But as I reviewed the last Arrowverse crossover Invasion!, I figured I could give this one a whirl. Once again, I apologise for this being out so late, but as the UK are about a week behind with the Arrowverse, I only just got to see it. Hope you guys can forgive me for always being late to the party!
So anyway, for this review, I’m gonna try something different. I’m gonna look at the plot, what I liked, what I didn’t like and – if need be – any other feelings I had about it. But enough talk! Let’s go!
Crisis on Earth-X is the crossover series that covers the shows Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Legend’s of Tomorrow, much like Invasion! did last year. It’s a stand alone crossover series that also continues some storylines from the other shows as well.
Earth-X is an alternative world where the Nazi’s won WW2 and have pretty much dominated the world ever since. This world’s Oliver Queen is the Dark Arrow – the Fuhrer. Supergirl is his general and his wife. They have joined forces with Reverse Flash – Eobard Thawne – to invade our world and take it over.
Meanwhile, all the cast of Arrowverse are heading to Barry and Iris’s wedding. Intercut with this, Oliver decides to propose to Felicity, but she refuses due to her getting shot at their last one. Also, Martin Stein and Jax are still working on a plan to split them apart so that they can no longer be Firestorm, so that Stein can go be with his family and his grandchild. Originally this was Jax’s idea, but now he’s getting cold feet and worried he won’t be the same without Stein.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t mention Kara and Alex’s storylines, it’s because I don’t really watch that show. All I know is that they both had a breakup of some kind, but I don’t know much else. However, Alex and Sara did get a really stormy ‘one night stand’ scene, so that’s something I guess.
Anyway, then the Nazi superheroes attack Earth for – reasons. And now it’s up to the heroes to fight their evil counterparts. Joining them is new hero The Ray (played by Stephen Tovey) and the good doppelgänger (and lover of The Ray) of Captain Cold Leonard Snart. Why can’t superhero weddings ever go smoothly?
WHAT I LIKED
I always liked crossover events as it’s interesting seeing how characters from other series react to other they wouldn’t normally cross paths with, so that was interesting. It had some funny moments where Rory met Catlin (now also part time Killer Frost) and asked her “Didn’t I try to kidnap you once?” and she replied “I wouldn’t do that again”. It eventually lead to an interesting team up with Rory and Frost – recalling the old Heatwave/Captain Cold team up from days past. A nice little tribute to that. The Sara/Alex once night stand lead to some awkward moments, but it was done very well and the two actually made a pretty badass team!
One thing I have to commend the writers for this for were the inclusion of Nazi’s as the main villains. Given the touchy subject matter, most shows would try and avoid this, but I think they did a very good job of parodying the original Nazi army, whilst at the same time not bypassing their evils. Considering we have a couple of Jewish characters in the Arrowverse (Felicity and Stein) it added some gravitas to the danger.
The villains were quite joyful to watch in their own way. Eobard is back in full evil mode and he’s just as nasty as ever. I did wonder why he appeared as Harrison Wells here and not in his original form as I personally prefer Matt Letscher over Tom Cavanagh (although I do love Tom). Maybe they just couldn’t get him for whatever reason. Dark Arrow and Overgirl had an interesting dynamic as they were both husband and wife – and there was love between them. It made them a bit more interesting than the usual ‘evil doppelgängers’ that are awash in superhero stories. Amell and Benoist clearly enjoyed playing evil versions of themselves in this so props to them.
We also got surprising returns here – such as Tommy Merlin, now playing a Nazi Prometheus. The encounter between him and Oliver reminded us how much losing him really hit home. It was short, but good to see. And seeing a good Leonard Snart was interesting – it was like the exact polar opposite of Snart in every single way. I was sad when I thought Snart would be leaving Arrowverse the first time, but I’m glad they keep bringing him back. It was fun to see him unite with Rory again, even for a little while. And there was also the Nazi version of Quentin Lance. Paul Blackthorne has proven he’s great at doing villains in shows like 24 and he was just awesome here. I actually kinda hope they bring him back as a villain in a later series as he proved here that he was every bit as sadistic (if not MORE so) than Dark Arrow. A truly underrated performance here.
And finally, The Ray. When I heard Stephen Tovey was going to make an appearance in this I was excited – as I love Stephen Tovey. His character was a metahuman that had been fighting the Nazi’s (and will get his own animated series from what I read) for a while and he became a valued ally to the team. He isn’t given much backstory here, but as he has his own online series coming soon I’m sure we’ll get more of him. In fact, I would love to see him more in the main Arrowverse as he fit in quite well with the rest of the team, and was able to bounce off the dialogue like there was no tomorrow.
The fight scenes were exciting as you may expect. Aside from seeing the heroes kick the living crap outta Nazi’s, it was fun seeing Supergirl fight Overgirl, Green Arrow fight Dark Arrow and Flash fight Reverse Flash. The fights scenes are always a joy and everyone gets their moment to kick ass!
