Crisis on Earth-X Review

  • Series: The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow
  • Third Arrowverse Crossover Special: Crisis on Earth-X
  • Episodes: 4
  • Discs: 1
  • Cast: Grant Gustin, Stephen Amell, Melissa Benoist, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Emily Bett Rickards, Victor Garber, Caity Lotz, Chyler Leigh, Franz Drameh, Paul Blackthorne, Jeremy Jordan, Wentworth Miller, Russell Tovey
  • Network: CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen

Barry and Supergirl arrive, and a few moments later Green Arrow pulls up on a motorcycle, “Just a quick reminder, super speed – I don’t have it.” – Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow

“My grandparents didn’t survive the Holocaust so the world could be ruled by Nazis. So if you want Kara, you gotta’ go through me and even if you do, you’re not going to win. Because we will not back down, we will keep fighting. So get the hell off our Earth while you still can.” – Felicity.

Just like DC Comics occasionally does crossovers between two or more books, and all their characters live in the same “universe”, from the very beginning all the “Arrowverse” shows have been clearly in the same universe, and even though Kara Danvers (Supergirl) is on another Earth, she has met Barry Allen (the Flash) and company before, and the characters from Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow in the previous crossover, “Invasion”. “Crisis on Earth-X” starts innocently enough, with all our characters gathered together for Barry and Iris’s wedding. But just as their minister gets to the part about, “Does anyone object to the marriage of this couple?” Nazis burst in and a huge fight erupts. All of our heroes use their powers to fight off the Nazis, despite being dressed for a wedding. It’s total chaos.

Dr. Harry Wells explains that there is a 53rd Earth, beyond the known 52 Earths of the Multiverse. It’s a place so awful, it’s only known as Earth-X because no one would want to travel there. It’s the Earth where the Nazis won World War II. To make matters worse, in this version, Oliver’s doppelganger is the current führer of the Nazi-world and his wife is Overgirl, an evil Nazi version of Supergirl. First, evil Oliver and Evil Supergirl and their soldiers break into a lab and steal a prism, and then they come after Supergirl. Their plan? Well, Overgirl is dying after being exposed to too much sunlight so they’ve come to Earth One to kill Supergirl, take her heart, and implant it in Overgirl – because Supergirl would be the perfect donor. The Nazis manage to take over Star Labs and send half of our large group of Heroes to Earth-X and the rest are locked up in the pipeline. They miss Felicity and Iris though, who manage to be badass in trying to rescue everyone. Felicity and Iris also send a distress call to the Legends.

On Earth-X, Oliver, Barry, Alex Danvers, and company are locked in a cage with others in black and white striped convict clothes, with badges pinned to their chests. They meet Ray, and when Jax asks what he “did wrong” to be locked up, Ray responds, “I loved the wrong person”. Alex and Sara, who shared a one night stand the night before the ill-fated wedding, look knowingly at each other. The doppelganger of Captain Lance arrives and separates out our heroes and Ray, and leads them to a trench, they are told to stand on the edge, and a firing squad is readied. But at the last minute, Leonard Snart (“Leo”) arrives and rescues them all. They are taken to the base camp of the Freedom Fighters and meet General Winn Schott. The good – they are now in with a group that’s organized to fight and overthrow the Nazis. The bad? Their main plan is to destroy the Nazis’ new doomsday weapon, which happens to be housed with the interworld transport terminal that’s the only way for the Legends to get home. They also discover Ray is actually from Earth 1 and he and Leo are partners.

On Earth-X, the heroes need to convince Winn to give them a shot at getting to the portal before Winn uses a secret weapon of his own to blow it up. Meanwhile, on Earth One, Iris and Felicity are trying to get Cisco and anyone else locked in the Pipeline free, and stop Reverse Flash (who is in league with Evil Oliver and Overgirl) from killing Supergirl. They delay the operation that would kill Kara by turning off the power. When Felicity is caught, she tries to stand up to Thawne, but he threatens to kill her, and she gives up the encryption code for getting the power on. Thawne again ties Kara down under Red Light lamps to weaken her, but just as he’s about to cut her open, Ray, the Atom, stops him. The rest of the Legends – The Atom, Amaya, Zari, and Nate have arrived. They get everyone out of the Pipeline and rescue Kara. Everyone else returns from Earth-X, but Martin was shot during the mission to get to the inter-Earth Gateway. Martin Stein is dying, and because he is linked with Jefferson, he is dying also. Cisco, however, had designed, with help from Caitlin, a serum that would safely separate Martin and Jefferson but at the cost of the loss of their powers. Martin takes the serum as he lies dying in the Waverider’s med bay, to save Jefferson.

