Review: Crisis On Earth-X ends with big twists and a massive superhero showdown

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No piece of live-action superhero media has captured the feeling of a comic-book crossover event like Crisis On Earth-X. With a huge cast of characters, a major death, and a final scene taking big heroes in bold new directions, Crisis delivers the thrills, the twists, and the inspiration that should come from a superhero story with this massive scope. Last year’s “Heroes Vs. Aliens” was a fun test run, but Crisis goes bigger in every respect, justifying its existence as a separate entity from the shows it brings together. Yes, the network split the story into four chapters for each of the Arrowverse series, but giving Crisis its own title card indicated that it was being approached like its own miniseries, weaving the individual shows together into a sprawling superhero narrative.

I lost count of how many times I said “this is so much better than Justice League” while watching Crisis, which has compelling character conflicts, exciting action sequences, and villains driven by a dangerous ideology that has become especially relevant over the past year. The Nazi supervillains of Earth-X want to expand their control and create an Aryan multiverse, and Crisis is a clear indictment of the xenophobic, intolerant views that have spread throughout the U.S. Giving Earth-X Oliver and Kara a romantic relationship adds some extra depth to the villains’ plot, and it’s always a good idea to root character motivations in love, even when the characters are defined by their extreme hate.

Half of the Legends have been absent for the first three parts of Crisis, but they show up at the perfect time to stop Supergirl from having her heart cut out. Amaya, Nate, Ray, and Zari don’t do very much in this episode, but that’s fine. Some characters are going to get pushed into the background during a superhero crossover, and quantity is most important in stories like this. My inner child beams when a bunch of superheroes team up, and seeing all these characters assemble in Crisis highlights how much this universe has grown over the years and how many surprising faces have made their way to the screen. (I’m still blown away by Wild Dog being a regular on Arrow.)

We’ve known that Victor Garber would be leaving Legends Of Tomorrow, but I didn’t expect him to get killed off in the big crossover. It makes a lot of sense, though, especially with Legends airing the conclusion of Crisis. Martin makes a sacrifice that motivates the heroes for their final fight, and he goes out with an act of heroism that helps ensure that Nazis don’t take over his world. The work done with Martin and Jax in the preceding chapters gives their goodbye a lot of emotional weight, and Victor Garber and Franz Drameh capture how high the stakes are for both characters. Jax doesn’t want to lose his father figure, but Martin isn’t going to let Jax lose his life for an old man who lived an amazing life. Martin views Jax as his son, and his final wish is that Jax finds the same happiness that he did with his family and friends. Having Martin’s death happen in this crossover makes it a moment that resonates across this entire universe rather than a single show, and there’s a real sense of loss for both the superhero community and the family Martin leaves behind.

Martin’s death slows down the pacing of the episode as characters take some time to grieve this loss, providing a short breather before the action extravaganza that ends the Nazi threat. There are a lot of very fun moments in the big action set piece of this episode, like Atom riding on one of Mr. Terrific’s T-spheres and Killer Frost transporting Amaya and Zari on a giant ice slide. Playing a lot of Injustice 2 in the last few months has helped me accept the CGI in superhero film and movies, and instead of expecting the action to look real, I’m more concerned with it being dynamic and forceful. Flash vs. Reverse-Flash and Supergirl vs. Overgirl are CGI-heavy fights, and they reinforce how powerful these characters while still providing strong visuals. Supergirl eventually flies Overgirl into orbit where she can go supernova without hurting anyone, and Oliver takes care of Nazi Kara’s lover when he puts an arrow through the chest of his doppelganger.

I’ve been hoping for a queer Leonard Snart ever since he appeared on The Flash, and Crisis delivers with an adorable romance between Snart’s Earth-X counterpart, Leo, and The Ray. In general, the amount of same-sex kissing in this crossover made me very happy, and it’s great to see these superhero shows normalizing queer relationships. Sara Lance and Alex Danvers hooking up in the first part had me cheering, and I appreciate that Crisis built an entire story around this relationship rather than having it be background fan service. Sara helps Alex get over Maggie by telling her to trust the instinct that told her Maggie wasn’t the right person, and Alex learns what we all already know: Sara Lance is the best. After the big battle, Leo decides to stick around Earth-1 while Ray heads back home, but hopefully we won’t have to wait long to see their reunion because Wentworth Miller and Russell Tovey give me all kinds of feels when they’re together.

This entire event started with a wedding, and the final scene of Crisis wraps up that plot line as Diggle marries Barry and Iris. But there’s one last twist! Felicity also wants to get married, like right now, and she and Oliver end up getting hitched in a surprise double wedding! As rude as it is for Felicity to hijack this big moment for Barry and Iris, it’s still a major step up from having your wedding interrupted by Nazis, and Crisis solidified the Felicity/Iris friendship so that this final double wedding is a joyous occasion for everyone involved. The Nazis are defeated and love perseveres, ending this crisis on an uplifting note that signals some significant changes for the Arrowverse.
Stray observations

– I love how the group shots in this episode look like comic-book images. All the heroes standing together in the Waverider reminds me of Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come covers, and even though it’s totally impractical to strut into battle in a long straight line, it does make them look really cool.

– Caity Lotz needs a big-screen action vehicle like Atomic Blonde that would show off her fighting prowess. I just want to see her put in increasingly complicated action scenes for two hours.

– Crisis’ Red Tornado doesn’t get much screen time, but it’s way better than the version that appeared on Supergirl.

– I don’t know what it is about The Ray’s rolled up sleeves, but they’re my favorite part of his costume.

– Zari gets herself a costume this week, and it’s basically a mash-up of Amaya and Sara’s costumes with a black and gold color scheme. I like it!

– “Oliver got the girl, I got a life of adventure on a time-travelling spaceship.”

– Mick: “You’re not my partner, you’re a gangbanger.” Leo: “I think you mean doppelganger.”

– Curtis: “Your secret identity is your first name with the word ‘the’ in front of it?” Ray: “Yeah. Why, what’s your secret identity?” Curtis: “Mr. Terrific.” Ray: “Really? It’s a little boasty, don’t you think?” Curtis: “Nah, it’s just one of my favorite wrestlers.”

Mick: “You hit that?” Sara: “Shut up.”

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