Finally, the additional subplots running through this crossover added a bit of breadth to the story as a whole, but didn’t entirely overtake the main conflict. If anything, I felt it worked with it to help characters receive some resolution to various points. There were a couple of issues (see below) but otherwise the story moved pretty smoothly.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The first episode took a bit of a while to get going – in fact it wasn’t until the last 20 minutes when things actually started to happen. At least when it got started it was full throttle, so that’s something.
Being a crossover between multiple series, it meant that certain characters in the shows were either toned down or reduced to cameos. This meant that Team Arrow barely made any appearances and Cisco was knocked unconscious and didn’t appear for most of the season. However for me this created a few head scratchers. Why did only half the Legends appear at the wedding? Where were Ray, Nate, Amaya and Zari during all this and why did they only appear in the final episode? I guess that could be explained that they were out on another mission, but surely there could have been a line in there explaining that, rather than just have them turn up out of the blue. And where were Joe and Wally? They completely disappeared after the wedding and were never mentioned again. Seriously, why do these Arrowverse crossovers hate Wally so much? They never give him anything to do. And how come Speedy was mentioned in the credits but didn’t appear? Even Diggle’s appearance in the final episode felt more like the writers going “Oh crap, we forgot him, let’s bring him in quickly!”
Look, I get it – it’s a crossover and they can’t fit everyone in at once, and certain characters have to be pushed to the back. But still, it would be nice if they tried to give some kinda reasons why characters weren’t there.
Also, I thought Felicity’s harsh putting down of Oliver when he proposed to her was really out of character for her. I know she doesn’t want to get married because of what happened last time, and she’s been known to talk down to Oliver when he makes a mistake – but this just felt spiteful for her character, and a way of putting in some forced drama.
My final issue is why in the holy hell would Barry willingly let Eobard Thawne go after the final battle. I understand he didn’t want to kill him because Barry wants to be a moral hero – and that’s commendable. But considering how much damage he has done to Barry – and even the Legends – why would he just let him go? That was stupid on his part. If he tried to capture him and Thorne escaped that would be one thing – but just letting him go was a dumb move. I guess they wanted to have it open so that he could return or something like that.
Come to think about it, I thought Thawne was supposed to have not existed now due to Eddie killing himself. In Legends this was explained that he was being hunted by a Speed Force Ghost as he wasn’t supposed to exist. I guess this could fall into the same timeline and maybe Barry knew he would eventually be defeated but… oh I don’t know! I’m just gonna call this one lazy writing.
WHAT GAVE ME FEELS
I knew Martin Stein would be leaving the Arrowverse, as Legends had been hinting towards that with the birth of his grandchild. But I had NO IDEA it was going to be so hearthwrenching. :’(
Whilst stuck on Earth-X, Stein is mortally wounded trying to open the gateway back to regular Earth. Unfortunately, as Jax is linked with him as Firestorm, this means they will both die. In a valiant sacrifice, Stein tells Jax to feed him the potion that would split them both and thus this would save Jax’s life. This leads to a tearful goodbye where Jax and Stein reminisce on their adventures – and how they now consider each other father and son. It is a beautiful scene with Franz and Victor giving utterly incredible performances. It was so touching that I was still in tears long into the episode. I don’t think a character death has moved me in this way in such a long time. Stein and Jax were the heart and soul of the Legends, and the team will be hit hard by this. His funeral is a fitting tribute to his character, a selfless, caring father figure that put others first before himself. It’s only after he dies that you realise what a wonderful person he was and how much he helped the characters in this universe.
RIP Martin Stein, I am missing you already.
Crisis on Earth-X set a lot of standards in ways Invasion! never did – and actually led to some shocking moments. The death of Stein will no doubt hit fans in the heart and opens up a lot of questions as to what will happen now with the team, but also it nicely tied up a lot of ongoing threads like Barry and Iris’s wedding – and even Oliver and Felicity’s as well. Supergirl and Alex also have their own issues to sort out, but I’m sure they can face them. As for the Legend’s how will they move on from this? In fact how will Jax move on from this? Can he even do it?
(Like I said before, here in the UK we’re a week behind, so no spoilers in the comments if you’ve already seen it please :) )
In conclusion, despite a few stupid moments and characters being forgotten about or written out completely, Crisis on Earth-X is a thrilling adventure that works as both a self contained story and a continuation of the greater Arrowverse. It had had a few flaws, but the dramatic moments and twists more than made up for it. And the introduction of The Ray opened up a lot of possibilities and made me want to check out the new animated series to learn more about the character. All in all, this is how you make a crossover enjoyable. And dare I say it, I actually thought it was better than Justice League. Just my opinion though.
FINAL SCORE: 5/5