Crisis on Infinite Earths: An Exercise in Mediocrity

Since 2014, yearly crossover events have aired on the CW, bridging six live-action television series, two animated series and numerous mini series in a media franchise called the “Arrowverse.” The most recent addition to the series, Crisis on Infinite Earths, was the most highly publicized crossover event thus far. Crisis on Infinite Earths is a television special based on comics of the same name. The sixth annual crossover event crossover was comprised of five episodes, one from Supergirl, Batwoman, The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. Crisis on Infinite Earths was the most widely anticipated crossover by fans. The crossover has been hinted at since the very first episode of The Flash, and elements of the crossover have been incorporated into each of the shows’ main plot lines.

Whether or not Crisis lives up to its expectations is subjective, but for me, the crossover was nothing spectacular.

Previous crossovers have varied in quality. Smaller crossovers such as the musical crossover Duet have worked best. The larger crossovers have struggled to create cohesive stories while juggling the casts of multiple shows. Unfortunately, Crisis fell into the same trap that the larger crossovers have.

The first three episodes left me hopeful for the conclusion of the crossover event. The episodes, despite their struggle with balancing appearances of main characters, genuinely intrigued me. The dynamic interactions between characters carried the story to new fronts, accomplishing far more than could ever be condensed into a single episode. The friendships between Supergirl, Batwoman, the Flash and the Arrow cut through dense comic book lore and distracted the viewer from the exposition being delivered.

However, the crossover tanked in the fourth episode. An event that occurred at the end of the third episode caused a shift in the show’s tone, becoming more dramatic. Rather than making the special more compelling, this dramatic shift decreased my investment in the storyline. Without humor, the bare bones of a broken plot were laid before the viewer with crystal clarity. On top of the tone, a story device that broke the rules of the show’s lore made the episode cheesy and hard to watch as a long-time viewer.

While significantly better than the fourth episode, the fifth episode acted more like a filler than the dramatic conclusion to a five-part special. I personally appreciated seeing the fallout from the fourth episode, but when the entire arc was taken into account, the episode fell flat.

Overall, I did enjoy the crossover event. Crisis did not live up to its hype, but bearing in mind the difficulty of making a multi-show television special the length of a movie, I do not think that the creators could have done the crossover much better.