Arrowverse – Elseworlds Review

  • Series: The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl
  • Second Arrowverse Crossover Special: Elseworlds
  • Episodes: 3
  • Discs: Episodes Located in Individual Boxed Season Sets
  • Cast: Grant Gustin, Stephen Amell, Melissa Benoist, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Emily Bett Rickards, Echo Kellum
  • Network: CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen

Elseworlds parts 1 and 2 are actually quite humorous, which is different from the previous two Arrowverse Crossovers. Things get more serious in part three, but even then, this crossover isn’t as heavy as the others. The title comes from a series of specials that DC Comics would periodically do (before “Elseworlds” they were also known as “Imaginary Stories”). The Elseworlds stories were “What if” stories – what if Ma and Pa Kent got a flat tire and missed the landing of Superman’s spaceship and he was raised by migrant workers instead? What if Superman’s ship landed in Russia? Even Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” is an Elseworlds tale – technically.

However, CW’s take on Elseworlds doesn’t precisely follow the type of stories DC readers are used to when it comes to that label. Rather the story begins with Oliver waking up in an unfamiliar bed, only to have Iris West-Allen call him to breakfast. She’s convinced he’s Barry. And Barry finds himself sparring with John Diggle at ARGUS – everyone thinks he’s Oliver Queen. Oliver and Barry try to convince everyone who they are – and end up locked in the Pipeline. They escape, and portal to Earth 38 where Kara recognizes them immediately – as their own personas. Since she’s visiting Lois and Clark at the Kent farm, Superman tags along when they return to Earth 1.

Meanwhile, back at Star Labs, Iris explains she let Barry and Oliver go because she felt that Oliver really was Barry. When Barry, Oliver, Kara, and Superman return to Star Labs on Earth 1, everyone accepts the situation and is trying to figure out what happened. And the skies are red and shot with yellow lightning. Cisco says he vibed someone and lets Oliver and Barry see what he saw. It’s Mar Novu, the Monitor. And he’s given the Book of Destiny to Deegan (Dr. Destiny) who is using it to shape reality as he sees fit. Oliver recognizes where Deegan and the Monitor were in the vibe – Gotham City.

Everyone heads to Star City, where the geek squad tries to figure out how to switch Barry and Oliver back as well as investigating the red skies. After a brief giving of assignments session – Barry, Oliver, and Kara head to Gotham. Meanwhile, Caitlin and Cisco arrive in Star City, telling Felicity and Curtis that the red skies and lightning have disappeared from Central City, but they are now strong in Star City. They think someone is trying to breach through – and try to stabilize the breach so whoever it is can get through. We’ve seen this mysterious “breacher” a few times so far as well as in the Elseworlds prologue – it’s the Flash of Earth 90 (John Wesley Shipp).

In Gotham, Barry, Oliver, and Kara have just arrived and are discussing how to find Deegan when they are mugged – at gunpoint. Barry reacts and disarms the muggers, then the police arrive and the three are jailed. As they exit the jail after being bailed out – they are taken at gunpoint, again, this time to Wayne Enterprises. Their mysterious benefactor is Kate Kane, cousin of the now missing, Bruce Wayne. She helps by telling them Deegan is a doctor at Arkham Asylum. However, when they manage to get the book (briefly) – Mar Novu takes it back and gives it to Deegan, again. Kate (Batwoman) Kane is wonderful in this and she and Kara have an instant rapport, even joking about being “World’s Finest” when in costume together. Kate’s costume and even her street-clothes look are also comics-accurate.

In Star City, the mysterious traveler arrives, and tells everyone, including John, that they have to get the book. But when Deegan gets the book again, Oliver and Barry find that they are now the Trigger Twins and they have no power. Furthermore, Earth – or at least Central City, is ruled by an evil version of Superman (really Deegan, though he looks like Superman of Earth 38). Kara’s been locked up in the cells at Superman’s palace (eg, once Star Labs). Kara manages to convince Alex who works as one of Superman’s enforcers to help her by using information from when they were kids. Once again, Barry and Oliver briefly get the book, but Superman/Deegan gets it back. While Barry and Kara run around the world real fast to slow down time – Oliver again sees the Monitor, this time making a devil’s bargain to save Kara and Barry’s lives. They then manage to destroy the Book of Destiny, and a much older Deegan is sent to Arkham where the cell next door is occupied by Psycho Pirate. Kara and Barry live, Superman is back to being Superman (of Earth 38), Lois does not fall to her death, and everything seems to be alright. But the stage is set – the next crossover will be Crisis on Infinite Earths and Oliver has made a promise to the Monitor.

I genuinely love Elseworlds. It’s so much fun, and has a lot of humor to it, especially the Freaky Friday aspects of the story. Or maybe Quantum Leap as the geeky squad (Curtis, Cisco, Felicity, Caitlin, and even Barry) argue. It’s a shorter crossover, but the Legends of Tomorrow episode that aired that week is the classic, and off-the-wall “Legends of To-Meow-Meow”, which is one of my all-time favorites (and there is a passing reference to the crossover in the episode). Deegan comes off as a limited villain who has no idea what to do with the power he’s given. One really has to wonder why the Monitor chose him – and why he gives him so many chances. Mar Novu also comes off as being almost villainous himself, which is a different portrayal than his character in Crisis on Infinite Earths. But I just loved Elseworlds and I highly recommend it. As with the other crossovers, I really wish the CW / Warner Brothers would just put the crossover out on individual DVDs or Blu-rays like a movie with all the parts on a single disk. They finally did that with Crisis on Infinite Earths (but included it in the Arrow Season 8 Blu-Ray set) but I think there’s a market to have the crossovers available separately – maybe in a box set of all four? Also, since the special crossovers are largely self-contained but in some ways lead into each other (especially Elseworlds and Crisis) that’s another selling point for a movie-type release of all the parts. Maybe even with special titles for each crossover?