Even though everyone has returned to Earth One safely, except for Martin, and they’ve rescued Kara. Reverse-Flash is still determined to use their Nazi Waverider to launch an invasion of Earth One and Evil Oliver is still determined to kill Supergirl to save Overgirl. They also discover that not only will Overgirl’s overexposure to sunlight kill her, but she’s a living bomb who will explode with the power of a neutron bomb. Part four largely consists of major fight scenes, and a money shot of all the heroes, in costume, just all-out fighting back against a troop of black and red uniformed Nazis. Nazis who have just stormed a city block, randomly killing anyone they come across. Everyone has their part in the fight. Iris and our Wells are on the Waverider fighting the Nazi one but can’t get through their shields. Supergirl teases Overgirl out to fight, and Overgirl breaks through a window in her own ship, this allows Killer Frost, Amaya and Zari access into the ship to fight Nazis, take it over, and then lower the shields. Vibe arrives to transport them off just in time before the ship is destroyed by the Waverider’s missiles. Kara takes Overgirl Up, Up, and Away, so she can safely explode. Evil Oliver is devastated by the loss of his wife. Oliver kills his evil doppelganger.

Our heroes clean up against the Nazis and exile them back to Earth-X. Everyone attends Martin’s funeral, then one by one, or in small groups, they head back to their own homes. The Ray returns to Earth-X, but Snart decides to stay on Earth One for a short time. Barry brings Diggle to a lakeside park and he marries not only Iris and Barry but Felicity and Oliver.

On the one hand, “Crisis on Earth-X” has some very satisfying moments – superheroes and their human non-powered companions punching Nazis and being badass (especially Iris, Felicity, Alex, and Sara all get to have some great moments. When they finally arrive, Zari and Amaya aren’t left out of the girl power fun.) But the entire crossover is fight-heavy and at times plot light. There is some horrific imagery, but also moments of pure power and generosity such as our Oliver breaking his impersonation of his evil self to save the Earth-X Felicity and Felicity herself standing up to the Nazis that invade Star Labs. Evil Oliver though has an almost understandable goal – to save his wife, whom he clearly loves – Overgirl. Still, his plan, to kill Kara to save Overgirl is horrific. And one has to wonder how he knew to find Supergirl on Earth One since she normally lives on Earth 38. Also, once most of our characters are on Earth-X, their one mission is to return home. General Winn Schott is incredibly stubborn about wanting to destroy the inter-Earth portal before everyone can return home. And Flash and the Ray end up destroying his weapon, which turns out to be Red Tornado, so you have to wonder what that did to Schott’s resistance. But overall, considering the logistics of having so many characters, even in a four-hour special, and giving all of them screen time and stories, the crossover works. I also really, really liked The Ray (Russell Tovey of the original British Being Human) and cuddly Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller).

Note: Over-exposure to sunlight giving Superman cancer, or at least a sort of cancer, is the plot of All-Star Superman.

Note 2: The first episode opens with a brief preview of Earth-X, which has red skies and yellow lightning, a reference perhaps to the future Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Note 3: Crisis on Earth-X, all four parts, is included in full on the Blu-Ray edition of Season 3 of Legends of Tomorrow. The individual DVD box sets of Arrow (Season 6), Supergirl (Season 3), The Flash (Season 4), and Legends (Season 3), on the other hand, only include their individual episode of the crossover.

Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Legends of Tomorrow
  • Season: Season 2
  • Episodes: 17
  • Discs: 4
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Caity Lotz, Brandon Routh, Arthur Darvill, Franz Drameh, Victor Garber, Maise Richardson-Sellers, Dominic Purcell, Nick Zano, Matt Letscher, John Barrowman, Neal McDonough
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

This review contains spoilers for the second season of Legends of Tomorrow.

Season 2 of Legends of Tomorrow starts off very much as an anthology series – Rip Hunter is missing, and the remaining Legends are travelling through history to fix “aberrations” or changes in the established timeline of history. The first nine episodes have the Legends in a variety of places: World War II, where they meet the JSA (Justice Society of America), including Amaya Jiwe (Vixen) who joins the Legends. Also introduced in the season premiere is Dr. Nate Heywood (Citizen Steel). The Legends also end up fighting zombies in the civil war; they travel to 17th century Japan meeting Katana’s great-great-great etc grandfather, and they go to the Old West where they meet Jonah Hex again. These episodic stories are fun, and also allow the characters, especially the new ones to grow and the team to gel. Sara Lance (White Canary) is appointed leader and captain in the wake of Rip’s disappearance.

