The Arrowverse crossovers have become a staple of the CW network, bringing together the interconnected shows for a yearly teamup event. And the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths already promises to be the most ambitious one yet - teased in last year’s Elseworlds, and with casting announcements that point toward a massive collaboration of previous DC television veterans.
So while gearing up for this event, I’m looking back to all the other crossover events to come before. Below is my own personal ranking of the annual Arrowverse crossovers.
(Note that, for the purposes of this post, I’m only considering the yearly crossover events that take place in November/December, and not extra events, like ‘Duet’ and ‘World’s Finest’.)
Arrow ‘The Scientist/Three Ghosts’
Almost by accident, this serves as something of a precursor for what was to. come. In the eighth and ninth episodes of Arrow’s second season (the same episode number that, going forward, would serve crossovers every season thereafter) saw the introduction of Barry’s character into the universe. He and Felicity flirted, he butted heads with Oliver, he temporarily became a member of Team Arrow, and then he returned home to Central City just in time to be struck by lightning. It was the perfect setup for what eventually grew into the larger Arrowverse.
5. Heroes Join Forces
While there were moments in this one, it stands at the bottom of my list for a few of big reasons. One being that the process of setting this up (and by extensive, the spinoff Legends of Tomorrow) kind of hurt both Arrow and Flash. Then there were added problems, like failure to develop Kendra as her own character, how boring a foe Vandal Savage proved to be, and some truly unbearable romance drama between Oliver and Felicity. All of which make this the one crossover I’m most comfortable near about forgetting altogether.
4. Crisis on Earth-X
In most respects, this remains the most ambitious crossover to date. Banishing the format of individual episodes, this became a two-night, four-hour event. A big-scale excuse to bring together a massive swath of characters from across all four of the primary Arrowverse shows, with Barry and Iris’s wedding serving as a launching point for the invasion of literal Nazis from an alternate Earth.
Like ‘Heroes Join Forces’ it wasn’t without its moments. Everything Sara and Alex. The return of Wentworth Miller. The farewell to Victor Garber. But unfortunately, I also found it to be so massive that at a certain point, it became white noise. It didn’t crystallize as many memorable small moments, and the bigger stuff definitely hit a threshold of all being just a bit too much for its own good.
Last year’s crossover event took a different keel from the previous year’s outing, aiming for something comparatively smaller, and a bit quirkier in the comic book mechanics. And at its core, it focused in on one of Arrowverse’s biggest assets: Oliver and Barry, and the dynamic between them.
Seeing them swap lives brought new energy to both respective casts and shows, and did a lot for their relationship. In the midst, they also brought Superman more into the fold, and officially introduced Gotham, whilst simultaneously laying groundwork for the Batwoman spinoff, and this year’s forthcoming Crisis.
The only major criticism I have is that the Supergirl outing failed to put its title character front and center (as Arrow and Flash did for theirs). And what should’ve been a real showcase for Melissa Benoist (and potentially exploring our core trio of leads) was instead overshadowed by an evil incarnation of Superman, and setup from the Monitor for the next event.
2. Flash vs. Arrow
Back in 2014, the thought of big-scale events was even less than a pipe-dream. Successfully mixing the first two Arrowverse shows already set a new bar, and watching the shows and characters play together for a couple of nights was a joy.
This pair of episodes brought the nerdiest of clashes referenced in the title, asking and answering the question: who would win in a fight. In addition, we explored the difference between Arrow’s grim and dark world to Flash’s bright and happy existence. Not to mention all the jokes, meta references, and character interactions we could hope for. Looking back, it seems low-key. But even after all these years, it remains a highpoint for the Arrowverse franchise.
To my mind, there’s been no crossover more successful than the third. Across three nights and three episodes proper, they brought Supergirl over from her Earth to help the casts of Arrow, Flash, and Legends fight back the invading horde of alien Dominators. More so even than the backdoor pilot for Legends, this was the first time we had a massive-scale teamup. And it was amazing.
It also boasts a really effective structure: Flash’s episode introduces the alien foes, brings everyone together, and culminates in an Arrow/Flash vs. everyone else fight that is pure fan service. Arrow’s episode was also its hundredth, and used the event to look back at its history and so much of what had shaped the series. Legends brought it all together at the end, with a world-at-stake battle fought across multiple fronts from as many heroes as could be fit on screen.
The ‘Invasion!’ crossover is exactly what I watch and think to myself: yeah - this is why I love Arrowverse.