Read my review of Invasion! The first Arrowverse crossover.
Read my review of Crisis on Earth-X The Second Arrowverse crossover.

Justice League Gods and Monsters

  • Title:  Justice League Gods and Monsters
  • Director: Sam Liu
  • Date:  2015
  • Studio:  Warner Brothers Animation
  • Genre: Fantasy, Action, Animation
  • Cast:  Benjamin Bratt, Michael C. Hall, Tamara Taylor, Jason Isaacs, Richard Chamberlain, Penny Johnson Jerald, Carl Lumbly
  • Format:  Widscreen, Color, Animation
  • DVD Format:  Blu-Ray

“At least fifty dead in the embassy massacre, and not just dead – dismembered, burnt alive, sucked of their blood, a virtual house of horrors. Granted the victims were part of a terrorist organization… but what about our terrorist organization? What about the Justice League? It’s not like we haven’t been warned.” – Female Newscaster
“What the government has sanctioned is more than a Super-SWAT Team, it’s a weapon of absolute power. We all know where that leads.” – Lex Luthor

“We’re being framed! Someone’s actively trying to frame the Justice League? Who would have the balls?” – Superman

Gods and Monsters is an alternative universe story, DC calls these types of stories – “Elseworlds”, and before that “Imaginary Stories” (to distinguish them from the main continuity) as pointed out on one of the special features that accompany the film. This tale gives us three very different versions of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. The film starts with Superman’s new origin story. In Gods and Monsters Superman’s father isn’t Jor-El but Zod. This is shown in the opening scene where Zod pokes his finger into a genetic device that will develop into a baby in the spaceship that’s sent to Earth. Once the ship lands, he’s rescued by a migrant laborer couple rather than the Kents. This Superman is very different – he’s brash, arrogant, and even rude. He also knows very little about his genetic parents or Krypton, because Luther stole his baby spaceship and everything inside.

In the film’s present, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are on a US-sanctioned mission to destroy a terrorist cell. Steve Trevor is marginally in charge of the mission, but they neither listen to him nor do they wait for Trevor and his troops to arrive before totally trashing the cell and everyone in it. This shows the violence of this alternative Justice League, and their willingness to let the end justify the means.

However, before long, a series of scientists – many who were known as “Luther’s Whiz Kids” are getting killed in horrible ways – and the crime scenes are designed to look like the Justice League is guilty. But since we see the robots committing the crimes from the beginning the audience knows that this Justice League, as twisted as the are, aren’t responsible. Though, like all mysteries – who is responsible isn’t revealed until the end.

While telling the mystery story we also see flashbacks explaining the origins of Batman and Wonder Woman. Batman is Kirk Langstrom, who attended university with Will Magnus, and Tina. Kirk was suffering from some form of cancer or blood disease (it isn’t spelled out exactly what) and is experimenting with bats. He ends up becoming Batman, a vampire.

Wonder Woman isn’t from Paradise Island, but New Genesis. Bekka was to marry the son of Darkseid, Orion, whom she had actually fallen for – despite the fact that the marriage was arranged and she was actually a bride-price to stop an eons-long war between New Genesis and Apokolips. Just after the wedding, however, her Grandfather, known as High Father (Richard Chamberlain), and his troops break up the wedding by killing everyone they can, including Bekka’s very new husband. Angered at both the carnage and the death of her consort, Bekka turns her back on High Father, and New Genesis, and makes her way to Earth via Motherbox (boom tube – basically a type of very long distance teleport).

The rest of the story involves the attacks on the scientists, the Justice League finding out about the attacks – and various people calling for sanctions against the League, including Amanda Waller, who had been their government liaison and handler.

Superman decides to challenge Luther as well (Luther is still his arch enemy) – from Luther he finds out the truth of his origins. However, this Luther, though initially overly cautious (thus his refusal to share the information from Krypton with Superman), is won over by his use of Kryptonian technology to study the universe.

Gods and Monsters is a surprisingly violent story – fifty people are killed in close to the opening scene (after the background scenes on Krypton), the scientists – Victor Fries (now a climatologist), Silas Stone, Ray Palmer, etc. are first killed one by one, but then there’s a bloodbath to kill any scientist who had opposed the Justice League. At times, it seems both Batman and Superman have real blind spots when it comes to protecting themselves when solidly framed. Batman, though a vampire and having a completely different back story, does have good investigation skills – but not good enough to see what’s going on until it’s almost too late. Superman, upon realizing they are being framed is incredulous, as in, “Who dare be dumb enough to frame us?” Still, as in all good mysteries – the League does figure it out and with some surprising help, is exonerated.

The Blu-Ray includes a documentary on DC’s history of Alternative Universe, “imaginary stories, and “Elseworlds” stories, starting with the example of, Gotham by Gaslight. The Blu-Ray also includes a documentary on Jack Kirby, New Genesis and Apokolips. And finally there’s a making-of documentary that’s excellent. Just the comics history and information in the documentaries make the Blu-Ray worth having.

Overall, I enjoyed this film, though it was very dark. Still, it was a good, alternative take on the big three DC Heroes.

Recommendation: See it
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Next Film: When Harry Met Sally