In what was one of the most hyped, eagerly-anticipated TV crossovers of all time, the combined shows of the FlArrowverse finally teamed up. The result was simple: as with DC’s movies, regardless of ratings or box office, critically it sucked.
In what was a massive let-down, it proved conclusively that DC’s TV shows have no problems jumping the shark on a regular basis. In theory, the Invasion comic book series looked like being the perfect story to adapt for the small screen because of the varied nature of the shows and characters. Also, the odds of it being adapted into a film are slim, so it’s okay to waste it on these series. So where did it all go wrong? Picking up from Part I, we continue to look at the reasons…
6) Lost opportunities:
Likewise, if you’re going to have characters cross over, then make it count and make it smart. There are so many ideas which could impact all of the shows here that it would be ridiculous to not pay them any lip service. Yet, like so much of the FlArrowverse, lost opportunities were the standard offering. Fans tend to dream up their own ideas of what they’d like to see, and when there are four episodes to play around with for the actual scriptwriters it would make sense to play out at least a few. They could have even used this rare opportunity to explain a few things which might have fallen through the cracks over the seasons of each respective show.
While the examples here are countless, let’s look at two: Gideon and the JSA.
Gideon, in case you forgot, is the computer system in a hidden room at STAR Labs which is from the future and has all sorts of knowledge about what’s to come. Apparently invented by a uture Barry Allen, it also seems to be the shipboard computer aboard the Legends’ timeship Waverider. Fans have speculated about this, but so far no answers have been forthcoming.
So, was Cisco amazed when he heard the same computer system voice speaking while he was on board the Waverider? No. Although you’d imagine that he would have found it more than a little curious. What about the Gideon at STAR Labs? Well, it seems like even with all his meddling around the timelines, Barry still hasn’t bothered to ever talk to it, find out what’s happening in his future, or even what got altered from all of his journeys through time. Isn’t it time the writers had Gideon doing more than just gathering dust as an unresolved plot point?
As for the JSA, it’s astonishing that the government Men In Black failed to recognise Vixen in 1951, since the JSA were so prominent only a few years before. A simple mention from the head MIB about wondering where she’d disappeared to would have gone a long way in solidifying her position with the Legends as opposed to her old team. There’s an even bigger potential story which was missed, though.
What really happened to the JSA? We’ve been told that they “disappeared” whilst on a mission behind the Iron Curtain, but fans of the comic books know otherwise. They were accused of being UnAmerican by the US Senate, and after refusing to divulge their secret identities they went into hiding… or worse. Given the MIB’s statements that the Dominators attacked the US in 1951 based on the rise of the JSA Metahumans, wouldn’t it make sense to add a statement about how the whole Iron Curtain explanation of the JSA’s fate was a hoax, and hint that it was the US government (and maybe even the Dominators working with them) who shut them down in order to keep the peace?
There are more examples, but with such opportunities slipping by it’s a shame that nobody looked at the bigger picture.
7) That ending:
In terms of weak endings, this story stands out for getting it completely wrong. Aside from the Barry/Ollie bromance, we had Cisco’s ability to cross worlds being reduced to a hideous amulet which looked like it had been bought from Corey’s Jewel Box. We also had our good guys take a bow for the new President, other politicians and the military. While their actions had to remain classified (for some unspecified reason), they all got hailed as heroes in an award ceremony so cheap it made the Rebel medal ceremony at the end of Star Wars: A New Hope look like the Oscars.
Although the new President really shouldn’t have called some of them heroes, of course. They should be called Legends.
That whole award ceremony was pretty ridiculous, even with the nice visual of the STAR Labs facility being the Hall Of Justice. Even with the low-rent Michael Bay movie-style celebrations, there wasn’t a single moment where it occurred to anybody in the US government or military to maybe want a better look at Ray’s Atom suit, Supergirl or the Flash’s DNA, or to check on who any of the unmasked superheroes were. Isn’t this the same government which went all-out with Wade Eiling, Waller and so many others to get these sorts of people under control before? And wouldn’t some of those gathered perhaps question just what STAR Labs’ involvement is with the heroes, since their logo was slapped all over the place?
No. The FlArrowverse doesn’t work that way. They just accept things, much as the viewers of these shows are expected to simply accept everything that happens even if it’s contradictory at best or full of massive plot holes.
Of course, there was that MIB guy though. He probably would have done all of those sneaky things the others in the government should be doing, but…
8) What was up with that MIB anyway?
Let’s say that you’ve decided to introduce some government black-ops guy who made a deal with aliens many, many years ago and is now pulling the strings in the present. Because there’s a time travel element to the show you can even show him in both time periods. That sounds pretty good. Now imagine that it’s an original idea, and that the last Men In Black film didn’t pull the same routine. Also imagine that the Doctor Who story The Impossible Astronaut didn’t do it too, because both of those were better than this. Well, originality hasn’t exactly been the watchword for the FlArrowverse creative team over the years.
But what was up with that MIB guy anyway? Was he a good guy, a bad guy, the guy or just a guy?
It’s hard to tell, which is odd because looking back on the whole thing his character was probably supposed to be a pretty pivotal one. Except you wouldn’t know it until the end, which means that any impact he could have had on the story up to that point was lost. Why was it important that he was the same guy as the one in 1951 who struck a deal with the Dominators and met a couple of the Legends? Because… uh… whatever. Still, it would have been nice if they’d taken the time to make his role in the story significant.
