When the CW network began the work of bringing the DC Comic universe to the small screen, there were several interesting choices they made. First, they choose to start with Green Arrow and then added some years later The Flash. Second, they choose to not make their television properties connected to their movies.
Then after a year of piloting Supergirl on CBS, it too moved over to the CW and the shows Legends of Tomorrow and Black Lighting have all been added as well. (And if you factor in other shows past and present like I, Zombie and Riverdale, almost ½ of CW’s programming is comic book related!)
As they have grown their universes, they also have woven crossovers through these shows to tell a variety of stories. In Supergirl’s first season, she and her world crossed over with the Flash and his world. And since then, they have grown and expanded the crossovers, including some epic ones that nearly included every show to some smaller ones that focused on just a few characters.
This year’s annual crossover event Elseworlds happened earlier this fall, crossing over characters from The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl and the triggering event happens when Barry Allen wakes up in Oliver Queen’s Green Arrow life and Oliver Queen wakes up to the Flash’s life, each aware that something is drastically wrong yet, none of the people around them seem to believe it.
From there, hijinks ensue and over three very good episodes, you have a crossover event that is really worth checking out. At nearly the length of a regular DC film, it may be the best film that has been presented in several years with DC Comics as the source material. Now, I watch all of the shows occasionally and I am not deeply invested in any of the shows on a week to week basis but even so, I think Elseworlds is worth checking out.
First, the role and life swap allows the writers and showrunners to do something very smart with the characters. Rather than having to do a deep dive and monologuing about how they feel, we get a very good look at the character of Green Arrow and the Flash when we see what happens when someone new inhabits their lives.
That kind of commentary could just come off as schmaltzy and kiddish, but instead it really lets the audience have a greater appreciation for those two characters. While I gave up on Arrow at a certain point because it just feels so overwhelmingly dark, through these episodes I can at least appreciate why the character (and maybe more importantly the showrunners and writers) see the show that way. (And they also do similar thing with a dialogue between Kara and her sister, when her sister is unaware of who Kara is, as reality has been warped by a madman with a large book, which happens as the key triggering device of Elseworlds).
Second, it lets the actors flex their muscles. Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen is deep and brooding and that all the time. In Elseworlds, as he takes on the Flash persona, it allows him to show some comedic chops, which tends to be more along the lines of what that show is like. Grant Gustin as Flash who is learning to be the Green Arrow isn’t quite as good as Amell at it but you do get to see some interesting changes.
Third, Scooby gang crossovers. Part of each of these shows is that they have entourages that help them fight crime. So when these crossovers happen, it is always fun to see the nerd team-ups and how they work together. It has a fun “game respects game” quality while also being a bit like nerd summer camp where everyone can come together and play with all the cool toys.
Fourth, it introduces what figures to be the next series, Batwoman. Late this summer it was announced that actress Ruby Rose would be coming to the CW to play the role of Kate Kane, Bruce Wayne’s cousin and Batwoman. The introduction is fun and we get a little bit of the physicality that everyone thought Rose would bring to the role through some of the fight sequences. In very little screen time, they are able to craft a dark Gotham, who hasn’t seen Bruce Wayne or Batman for many years and no one is quite sure why.
That CW is fairly certain to pick up this show isn’t a surprise if you consider this crossover as part of the pilot. (And we get a nice moment when Supergirl quietly says “Look, I have X-ray vision and you are awesome and doing your cousin proud.”)
Fifth, it is bonkers. So next year’s crossover is titled Crisis on Infinite Earths and if you know DC Comics, that is an epic limited series from the late 1980s where DC completely rebooted, compressed all their various multiverses into one and did it in spectacular style. This crossover started the beginnings of that series as they introduced the Monitor, a key figure from Infinite Earths, and had him searching for the right heroes who could help him stop the Crisis that is to come.
Overall, even if you aren’t a weekly viewer of each of these shows, the Elseworlds crossover this year of Arrow, Flash and Supergirl is definitely worth checking out. Currently, on the CW website and on their app on various platforms, the shows are grouped together into one playlist and easy to find. Rather than waste your money as Hollywood drops its typical “We made this movie and we have to release it, even though it is garbage” films into the winter landscape, stay at home and watch a fun, hopeful superhero yarn on the CW.