Thoughts & Essays

Elseworlds, Part One

I look forward to the Arrowverse crossover every year. It’s among my top five favorite TV traditions, even though it’s only been a thing for three years. I love the crossover. I don’t even care what they do for it. I just love seeing all those live action heroes showing up to handle one plot for a few days.

I adore the DC TV universe for a lot of the same reasons I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s a commitment to developing these characters, building their worlds, and then bringing them together to see how they bounce off each other.

There’s a commitment to enjoying the process, to the fun of it all, to the sheer nerdy joy of having the heroes get together to kick ass.

It’s something that the DC movie universe sorely lacked, and it’s probably the reason the DC movies (mostly) failed so miserably.

Superheroes are supposed to be fun.

Which doesn’t mean that they can’t be serious, or that the stakes can’t be high, or that they can’t handle weighty subject matter. You just have to look at Infinity War to see that’s not the case.

But even Infinity War, as much of a punch in the gut as it was, knew that it needed to have a little fun in it, too. That whole movie was built around Thor’s big badass entrance, and Thor still spent like half his screen time being a funny dork with the Guardians.

The fun is part of what sells the serious.

Elseworlds only gets three hours to get its job done this year, and it’s not wasting any time. The first episode starts off in high gear with Ollie waking up in Barry Allen’s bed, and Barry Allen’s wife making him pancakes and smooching him good morning.

(“What if – Barry – walked in -?” Ollie says when Iris kisses him, because at heart, he’s kind of a dog.)

Barry, meanwhile, is busy getting his ass handed to him by Diggle, before muscle memory kicks in and he whoops Diggle.

I love that Ollie’s reaction is all “WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS,” and Barry’s all “OMG THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!” It’s a really nice underline for their respective characters because Barry’s always thought being a superhero with super powers was the coolest and most fun thing ever, whereas Oliver has always looked at his skill set as some kind of burden or trial that only he can handle.

This carries through in their first missions as each other, where Barry’s almost having too much fun to get the job done and Oliver goes full-on overkill.

In short order we discover that the Flash team isn’t buying this whole “body-switching” snafu, although they are willing to believe something weird is going on.

(“Barry, did you time travel again?” – “No! And I’m Barry!”)

Unable to get the Flash team to help, Barry and Oliver turn to Supergirl, reasoning that if their whole world has changed, maybe hers hasn’t, since it’s a separate universe. This turns out to be the case, and Barry and Oliver get to meet that cousin, the super cousin, to boot.

Quick aside, here, just to remind everyone that Tyler Hoechlin plays a fantastic Clark Kent and Superman. Also, Elizabeth Tulloch did an excellent Lois Lane, even though she was only onscreen for a few minutes. I like them. Let’s keep them.

We get some fun on the Kent farm while Barry and Oliver discover that acting more like each other helps them use their new power sets better. Then Cisco shows up to let everyone know that there’s a menace in Central City that the Flash crew could use a hand with.

And that menace? Is A.M.A.Z.O. Yes. Actual frickin’ A.M.A.Z.O. On TV. In live action. And the Green Arrow, the Flash, Superman and Supergirl are all in one scene, fighting actual freakin’ A.M.A.Z.O.

I squee’d so hard I’m pretty sure the neighbors heard me, y’all.

This version of A.M.A.Z.O. was pretty similar to the Justice League cartoon’s version of A.M.A.Z.O., the big grey android who displays the crest of each superhero on its chest as it copies their powers. (I know this because we just finished re-watching Justice League for the umpteen millionth time.)

After defeating A.M.A.Z.O. in an epic fight scene, Superman returns to Earth 38 so’s not to leave it undefended while Supergirl’s helping Ollie and Barry. Meanwhile, Cisco gets a vibe and reveals the next major plot point to Barry, Oliver and Kara: Gotham, y’all. We’re going to meet Batwoman.

There was a lot to love in this episode. There was just a metric ton of fan service and goofing around, including a bunch of call-outs for Smallville fans. I didn’t catch any of those because I never watched Smallville, but apparently if you did, you were pretty overjoyed, judging by the fan reactions.

I loved that the chump villain was A.M.A.Z.O. It caught me by surprise, too, because even though they said the lab was Ivo Laboratories, and they showed us the damn android, I didn’t even realize he was going to be A.M.A.Z.O. until the android gumped Killer Frost and Elongated Man.

“OMG it’s A.M.A.Z.O.!” I squealed, hands in the air in glee. These shows can throw Grodd and King Shark and all this Silver Age goofballery at me, and I’m still amazed whenever they whip out some more.

I loved that Barry took the opportunity to get even for Ollie shooting him with arrows, and died laughing when Ollie had the audacity to get mad about it.

I loved that Barry was all about how much fun this whole Freaky Friday thing was, until he realized Oliver woke up with Iris. “Wait, we gotta fix this right now.”

I loved Oliver laughing at how silly Barry’s hand looked after dislocating his thumb to escape handcuffs. “I’ve done that so many times – I had no idea that’s how silly that looked.”

I loved “Just tell her she’s your lightning rod, it’ll work, I promise,” and the look Oliver gives Barry over that, and then the second look later on when it actually works.

This whole episode was absolutely the best, and it’s only the first episode. I cannot wait for tonight and tomorrow’s shows.

Line of the Night Award

Guys, there were almost too many good lines and scenes to pick from for this award. Ralph’s “It’s not even Tuesday yet,” the hallway scene at STAR Labs, “Are you puffing out your chest,” Kara’s Oliver impersonation, it was all fantastic.

But I think, if I have to winnow it down to one, my favorite, I’m going to have to give it to Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman: “Well that’s not great,” when he’s fighting A.M.A.Z.O. Just, the deadpan delivery and the surprised/irritated look on his face. I died.

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