To say the Arrowverse's Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover is a huge undertaking would be a major understatement. The crossover ties together five different TV series – Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Batwoman, and DC's Legends of Tomorrow – each of which are juggling their own casts and ongoing storylines. For some shows like Arrow, Crisis is the end of a years-long journey. For others, like Supergirl and The Flash, it's the launching point for new stories in 2020.The CW brought together five Arrowverse producers – Legends of Tomorrow's Keto Shimizu, Supergirl's Robert Rovner, Batwoman's Caroline Dries, Arrow's Beth Schwartz, and Crisis overseer Marc Guggenheim – to talk more about what lies in store for the Arrowverse and why the crossover was such an immense mission.
An Event 34 Years in the Making
Fans of DC Comics may be familiar with the comic book storyline that shares the same name as this Arrowverse crossover: Crisis on Infinite Earths. In 1985, this comic changed 50 years of DC history and continuity. Author Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez's 12-part series was the most ambitious crossover event DC Comics had ever done, so it only makes sense that the Arrowverse would consult someone with firsthand knowledge of the book when crafting such a crossover for The CW: Marv Wolfman.
Guggenheim brought Wolfman in to conduct a writers' salon with each of the show's writers' rooms to prepare them for the Crisis. "Working with Marv is such a thrill because I grew up with all of Marv's comics. The man's an icon and he's one of my idols," Guggenheim explained. "As stressful as it is making sure you're not screwing something up when you work with one of your idols, Marv makes it super easy. He's such a collaborative guy."
With the foundation of the comic beneath their feet and the entire scope of the Arrowverse laid out before them, the showrunners and their teams were ready to write. During the Q&A, Guggenheim said that the Arrowverse's previous crossovers also helped them prepare for this size of an event. "This year… being the most ambitious and the biggest yet was very challenging. However, we kind of knew how to prepare ourselves for it and our support staff… We've been doing it in steps with the crossovers. First just being Arrow and Flash, and then Arrow, Flash, and Legends, and it's… getting bigger and bigger every time we do it."
The Heart of the Crisis
The size of this crossover is massive. The number of superheroes appearing in Crisis on Infinite Earths and the cameos that have been lined up make this the crossover with the largest cast yet. And the stakes couldn't be higher. A universe-ending bad guy could threaten to overshadow the characters that we have come to know and love, but the creative minds behind the Arrowverse promise the five episode-event will pack a bigger emotional punch than any crossover before.
"It needed to feel emotionally significant for everybody and I think yes, you can have all these incredible cameos from all these fun different versions of these DC characters that we know and love so much," Shimizu explains. "But at the core of it, we really wanted to keep track of the main [characters] from all of our shows and have them go through something really incredibly significant for their characters in this Crisis."
These emotional moments will keep the stakes more personal than they have been in previous crossovers, said Shimizu: "I think that is what grounds it and makes this Crisis important on a very deep heart level … what you feel for these characters as they're going through this amazing adventure together. And it brings them all closer together, which I think is sort of the definition of epic in terms of the relationship that all these shows have with one another."
A New Beginning for the Legends
The events of Crisis take place during the mid-season finales of three shows: Supergirl, Batwoman, and The Flash, and near the end of Arrow's eighth and final season (save two episodes), but it doesn't take place at the middle or at the end of Legends of Tomorrow's fifth season. In fact, the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths set up Legends of Tomorrow's next season. This puts these characters in a unique position because they can deal with the effects of Crisis throughout their new season, specifically Sara Lance and Ray Palmer.According to Legends of Tomorrow showrunner and producer Shimizu, this created a singular challenge for the writing staff on Legends: "Crisis is essentially a prequel to our Season 5. However, it was shot out of order. So we had to know the sequel to everything that was going to happen in Crisis before we'd even written Crisis. So that was very tricky for us… it was challenging, but I think it actually ended up melding really well."Since Supergirl, Batwoman, and The Flash are all in the middle of their respective seasons, the Crisis will significantly affect all the shows and lead characters. Supergirl showrunner Robert Rovner said, "For us, it really resets a lot of what's happening on Supergirl in the second half. That was another thing that was challenging about this crossover that's different from the others is that it really kind of throws a huge event on and impacts everything that's going on in the show. So it's fun to see what happens afterward."Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries explained that even though most of the characters on Batwoman are new the multiverse, there will be ripple effects: "We have some fallout on Batwoman. It's a little tricky because our characters aren't yet exposed to this notion of multiple universes and superheroes with powers and stuff. So there's a fine line, but I think it will have really resonant meaning, a really kind of shocking resonance."As for The Flash, Guggenheim shared that "Barry will do something that is very significant that will have ramifications for the remainder of Season 6 of Flash." Those actions and consequences will likely have to do with the impending prophecy of his death, which he believes will happen during the Crisis.
Saying Goodbye to Arrow
As for Arrow, showrunner Beth Schwartz says that the Crisis "changes literally everything on Arrow. Arrow is actually the opposite of [Legends]. Because we were going towards the end of our series and season. So it's different than the crossovers have been in the past." Crisis, essentially, is the grand finale of Arrow, since it was announced earlier this year that Arrow would return for a final, 10-episode Season 8. So far, seven episodes of Arrow have aired, which makes Crisis lucky number eight, with two more to follow: The Green Arrow and the Canaries spinoff episode and the series finale.
What's the Next Arrowverse Crossover?
With this being the biggest crossover The CW has planned to date, many fans are wondering if next year will be even bigger. According to Guggenheim, don't get your hopes up. "Last year we sort of took a step back and… took a breath and then took the giant bite out of the cake. [Next year] we're going to take a step back again. We're going to take several."
Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 1 will be released Sunday, Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. on The CW. Part 2 follows on Monday night at 8 p.m., while Part 3 airs on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. Part 4 and Part 5 won't air until January of 2020. Keep it tuned to IGN for more Crisis coverage!
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