DC/CW Elseworlds Crossover Review
I can’t say that I was following the hype train for Elseworlds. I was kind of at that point with some of these shows where I was way more interested in what was going to be set up than what was actually going to happen during the crossover episodes. Like comics, bigger doesn’t always mean better. This was actually one of those times where I was happy to be wrong. Would I have loved to see the Legends make an appearance here? Of course, but it also made sense that they wouldn’t want to stuff too many heroes into a story that would benefit from more focus.
The first act The Flash “Elseworlds, Part 1” is leaps ahead of what the other two crossovers had to offer in the first night. My only hope was for a better start than last year’s crossover, and that was exactly what we got. Last year it was pretty weak the way they began with Supergirl. And not because they started with Supergirl, but because there was no actual crossover content till the last few minutes. This time around so much ground was covered, so much given clarity to, and so much fun experienced from heroes seeing the other side of the grass. I don’t think I could have asked for anything more than what we got here, for the most part. Barry and Oliver fully embraced the madness of their new realities. They of course had their moments to freak out about the changes, but they took every advantage to show what it is like to step in the shoes of the other. What then brought them to Kara was a reason you couldn’t argue with. What brought them to both Kara and Clark at the same time was even better. Little time was wasted in emphasizing that this story is taking place exactly where each show’s current storylines are progressing.
The second act was thrilling for everything dealing with our tour of Gotham in the Arrowverse. It was shocking how they decided to play up the myth of Batman and stirring the question of if there ever was a Batman. You want to believe it, but no one is truly straightforward about the answer to that question. The setting was on point from the city view to the halls of Arkham Asylum. What made this introduction so great was the reaction from Oliver, Barry, and Kara. They all had their own opinion of Batman, where Gotham fits in this world, and the existence of Batwoman. Kate Kane was exactly how you pictured her from the books. She’s cold, she commands attention when she steps into the room, very confident in her actions. I definitely was left with a quick impression that she worked that role better than Oliver could. How they explained her connection to Batman and Bruce Wayne was clever. She still has her distance from the two, but this obviously isn’t going to be like the books where she one night decides she wants to dress like a bat but ignore everything about the bat.
Our first confrontation with Deegan in Arkham was absolutely brilliant. If it wasn’t the action they delivered after the prisoners were set free, it was every prisoner in Arkham who had a familiar name. You either recognized their name right away, or you had to look a bit deeper if you weren’t too up to date with the villain’s real names.
The third act put a lot of work into the endgame when Dr. John Deegan was challenged to think bigger. The reality he put together was very well executed for someone who finally realized where he went wrong the first time. It’s not as if we haven’t seen our characters flipped from being heroes to villains before, but it was fun for the way that Barry and Oliver interacted with them. Barry and Oliver waking up in a new reality where they are criminals known as the Trigger Twins was one heck of a way to throw them out of their element. It was short-lived with pacing taking priority, but worthwhile for another role that Barry was able to play outside of being the good guy. Being that this third episode was Supergirl’s part, there was much more of her and others from her story seen in this last stretch. I enjoyed the way that their tone fit into this crossover considering their theme centers around family and hope more than any of the others. Whether it was how Kara took control of her situation, or the way that Clark and Lois rose to the occasion, they stole the spotlight the only way that heroes can when they let their compass point them in the right direction. I mean, lets talk about Lois and company who joined that fight. I didn’t see it coming and I loved every second of the last people you would expect to make a difference do their thing.
For somewhat villains, Dr. John Deegan and The Monitor did stand out in their own way. I say somewhat because Deegan isn’t seen all too much as himself, and The Monitor’s actions weren’t exactly as they seemed on the surface. He was doing wrong, but clearly with good intentions in mind. His actions were the kind that lean towards Gods who think that manipulation serves as a better line of communication than being direct. Cliche yes, but the way they went about it was clever. Now Deegan I would say is for the most part forgettable. Not for what troubles he created, but for the fact that you are left with an image of Superman burned into your head rather than him. Aside from his moments rewriting reality as himself, that was as far as his actions went carrying his own face. Because of that, I found myself more so applauding Tyler Hoechlin for his role as Superman. He proved to have a lot of range. That sinister laugh, the monologuing, everything else in-between stood out when the Supes in black took matters into his own hands.
As I told someone earlier this week, the best thing about Elseworlds was the tone. You read from some people that this could be too cheesy or cliche, but what is comics if not those things? It’s not about the act of being cheesy or cliche, it’s about why. Sometimes that is what we actually need from these shows. Other shows may be better in some areas, but they also can suffer from being bleak. This three-night crossover put more effort into trying to find a balance between being light-hearted and serious. I walked away from that last episode believing in the existence of hope in superhero stories. The admiration for the way that they aimed to define what it means to be a hero. What you do as the hero, as your normal self, even what you can accomplish without your powers/gear says more than anything else could. I cherished every moment where they smiled, laughed, opened up about the things that only other heroes could relate to. This was one of the first times that I was able to cheer on Oliver for the growth he accepted when faced with other options in carrying himself as the Green Arrow.
What also deserves some recognition is the effects used for this event. Obviously there are some things they simply can’t perfect, but other things looked great. It was very cool for the level of detail that went into certain characters and how it didn’t pop out too much as things inhuman. The Superman fight was a bit fluffy in the sky, but it could have looked so much more different if they decided that it all needed to be generated images. Aside from that, they spared no expense in lighting and special effects from everyone else who had a hand in making this event out of the ordinary.
Elseworlds might be the best crossover they have done so far. I would dare to say that this is the best. It benefited from not involving too many heroes and focusing purely on those who are at the core of these shows. They also proved that you can take being a hero very seriously, but it means nothing if you can’t have a little fun along the way. Call that cheesy, but it may just mean you need to broaden your definition of superheroes in comic worlds.