Thursday, December 12, 2019

Crisis on Infinite Earths Parts 1-3

© The CW
It’s here!
by Brandon Coulson

Part 1

Crisis started with a lot of fan service but done in a pretty interesting way. To establish just how widespread the destruction was we got a quick series of scenes on multiple Earths all about to be destroyed. Robert Wuhl’s Knox character from the 1989 Batman, DC Universe’s Titans, even original Robin Burt Ward all made quick cameos and as far as we know were wiped out by the wave of antimatter destroying the multiverse.

Even Super nerd Will Wheaton makes a cameo as an end of the world nut job. The pace of the first episode of the crossover was almost exhausting the way it ping-ponged from character to character, desperate to set up so many threads and give those in the audience unfamiliar with any one of the five main shows some semblance of understanding. The main takeaway is just about everyone who watches this is going to be lost at some point about something, so you just gotta go with the flow.

© The CW
There were some clumsy and frustrating fakeouts early on in the destruction of Argo and the supposed death of Superman and Lois Lane. While the scene of them shooting their son off in a rocket both mirrored Superman's origins, even some of Marlon Brando’s dialogue, as well as Alexander Luthor’s from the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” comics the crossover is based on. Later having Clark and Lois teleported away at the last minute with their son lost seemed unnecessary in an already overstuffed special. Even more pointless was the journey to the alternate future to save the child and give us another look at old Ollie for pretty much no reason. Frankly, aside from the gray hair he looks just like the main Oliver and it brought things to a screeching halt. Yes, it did fix a plot hole in having a future Oliver even though he is supposed to be dead but really, who cares?

There were some very sweet moments as well though, from the heart-to-heart with Kara to Mia getting her own Green Arrow suit, the heart was there. The fights with the Antimonitor’s blue meanies however was the worst kind of CG mess while those poor actors kicked and punched into nothingness.

Part 1 does end on quite a surprise though as the Monitor is shown to not know everything. After saying Ollie would die well into the final confrontation, he ends up dying saving billions from Kara’s Earth. Poor Stephen Amell did his best here but we all know his looks were always his strongest skill way ahead of his acting, and the death scene just felt awkward. What it did do was establish that anything can happen and The Monitor’s omnipotence is no longer a thing. This all brought us to…

© The CW
Part 2

Now Part 2 was both incredibly satisfying and an incredible gut punch. With the team mourning Oliver’s death, things went into some very unexpected directions, good and bad.

The whole thing about promising the Legends no more crossovers made me sad as it meant half of the legends were absent from the crossover. I don’t know if this was budget or scheduling, or perhaps to not address the big changes from last season's end. However they did cheat and grab Mick from another Earth with a Waverider equipped with a Captain Cold AI. Pretty brilliant and very enjoyable.

The sequence with baby Jonathan crying, continually interrupting the Monitor, was very cute as he gets traded from person to person ending up with Mick. The whole paragon thing seemed a bit forced to me, especially seeing as all but one ended up being from established CW series, but it did provide room for plenty of fake outs.

As they started looking for the paragons, Luthor went on a Superman massacre. These two storylines led us to the two most anticipated cameos of the crossover by far. As we got to Gotham and that old animated series theme started up I got goosebumps. The man who has been Batman’s voice for almost thirty years finally got to be the Bat in the flesh. Kevin Conroy and his assistant, a very ripped Luke Fox, got face time with Kate and Kara. Oh boy, these showrunners are gonna get some hate mail as Conroy’s Batman ends up being a bitter and murderous version. But it was so fun seeing him take that character he’s played so long to such a dark place … and then die on screen! Jesus, I did not see that coming!

Luthor’s trip gave us a dead hero as well as we got a brief glimpse of one version of Superman he murdered, just to give us an homage to the nineties "Death of Superman" comics. But the big payoff was his next victim in Smallville, Kansas as Tom Welling returned! The scene and Tom specifically played things kind of odd and aloof, almost awkwardly so. But the reveal that he no longer is affected by Kryptonite because he gave up his powers to have a family, such a nice button on that story and seeing Erica Durance back with Tom just gave me a smile.

