Now that we’re living in a time where every major movie studio is tripping over itself to launch their own multi-franchise shared universe, it’s easy to forget that the small screen has been home to crossovers and interconnected storytelling for decades. In fact, TV characters pop up in each other’s shows so regularly that you connect 400 or some odd shows into a shared universe that all takes place within the imagination of a single autistic child.*
That being said, crossovers featuring the lead characters of shows on two different networks is somewhat more uncommon, and with the eagerly anticipated Supergirl episode ‘Worlds Finest’ introducing the Scarlet Speedster to National City, some fans have been wondering exactly how The Flash was going to make his way into Kara Zor-El’s world.
The answer, as it turns out, came down primarily to logistics.
In a Panel at PaleyFest, Greg Berlanti – Executive Producer of both series – explained that because Superman and Supergirl don’t exist within the Arrow/Flash/Legends of Tomorrow-verse, they needed to come up with a way to get one of the characters out of their own universe and into another. “We introduced the multiverse in The Flash this year,” Berlanti said, “and that was always our way in.” Barry’s newfound ability to traverse the multiverse means it makes sense for him to be the first to meet Supergirl on a logistical level, but it’s also a perfect choice on a character level as well. Barry already has a foil in the glum, serious Oliver Queen, so pairing him up with another relentlessly upbeat superhero creates a different dynamic than the one we’re already familiar with.
In the same panel, Berlanti and company also talk about Supergirl and how important it is for there to be a woman superhero out there as a major presence in the pop culture for women and young girls especially to see themselves in. I couldn’t agree with this more. Plenty of women embrace and are moved by comic book superhero stories, but it’s no secret that for the majority of the form’s existence, they’ve not been the target audience. Superheroes were made to appeal to boys, and so while I got to grow up seeing myself in Peter Parker and admiring Clark Kent, the list of characters designed to inspire that same kind of response in young girls is tragically small. The fact that every monday, young girls (and young boys and the grown-up variety of every gender) get to see Kara face issues that they can relate to and learn how to overcome them without losing her endlessly optimistic nature is something that thrills me to no end. And now that the world of Kara Zor-El and J’onn J’onzz are about to collide with the world of Barry Allen and Oliver Queen, I can’t help but be excited by the possibility of a small screen version of the Justice League. While Superman and Batman are trying to kill each other in a movie with a 17+ rating, it’s exciting to see that there’s still a version of these characters that can be embraced and beloved by children.
The Supergirl/Flash crossover episode, ‘Worlds Finest,’ airs March 28 at 9/8c on CBS
*By the way, tenuous evidence connects Arrow to Law & Order which in turn connects to St. Elsewhere meaning that the shows we’re talking about are also merely the fantasies of good ol’ Tommy Westphall.