Supergirl: 4.09 Elseworlds, Part 3
Supergirl hosts the final part of this years Arrowverse crossover event and it’s a slightly underwhelming affair for the girl of steel herself.
Last year’s crossover was, by far, the best one done to date and unfortunately this year’s Elseworlds hasn’t managed to top that. The exclusion of The Legends was a shame/mistake (especially since their show was the only one that seemed to suffer any lasting effects from the crossover story last time).
The first episode in this story was the most fun but could easily have been a standalone episode in its basic construction. The second part was, after the excitement of Gotham and Batwoman making an appearance, a little underwhelming and didn’t quite pull off the character. It also screamed back door pilot, much like this final episode.
The world has been re-written again and this time, Barry and Oliver are unpowered street criminals in a lawless world. Dr Deegan has re-imagined himself as Superman, having seen him visit from another universe. In current Earth One there are no Supers, so it kind of works that he should steal the mantle. We do get presented with some sense that Dr Deegan thinks he’s doing the right thing or at the very least he’s working for what he thinks is the greater good.
The problem here is that Supergirl spends most of her own episode locked up, then when she does get released her only role is to get the book to Superman so he can fix things. The justifications for this are all a little shaky and, as much as I love the Big Blue Boy Scout, it feels like Kara’s story is sacrificed for his. Again, this whole event reads like a big back door pilot for Superman and Batwoman.
There is some fun stuff with Cisco as a crime boss and Jimmy as his dumb muscle bound henchman (complete with 70’s trash) but it all feels a bit been there done that. Having Gary pop up as the barman in Cisco’s club was a genuine nice touch and good use of the character, especially since the Legends were inexplicably absent this year. The Alex of this fractured universe doesn’t quite ring true either, there is obviously meant to be a sense that the Danvers sisters have a bond across universes but it feels more like Kara manages to manipulate an emotionally and psychologically vulnerable version of Alex.
As much as it feels like its robbing Kara of a stronger narrative involvement, the Superman stuff is pretty good. From his first appearance accompanied by the now nostalgic Smallville theme in the first part, to his black suit, high collar bad Superman entrance here, the event manages to expand and create a much stronger entry into the Superman world than his previous appearances managed. It’s really fun to see this dark Superman, especially fighting his lighter self (despite the horrendously cringey and poorly executed moment someone watched the two Supermans fight and called out “Bizarro!”).
The very nature of Supergirl means that Superman has to be a little more fallible than he is in the comics, a backseat-Superman almost. He’s had several moments in his few appearances where he’s told Kara she is a stronger hero than him. Here we see his priorities changing (Lois, Argo and fatherhood) which not only makes a way for him to take a step back from hero-ing it also gives us valid reason for him not to be about for the rest of Supergirl's sseason. However, if he’s getting his own show he needs to be a bit more Supermany and this event has presented that. It’s impressive that this dark suit superman feels so contrary to the blue suit Superman, that the show has so efficiently and successfully established its own Superman now. Elizabeth Tulloch’s Lois Lane doesn’t get much to do so the jury is still out here. It’s almost a more loaded role with bigger shoes to fill than Supes and so far, she’s a little vanilla.
Of course the day is saved and the universe put back to normal comfortably by the end of the episode and everyone goes home to their own universes. Last season’s crossover felt like one long story, regardless of which show’s episode it was and I liked that it started and ended with Barry and Oliver. This year does the same but feels a little more jarring because of how little Kara seemed to do in this back half, plus the reset of the warped universe.
At episodes end we’re teased - kind of unsubtlely but that’s okay - with Crisis on Infinite Earth, in 2019. This is, of course, very exciting for comic book fans and even casual fans know the implications of this storyline. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle it in these shows. The including of John Wesley Shipp as 90’s Flash (From earth 90, nice touch) shows that they’re more open to a wider multiverse than just having our core cast play Mirror Universe versions of themselves. If they go as far as pulling in actors from others incarnations - such as Dean Cain or Brandon Routh as Superman, for example - they may really open the narrative up and take the story in some interesting directions and it feels like the shows have made that viable. If they ever push things that far, however, is another story. There is a lot of potential with what happens next.
We almost have to view these crossovers as a mini series in themselves. The events lead from and into each other and there is very little consequence to the main shows themselves. As an episode of Supergirl this doesn’t hold up for obvious reasons but even as part of this crossover, it’s the weakest section but a fairly fun end to the crossover.