Ups and Downs of Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 5: Legends of Tomorrow

So, Crisis on Infinite Earths finally over. And it’s been a hell of a ride.

After years of teasing, the adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths is now done. It may not be perfect, but it was entertaining and brought viewers enough big moments to please even the most jaded of fans. Was it DC’s Infinity War? No… but then, with a TV budget and more of a focus on streamlining continuity, it was never meant to be. It could never hope to compete on that level, and so wisely didn’t. Instead, it became something of a love letter to the source material and to the fans.

The final episode was technically an epilogue, featuring one last battle against the villainous Anti-Monitor as our heroes attempt to settle into the new world they find themselves in. While appearances from Beebo and Sargon the Sorcerer brought the laughs and some more timely cameos and obscure references (Gleek!) brought the feel-good factor, it was also a chance for viewers to say their final goodbyes to Oliver Queen.

But what parts made us cringe, and what parts made us cheer? How about these…

Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 5

Up: The rude awakening!

This episode of Crisis on Infinite Earths started firing on all cylinders the second it started, with Kara waking up from her battle to save the multiverse like it was all just a dream. Or rather, a nightmare. As a result, she nearly wound up killing somebody with her heat vision. Reality has rearranged itself around the surviving Paragons – or vice-versa – with some predictable (and not-so-predictable) side-effects. Kara experiences the next one soon, and it’s even more of a nightmare for her: a smug Lex Luthor winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

As zinger followed zinger, viewers were bombarded with changes big and small as the status quo of the new “Arrowverse” was explained. Like many expected, all those shows are now set on the same world, including Black Lightning which will likely be the show with the most changes. Supergirl can now cross over with the Flash as much as she wants to, while Luthor can battle the Legends if he ever decides he’s bored with tormenting Superman.

How will it all shake out though? Honestly, all we can do is wait and see… but it should be fun! Is the DEO linked in any way to the Time Bureau, and if so does this mean that Lex has a link with it? Will Constantine ever take Superman out for a night on the town? Will Batwoman team up with Supergirl regularly? New histories and timelines will need to be explained with each show, potentially making this a fascinating soft reboot. Or, like the comics, it could lead to some writers making even more continuity errors.

Up: High energy hijinks

While there were a few down spots in the episode, one area where it really excelled was the sheer level of oomph it had. There was hardly a moment where the episode took a breather, with each scene brimming with enthusiasm and excitement. Not only did it make the episode seem full of life, but it gave the impression that Legends of Tomorrow – and even the other Arrowverse shows by extension – are going to have this level of enthusiasm moving forward.

It’s a positive sign, and when combined with the idea that viewers will be getting something new in the landscape of each of the shows too it adds up to something fresh. Probably the best moments in this episode weren’t so much the clichéd battle against the Anti-Monitor, but rather the ones with Beebo – despite being an annoyingly unfunny character previously – and the Super Friends jokes.

And for the record, does anybody actually want a Justice League TV show now with this cast? Maybe. But we’d be happy just to see them pal around together from time to time, and we definitely need to see Gleek.

Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 5

Down: Saint Oliver?

Say what you want, but Oliver Queen was no saint. But he was a hero, and died as one… assuming he truly is dead again. That’s the problem with playing the boy-who-cried-wolf approach to bumping him off earlier. It hurts the concept of his actual loss. Regardless, he’s gone and that’s pretty much that.

Naturally, the characters eulogise him and praise his memory throughout. His friends gather, discussing what he meant to them, while Sara angrily demands to know why there isn’t place in their wonderful new world for the man who sacrificed himself to make it a reality. It’s all very touching and heartfelt.

Then the characters sing his praises again. Then they fight a battle in honour of his memory. Then the President makes a speech on TV, honouring how awesome he was, before practically doing the “USA! USA!” chant because the USA – and by extension, apparently, the world – is saved once more. Then his friends honour him again, and light an eternal flame in tribute. They even unveil a chair they made, just to honour him. It’s all Oliver, Oliver, Oliver.

By that time, it’s all gotten a bit much and you wouldn’t be blamed for wanting them to shut up about him. It’s the law of diminishing returns, and they laid the schmaltz on far too thickly.

Up: Brave new worlds!

Let’s hear it for the Negative Man, who wasn’t afraid to shake his rump to the hump-de-bump. Because that’s how the Doom Patrol roll, baby.

The Doom Patrol exist. So do Swamp Thing, the Titans, Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E., and so many other DC heroes (and villains). Even those rather weird-looking Guardians of Oa from the dismal Green lantern movie exist out there somewhere in the multiverse, their stupid long robes draping down from their ridiculous kiddie high-chairs.

This final instalment of Crisis on Infinite Earths let it be known that there are worlds to be enjoyed by all fans. Those worlds are safe thanks to the heroes of the DCU, and we can visit them whenever we want – something that was made clear to readers of the comic book Crisis too. No matter what changes are made to continuity in the Arrowverse as a result of this, fans will always be able to enjoy their favourites even if they don’t quite fit in. Does that mean that we’ll get lucky and see Brandon Routh return as Superman once again? Never say never. But he’s out there somewhere, and just knowing that is enough for now.

Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 5

Down: Lather, rinse, repeat fight scenes?

Some moron once said that people are going to win so much that they’ll get tired of winning.

