Love them or hate them, there’s no arguing that Warner Bros. live-action DC Comics movies leave plenty of room for improvement. We’re half a decade into their superhero movie shared universe, and the studio is still scrambling to find its voice. Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League may have earned loads of cash, but they offended critics and divided fans. And judging by the Aquaman trailers, DC won’t dethrone Marvel any time soon. But there’s one area where DC Comics’ characters thrive outside of comic panels, and that’s on TV. And The CW’s latest Arrowverse crossover event, Elseworlds, should have comic book fans excited.
The Arrowverse kicked off in 2013 when The CW brought comic book hero Oliver Queen aka The Green Arrow, to live-action glory with the program, Arrow. The series began life as a solid if unspectacular action series about a wealthy playboy who becomes a ruthless vigilante by night. The series featured some of the best fight choreography and action sequences on TV but was held back by a gritty and grounded in reality style that borrowed heavily from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.
Arrow grew more comfortable embracing its comic book roots the longer it stayed on the air. Over time, the show dug deep into the comic’s rich history to deliver colourful villains from The Green Arrow’s rogues gallery; even daring to give some of them superpowers. Most importantly, Arrow offered a platform for other famous heroes to show up, like Central City crime scene investigator, Barry Allen, better known as The Flash.
Barry Allen’s introduction on Arrow served as a backdoor pilot for his own TV series, The Flash. And with The Flash’s debut, the Arrowverse – Arrow shared universe – was born. Since then, a couple more programs and dozens of heroes and villains have joined the Arrowverse family – making for some epic crossover events. Until now, 2016’s Invasion crossover looked impossible to top. That storyline saw heroes from four different Arrowverse programs join forces to stop alien invaders called the Dominators from taking over the earth. The event brought a staggering number of live-action heroes together and wrung every last cent out of its meagre TV show budget. After watching the trailer for next month’s Elseworlds crossover, it appears the Arrowverse just upped its game.
Comic books are like soap operas, with characters, relationships, and plots that carry on for months and sometimes years. DC Comics’ Elseworlds brand presented stories in alternate realities that take place outside of a title’s established continuity. This lets writers tell crazy stories without worrying about the plot fallout. Elseworlds could ask questions like what if Baby Kal-El’s ship crashed in the Soviet Union instead of the Kent farm in Kansas? The possibilities are endless.
By bringing Elseworld’s to television, the Arrowverse is giving viewers the most comic book-y story possible. All the rules governing Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow go out the window; it’s a world where up is down, down is up, and Tommy Wiseau may have a best picture Oscar. The trailer offers hints at Elseworlds’ remixed version of the Arrowverse’s continuity. This means that Barry Allen actor Grant Gustin is now The Green Arrow and Oliver Queen actor Stephen Amell is now The Flash.
Judging by the trailer, Elseworlds is bursting with Easter eggs for the Arrowverse’s audience and long-time comic book fans. If it’s true that clothes make the man, then what does it mean when we see Superman in all-blacks duds? Is it the costume he wore after he was resurrected from the dead or is he draped in the attire of a fascist leader? As if there wasn’t enough to unpack, we also get a brief glimpse at the Arrowverse’s incarnation of Batwoman. I’m most excited to see John Wesley Shipp rock his old-school Flash costume from his short-lived 1990 TV show.
The Elseworlds trailer jams a lot of info into its all-too-brief runtime, and it’s more than enough to leave me pumped up for all three nights. Whatever else might be in store is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain: The CW will drop their biggest bombshell on December 9th.