Let me be clear.
There is no way that this is going to be perfect. I have always held the belief that CRISIS, not WATCHMEN, was unfilmable unless as a multi-part animated feature.
At one point, many years ago, I had an epiphany of what a CRISIS animated feature would look like and while I never wrote it, the thing that I realized that could make it work would be to focus on one character; Superman.
You could say, “Supermen,” but that’s splitting hairs. When you look at the original CRISIS maxi-series, it’s easy to say that it’s a greatest hits battle royale of every character published in DC’s then-50 year history. It’s easy to say, but you’d be wrong. I’m sure Wolfman and Perez would say that with their goal being a distillation of 50 years of continuity into a cohesive history, there’s no way they could focus all their attention on just ONE character, but I would argue that there’s only one character who appears in multiple forms in the story and that’s Superman (and Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor and Lois Lane…ok, more than only one, but follow my track here).
Superman IS the DC Universe, and will always be (take that, Bats), so to bring it all down to one timeline, the first thing you have to do is figure out where Superman fits and then work everyone around it. Superman is the linchpin, everyone else moves according to him. Because, remember, the comic event was structured to make the line easier to read going forward.
Many of the books that came out of CRISIS (MAN OF STEEL, for instance) were planned before the series concluded. There was an endpoint for Issue 12, and that had to be seen through.
So, are we on the same page? Good, because I’m about to blow your mind.
The linchpin of the TV version of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS isn’t Superman.
It’s Green Arrow.
Sure, we have multiple Supermen in the story, and a big deal is made out of Earth-38 being wiped out of existence. And yes, this is only three episodes (out of five) into the story, but if you don’t see what a big cog Ollie is to the story, you’re kind of missing a lot of the meta-text.
Green Arrow is the Superman of the Arrowverse.
That sentence alone should be kind of obvious. I think we could all argue that he’s the Batman of the Arrowverse, and that’s probably on the nose, but in terms of this 5-episode event, he’s Superman.
WITNESS the death of Oliver Queen as he fights the Anti-Monitor’s Shadow Beings!
BEHOLD the resurrection of Oliver in the waters of a Lazarus Pit!
And GAZE in wonder as Oliver’s very soul is given the choice of coming back to his body and being “born again” OR becoming the host of the Spectre!
It’s called “the Arrowverse” for a reason.
There are a lot of tiny moments, mostly the cameos, that make this feel bigger than just as a Green Arrow story, and there are major plot twists that ensure that one character isn’t pulling the load of the story.
The conclusion of SMALLVILLE: (ie Earth-167) is extremely satisfying. Clark has given up his powers (a callback to SUPERMAN II, maybe?) to be a father/husband/farmer (which doesn’t sit well with Lex).
Speaking of Lex, I am not a Jon Cryer fan and thought his casting as Luthor was hacky. I take it back. The idea of him having a personal side mission of killing off every Superman in the multiverse is fun (in a deranged way). See what he did to the Superman of Earth-75?
Batman of Earth-99: Kevin Conroy wears the Kingdom Come exo-suit to portray a broken Bruce Wayne who has become the very monster he spent his life fighting.
Superman of Earth-96: That would be the Brandon Routh version, or the KINGDOM COME version. Sort of tragic, but optimistic.
Heat Wave of Earth-74: Mick Rory (as portrayed by Dominic Purcell) is a wannabe mystery writer and just the right amount of comedy relief for the story.
Iris West-Allen of Earth-1: If there was an MVP of the story up to now, it’s Iris. She is coming off the bench and convincing Paragons (I’ll get to it) to join the fight against the Anti-Monitor. She’s an ace up the superhero sleeve.
Barry Allen of Earth-90: Does what Flashes do…he dies in a Crisis.
But man, it’s almost beat for beat what happened in the comics and John Wesley Shipp gets to give closure on his version of the Flash.
So, after Oliver dies, the Monitor consults the Book of Destiny (which, as a deus ex machina, is getting kind of overused) and sees that the only way to save the Multiverse (or, at least, Earth-1) is to find and recruit seven paragons:
- The Paragon of Hope – Supergirl
- The Paragon of Destiny – White Canary
- The Paragon of Truth – Superman (of Earth-96)
- The Paragon of Courage – Batwoman
- The Paragon of Honor – Martian Manhunter
- The Paragon of Love – The Flash
- And finally, the Paragon of Humanity – Ryan Choi (who, in the comics, becomes the Atom)
Lex, however, uses the Book of Destiny (dammit) to rewrite destiny to have himself as the Paragon of Truth.
As the third episode ends, Earth-1 is no more. The Paragons have been sent to the Vanishing Point. Everyone else, EVERYONE, is dead.
CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS returns tomorrow, January 14 for two more hours.
At this point, I’m kind of looking forward to Stephen Amell’s swan song.