Eobard Thawne, from the first season of The Flash is one of three main villains, however, the Legends don’t know that is who they are facing. Firestorm finds a secret message from a future Barry Allen warning of an evil speedster – which they don’t immediately share with the team. Damien Darhk, from Season 4 of Arrow is another villain. Sara meets Darhk in the season premiere and intends to kill him, but her team prevents her, since killing Darhk in the 1940s would change everyone’s history. The third partner in the trinity of sin is Malcolm Merlyn (from Arrow from the beginning). Thawne, Merlyn, and Darhk make for great villains. Audiences who have watched the CW-verse (or Arrowverse) from the beginning are familiar with their stories and their endings. Many of our characters, especially Sara, have personal conflicts with the villains. And by introducing them more gradually, as well as their goals, the series flows better than last season where the main villain (Vandal Savage) just did not work. Also, each episode begins with a spoken intro that explains the premise of the show, however, Legends of Tomorrow keeps this from being boring by having each character repeat the info in their own style, and in episode 10, “The Legion of Doom”, it’s one of the “villains” from the Legion who put their own spin on the by then familiar introduction. Note that officially, the villains are “The Legion of Doom”, despite Sara saying, “Yeah, we’re not calling them that”. Nate had come up with the moniker, after a “Hanna-Barbara cartoon I watched as a kid”.

After “Invasion” the 4-part crossover featuring all four CW DC shows, the conflict between the Legion and the Legends heats up. In “Raiders of the Lost Art”, the Legends meet George Lucas while he is a film student, and have to convince him not to quit film school. The episode is filled with Star Wars references and a great deal of fun. They find Rip as well, who has completely forgotten who he is, his mind being scrambled by contact with the Waverider time drive. Rip thinks he is a film student, working on a student film of his script, “Legends”. Not only does “Legends” feature versions of all the Legends, but Rip is frustrated by a really bad actor playing the Vandal Savage character, and the script introduces the plot for the rest of the season, the search for the legendary “Spear of Destiny”, which has been broken in to multiple pieces. Rip calls this the McGuffin of his script. This is the type of self-referential humor that Legends manages to do really well. It also helps that the villains and the season-long plot are introduced slowly.

The second half of the season has the Legion of Doom (Merlyn, Darhk, and Thawne) and the Legends all looking for the Spear of Destiny. The Legion also messes with time to try to trap the Legends – and the Legends have to put it back. Rip, meanwhile, is captured by the Legion at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Art”, and tortured for information. However, the Legion discovers that Rip can’t tell them anything because his personality has been overwritten. However, one of the Legion pulls an artificial tooth from Rip’s mouth that hides a bank acct number, the Legion goes to the bank, first intending to rob it, then having Rip simply ask for his vault to be opened, only to discover Rip doesn’t know his passphrase. The dynamics between the Legion are great. Once they get the future tech that would restore Rip’s mind and personality, Malcolm alters it to make Rip a mindless tool of the Legion. Although the audience won’t know it until later – this is also when Captain Cold is pulled out of time from before he dies and recruited by the Legion.

With Rip on the Legion’s side, the Legends are in trouble. The Legends also discover that the Spear was broken into pieces, and each piece was given to a member of the JSA to guard. The JSA was then scattered throughout history. So, we now have a quest to get back the spear. The Legion strikes first, killing Dr. Mid-Nite in the future and taking his piece. The Legend gets Rip’s piece of the Spear from 60s Los Angeles, saves George Lucas, but as mentioned previously, fails to save Rip Hunter. Another piece of the Spear is found in Camelot, guarded by Stargirl, whom the locals know as Merlin, and whom has created the Round Table. Commander Steel, Dr. Heywood’s grandfather, and member of the JSA, worked for NASA, and hid his piece on the moon. But with all their successes, and even assembling the Spear themselves, the Legends decide they must destroy it – the Spear is too powerful an object for anyone to wield. They head to the Battle of the Somme in World War I, to meet JRR Tolkien, who had written an unpublished paper about the final resting place of Sir Gaiwan, said to be the hiding place of a vial of the Precious Blood of Christ – the only substance that can destroy the Spear. The adventure with Tolkien is also great, with multiple Lord of the Rings references, and includes a quote of the “Men of the West” Speech from the film Return of the King. But for all their efforts, the Legends fail and the Legion of Doom gets the Spear.

