Every year, the CW Arrowverse shows – a lineup that includes Supergirl, Batwoman, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow – have a crossover event, where the characters visit each other’s shows/worlds and save the world together. This year’s event, Crisis on Infinite Earths, has more weight than usual, partly because it goes on longer than usual.
In most of the crossover events, the shows take place in one week, and they don’t typically relate to the stories of the individual shows. This year, things are different.
How did this ‘Crisis’ start?
Crisis actually started not on the TV screen but in the printed pages of the comics, according to Entertainment Weekly. Written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by George Perez, the story called “Crisis on Infinite Earths” came out in 1985 and 1986. In the comics, heroes and villains banded together to defeat the Anti-Monitor, who aimed not to wipe out just one world, but all of them. He wanted to wipe clean DC’s multiverse.
“It will be the biggest, the most complicated (crossover) that they’ve done, but I am proud to say that they are doing it and we are supporting them,” CW president Mark Pedowitz said at the Television Critics Association winter press tour all the way back in January 2019.
Arrow is arguably the show most heavily impacted by the crisis because the show itself is coming to an end, with the in-progress eighth season being the last.
Where the Arrowverse currently stands
Prior Arrowverse crossover weeks were standalone events that didn’t affect the story arcs of the ongoing individual series. You could skip over those crossover episodes entirely and not mess up the continuity of the shows if you only watched some of them. However, this crossover is much more ambitious than usual.
What set up Infinite Earths was last year’s Arrowverse crossover Elseworlds, in which The Flash and Arrow swapped lives because Dr. John Deegan, acting on orders from the Monitor, rewrote reality. To defeat Deegan and prevent the Flash’s and Supergirl’s deaths, Green Arrow had to bargain with the Monitor. He had to promise to do whatever it takes to save the multiverse from an incoming crisis – a crisis on infinite Earths, no less.
Spoilers may follow, so best to stop reading here if you’re not caught up yet. The shows do two things in particular – they have alternate versions of heroes fighting each other, and they have a lot of actors from past TV shows beyond just the Arrowverse and movies making guest appearances.
For instance, not only does the Tyler Hoechlin Superman from the CW’s Supergirl show up, so does Brandon Routh, who played the iconic hero in the one-and-done movie Superman Returns in 2006. The crossover even resurrects actors from long finished series: Tom Welling and Erica Durance from Smallville return to play alternate versions of Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
When will the ‘Crisis’ conclude?
Three installments of Crisis on Infinite Earths have aired already aired: Supergirl, Batwoman and The Flash. The crossover will wrap up with Arrow at 8 p.m. January 19th, with Legends of Tomorrow immediately following. This is an unusual structure because Legends had not otherwise returned to the CW lineup. Its installment of Crisis will be the show’s fifth season premiere.
Executive producer Keto Shimizu told EW. “I’m there making sure that, no matter what happens in the massive craziness in the crossover, we have the characters that are participating in [‘Crisis’] land in a very particular place,” she said.
The cliffhanger so far is that Lex Luthor edited the Book of Destiny to suit his own ends as only 7 paragons remain in the entire multiverse to face off against the Anti-Monitor. So we’ll have to wait until after the New Year’s ball drops in Times Square to see how his nefarious plan plays out.
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