In fact, the only reason why he seems to be there at all is because there had to be some sort of government involvement, and a shady Amanda Waller figure was needed for that. The really bizarre thing is that the heroes treat him like he’s a villain, which he wasn’t. He was a guy who made a deal to sacrifice one person in order to save the whole planet, which is a better deal than you’d get in any other war. Yet, despite his actions at keeping the peace, he’s the one who Supergirl decides to pick on at the end by having him transferred to a government office in the middle of a frozen wasteland.
Think about that for a second.
Here’s a guy who did everything right in order to preserve the peace, and he gets punished. He’s also the guy who knows countless government secrets, the secret identities of the Flash and, by extension, the identities of all of the other costumed vigilantes out there. And Kara decides to treat this guy like he’s the enemy. What’s to stop him from telling the world the truth about everything? Absolutely nothing. Way to add to the plot holes, guys. It’s things like this which turn people into supervillains.
9) So much for the elections…
The murder of a serving US President these days may not be the big deal it used to be, but then it probably depends on who the President is. Given the one who’s going to be taking office in the real world soon, especially so. But in the FlArrowverse, the death of a President is even less important than it is in reality. At least that’s the way it appears to be, based on the rather haphazard way the storytelling worked here.
Sure, this crossover was meant to be fun, but since the Invasion is supposed to be a serious threat to all life on Earth it would help matters if they could convey some sense of menace too. Like, say, actually showing a whole bunch of alien ships in the sky over the cities of the world and some reaction shots from the public, instead of just a few blips on a computer screen. A scene with Joe West and the cops of CCPD taking on some Dominators on the streets might have helped too. Instead, in order to up the stakes while keeping it fun, they killed the President instead.
No matter what world you live in, that would be a pretty big deal. It’s hard to know how far the government covered up the Invasion, but given that there were Dominators seen on the streets and all those attacking ships, it’s fair to say that the public had some clue about what was happening. Even if they don’t and they think the President wasn’t killed by aliens, they’re still aware that the President is dead. Did they show anybody actually being concerned about that though? No.
They could have shown average people mourning his loss, or the citizens of the world deciding to fight against the invasion in retaliation, or the military being criticised for not taking a far more pro-active stance and finally mobilizing their forces, or even the superheroes lamenting how – through their own failure to work as a team and poor performance in fighting just a single Dominator – the leader of the free world died in front of them.
It may sound like a downer, but a few scenes of regret, sadness and loss might not have hurt this and added to the sense of this happening in the real world by showing the public reaction. In the comic books, there were regular updates about the state of the war around the world because that’s how it should have been. Even in the old TV show V they understood that.
Because, like with the “Zoom ruling Central City” storyline, it would kind of make sense that the general public wouldn’t be too thrilled at the state of the world they live in, and that daily life would change for them.
10) Sticks and stones:
Those Dominators are pretty tough aliens. So tough that they can defeat an army platoon in 1951 like it’s nothing. They appear to be flameproof and bulletproof, even against more modern weapons, which presumably why the military isn’t fighting them this time. But if the Dominators are so tough then it’s a little questionable why the gun-toting heroes – and in particular the archers on the team – are even necessary. Because, despite the coolness of archers in comic books and movies, the truth of the matter is that bullets pack far more of an impact than arrows, and seeing a Dominator get perforated by some shafts was kind of dumb.
But then, very little about this made sense.
Such as the pathetic deus ex machina solution of gambling the fate of the world on some untested pain-inducing discs, which have apparently been instantly mass-produced so there’s one for every Dominator. Then again, how did Flash and Supergirl carry them all? Did they appear out of thin air? Also, since the Dominators didn’t actually lose but only retreated, why were the heroes so happy? Instead of the stupidly upbeat ending, wouldn’t it have been more dramatic to have someone look up to the sky and ominously warn the others that they only achieved a stalemate this time, and that the Dominators will return one day?
After all, the heroes were lucky that the first Dominator ship crashed in Central City for no reason which made sense, alerting everyone to their presence, and lucky that only one Meta-Bomb was built and that it wasn’t just dropped on the planet right from the beginning. Those Dominators could make another Meta-Bomb at any point and return without warning, especially since their main target (Barry, apparently, even though other time-travelling characters like the Legends and Reverse-Flash have also altered the timeline) is still out there.
Since it wasn’t really explained how they even knew about how Barry screwed up the timeline (much as they didn’t explain Steel knowing this with the Legends), it’s hard to even figure out what the plan was here.
The Invasion storyline in the comic books was intelligent in its execution, making it an event which occurred all across DC’s Earth and took into account the global situation from the viewpoints of many people, culminating in the detonation of the Meta-Bomb, which led to new superpowered characters featuring in every title. Instead, this TV crossover tried to focus it on Barry and, to a lesser extent, Ollie and resulted in nothing of any significance. The status quo was maintained, which makes the whole thing a little too safe for a crossover which was touted as being such a major event.
For all the hype, the Invasion crossover on TV was a dud. Like the fate of the Meta-Bomb, this story splashed down on the TV-viewing public and dried up quickly, without making any impact whatsoever.