The finale for the annual Arrowverse crossover, Crisis On Infinite Earths, came back from hiatus. A nearly 90-minute feature film broken up for ten acts of television spanning two shows. Technically, what we saw last night was the eighth episode of Arrow’s final season and the fifth season premiere of Legends of Tomorrow. And while they played well together, they were two discrete hours of television. The first hour was a somber trip through many of Oliver’s toughest moments. Thanks to some sci-fi, Speed Force magic, the paragons at the Vanishing Point from hour 3 of Crisis on Infinite Earths traveled through the mystical dimension where speedsters get their power. It culminated in a CGI-heavy battle, which was pretty epic considering it’s a CW series budget. Ultimately, it was about what every episode of Arrow has been this year: saying goodbye to Oliver Queen.
The next hour of the Crisis On Infinite Earths finale focused on the new status quo for the Arrowverse going forward. The multiverse still exists, including the DCEU where Ezra Miller is the Flash. Yet, the CW’s main DC characters are all on the same Earth, finally. In fact, it’s the quiet character moments that shine in the Crisis On Infinite Earths finale. The big action moments were, honestly, hit-or-miss. Yet, the scenes between the characters throughout the conflict with LaMonica Garrett’s Anti-Monitor all delivered. The entire five-hour event is a grand celebration of DC’s live-action legacy. (Arguably, they saved the best cameo for this hour, sorry Smallville fans.)
We’re not going to recap the episode. The whole thing is worth a watch, and it’s streaming for free on CW’s app and website. Still, we’re going to talk about the episode and what comes next. So this is a spoiler warning.
Crisis On Infinite Earths Final Does Endgame on a Budget
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There are some brilliant moments of action in the Crisis On Infinite Earths finale. However, some of the bigger moments exposed the limits of television. For example, the climax of the first clash with the Anti-Monitor involved him and Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen as the Spectre hugging. The rest of the paragons? They thought really hard, in between fighting CGI creatures a cross between ghosts and dementors. A story like this demands a big battle royale at the end. But this one only works if you are willing to remind yourself that this is a TV budget and a miracle that it’s even happening at all. Still, other scenes were great. Supergirl fighting Lex on Maltus, for example, or the Sargon the Sorcerer bit both are great.
Where the Crisis On Infinite Earths finale truly shines is the character moments. The episodes nicely divide between a walk back through the history of the Arrowverse and establishing the new one. No longer on separate Earths, Black Lightning and the whole Supergirl crew are on “Earth-Prime.” This includes Jon Cryer’s Lex Luthor, who also has everyone believing he’s good now. It will be interesting to see if the CW shows put that character away or if he’s got a “surprise” heel-turn coming. The only people who remember everything are the paragons. But that changes thanks to David Harewood’s J’onn J’onzz and his psychic powers.
What they really sell is that this new universe is a lived-in one we’ve just not seen. The characters are comfortable working together, and the relationships are believable. More so than the MCU even, this last hour of the Crisis On Infinite Earths finale feels like an honest-to-god comic book universe.
The Crisis On Infinite Earths Finale Sets the New DC Live-Action Status Quo
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The most exciting outcome of the Crisis On Infinite Earths finale is a cameo by Ezra Miller. Dressed in his costume from Justice League the two Barry Allens meet. As far back as 2015, Miller praised Gustin and joked about it being a trick of the multiverse. It’s an incredible scene, which you can watch below. Since Flash is never named in the movie, this suggests that Gustin’s Barry gives Miller’s Barry the idea for the name. Will this be canon in the 2022 movie coming out? Who knows? Either way it is a great tie-in to the current DCEU and something fans wanted. These two prove that Barry Allen is a pure delight in every universe. (Also, with John Wesley Shipp also in the crossover, every actor who played the Flash in live action appeared.)
Beyond that great cameo, we get a sense of how the DC movie multiverse works now. At the end of the original Crisis On Infinite Earths comic series, the multiverse was gone and only a single Earth remained. (For a time, anyway.) This event doesn’t try that. They combined the Earths that are convenient for CW (more on that below), and established other Earths as well. Swamp Thing takes place on Earth-19. Titans takes place on Earth-9, while Doom Patrol takes place on Earth-21. Christopher Reeves’ Superman (and, Brandon Routh’s), is back and alive on Earth-96. And the “S” on his chest has a yellow background, meaning that his Lois and Jimmy Olsen weren’t killed by the Joker.
Who knows? Maybe even the darkest Batman ever, played by Kevin Conroy, has a better life? This event culminated in our heroes literally rebooting the multiverse. Anything is possible. And that’s going to make things interesting going forward.
The Super Friends in the Hall of Justice
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The Crisis On Infinite Earths finale closes with a nod to another much-beloved DC show, Super Friends. To be fair, this is something they’ve been teasing since the Invasion crossover two years ago. The “abandoned Star Labs building” looks very much like the Hall of Justice on that animated series. So far, this makeshift Justice League headquarters has just a tribute to Oliver Queen and a very sweet table and chairs. The final moments of the crossover see Gustin’s Flash, Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl, Caity Lotz’s White Canary, Ruby Rose’s Batwoman, Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman, J’onn Jonzz, and Black Lightning as knights of a round(-ish) table. And, as if the symbolism to Super Friends wasn’t already on-the-nose, it ended with an Easter Egg about Gleek.
Hopefully, this is what lies ahead for these series. CW renewed all of their shows and added two more: Green Arrow and the Canaries and Superman and Lois. While there will never be another crossover as huge as this one, there might be more of them. Now that they are all on the same Earth, we may get multiple mini-crossovers. It will be difficult, especially since most of the shows film in Vancouver and Black Lightning films in Atlanta. Still, with one or two characters popping up here and there rather than all at once, it will make Earth-Prime feel like a real comic book universe. Even if things stay just as they are, it’s still the perfect kind of fan-service.
The Crisis On Infinite Earths Finale Is a Shared Universe Triumph
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Marc Guggenheim and the rest of the writers, cast, and crew pulled off something amazing here. They adapted an unadaptable storyline. They delivered a story that lived up to its name. And, most importantly, they were able to honor not just Arrow but almost every bit of DC live-action storytelling that came before and after. As much as Marvel owns pop culture right now, only DC with its decades of adaptations could do something like this. And that it all happened on the CW shows that seemed to be the Warner Bros. black sheep is nothing short of remarkable.
The storytelling wasn’t perfect. In fact, the Crisis On Infinite Earths finale almost required an encyclopedic knowledge of the Arrowverse. The action wasn’t perfect, either. Yet, it did what it needed to do, surpassing expectations in many cases. Yet, despite all of its flaws, the Crisis crossover couldn’t have been executed better. It’s an amazing achievement that makes this comic book fan hope we get many more seasons, series, and crossovers to come. They’ve definitely earned it.
What did you think of the Crisis On Infinite Earths finale? Share your thoughts, reactions, and your own reviews in the comments below.
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Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.