I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that “a lot of people died” in the first episode of Crisis on Infinite Earths, a five-episode miniseries of nearly a dozen DC universes where the plot is “everyone is gonna die.”
We all knew going into the huge CW Arrowverse crossover that heroes and cameos would drop like flies—eradicated by a wave of anti-matter set off by DC supreme villain the Anti-Monitor. Whether you read the 1985 limited series Crisis is based on, or just tuned into the various DC shows on CW in the last month, you should’ve known that folks were gonna die.
But man, a lot of people died.
In fact, a big handful of the deaths happened in the first 10 seconds of the episode. Universe after universe is eradicated—giving us just enough time to recognize characters before they’re toast.
The dead include:
- The Titans of “Fuck Batman” Earth
- Alexander Knox of “Tim Burton’s Batman” Earth
- Older Robin of “1960s Batman” Earth
- Ray of Earth-X
That’s only 10 seconds of footage and already SO MANY DEAD PEOPLE—including a lot off-screen if you consider the context. Michael Keaton’s Batman. Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. The Doom Patrol. The original Batgirl. Citizen Cold. All dead!
But Crisis didn’t give you time to mourn. The episode, which somehow included nearly all of the regular cast of Supergirl, as well as a lot of heroes from the other DC shows, moved at breakneck speed. You barely had time to recognize a cameo or chuckle at an in-joke before some other calamity was befalling the heroes.
Take for instance the utter annihilation of Kara’s people. AGAIN.
The episode gives us about three minutes to watch them all die, pausing only so Kara’s mom can do what she does best, stick a child in a rocket and launch them off alone to places unknown. Then she’s dead and Kara is allowed two tears and a wobbly lip before the next crisis of the hour.
As fun as the episode is overall (and it is a lot of fun), the way the death of the Kryptonians on Argo goes down is a low point. Supergirl botched the initial appearance of Kara’s people a few seasons back, and then promptly forgot to do anything with this whole new world and tremendous well of dramatic fodder. Killing them off quickly—and allowing the heroes no time to process the genocide—is appropriate given how mishandled the Kryptonians have been up until this point, but it’s also damn frustrating.
I think my ruminating on their deaths in this blog is probably the most thought given to them since their introductions. Anyways. They’re dead now and shortly after their death the Harbinger (who seems less like Lyla and more like another being using the body of Lyla) shows up with some Earth-1 heroes in tow and announces that the final stand for life in the multiverse will be on Earth-38.
It doesn’t go well!
First, the Monitor launches a skyscraper-sized tower in the middle of National City that almost certainly kills thousands with its arrival, and then the heroes have to fight some dementor-esque monsters. There are two brief, and significant, sidetracks. One has Lois, Brainy, and Sara Lance travel to the future of an alternate Earth to save Lois’s son from a deeply depressed old version of Oliver. I am 100 percent sure this Oliver will return, if just because it was super callous to not mention to him that the multiverse was dying and he was gonna be next soon.
The other had Alex appealing to a still very angry Lena for help to transport the entire population of Earth-38 to Earth-1. The ridiculousness of Alex’s plan aside, the moment between the two women is a much needed, if frustrating one. They haven’t interacted since Lena’s heel-turn and Alex nearly murdering her with a missile strike. They get in some good jabs at each other as Alex also pleads for Lena’s help, which of course she’s giving anyway because, as she claims, she’s “not evil.” It’s kind of wild to me that the episode barely gives time for Kara to process the death of her mom...again, but gives up precious minutes of airtime so Alex and Lena can say exactly where they stand with one another. If you haven’t been watching Supergirl this season, it could have been potentially confusing without their dialogue, but also probably not really necessary to delve into given the limited time.
It’s also wild how quickly the episode moves through the annhilation of Kara’s entire universe. By the end of the episode, the heroes manage to save nearly four billion people on Earth-38. But the rest of Kara’s universe is a wash. Which means J’onn’s brother he just saved is dead probably. As is M’gann and the surviving Daxamites and any alien that was on Earth-38 and then later left. Heck—Alex, Lena, and the cast of Supergirl might all have died too (we didn’t see most of them get on ships).
The episode does not pause to consider this catastrophe though, because a far more personal catastrophe is put before the heroes. Oliver dies fighting dementors so roughly one billion more Earth-38 refugees can make it through a portal to Earth-1. Oliver seems at peace as he tells Barry and Kara he sacrificed himself so they could survive because he feels they are true heroes and he’s just a murderer in a sick hoody. He says goodbye to his daughter Mia (a surprise revelation to most other folks in the episode!) and dies.
It’s a nice moment, but as the Monitor notes, Oliver’s death comes too soon. Both because it would be wild for the titular hero of the Arrowverse to die in the first episode of Crisis, and because the Monitor had plans for Ollie to die much further down the line. What will they all do now?
If Oliver stays dead the body count for this episode includes:
- The Titans and everyone else of “Fuck Batman” Earth
- Alexander Knox and everyone else of “Tim Burton’s Batman” Earth
- Older Robin and everyone else of “1960s Batman” Earth
- Ray and everyone else of Earth-X
- Kara’s mom, Alura, and every other Kryptonian on Argo
- M’gann, J’onn’s brother, and every Martian
- Almost four billion people on Earth-38
- Probably Alex’s dad (aka the Superman who wasn’t invited) who has been MIA for many seasons and you know declined a spot on a boat
- Probably like everyone in countries that didn’t have a robust extraterrestrial alien immigration policy
- The rest of Earth-38's universe
- Oliver Queen
After the episode ended a friend asked, “Was it good?”
I found myself searching for the right answer. Was this first episode of Crisis good in the same way an episode of Watchmen is? No. It lacks the consideration for the characters’ internal selves that Watchmen practically revels in. Hell, DC Universe’s Harley Quinn has more respect for its characters than Crisis. But there is simply nothing on television that has the scope of Crisis, or the gumption. The CW and these Arrowverse shows are swinging for the fences, and even if they miss it’s gonna be incredibly entertaining.
- I could spend hours going through all the little in-jokes, but it would be much more fun to see you guys chronicle them in the comments. So have at it.
- Ray Palmer altered time at Woodstock and he and Sara lost at bar trivia because of it. Amazing.
- Ollie gives his daughter Mia her own Green Arrow suit and passes on the mantle.
- I assume Cat Grant survived because I will not be OK if she died.
- The Guardian lives on—James passed his shield to his sister before he left National City. Let’s hope he caught a boat to the multiverse.
- How on earth will Earth-1 handle four billion refugees?
- Barry just casually telling Ollie he was gonna die was very stupid.
- Supergirl is, once again, established to be more powerful than Superman.
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