How the Arrowverse’s “Invasion!” Crossover Found Its Success

James Akinaka
Arrowverse DC
Arrowverse DC TV

The CW’s DC Week has come to an end, and with it, the Arrowverse’s first four-way crossover. “Invasion!” brought together the core casts of The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow, along with a certain Kryptonian from another Earth: Supergirl. And man, was that crossover a sight to behold!

It’s no surprise that it was a logistical nightmare for The CW to juggle cast and crew between production for the crossover episodes. Even the simple premise of bringing together four different shows was an impressive — and unprecedented — feat for TV. We’ve already learned that the crossover shored up the ratings for all of the Arrowverse’s shows. With the Dominators’ invasion finally over, let’s see how the Arrowverse managed to invade The CW with such an epic event.

Past Attempts

Arrow And The Flash Face Off

Ever since The CW launched a full-scale “Arrowverse” of shows, the series’ producers have steadily pushed the envelope. In 2014, the Arrowverse’s inaugural crossover, “Flash vs. Arrow” and “The Brave and the Bold,” brought Arrow and The Flash together for the first time. It was great to see both series’ casts share the screen, but the two crossover episodes didn’t share a strong storyline, especially since their villains — Roy Bivolo and Digger Harkness — didn’t overlap at all. Ultimately, the first crossover’s appeal was in its characters, not its plot.

The 2015 crossover, consisting of “Legends of Today” and “Legends of Yesterday,” offered a stronger plot. Yet, the story felt crowded since it had to lay the groundwork for Legends of Tomorrow. The episodes balanced Kendra Saunders and Carter Hall’s history with Vandal Savage, with Oliver Queen’s discovery of his son, William. Overall, the plot worked well. But it still didn’t seem like all of both series’ characters got utilized to their fullest potential.

The First of its Kind

Arrow Flash Midseason Wrap-Up 2015

In many ways, this year’s “Invasion!” was the first crossover of its kind for the Arrowverse. Unlike its predecessors, “Invasion” didn’t have to worry about setting up a new show, or even about proving why crossovers are worth doing. Instead, it brought the casts of The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow together on a collision course with Supergirl and the Dominators. It felt rather like making a soufflé from scratch: easy to get wrong, but oh so worth it when it’s done right.

Perhaps that’s why “Invasion!” was as successful as it was. Since its inception, the Arrowverse has brought DC’s pantheon of superheroes back to wider television audiences. With four different shows going at once, the characters have more room to come into their own, instead of sharing a single show like Smallville. Moreover, the mere fact that “Invasion!” was able to bring together four current shows is an impressive feat for TV. But does that mean “Invasion!” was able to fulfill its mission?

Staying True to Each Show

flash-invasion-brainwashed-heroes

Beginning at the end of Supergirl‘s “Medusa,” the crossover brought out the true strengths of The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. Each successive installment tied into the wider story arc while also staying true to the genus of each show. The Flash‘s “Invasion!” was a classic superhero brawl (complete with mind control). But it also drove a wedge between Barry Allen and his friends over the far-reaching ramifications of his alternate Flashpoint timeline.

Arrow‘s “Invasion!” sent Team Arrow’s newest recruits to team up with Supergirl and the Flash. As the series’ 100th episode, it also featured an elaborate dream sequence that induced some heavy nostalgia. Well, “heavy nostalgia” is a mild way of putting it. The episode literally punched fans in the gut with brass knuckles that were laced with an overdose of the feels. By bringing back spectacular guest stars in the form of the late Laurel Lance and Robert and Moira Queen, the episode gave Oliver Queen and his closest friends a glimpse into what their lives could have been sans superhero masks.

arrow-invasion-oliver-ghosts

Finally, Legends of Tomorrow‘s “Invasion!” brought the series’ time travel to bear against the Dominators. After seeing firsthand how easy it was to screw up the timeline even with the best of intentions, Cisco Ramon was able to reconcile his recent acrimony with Barry. Moreover, Martin Stein met his daughter, Lily, for the first time, since she was an unexpected byproduct of one of his trips to the past. The episode also set up future Arrowverse appearances for Supergirl, before sending all the characters back to their own shows.

Even though the Dominators were the main villains, they weren’t a huge part of the crossover. We didn’t learn much about their culture or motives beyond their aversion for Earth’s meta-human population. Ultimately, the Dominators were a plot device — an impressive one, given their heavy reliance on CGI — serving as a common enemy that brought together Oliver, Barry, Sara Lance, and their teams. Even though I wish the Dominators had received more of a spotlight, they certainly brought out the best of each Arrowverse show.

How “Invasion!” Affects Arrowverse’s Future

The assembled heroes

A crossover is the ultimate payoff for having a shared universe like the Arrowverse, and “Invasion!” is a shining example of that. A major event like “Invasion!” needs to have consequences for each series. Perhaps the largest ramification is Barry’s creation of the alternate Flashpoint timeline, which still haunts him and his friends. Hopefully, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow will explore other consequences of the crossover’s events as they gear up for their mid-season finales this week. It’s pretty hard to forget Earth’s first alien invasion, so I’m sure it will impact each series going forward.

One criticism of “Invasion!” is that it only included Supergirl and not her supporting cast. However, the producers made a wise decision to leave out the series’ supporting characters, at least for now. “Invasion!” was enough of a challenge without also having to introduce Alex Danvers, Winn Schott, James Olsen, and J’onn J’onzz to an entirely new Earth. We’ll certainly see more of Kara’s friends when The Flash and Supergirl have their musical crossover this coming spring. (With all of the Broadway/musical talent among both shows’ actors, it really will be Superhero: The Musical!)

Another 4-Way Crossover?

legends-of-tomorrow-invasion-heroes

Of course, the lingering question from “Invasion!” is whether there will be another epic four-way crossover next year. The answer is contingent upon whether all of the Arrowverse’s shows make it to next year’s TV season. At the moment, it’s still mid-season and The CW won’t confirm renewals and cancellations until sometime next year. So even though “Invasion!” brought in higher ratings for all four series, nothing is quite set in stone.

Within the Arrowverse, perhaps the series that’s been struggling the most is Legends of Tomorrow, whose first season performed decently (but not spectacularly) in terms of ratings and critical approval. However, the series’ second season recently got extended from 13 to 17 episodes, which is definitely a good sign. Better yet, “Invasion!” was the most-watched episode to date for Legends of Tomorrow, which sends a positive message that the Arrowverse’s crossovers are worth doing. Whatever the case, the Arrowverse, as it’s always done, will continue to push the boundaries of superhero TV.

More from Fandom about ‘Invasion!’

Looking for more Arrowverse? Check out Fandom’s Recap and Reactions for all of the “Invasion!” episodes!

James Akinaka
James Akinaka arrives at Fandom by way of Wookieepedia. He covers Star Wars, superheroes, and animation and has mastered the art of nitpicking. Since he works in publishing, he reads far too many books.
Become a
FANDOM
Contributor
If you're an aspiring pop-culture writer, we want to hear your voice! Write about the topics you love and have your work read by millions.