Of course we eventually got to see Brandon Routh back in the red and blue and again, just fantastic both in fan service and letting Routh just go for it, even interacting with his Legends character. Using the classic Superman theme during Routh’s scenes also gave things that extra air of gravitas.

My only real gripe with Part 2 is the immediate journey to use a Lazarus pit to resurrect Oliver felt like it completely undercut the death. More on that in a bit but seeing as it gave reason to bring Constantine in, one of my favorites, I’ll allow it. All that and a tease of Lyla with the Anti-Monitor and we got to…

© The CW
Part 3

So lets be honest, that Birds of Prey cameo, that’s for like the four people who watched that series right? Cause I am a DC super nerd and never had one iota of interest in that series.

But Part 3 has to be my favorite of the three episodes so far, just ever so slightly over Part 2 and miles ahead of Part 1. We meet Ryan Choi who is a paragon as well as heavily rumored to be the new Atom as Brandon Routh has announced he’s leaving the CW. Cisco was back to his old self, both as Vibe thanks to the Monitor as well as the amount of shade he was throwing at the Anti’s moniker and Pariah’s suit.

The most shocking cameo of the crossover came from the journey to purgatory for Oliver’s soul as on Earth 666 we met Lucifer, yeah, like the Fox to Netflix series! Unexpected, crazy and kinda perfect. Following that the actual finding and reminding Oliver who he is happened way too easy and then suddenly the Spectre showed up seemingly to make Oliver the new Spectre. For those who don’t know, The Spectre is God’s Spirit of Vengeance and an incredibly powerful character in the comics. I’m betting Oliver as The Spectre is what brings back everyone who was killed in Crisis.

Speaking of killed, that brings us to the Flash and his big sacrifice. Not so fast Barry cause other Barry has some thoughts on that. Yes, the big showdown this episode was at a treadmill powered by John Wesley Shipp’s Flash. After a bunch of exposition and rolling Black Lightning into the mix, Earth 1’s Barry is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice, until Shipp steals his speed and his place. I gotta say I knew they wouldn’t kill the primary Barry but this whole swapping out of Flashes felt kind of cheap to me. What redeemed it was having Shipp disintegrate in the iconic crisis manner and even tossing a flashback to his series.

The banter and heart-to-heart moments really made this part special. Kate and Kara had a very nice moment, their friendship is being built up as a new cornerstone to the CWverse or whatever they will call it once Arrow is gone. Also I really liked Black Lightning and Barry’s conversation on loss and moving forward. All while the multiverse was getting wiped out.

Yeah, Marvel had a cliffhanger with half the universe being wiped out, but DC left us with all of existence save a handful of heroes whisked off to the Vanishing Point ready to make one last stand against the Anti-Monitor... in a  month! Of course one last twist came as Routh’s Superman had one more loss as he gets swapped with Lex Luthor officially taking the one and only non-CW character out of the final battle. One little Easter egg was that Luthor shows up, not with the Book of Destiny but “The Count of Monte Cristo”. A book about a man who is wrongly imprisoned and escapes to wreak vengeance on those who did him wrong. Surely just how Luthor sees himself. Cryer has absolutely killed it as Luthor, so seeing him go on to the final showdown should be quite entertaining.

So with the first three of five down what do we think so far? Cheesy? Yes. Was it mostly fan service? You Betcha! Were the limits of a TV budget painfully on display? Whoa boy, they certainly were! But was it fun? Let me say as a lifelong comic fan I was and am giddy to see such a ridiculous and iconic story brought to life.  My biggest hope is coming out of the Crisis and let's be honest, when everyone save three or four characters gets brought back to life, that the CW uses this the same way DC did - to clean up continuity. Fold these worlds together, make things simpler, aside from that let’s go full steam ahead, January can’t come soon enough!

No comments:

Post a Comment