BY JUSTIN CARTER
Another year, another Arrowverse crossover, and this one in particular even more interesting than its predecessors. Grant Gustin as the Green Arrow? AMAZO? John Wesley Shipp back in his old Flash outfit? It was hard to not be excited at what yet again amounts to a victory lap for the CW.
Whereas Crisis was formatted like a miniseries that brought in more characters from each respective show right at the jump, Elseworlds skews closer to Invasion! from 2016, allowing the three shows time (Legends of Tomorrow sits this one out to deal with their own reality breaking issues) for their respective casts to have an hour to themselves while letting a handful of special guest stars join.
To get this out of the way: Is it as good as Earth-X? No, not really, but still a solid entry in its own right.
This time around, things go topsy turvy right away: a cosmic being called the Monitor comes to Earth-1 and gifts a book to Arkham Asylum eugenicist John Deegan, commanding him to rewrite reality. Supposedly, this is all in the aim of finding a universe which will have the worthiest champions to save the multiverse from an impending crisis. But Deegan instead accidentally makes Barry and Oliver switch lives and powers while everyone else remains blissfully unaware. At least in part one; part two sees the duo + Kara head to Earth-1’s Arkham Asylum and briefly cross paths with Batwoman, and part three turns Deegan into Black Suit Superman so Tyler Hoechlin can pull double duty as the two Men of Steel.
Last year’s crossover was framed around bringing all the heroes together to fight an enemy too big for one team. However, Elseworlds is more concerned with just being the prologue to something that will clearly pay off next year. Both the Monitor and Deegan take second fiddle to Oliver and Barry figuring out how to acclimate to their situation and deal with the hang ups that come with swapping bodies as their personal lives have taken some recent turns. (Oliver is very confused about who Cicada is at the start, as a very clear indicator these people don’t talk to each other nearly enough.)
That doesn’t mean the event is somber, though; it’s actually quite funny consistently throughout and surprisingly allows for Stephen Amell to show that he’s not a bad comedic actor. He and Grant Gustin are clearly having fun playing each other, and it’s a riot to see them in each other’s costumes and for Oliver to both make and be the butt of some well natured jokes, such as him insisting he was the first vigilante before Batman. In general, Amell is asked to pull a lot more weight than he usually is with these crossovers, both as an Oliver hopelessly out of his depth and annoyed at everything and as someone willing to let his sunniest friends keep their positive disposition at the cost of his own life. The universe has done a great job of having these moments feel earned between him and Gustin and the two of them plus Melissa Benoist continue to prove that these three and their characters were the best choices to center a triumvirate around.
Elseworlds succeeds so well at the character bits and humor that it’s easy to forget that there actually isn’t really a lot to all of this until the very end. On some level, it likely would’ve been better for them to just consolidate everything to two nights instead of three. The final episode in particular suffers from things going by just a bit too fast, as we see Barry and Oliver deal with Deegan bending reality so he’s Superman and they’re the Trigger Twins, and Kara has to convince a rewritten Earth-1 version of Alex that they’re sisters.
Still, Elseworlds is a pretty entertaining entry and I won’t deny losing my mind when they revealed next year’s event would be Crisis on Infinite Earths. Is it 2019 yet?
- I will not deny how giddy I got when the Smallville theme popped up in part one. It shouldn’t have worked so well, but it did.
- Oliver as Barry highlights: realizing that Team Flash was going to follow him down the hallway as he went to “think,” and Oliver getting two arrows in the back similar to when he trained Barry the first time.
- I didn’t mention it in the review: both Ruby Rose and Elizabeth Tulloch are fine as Batwoman and Lois Lane. There’s just enough of them to get a feel for their portrayals. Interested in that Batwoman show for sure.
- Barry: “Are you puffing out your chest?” Oliver: “….Yes.”
- Lois is pregnant! (Google Jonathan Kent.)
- Barry as Oliver highlights: return of the salmon ladder, Barry does a pretty good opening Arrow narration and “you have failed this city!”
- Kara and Kate were definitely flirting, right?
- See you in 2019!