"We gotta do this more often."
With those words — and with a new inter-dimensional tool given to Supergirl — DCTV set up a future of infinite possibilities. Crossover events like "Heroes v Aliens" have been a mainstay of comics since #DC and #Marvel first began to publish superhero stories, but we now have a rich diversity of superhero TV shows as well — and this is surely only the first 'superhero TV event'.
It was undoubtedly a tremendous success, but the truth is that "Heroes v Aliens" wasn't perfect. Today, I want to focus in on one problem with the crossover, an issue that DCTV will need to work on for next time.
The Nature of Crossover Events
A crossover event serves two purposes: Firstly, it's an opportunity to expand your universe in fantastic ways, and there should always be a tremendous sense of excitement. "Heroes v Aliens" certainly delivered on that, setting up an arc in which DCTV's myriad heroes had to face off against an alien invasion. But there's a second purpose behind a crossover; to introduce viewers to your full slate.
For this reason, the crossover episodes have to retain each show's unique arcs, to act as an introduction to the kind of stories fans can expect if they get into the different shows. That's why the #Supergirl episode focused in on the threat of Medusa; that's why Professor Stein's relationship with his daughter was crucial for #LegendsOfTomorrow.
But at the same time, you also need to make sure those arcs are accessible to a new viewer. If you're successful, all your shows will draw in those new viewers, and the crossover will serve as an introduction to them. And that's where #Arrow caused problems.
The 100th Episode
First, a confession: I never got into Arrow. I didn't actually have access to the channels it aired on back when Season 1 launched, and historically I've never cared much about the Green Arrow, so I never had much reason to buy the DVDs. It's now into Season 5, and there's simply too much history for me to invest into five seasons of backstory. But that's what the Arrow episode demanded of me; it presented what I'm confident was a deeply emotional and conflicted story, one that harked back to the TV history of Arrow.
After all, the "Invasion!" episode was actually two events. It was both a core part of "Heroes v Aliens", and the 100th episode of Arrow. That's why Greg Berlanti's narrative carried so much weight, exploring the history of the characters, and giving us — and our heroes — a glimpse of a tortuous dreamworld where everything had gone right. It makes perfect sense to use that idea for an anniversary episode, but as part of the crossover "Invasion!" subtly distorted its shape, and presented a story with far too much weight to be accessible to a new viewer.
In a sense, that's fine. A 100th episode should be a celebration of everything that's gone before. But because this was part of the crossover, the episode sacrificed the essential quality of accessibility in order to carry out that celebration. The episode should have left me drawn to Arrow, convinced that I now knew enough to begin immersing myself in that series. Instead, because I lack the emotional connection to some of the characters, it didn't quite ring true.
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Let's be clear: "Heroes v Aliens" was a phenomenal arc, and it's actually a milestone in superhero TV history. Never before has there even been the potential for a crossover like this; superhero TV is now so ubiquitous that we can actually have major events and crossovers! But, just as in comic books, a crossover is a difficult thing for a writer to handle. I'm not saying "Heroes v Aliens" was a failure — far from it, I absolutely loved it. I am saying, though, that it had a single flaw that distorted the event's shape, and that DCTV will need to take care to avoid next time.
Because let's be honest — we all know there's going to be a next time!
Did you enjoy "Heroes Versus Aliens"?
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