The 2017 “Crisis on Earth-X” crossover united the Arrowverse yet again, bringing together the CW’s Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow. This time, however, they weren’t fighting aliens; instead, our heroes had to take down Nazis.
The story focused on a parallel world, Earth-X, where the Nazis won World War II. But what stood out most about this event was how well-oiled a machine it was, in the wake of Warner Bros.’ failure to live up to expectations with Justice League. With that said, let’s compare the two and see where the Arrowverse event was actually better than Zack Snyder’s film and conversely, where it didn’t match up to the DC Extended Universe’s ensemble movie.
The Arrowverse has had years to develop characters from all its shows, even bringing Supergirl into the mix after it came over from CBS. This is why heroes like Flash, Green Arrow, Cisco, and Killer Frost all work so well on-screen with Supergirl, as well as the likes of Firestorm, White Canary, Atom, and so on.
Even with fresher faces like The Ray, Vixen and Isis, the CW knows how to organically link everyone together. This was something Snyder and Whedon failed to achieve, with their team lacking that sense of family that the Arrowverse has in spades, making for better overall team chemistry.
Reverse Flash told Supergirl that he once defeated Superman, which begs the question: why didn’t the CW involve the Man of Steel? It’s not like it would turn people away from watching Henry Cavill’s depiction on the big screen. The Arrowverse also had Oliver Queen name-dropping Bruce Wayne, so most likely, the Dark Knight exists in this world.
If there is one thing Snyder’s universe packs, it’s star power – he has access to Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, while the Arrowverse is left with mostly minor heroes (Flash notwithstanding).
The “Earth-X” crossover had a very strong female presence. White Canary, Alex Danvers, Vixen, and Isis combined to take down the Nazis, with non-fighters such as Felicity and Iris also kicking Nazi butt. The driving point of the story, though, focused on Supergirl feuding with her Nazi counterpart, Overgirl.
Justice League, on the other hand, only dealt with two women as part of its major arc: Lois Lane, handling Superman’s glorious return, and Wonder Woman, as a key warrior against Steppenwolf. Snyder’s film merely treated them like one-dimensional characters, failing to hit the emotional resonance that “Earth-X” did with its ladies.
We know television has limitations, but the “Earth-X” action sequences were pretty mediocre. From the fight choreography, which was almost as bad as Iron First, to the poor SFX when Flash fought Reverse Flash, and Supergirl took on Overgirl, the crossover felt like it was on a tight budget.
If it’s one thing Snyder’s Justice League had, it was spectacle. The fights against the Parademons were awesome, when the League fought Superman it was a thrill-ride, and of course, the final battle against Steppenwolf was quite engaging. The CW, however, needs to take a page from Game of Thrones on how to make television look epic.
“Earth-X” gave us a lot of well-crafted romance with quite a bit of diversity. From the loving unions of Oliver and Felicity, and Barry and Iris, you really felt the heart of the event. Then there was the clever handling of gay relationships with White Canary and Alex, and Earth-X’s Citizen Cold and the Ray to spice things up.
Justice League, though, fails on this end, barely giving us screen-time with Lois and Superman, flopping at making Bruce and Diana’s flirting believable, and botching the chemistry between Aquaman and Mera, basing the movie’s romance on more style than substance.
“Earth-X” kept harping on the typical annoying CW-esque jokes, and took it a step further with some gratuitous superhero shots. The standoff moment with the heroes felt like a rip off from the MCU’s Captain America: Civil War. When Oliver turned to the camera with his mask, and Kara opened her blouse to reveal her ‘S?’ Way more cringeworthy than cool.
Justice League had quite a few annoying moments with the Flash, Batman and Aquaman trying hard to inject humor, which may have been down to Joss Whedon finishing the film, but still, it didn’t overdo the cheese factor.
In “Earth-X”, death hit home pretty hard. In order for Earth-1’s heroes to get back from Earth-X, they needed a gateway under Nazi watch, which cost them the life of Professor Stein. Even when Overgirl and her lover, Dark Arrow, died, they were so evil, it was worth it.
Justice League, however, didn’t even have any significant deaths, stopping short of killing Cyborg’s dad or Wonder Woman’s mother, which could have been big emotional moments. The writers didn’t even kill off Steppenwolf, who tried to destroy the Earth! It seems death in the DCEU ended with Superman.
“Earth-X” killed off Dark Arrow and Overgirl. Meanwhile, Barry had the chance to put Reverse-Flash down, yet for some reason, he let him go. We’re not sure why he did that, especially after he killed Barry’s mother, and caused the speedster so much pain.
Snyder’s League had their chance to kill Steppenwolf but when he was teleported back, Parademons were eating him alive. So even if he lives, Darkseid will probably reward his failure with death, which means he won’t be as fresh and healthy as Reverse-Flash when he comes back for Barry.
“Earth-X” was pretty straightforward: Overgirl wanted to kidnap Kara, use red-sun technology to weaken her and take her heart, in order to live. It was made all the easier with her Nazi legion, Reverse-Flash as her doctor, and a brilliant leader like Dark Arrow.
In terms of its plot, Justice League is much weaker, vague and convoluted. It’s ridiculous that Steppenwolf waited all this time to come for his Mother Boxes, giving Batman time to build a team. Also, the terraforming plot was a rip-off from Man of Steel, and we’re still not sure what Steppenwolf’s end-game was as Darkseid’s general.
“Earth-X” shaped Wally aka Kid Flash as a bonafide bodyguard. We’re not sure why Barry doesn’t let him step up and play in the big leagues with him. How else is the kid supposed to learn? If anything, Green Arrow can make him a better hero like he did Barry.
Snyder’s film also didn’t do its Flash justice, making its Barry Allen a scared geek, but he has a good excuse: he’s inexperienced. And at least Batman has faith in him to make him a crucial part of his team. Let’s hope the Arrowverse shows the same kind of faith in Wally soon because he feels very secondary and periperhal at present.
The CW’s Arrowverse dramas return this week for their midseason finales: Supergirl on Monday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m. ET/PT; The Flash and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., respectively; and Arrow on Thursday, Dec. 7, at 9 p.m.