If you’re having comic book crossover withdrawal with Avengers: Endgame firmly in our rearview mirror, I have the antidote. Fans of DC Comics will want to tune in to a television event on The CW called Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Crisis is a crossover that draws from five DC shows that run on the CW network and make up the so-called Arrowverse: Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl and Batwoman. The storyline follows an iconic comic book arc of the same name, and deals with the potential destruction of every dimension, or the “multiverse.” So yeah, the stakes are high. (Disclosure: CW is jointly owned by ViacomCBS, parent company of CNET.)
But the plot isn’t what has me so excited. Though Avengers pulled in characters Marvel Studios carefully built up over the last decade using a singular vision, Crisis pays tribute and draws from multiple iterations of DC projects from the last several decades, regardless of who worked on them.
Who’s in this crossover? Seemingly everyone.
Smallville fans will appreciate Tom Welling and Erica Durance reprising their respective roles of Superman and Lois Lane — a different variant of the Superman and Lois Lane who now appear in Supergirl, played by Tyler Hoechlin and Bitsie Tulloch. Confusingly, Durance also shows up as another Alura Zor-El, Supergirl’s biological mother. Kevin Conroy, who voiced Batman in the classic ’90s animated series, will make his live-action debut as Bruce Wayne. Cress Williams, who stars on CW’s final DC show, Black Lightning, will also meet his fellow network heroes for the first time.
Brandon Routh, who plays the Atom in Legends of Tomorrow, will don yet another Superman suit in a nod to Bryan Singer’s 2006 Superman Returns. (Images of him in a Kingdom Come-inspired costume already inspire nostalgic goosebumps.) Also making appearances are John Wesley Shipp, who played the Flash in the short-lived series in the early ’90s; Burt Ward, who played Robin in the 1960s Batman series; and Ashley Scott, who played Huntress in the failed early 2000s Birds of Prey series.
As someone who’s watched or at least heard of every one of these shows, I’m jazzed at the prospect of swimming through this heady nostalgia stew.
The crossover kicks off Sunday night and runs for three nights before ending with the final two episodes in early January.
A fitting end
Crisis also serves as a capper to Arrow, the first of this latest wave of DC shows. The success of Arrow, anchored by an eponymous hero played by Stephen Amell, allowed The CW to expand into multiple shows that let its characters walk out of one series and into the next. Even as Warner Bros. struggled to create a DC Extended Universe on the big screen, it successfully cobbled together the Arrowverse on the small screen.
To give you an idea of how far the Arrowverse has come, Arrow started as a gritty Batman Begins-esque show grounded in reality. Now multiple series deal with flying super-powered beings, time travel and, of course, multiple alternate universes.
It’s fitting that the majority of Arrow’s truncated season has served as a giant prelude to Crisis. Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) has been tasked by an omnipotent being named the Monitor, who’s working to prevent an antagonist, the Anti-Monitor, from destroying everything. Along the way, he’s had a chance to provide some emotional closure with key characters from the show. As a longtime Arrow fan who’s stuck with the show through its ups and downs, I can think of no better way to say goodbye to the “Emerald Archer.”
My interest in Arrow, at this point, is an anomaly. As The CW expanded its roster of DC heroes on screen, I struggled to keep up. I’ve watched the first season of nearly every show, but with two small kids, I’ve hit my limit. I’m well behind on The Flash, Black Lightning and Supergirl, and I haven’t even bothered to watch Batwoman. The only exception has been DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which is certifiably bonkers and amazing.
Thankfully, it doesn’t look like I’ll need to be caught up on those shows to follow Crisis. If the showrunners are smart, they’ll keep the story contained and let us appreciate character interactions without getting too deep into the baggage from their respective shows. I don’t care if Supergirl is having a feud with some character or who Flash’s Big Bad is for the season.
All I need is a focused, rip-roaring adventure that balances a massive cast with fantastic special effects and a fitting conclusion to some of my favorite comic book characters.
It worked for Avengers: Endgame, right?
This story published on Dec. 7 at 5 a.m. PT.
Updated at 5 a.m. on Dec 8: To include additional background.