Boy, I wouldn’t wanna be the guys working on Batman v. Superman.
And yes, we’re well aware that this isn’t actually a movie. But the 2-part story featured over the eighth episodes of both The Flash and Arrow‘s current seasons deserves to be considered as one given it being not only one of the best crossovers that DC has ever had but also the next best superhero extravaganza since The Avengers.
Showcasing both the best and darkest of the two heroes’ worlds, CW’s crossover event successfully does what all of DC’s films have spectacularly failed at since 2005: not portraying every superhero as dark, broody, or happy with being one-dimensional.
Part 1: Flash vs Arrow
Not only does this first part proficiently juxtapose the constant darkness surrounding Arrow’s team against Central City’s sunny outlook, it also brilliantly lays the groundwork for the introduction of a future hero… but more on that later.
The strongest part of the episode is its writing, allowing the characters from Arrow to interact in a much lighter setting without compromising the characters’ personalities. Felicity, obviously, fits in best but both Ollie and Digg have their moments of light heartedness that would usually be denied of them in their own show.
Introducing classic Flash villain the Rainbow Raider, Barry is in over his head when he realises that no man can outrun his own emotions—even if you’re moving near the speed of light. For those unfamiliar with Rainbow Raider—or as he’s known here, Prism—Roy G. Bivolo (yes, he’s named after the colour spectrum: ROYGBIV) was a villain who had goggles that allowed him to construct solid objects from light, turn invisible and manipulate the emotions of his opponents by filtering light through the colour spectrum.
Now, if Rainbow Raider sounds like he’d have been a better fit as a Green Lantern villain, you’d be right. And I think that’s exactly what’s happening here. By purposefully disposing of Roy’s other powers in the series, the writers have essentially laid a somewhat plausible explanation for the Green Lantern Corps—and the other Lantern corps too.
With the idea of light filtered through colour allowing the manipulation of emotions introduced here, it won’t be much of a stretch to consider a person with the ability to channel his own emotion through a light-based weapon programmed to only respond to a certain frequency of the emotional spectrum. Also, we have already seen numerous references to Ferris Aircraft confirming that, at the very least, some Green Lantern characters do exist in this universe.
And the best part? A more powered up Roy G. Bivolo, with all of his comic book powers restored, would be the perfect villain to justify a crossover between long time friends, Barry Allen and Hal Jordan (Green Lantern).
Also, the end of this episode picks up a plot thread from the second season of Arrow, reintroducing Ollie’s ex-girlfriend… who just happens to be the mother of this child. Connor Hawke, anybody?
The only reason as to why these 2 episodes don’t actually work as a movie is made apparent here, with the introduction of a completely new villain and dilemma. The stakes however, take a leap and become about life or death.
It is also here that the vigilante vs superhero juxtaposition is made most clear. With the idealistic Barry dropping by to assist Oliver against Digger Harkness (a.k.a. Captain Boomerang)—yet another Flash villain—the Scarlet Speedster’s in a bit of a culture shock when he realises that despite him fighting super powered freaks weekly, it is actually Arrow who has been up against the monsters.
While the writing of this episode loses a little subtlety and gets pretty in-your-face with the “Flash is bright and cheery while Arrow is dark and broody” thematic discussion, it’s still a conversation that’s been needing to happen. With DC’s superhero movies conforming to a generically dull approach of greyscale-like footage and characters, it’s a pretty significant step forward to have someone on their own team point out what the movie division is doing wrong.
Much like the first part of the crossover, this part continues with a great streak of dialogue and chemistry between the two heroes and their respective crew members. I almost literally cannot wait for the next cross over and am holding out hope that they throw Green Lantern into the mix.