After spending years building up to it, Crisis on Infinite Earths successfully delivered on its promise of being the Arrowverse’s best crossover.
The CW’s 5-hour Arrowverse TV event is the biggest and greatest crossover for not just DC TV, but the DC Comics brand in its entirety. Starting in 2014 through a small, but defining, final scene in The Flash’s series premiere, The CW began laying the groundwork in adapting Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s iconic comic series. Over the course of the next few years, more spin-offs joined Greg Berlanti’s multi-franchise while also exploring the concept of DC’s Multiverse on the small screen. After having existed for almost 8 years, starting with Arrow in 2012, the Elseworlds crossover became the final instrument to set up the 2019 crossover.
Through Arrow’s current and final season as well The Flash season 6, the creators behind CW’s DC TV universe took the final steps to get the storyline kicked off. But it became evident as early as July 2019 that this would be more than just celebrating the Arrowverse and launching its next phase. While the Arrowverse is DC’s most successful shared universe in live-action, there have been several iconic shows and films that came before Berlanti’s properties. Given the nature of the 12-issue series that the crossover was based on, it became an opportunity for Warner Bros. to do something that isn’t very common in the comic book TV and film genre.
Through the Multiverse concept, the Arrowverse’s creative team orchestrated a tribute to several DC Comics TV shows and films that still remain iconic to this day. From the several DC Easter eggs, booking of major guest spots, to an ambitious production that involved the blood, sweat, and tears of many actors, writers, producers, and crew members, Crisis on Infinite Earths became the best Arrowverse crossover of all time. While more crossovers will come, this in many ways is the end of an era.
To get to Crisis on Infinite Earths, the shows had to build up to it through several crossovers that began in 2014 with Arrow and The Flash’s first event. While Flash vs Arrow began as a smaller story, it had to be done that way to get to the bigger stories that would follow in future crossovers. As the shared universe expanded with shows like Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, each crossover got bigger and bigger. From Invasion, Crisis on Earth-X to Elseworlds, each storyline explored something new for the Arrowverse.
But it was also a learning experience for the crossovers to make Crisis on Infinite Earths as spectacular as it was. In every past crossover, the writers needed to strike a perfect balance and find the tone that would make four shows feel like one. While each event did it better than others, Crisis on Infinite Earths is where it all came together perfectly. Given the massive scale of the story, there was no room in overplaying certain tones and aspects. The TV version of the game-changing DC storyline had the right balance of seriousness.
But it also made sure to leave room for the lighter side of the Arrowverse that appeals so many viewers. From changing the course of the Multiverse to heroes fighting off a giant Beebo, the Arrowverse’s best qualities blended perfectly together. Whether it was seeing someone like Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) and Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) being new to the Multiverse business, to the heartbreaking moments like Oliver Queen’s death, the crossover leaned into the franchise’s strengths with grace.
As much as the crossover was about ending one chapter and starting another for the Arrowverse, the event did much more than that. With DC having a long history of live-action TV shows and films, Crisis on Infinite Earths was used to honor several past properties while also making them canon. But it also celebrated what currently exists both on the big and small screen outside of The CW. While maybe not every television series or film was featured, which would have been impossible, what the creative team behind the crossover did was still beyond impressive.
Both prior to and after the airing of the event, there were reports of DC characters who almost appeared in Crisis, but either the actor passed on reprising their role or were never asked. Knowing how hard the team tried to get as many aspects of DC’s live-action history included in the crossover is inspiring in itself. From including Christopher Reeve’s Superman films through Brandon Routh, the return of Smallville’s Tom Welling, to giving iconic Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy the opportunity to finally portray his vigilante in live-action: those are powerful achievements. Even honoring short-lived shows like Birds of Prey and Swamp Thing shows the writer’s dedication to honoring DC’s on-screen adventures.
Even the fact that John Wesley Shipp got his heroic conclusion to his 1990s The Flash series speaks volumes of what the crossover accomplished. But the present was also included, with a surprise DCEU cameo of Ezra Miller’s Flash, as well as references to other DC shows outside of The CW, like Titans, Doom Patrol, and Stargirl, in the new Arrowverse Multiverse. No matter how long or short their screen time was, it’s the fact that they got included that matters. Making moments like that happen definitely isn’t easy as it involves a lot of money, scheduling, and discussions.
Prior to the crossover’s start, a lot of hype was built up for the Crisis as it was promised to be a once in a lifetime adventure for the Arrowverse. As the franchise is almost a decade old, it was the right time to not only honor the past and present but also look towards the future of this universe. While the TV version of Crisis may have taken the liberty at doing certain things different from the source material, it still pulled off the essence of the story. While it was partially a story about the larger Multiverse, it was primarily about shaking up the status quo forever. After having explored the many Earths in the last few seasons, the crossover unleashed a game-changer. While viewers may not have seen every single one of them destroyed: lives were taken and worlds were lost forever.
Even after the reboot of the Multiverse, things didn’t go back to the way they used to be. The biggest example is Supergirl and Black Lightning’s worlds merged to form Earth-Prime, which has evidently come with a reshaped continuity. While the surface of these new changes has only been scratched upon, viewers will learn through time what this reboot has done. But as the crossover lived up to its hype, it also took the consequences seriously. With Arrow’s end approaching, the crossover had been set up to be the end of Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow. Not only did Oliver’s death come to fruition, but the Emerald Archer played one of the biggest roles in the event as the Spectre. Oliver may have died at the start of the crossover, but it was his second and final death that became prominent as one of Crisis’s biggest consequences.
While the Arrowverse may have had its challenges in respecting the stakes in the past, this crossover embraced the seriousness of it. The loss of Oliver Queen was not only reflected through his allies and loved ones but also to the public. Through the President of the United States, everyone will forever know of Oliver’s final act as a hero. It’s rare for a leading character in his show to die even before the series finale, but that’s what might make Arrow’s ending stand out more along with the crossover. More aftereffects are bound to be revealed as the year progresses, but the crossover succeeded in including a sense of real consequences from the get-go.
risis on Infinite Earths is the biggest crossover The CW has ever put together, but it’s not the end of the shows coming together. The question that now remains is whether or not the Arrowverse can ever outdo itself after this crossover. There are several answers to that because pulling off something like Crisis on Infinite Earths is no simple task. Through several interviews with Arrowverse executive producer Marc Guggenheim, it’s a fact that for the foreseeable future, the crossovers are scaling back. It’s not necessarily closing the door on trying to build up to something, but it’s also not making any promises, for now.
With the massive range of game-changing storylines and characters in the DC library, The CW has a lot they can pull from. Whether it’s through something like taking on the Crime Syndicate to an invasion by Darkseid, the Arrowverse will always have plenty of options to look at. But larger-sized stories will need to do what Crisis on Infinite Earths did: earn it. With the shows more connected than ever, the seasons can find ways of contributing to getting to a destination outside the annual crossovers. But is there a need for another Crisis-esque event in future crossovers?
Given the right stories and dedication, even the “smaller” crossover storylines can make up for enjoyable TV. It is better the creative team find a compelling story rather than go big for the sake of trying to raise the bar. But if a Crisis on Infinite Earths-type approach can be used again to build towards a larger goal in the next few years, it’s certainly worth it. No matter what’s coming in future seasons and crossovers, Crisis on Infinite Earths, with its committed team of talent both in front and behind the camera, successfully delivered the Arrowverse’s best and most epic crossover of all time.