The penultimate episode, “Doomworld”, has a world re-created by Merlyn, Thawne, and Darhk. However, they have also messed with the Legends – making them into their worst and most unlucky selves. Dr. Heywood, however, figures out something is wrong. He meets Ray who has created a device to restore the Legends memories. This works OK, until Jax tries to restore Professor Stein – who resists and breaks the device. There’s a massive fight, but in the end, Thawne gets the Spear and drops it into an very hot reactor to destroy it (not unlike the destruction of the One Ring by volcano in Lord of the Rings). The Legends decide they must go back in time and prevent the Legion from getting the Spear in the first place. In the end, it’s Sara, who all along had been the strongest voice to say they mustn’t use the Spear, who uses it to defeat the Legion. Yet, when the team arrives in Los Angeles – time doesn’t seem quite right.

Legends of Tomorrow is quite fun and the second season was an improvement on the first. Sara shines as captain, able to make tough decisions, wrangle her crew, but also able to learn from her own mistakes, and even to develop compassion. These characters are still screw-ups, which is a great way to do superheroes – as perfect characters are boring. The crew this time around: Sara, Professor Stein, Jax, Dr. Ray Palmer, Mick Rory, Dr. Heywood (Steel), and Amaya (Vixen) work better than last year’s line up.  I missed Rip in the early part of the season, and for much of the second part of the season he’s working with the villains, but overall he’s there enough – and Sara actually made for a better captain with a better leadership style. Dr. Heywood fits in to the Legends immediately, and Amaya also is not as awkward a character as Hawkgirl from last season. And Vixen’s power, the ability to channel the power of any animal, is very cool and realized beautifully. Overall, Legends of Tomorrow was my personal favorite of the CW shows last season.

You can also read my Season 1 Review of Legends of Tomorrow.

Flashpoint – Is there more to be revealed on the CW DC Shows?

I have now caught-up on the current seasons of all four DC CW shows. And I’ve noticed something. The Flash mentioned Flashpoint at the opening of the season, and Barry attempted to reverse Flashpoint. But his attempt failed. The Flash is now in an alternate reality – Cisco, as Vibe, is much more powerful than he was last year when he was first discovering his powers. In some ways it’s like that character has skipped ahead in time. And that’s not all – somehow, as a result of Barry messing with time – Cisco’s brother Dante is dead, killed by a drunk driver. Meanwhile, Caitlin is exhibiting cold powers – and she fears she is turning in to Killer Frost. And at the Central City Police Department a new guy is in charge of forensics and he’s a total, well, you know, to Barry. By the mid-season finale, we know a lot more about this guy who’s suddenly appeared from nowhere.

But it isn’t just The Flash that’s in a new reality. Arrow is also subtly changed. One thing I’ve noticed – last year on Legends of Tomorrow they visited future Star City – where they met future Green Arrow Connor Hawk (aka John Diggle Jr) and there was a skyscraper called Smoak Technologies. Due to Flashpoint, Diggle now has a son – John Jr, not a daughter, Sara. Felicity has also lost Palmer Tech – and in last night’s episode, Curtis mentioned he and Felicity were working on a start-up company (he mentions this as a cover for his Mr. Terrific duties to his husband) which Felicity seems to know nothing about. But easily, that could be the spark of an idea for her – especially if she pulls back from Team Arrow for other plot reasons. Flashpoint seems to be bringing the Arrow universe closer to the disaster we saw in last season’s Legends of Tomorrow. And let’s not forget – this season’s bad guys on Legends are the Triumvirate of Evil: Reverse Flash (from Season 1 of The Flash); Damien Darhk (from Season 4 of Arrow); and Malcolm Merlyn (aka “The Magician” in the comics, but he’s been hanging around Arrow since the beginning). I don’t think this is a coincidence. I think it’s all related to Flashpoint (which was a world-ending event in the comics and the animated movie).

I suspect since we also saw Damien Darhk in the Legends of Tomorrow last season; and he’s clearly working with the Reverse Flash this season, and later with Malcolm Merlyn. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think something is going on. I suspect time travel is most definitely involved. And I think the disappearance of Rip Hunter is also involved. I would love to see Rip return, maybe with his father, Booster Gold. I think the time paradoxes are only getting started and they will get more and more complex.  The four shows, but especially The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow, will have a bang-up complexly-related “super-crossover” feel by the end of this season. Maybe they will even change the “Supergirl is it’s own universe with no other Heroes” left over from last year when Supergirl was on CBS. Have I mentioned how that never made sense?

