Why "Crisis on Earth-X" Was a Better Superhero Team-Up Than 'Justice League'

CW owned the DCEU.

The CW / Warner Bros. Pictures

This fall, DC fans got to see the best superhero team-up ever rendered in live-action. But we’re not talking about Justice League. And that’s because the Arrowverse crossover event, “Crisis on Earth-X,” was way better than that other big-budget spectacle anyway you slice it.

When the Flash’s wedding is crashed by Nazis, an interdimensional feud is sparked involving a plethora of superheroes. This multi-episode event had great moments, Easter eggs, spectacular action sequences, and tons of character development. Pretty much everything we didn’t get from Justice League.

The CW’s latest four-show Arrowverse crossover, “Crisis on Earth-X,” delivered a blockbuster-caliber team-up that felt far more Avengers: Infinity War than it did Justice League. If the event did anything very well, it was making it clear that The CW is far better at telling DC Comics stories on the small screen than Warner Bros. is at doing the same on the big screen.

In “Crisis on Earth-X,” Barry Allen (aka The Flash) has his wedding crashed by doppelgangers from a parallel Earth where Nazis won WWII. Oliver Queen is the Fuhrer with Kara Danvers as his wife, and the insane doppelgangers only start there. It’s a bizarre, fun story that functions really well for this type of crossover — far better than a generic apocalyptic invasion from Steppenwolf in Justice League.

"Crisis on Earth-X" featured so many familiar heroes, and a few new ones too.

The CW

Variety reports that based on Justice League disappointing box office returns — $570.3 million worldwide compared to the first Avengers’ $1.5 billion — the DC Films operation will undergo some “shake-ups.” Namely, Justice League producer Jon Berg will effectively be sidelined.

On the flip side, “Crisis on Earth-X” delivered The CW’s best ratings in nearly a decade at 2.76 million viewers for the finale.

The DCEU still struggles to find it’s footing while building out its universe and fanbase, but the greater Arrowverse has been around since 2012. We’ve seen Oliver Queen fight tons of enemies, and in “Crisis on Earth-X” we got to see him and the rest of the heroes fight Nazi versions of themselves.

What’s could possibly be more fun than Barry Allen punching a Nazi in the face at his own wedding?

Barry Allen punches a Nazi at his own wedding.

The CW

The Wonder Woman movie might outshine anything The CW has ever done, but every time heroes from different Arrowverse shows share screentime it’s an absolute delight. Whereas when Superman and Batman slugged it out in the snoozefest that was Batman v Superman, no viewer walks away happy.

The CW shows thrive almost because they neglect focusing on the more prominent DC heroes like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. The stories feel fresh and more interesting even when the Green Arrow feels like a Batman clone.

The only hero that “crosses over” into both the big and small screen is The Flash. Grant Gustin portrays Barry Allen on The Flash television show and Ezra Miller debuted as the same character in Justice League. Gustin plays the affable straight man whereas Miller plays a goofy youngster akin to Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. He brings some much-needed levity, but he’s also painfully awkward at times.

You have a good reason to be worried Barry.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Despite a brazen marketing campaign that promised Justice League would “Unite the League,” we never really get a single moment or shot where Wonder Woman, Batman, The Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, and Superman are truly united. Compared to the awe-inspiring gangbuster team-up moments that have occurred over in the MCU since the very first Avengers movies, Justice League seems like a cruel joke, especially when they spend so much of the movie actively fighting one another.

Over in “Crisis on Earth-X,” the Arrowverse achieves several such moments on a TV budget. In one memorable moment early in part four of the crossover event, sidelined heroes like Cisco Ramon rejoin the fight alongside several Legends of Tomorrow and members of Team Arrow that weren’t around for Barry and Iris’ wedding. They combine their power to destroy the seemingly invincible Metallo, a Kryptonite-powered robot that looks like a Terminator.

It doesn’t quite reach the caliber of the incredible Avengers: Age of Ultron gratuitous group shot, but it comes very close:

“Crisis on Earth-X” also offered up an appropriate amount of Easter eggs, callbacks, and teasers for fans of each of the four shows, none of which took away from the overall quality of the story. Characters get some genuine development that further the stories from all four shows, which is a testament to how strong a grasp The CW has on its storytelling.

Will Warner Bros. ever get a grip on their big screen DC Comics heroes? Even if they don’t, at least we’ll have The CW for seemingly many years to come.

The CW’s “Arrowverse” superhero shows return in January 2018, starting with Supergirl on January 15.

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