Crisis on Infinite Earths comes to a surprising end…
And it’s all over… oh no it isn’t!
In principle, it was a good call to have the dramatic finale episode then a tidy up episode. The only problem here is that the wind has gone from the sails a little. After the drama of events in part four, Kara wakes up at home to find the world is back but, very quickly, she realises not as it was before; Lex Luthor is now a Nobel Prize winning leader of the DEO and, more over, Barry’s world is part of hers now.
The destroying and rebooting of the multiverse could end up being great for all The CW shows, as it allows them to have a soft reboot, reshuffle a few characters and plot points. Criminal mastermind Lex is great fun and the way the character has been used and introduced into the Arrowverse was perfect for the stories being told but going forward, especially with a solo Superman series on the horizon, an out in the open Lex with a legitimate public face is a bit more interesting and will be fun to explore. Putting him in charge of the DEO could go either way though, yet another “antagonist at work” for Kara might be a bit boring, plus the episode reiterated the idea that Supergirl works for the government (or worse now, the private sector?) something that has never sat right with me.
Worlds merging was a given, with Crisis On Infinite Earths being teased from The Flash episode 1 and with the channel switch of Supergirl after its first season, I think the audience always knew they’d get merged after Crisis. It really won’t make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things, except they won’t need to use any expensive portal VFX each time a character crosses over.
This of course is, technically, the season opener of Legends of Tomorrow but the Legends don’t get much of a look in. This world Rory is back and Nate and Ava get a brief video call and that’s about it (other than Sara and Ray) but when the Legends are on screen, the Legends of Tomorrow humour permeates. The side mission of a giant Bebo attacking the city was really obsolete – though a cameo for Sargon was a very nice touch – while it’s brushed off as the hero’s getting right back into the swing of things it actually feels like padding. In fact, the whole episode feels like one too many. Not enough really happens to justify this 5th instalment.
Having provided a fairly exciting finale in episode four (all be it predictably quarry based) we basically get the same scene again, this time in a city building site setting. While episode four managed to make the small cast and location feel epic and important (all that was left) this makes the whole thing feel very small and unimportant. The idea to shrink the Anti-Monitor for infinity is a fine enough plan but why didn’t they do this any earlier? It also leaves the actual finale of the entire Crisis On Infinite Earths as a fight with a giant man – something Legends of Tomorrow has done several time’s before… in fact, they did it earlier in this episode!
This final battle would have been the perfect opportunity for Cisco to turn up and start breaching other heroes in from alt earths. SuperRouth, a surprise Dean Cain, Tom Welling in his S leather jacket taking off a blue Kryptonite ring for one last fight. Have Melissa Benoist turn up in a bob and Power Girl outfit. Justin Hartley appearing here could have offered genuine conflict for our heroes after losing Ollie. I really didn’t want to see this event completely ape Avengers: Endgame but really, this would have been a great finale and I felt the whole finale-finale was a little lacking, which was a shame.
My final gripe with the episode is actually a minor one, less to do with the content on show and more about the choice in how to use that content; at the end of the episode we get a mirroring if the opening dialogue sequence from Crisis On Infinite Earths episode one showing and explaining the dawn of the multiverse, this time voiced by Oliver. This is fine but I felt the clip choices didn’t quite work – a brief shot of Swamp Thing was great and the footage of the Doom Patrol dancing was actually quite touching in context and the sneak peak shot of Star Girl and her team – a show not yet out – was a nice bonus. But the long montage of disconnected Titans clips stuck out, more so than in the opening episode and I would have liked to see that jettisoned for something more relevant; perhaps a close up of Kevin Conroy in the BatCowl, or a return to Burt Ward all safe and sound.
The end montage felt like random bits of promo footage from other shows, which was a shame. Except, of course, for the final shot. A shot of SuperRouth flying over the Earth Superman: The Movie style was genuinely beautiful, especially with the addition of the yellow back to his emblem, suggesting the reboot of the multiverse erased Joker’s Daily Planet mass murder. This was a lovely moment for Routh and for the character. Being the closest we get canonically or emotionally to Reeve, where arguably so much of this all began, it was a fitting way to end the story.
It was because of this near perfection I felt the following scene of the Justice League forming fell a little flat. The scene mourning Oliver and then showing the round table was fine but the final moment (a semi-reveal of Gleek and big nod to the Super Friends cartoon show) while fun, undermined the impact a little. I felt they should have swapped these scenes round. They could have shown the League forming, the Gleek gag and the building reveal, then gone into the closing monologue, ending still on a final shot of our Justice League and the caption Earth Prime. It would have left the show with a more powerful impact as well as highlighting the emotion of SuperRouth and the Williams theme, with our last moment of the whole story being the caption EARTH PRIME. As it is, I felt the oomph went ever so slightly at the end.
Crisis On Infinite Earths has been great fun, I’d be disingenuous to say it hasn’t but it was not as good as I felt it could or frankly should have been. Perhaps to a certain degree I needed to curb my expectations; the show runners talked a big talk in the run up but ultimately the event felt very small. A TV show budget was never going to reach the heights the story deserved but they put in a great effort. Highlights for me have been entirely the SuperRouth moments with and added side of Smallville (though I’m not sure how I feel about Clark having completely relinquished his powers? It sort of works for that Clark but I don’t like the idea of him turning his back on a multiverse in danger). Perhaps these moments resonated the most, not just because I’m an insane Superman fan and Routh represents a (slightly wiggly) through line to Reeve and those profoundly influential movies but also because it was something different.
At the end of the day this Crisis on Infinite Earth wasn’t really very Crisisy or Infinite and the stuff with the core CW cast members lacked real energy (these guys team up all the time). Added Routh and a momentary cameo from Burt Ward and a 90’s Birds of Prey offered that glimpse of the wider world and, despite not being a fan of the current crop of big screen DC movies (not you Shazam!, you’re awesome) the Ezra Miller cameo was not only a genuine surprise but also exciting, narratively effective and emotional. And I can’t even talk about John Wesley Shipp running into oblivion, too soon guys, too soon. These were the moments that stood out and I would have liked if the event could have integrated or utilised their cameos better. They did okay with what they had but I just felt they could have done so much more.
Oh, SuperRouth getting the Yellow back on his S at the end (suggesting his tragedy has been undone) was the greatest moment of Superman redemption since the junkyard fight in Superman III.
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