the surprise return of Malcolm Merlyn. Since they are still swapped, Barry and Oliver must face each other’s enemies. After they are snapped out of it by Batwoman, they both grow to understand each other’s struggles a little more. That scene gave the episode that little bit of heart that these shows lack in sometimes.
Now this episode had many problems that I couldn’t simply get over. As I mentioned, this episode was trying to tell us why Deegan altered reality the way he did and why the Monitor chose him. Both of those things weren’t defined very well and it left me feeling like Deegan and the life swap scenario didn’t add much to the crossover. Deegan is easily my least favorite crossover villain in the history of these shows.
Another thing that bothered me that I also mentioned was the treatment of John Wesley Shipp’s Barry Allen. He is teased as one of the key players of the crossover and after he’s very briefly introduced to the team, he joins them in confronting Monitor and within seconds of the fight beginning he’s teleported away for the remainder of the crossover not to be seen again. I would not be too upset with this if they hadn’t promoted this event to make it seem like he would be playing a big role. I honestly feel like he deserved better and the character deserved a little more closure than that.
Now the final episode in this crossover was a lot better than I was expecting. When they teased a black suit version of Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman, I rolled my eyes at the idea because I felt like this was another instance of the writers trying to please DC fans that were disappointed in the DCEU films. However, I was so happy to be proven wrong. This episode is the first time since his debut in 2016 that I really enjoyed Tyler Hoechlin as Superman. While most of the episode was spent on Deegan’s “Superman,” I still feel that this was the first time the writers really gave him the chance to be his own Superman. His fight scenes, and scenes with Lois made the entire episode so enjoyable for me.
Now I can’t talk about this crossover without talking about Lois Lane. Unfortunately, Bitsie Tulloch was subject to a lot of online hate, similar to that of Amy Adams and Erica Durance, since she had been cast as Lois based only on her age and looks. I can say that Bitsie did such an amazing job in the few scenes of her that we saw that I believe all of the fanboys who hated on her will think twice about what they said after the performance she pulled off. Supergirl has been building up Lois for years now and I’ll admit she was the main reason I was even excited for this crossover. Without spoiling the final moments of the episode, I will say that Lois and Clark’s final scene in the Fortress of Solitude made me tear up as a lifelong Superman fan and I know I’m not the only one.
Overall, Elseworlds had a lot that it was trying to accomplish as a crossover event and not everything worked as well as I would have hoped. This was still an enjoyable crossover and did a lot to set up potential spinoffs in Batwoman and possibly a new Lois and Clark. With the Arrowverse introducing new characters so often, they all have to team up at some point right? With the tease at the end of this crossover it’s been confirmed that the next crossover will indeed be Crisis on Infinite Earths. Let’s just hope that’s an event worth waiting for!