But I have to say, I love, just love, how all the DC shows are inter-related, just the way the comics are. Yes, you could just watch one or two of the shows – and you wouldn’t be lost. But when you watch all four, everything is connected. Also, just as is traditional for DC – all the Heroes know each other: they know each other’s real names; they know each others allies, friends and family; they know each other’s superpowers; and they work together when needed to overcome major threats (as in this year’s 4-part crossover event). That’s something that’s always been important in the DC Comics Universe. The heroes cooperate with each other. They don’t see each other as threats or rivals. When I first read Justice League International (later Justice League America / Justice League Europe) in the late 1980s and early 1990s – every hero, from the most powerful like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, to the ones who really had no powers at all, like Blue Beetle and Booster Gold were members of the Justice League. In between the two extremes were a lot of single power individuals such as Fire, Ice, Black Canary, Vixen – all of whom were female. There were many minorities in the League as well, including John Stewart – the Green Lantern at the time and an African American. And there were the magic users: Zatanna, Dr. Fate, etc. There was something for everyone, and a well-balanced League. Young Justice, the animated series, although it had a modern aesthetic and look, also reflected the width and breadth of the Justice League with many female and minority characters or both (Rocket and Bumblebee are both African American young women). The CW Shows have women and minorities on every show. And the women are not simply there as set dressing or to be rescued by the “male hero” – they are smart, educated, career-oriented women (reporter, scientist, computer expert), minorities have viable roles (engineer, army veteran), and Legends of Tomorrow has a balanced team of women and men with minorities on the team. Plus, you have to love a team of self-styled “screw-ups” who manage to be heroes, um, excuse me, Legends, anyway. The CW Network is doing a better job at this point of doing live action DC stories that Warner Brothers is doing with the films – though Suicide Squad was fun (though Arrow did a suicide squad storyline in it’s first or second season) and I have high hopes for Wonder Woman.

Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 Review (spoilers)

  • Series Title:  Legends of Tomorrow
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 16
  • Discs: 4
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Arthur Darvill, Brandon Routh, Victor Garber, Franz Drameh, Caity Lotz, Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller, Ciara Renée

Legends of Tomorrow is a team-up show that was spun-off mid-season from The Flash and Arrow. It features Brandon Routh as Dr. Ray Palmer (The Atom) and Sara Lance (White Canary) from Arrow, Dr. Martin Stein and Jefferson “Jax” Jackson (Firestorm) from The Flash, and also from The Flash Leonard Snart (Captain Cold) and Mick Rory (Heatwave). New to this series are time traveller, Rip Hunter, and Kendra Saunders (Hawkgirl). Hunter brings his time-ship, the Waverider and it’s A.I. computer, Gideon.

What makes Legends of Tomorrow different and interesting isn’t simply the characters – it’s that these characters are the “screw-ups”. They not only make mistakes – they frequently make things worse. Rip Hunter’s mission is to track down and kill Vandal Savage an immortal dictator from the future that killed his wife and child (and billions more people). Yet Rip is also on the run – because his mission isn’t sanctioned by the Time Masters he once served – they are actually after him for breaking the rules. Halfway through the season we discover the soldier, Chronos, who was chasing our characters through time is actually Mick Rory – who was captured by the Time Masters and brainwashed into being their killing machine. This means that when, during the first time you watch this series and you assume Chronos is tracking the Waverider using future technology – he’s actually able to track Rip and company because he remembers where they will be. This means the second time you watch this show, there’s an extra layer of meaning to what’s going on.

The first six or so episodes of this series are very episodic – Rip and his crew travel to different eras of time, trying to track down and eliminate Savage. Yet again – their plans seem doomed. Savage also has an intimate connection to Kendra (Hawkgirl) and Carter Hall (Hawkman). However, gradually the story becomes more connected and each episode ends with a “cliffhanger” that leads into the next episode – and this is where the show really picked up steam. The last four episodes are essentially one grand story – with revelations about the Time Masters – who, after all, are still using Rip Hunter.

The weakest part of season 1 of Legends of Tomorrow is Vandal Savage, and not simply because a immortal villain is a boring villain (after all how do you kill an immortal villain?) but because I just didn’t like how he was played. However, I liked the finale very much.

The best part of Legends of Tomorrow is the characters and the cast. Watching Arthur Darvill playing a time traveler again is a pure joy. The rest of the cast does an excellent job – and the writing takes the time to explore each of the characters – their backgrounds, their fears, and how they can become heroes despite their faults and doubts. So this is a show about very human “superheroes”. Watching Leonard Snart develop is especially a joy. The show is also well-written, and isn’t afraid to get into the occasional moral quandary about what they are doing. I recommend it highly.