Now that we're past the mid-summer point otherwise known as July 4th, now's about as good a time as any to start thinking about the return of the CW's "Arrowverse" shows. With Arrow shuffling off the network's programming coil after an abbreviated eighth season (making The Flash the "elder states-show" of the "Arrowverse"), Ruby Rose-starrer Batwoman joining the family, and a looming "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover that could change things dramatically (more on that below), the 2019-2020 season isn't exactly going to be lacking in change.
The weight of responsibility that is "Crisis" is not one that Arrowverse producer Greg Berlanti takes lightly, with the mid-'80s DC Comics series being a major influence on him and his approach to storytelling – as he shared with Entertainment Weekly:
"It was a great way to get into all the characters at once because it was like a labyrinth of storytelling. So you were starting to see how all of these characters were interconnected, and then that made you want to go and read the different issues that were happening and get into the different things."
For Berlanti, "Crisis" was the first time he had a real appreciation of just how connected all of the "smaller" stories have been – that there was a much larger story at play:
"The thing that Dungeons & Dragons and Lord of the Rings and the DC space had at the time [in the stories they were doing] was how you got a sense of 'Oh my God, this story is bigger than all of these other little stories, [and] I can figure it out. There was was no online community to connect with. You felt a part of it by like, 'Oh, I can get that piece of information, or I can go get that comic book, or that issue, and I can fill in the blanks of being part of this bigger thing.'"
While Berlanti teased the impending "Crisis" way back in The Flash series opener, there were no guarantees that they would ever get to tell their version (believing that Warner Bros. and DC are giving their blessings since it will be "very specific to the Arrowverse"):
"We weren't sure we'd ever be allowed to [do our version of Crisis], or where we'd get to that place. It's our iteration of it. It's not necessarily what they'd end up doing in the film space, so we could advocate for it that way, in terms of permission."
With the scope of such an undertaking, Berlanti knows the challenges ahead and looks to do right by the story – with a sense that he's doing it as much to make his younger self happy as much as the current fans:
"I never feel anything other than a sense of responsibility. Whenever we do an iconic story line or we do something that reminds us really vividly of one of those books that meant a lot to us, we have a sense of pressure and obligation of 'Oh wow, we really don't want to mess this up' even more so than we usually do. So that fear overrides any kind of other emotion."
"It's the closest I ever feel to being a kid again, without a doubt. You just get the same sensation, and you didn't even realize that you locked it up and put it away."
The same day that Marc Guggenheim signaled that work on the crossover was already underway (the earliest they've started work on an "Arrowverse" crossover), LaMonica Garrett introduced "Crisis" fans on Twitter to the first day of table reads – and to his very own "Monitor Mini-Me" the following day:
The Road to "Crisis on Infinite Earths"
Viewers can't say they weren't warned in advance. At the end of 2018's CW Arrowverse "Elseworlds" crossover that brought together The Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl (and nearly DC's Legends of Tomorrow, but they let it go to machine – way too busy for all that), we saw that the end was only the beginning… of the end. As Barry (Grant Gustin) and Oliver (Amell) shared what felt like a final toast and Kate Kane's Batwoman (Rose) returned to protecting the streets of Gotham – with a sense that something felt a little off – we got a small taste of what's still to come in 2019…
"Crisis on Infinite Earths!" Worlds will live! Worlds will die!
And the CW's "Arrowverse" will never be the same…
At CW's 2019 May Upfronts presentation, the network offered a few "'Crisis' management" clues for info-starved fans. This year's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover will include Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, and Batwoman; the entire story will be five hours long; and the event will air over two quarters (3 episodes in December 2019, 2 episodes January 2020). There were initial concerns that DC's Legends of Tomorrow would not be involved – as the series won't be returning until midseason – but the announcement resolved that matter.
Curiously enough, Black Lightning is not listed as participating in the crossover event – surprising considering the "infinte earths" aspect lends itself to "guest appearances" from a number of televised DC properties (past and present) that aren't directly connected to the CW's properties. With that said? We're trusting our instincts, which tell us the Pierce family will be residing in the "Arrowverse" by the time the red skies clear.
For most of their respective seasons, things have been "All Quiet on the 'Crisis' Front" when it came to Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl – but that changed in a big way during their respective season finales… even for DC's Legends of Tomorrow!
In Arrow season finale "You Have Saved This City," the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) returns to cash in on the favor that Oliver owes him: help him save the multiverse – taking a moment to tell him the "fine print": Oliver's going to die during "Crisis" and there's nothing the Monitor can do to stop it.
Then there's that matter of Future Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and the trip she's taking with the Monitor to see Oliver… somewhere… and it's apparently a place she can't come back from. Hmmm…
Over at The Flash season finale "Legacy," some recent maneuverings with Time moved up the date on Barry's "red skies/2024" newspaper warning just a wee bit… to say, 2019?
The fourth season finale of Supergirl "The Quest for Peace" had The Monitor speaking to a hooded figure, telling him that now is the time for him to lead "his people" and to take revenge on his captor… and brother: J'onn J'onzz (David Harewood). Meanwhile, just because Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) may have shuffled off this mortal coil (???) doesn't mean his role in the upcoming "Crisis" is over quite yet…
DC's Legends of Tomorrow season finale "Hey, World!" found the plan to take down Neron (Brandon Routh) resulting in a major status quo change for Zari (Tala Ashe) – a change that the suddenly-appearing Monitor does not appear to approve of in any way, shape, or form. At least he got some popcorn out of it – and yes, that is The Book of Destiny he's using to balance it.
The CW's Batwoman and Supergirl premiere Sunday, October 6; while The Flash premieres Tuesday, October 8, with Arrow joining them on October 15. Black Lightning premieres the following week, on Monday, October 21.