Tonight, Part 1 of the 3-part DC superhero crossover event Elseworlds aired on The CW. As I’ve often said, these annual crossovers are always a delight for me to watch. They’re always wildly entertaining and they seem to get more ambitious year after year. After watching the first episode of Elseworlds, I came away from the episode thinking of one word: Fun. This episode was fun as all hell.
All of the Arrowverse crossovers have been really fun, but compared to something like last year’s epic Crisis on Earth–X, Elseworlds feels more exuberant and joyful. Don’t get me wrong, Crisis on Earth–X was an absolute blast. However, watching Elseworlds, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this cast looking like they’re having more fun and It’s easy to see why.
Barry and Oliver are very different characters and the episode gets a lot of entertainment mileage and comedy out of them switching lives and abilities. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed more watching an episode of an Arrowverse show. It’s really funny seeing Oliver’s bewilderment at suddenly waking up with superspeed and the world believing that he is Barry Allen. While Oliver immediately feels out of his element, Barry seems to be getting much more of a kick out of suddenly having all of Green Arrow’s skills and fighting ability.
For the purposes of this review, I’m not really going to touch on the overarching threat and the circumstances that altered reality. This episode focuses more on the “What do we do now?” than “How did this happen?”. Though we briefly see how this was set in motion, it’s a very minor part of the episode. I’m sure they’ll be covering much more of that territory in the next 2 installments.
I only have one real criticism of the episode. Considering all of the insane things that Team Flash have seen and been through over the years, I found their reluctance to believe that Barry and Oliver had somehow switched powers and identities a little odd and out of character for the team. It really only exists in the story to give Barry and Oliver an excuse to go to Supergirl’s Earth and seek out Kara’s help. They figure that if something is wrong with their reality, another universe like Supergirl’s may not be affected. Of course they’re right and Supergirl recognizes them for who they are right away.
To my utter delight, Kara just so happens to be visiting her cousin, Clark Kent and his wife Lois Lane, on The Kent Family Farm when Barry and Oliver pop up in her universe. In a nice Easter Egg that will make many long time superhero TV show fans happy, The Kent Farm where they filmed this episode is the same Kent Farm that was used on the TV series Smallville. When we see the farm for the first time “Save Me” by Remy Zero, the them song to Smallville, kicks in and I’ll admit that had me grinning ear to ear. It was a hot mess at times, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Smallville.
As a long time DC Comics fan, it was so much fun seeing Barry, Oliver, and Kara interacting with Clark Kent and Lois Lane on The Kent Family Farm. In what I think was my favorite moment of the episode, as soon as Oliver meets Clark, he immediately starts puffing up his chest and Barry instantly calls him out on it. It’s great.
Though we’ve seen relatively little of him over the last few years, Tyler Hoechlin is probably my favorite the live action Superman right now. Anytime he shows up in the Arrowverse is cause for celebration and his inclusion here does not disappoint. While it seems like he may be out of the picture at the end of the episode, I know for a fact we’ll be seeing him again throughout the crossover. I was equally impressed with Elizabeth Tulloch as Lois Lane. In what little screen time she has, she instantly embodies Lois Lane. She’s tough, funny, smart, and likable. As much as I like Amy Adams’ Lois Lane, Tulloch seemed really dialed in to the character and I can’t wait to see more of her as the crossover progresses.
Another very pleasant surprise was the inclusion of an iconic DC villain that’s the perfect enemy to have a Superman, Supergirl, The Flash, and Green Arrow go up against. Apparently in this new altered reality, Professor Ivo, the psychopathic scientist responsible for torturing Oliver and his fellow castaways on Lian Yu, killing Shado, and indirectly creating Deathstroke in Arrow Season 2, somehow got off the island alive. He opened his own lab in Central City and created the iconic, ultra powerful android A.M.A.Z.O. using advanced robotics, computer programming, and the Mirakuru super soldier serum that was such an intricate plot point in Arrow Season 2. A.M.A.Z.O. has the ability to immediately replicate the powers of any meta-human it comes into contact with. In the comics, it’s so powerful that even the Justice League have a difficult time handling this thing. So this was the perfect bad guy for the heroes to go up against in the climax of the episode.
Elseworlds only has three episodes, unlike last year which had four episodes and a much bigger cast. Legends of Tomorrow isn’t officially part of the crossover this year (part of me thinks that’s a shame because I would have loved seeing someone like John Constantine interact with the characters featured in Elseworlds ). This year has a much tighter focus so far on Barry, Oliver, and Kara. As a result more money went into these 3 episodes and it really shows on screen. More money means better special effects. You can really see how well that money was spent because A.M.A.Z.O. looks incredible and his final fight with our heroes is really, really fucking cool. The Arrowverse in general and The Flash In particular, has always had excellent special effects considering they’re on The CW. Which makes the fight with A.M.A.Z.O. all the more impressive.
Last year the 4-part Crisis on Earth–X aired over two night, with each night featuring two episodes of the crossover. This year we’re getting 3 episodes spread out over 3 nights. So it definitely felt like the whole thing was over way too fast. Which is really a testament to how well Part 1 of Elseworlds was executed, because it leaves the audience wanting to see the next installment immediately. I know I certainly did.
Part 1 leaves you with one hell of a set up for Part 2. The episode wraps up with our heroes heading off to the legendary Gotham City in search for answers. We catch a glimpse of Wayne Tower and a quick glance at Batwoman looking out over the Gotham City skyline. After seeing how good this episode was and how so many amazing characters and pieces of DC lore show up, the promise of seeing iconic places like Arkham Asylum and Gotham City leaves me incredibly excited for the next installment of Elseworlds. I don’t want to speak too soon, but at the rate Elseworlds is going it’s shaping up to possibly be the best Arrowverse crossover yet.
Elseworlds (Part 1): 9/10
Thanks for reading!