While that’s one of the dumbest statements ever, watching people winning all the time can be tiresome. When that happens, it stops looking like a challenge and there’s no real tension because there’s nothing on the line. That’s kind of how it is with the big group scenes in these crossovers. While technically the heroes have lost a few of the battles along the way, two of which resulted in a teammate dying (the same teammate really, so… does that count?), it doesn’t seem like they ever really lose.

Here we saw them square off yet again with thousands of Harry Potter Dementor rejects, otherwise known as the Anti-Monitor’s shadow demons. After the usual flat action, the shadow demons evolve into the bland Anti-Monitor, because… well, he’s travelled the multiverse to give them an old-school beatdown in what looks like a factory parking lot for revenge after losing a fight to them at the dawn of time. And obviously he loses again.

Even though this time they don’t have the Spectre backing them up.

And this is the real problem. At first, the Anti-Monitor and his shadow demons seemed like they could be threats due to their numbers, if nothing else. Here, none of them are a threat. To add insult to injury, the Atom just shrinks the Anti-Monitor down to nothing, which they could have done right from the start. Worlds lived and died, but now it seems like they could have handled this before breakfast and still be home in time for cornflakes.

Down: That’s not the Martian way!

Maybe we missed the memo, but going out for revenge isn’t the Martian way and it certainly seems out of character for J’onn J’onzz – a character known more for tolerance and understanding.

It seemed wrong that J’onn blamed Nash so much for the Crisis. Sure, he had reason to bear a grudge, but wasn’t it the Anti-Monitor himself who said their conflict was inevitable? Even after re-writing the past with the Monitor, the Anti-Monitor still existed and wanted to destroy them. Not that their previous battle made sense anyway. Yes, Nash definitely screwed up, except… in this new world they’re living in, he technically didn’t. Because everyone, except for the Paragons, got a blank slate.

To help bring the friends and loved ones of the Paragons up to speed, J’onn telepathically brought back their memories of how things were before. That’s great, but what about that clean slate and everything they thought they knew before that? Technically, these aren’t even the same people but rather new alternate recreations of them. This version of Nash had no memories of doing anything wrong, and in this reality he was innocent because the Crisis never actually happened. Yet J’onn not only judges him based on what “another” Nash did, but he jump-starts everyone’s memories so that they can judge him too.

Oh, and then he jump-starts Nash’s memories as well, causing this innocent, blank slate person to feel overwhelming guilt for something they technically never even did. Not cool, J’onn.

brandon routh superman tV

Up: Do things by the book

There was something reassuring about seeing Heatwave doing a book-signing session for his latest romantic saga. Maybe it’s just that we’ve come to know and love this big goof, but it seems like the perfect tribute to a character who’s grown tremendously over the course of Legends of Tomorrow. He isn’t just the beer-swilling thug he used to be, he’s a sensitive soul who’s in touch with his feminine alter-ego side.

What made the scene even better was his impressive leap into action when called to do so. He may hate the term, or insist that it’s just because he enjoys getting involved in a good fight, but it was downright… heroic. All he was missing was a bottle of booze at the bookstore, so that he could literally have said “Hold my beer!” to the lady he was signing the novel for. It’s a missed opportunity, but either way that whole scene was fantastic.

Down: Just ignore the minor details, okay?

This is a tricky one, but it’s a problem that’s existed with all the crossovers they’ve done: for all the talk of how big the story is, there’s never much sense of scale or scope.

Apparently, we’re not supposed to remember the fate of all those refugees who fled from one Earth to the next, desperately looking to be saved. Presumably, they’re still fine, much like the people of Argo City. Or are they? They’ve made it clear that this isn’t quite the same world our heroes remember; different events have occurred and new people exist there, like Superman and Lois now having sons, plural. Even if those people were saved, have they now always existed on this world, like how National City itself has now always existed? Have trillions died? What was the point of saving anybody? What about the red skies headline, and what was the Monitor’s alternate plan if Oliver hadn’t sacrificed himself? Would Barry have become the Spectre? Would Kara? As the Riddler would say, too many questions.

Yes, some things will be answered in time; surely the Kryptonite that Batwoman got her hands on will come back in to play at some point, Ryan Choi’s future story continue to unfold as time goes on, and so on. But the bigger ramifications rarely get addressed in any of the Arrowverse shows. The theory is that we’re just supposed to shut up and not ask questions, but for once it would be good to get some kind of clarification.

Marv Wolfman

Up: That magnificent cameo!

As if his writer’s credit wasn’t enough in the previous episode of Crisis on Infinite Earths, here we got an appearance by the one and only Marv Wolfman. It’s also good to see that his artistic partner from the source material, George Perez, was name-dropped too. But the Wolfman cameo was pretty damn cool for fans, and a wonderful tribute to one of the men who made it all possible to begin with. His performance on screen may not have been the smoothest, but it was still fantastic.

As said before, the man is an industry legend and is responsible for co-creating classic Marvel and DC characters like Blade, Bullseye, Deathstroke, Cyborg, Raven and more. Seeing him on screen, gushing over the Flash and Supergirl and assuring them that the world is exactly as it’s meant to be is an incredibly meta-textual moment and it’s wonderful to see him being honoured like that.

At times it’s been hard to endorse some of the Arrowverse’s production decisions, owing to some of them being out of touch with the source material. But here they got it right. While other cameos, like Burt Ward, Kevin Conroy or Ezra Miller may have been obvious fan service, this showed a genuine understanding and respect for the creators. For all the missteps, here they did Crisis on Infinite Earths proud…

What are your thoughts on Crisis on Infinite Earths?

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