Oliver Queen and Barry Allen are set to join forces once again, but their heroics take a back seat in the “Arrow”-“The Flash” crossover event that’s becoming an annual tradition on The CW.
Green Arrow and the Flash must come together this time around in order to protect Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renee), a new arrival to Central City who’s drawn the affection of Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and the unwanted attention of a new villain, an immortal named Vandal Savage (Casper Crump).
Recognizing that this is no mere meta-human, Barry (Grant Gustin) enlists the help of Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Team Arrow, who have coincidentally been dealing with things like mysticism and immortality over in Star City thanks to Season 4’s big bad Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough).
Following a screening of the crossover episodes, executive producers and actors spilled on what to expect.
1. A much more cohesive crossover event
While last year’s inaugural “Arrow”-“Flash” crossover was more like a pair of standalone episodes that featured appearances from both casts, this year’s two-parter is one story that will play out over two nights, first as Savage is introduced on “The Flash” Tuesday, and then continuing onto “Arrow” on Wednesday.
“With last year’s crossover, it was obviously the first time we’d ever done it and we were very conscious of not everybody who was watching ‘Flash’ was watching ‘Arrow,’ and vice versa. We wanted to make sure they were self-contained episodes,” said Andrew Kreisberg, who serves as an executive producer on all three shows. “This time around, given the success we’ve had previously, and how people are viewing this as much more of a shared universe, we felt emboldened — and our partners at The CW and Warner Bros. were more supportive — so we were really able to have a two-hour true event with one story, one villain and one storyline, and not so much worry about the mechanics of how it would air.”
2. Introducing “Legends of Tomorrow”
Because The CW “Arrow”-“Flash” spinoff “Legends of Tomorrow” is premiering in January, the timing seemed especially right to focus on launching that story with this crossover.
“The studio and network were asking us from the very beginning which characters from ‘Legends’ were going to be in the two-hour, and were encouraging us,” said EP Greg Berlanti. “We wanted to have some but not all [of the characters]. It also made sense that we would use characters we hadn’t introduced on the series yet.”
“Legends of Tomorrow” features a cast of characters who are familiar to fans of “Arrow” and “The Flash,” including Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold, Dominic Purcell as Heat Wave, Victor Garber and Franz Drameh as Firestorm, Caity Lotz as White Canary and a newcomer, Rip Hunter, played by Arthur Darvill, who has not yet been introduced.
“The Hawks and Vandal Savage deserve a two-hour introduction,” said DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. “They’re big characters.”
3. The shared universe gets complicated
On screen, the heroes all feel like genuine friends occupying the same world, but coordinating their various visits to each others’ series is more work than appearances might suggest.
“We had already started to shoot the first couple of episodes of ‘Legends’ before we shot these [crossover] episodes, and we also knew there were characters who had been on ‘Flash’ and ‘Arrow’ who we were also shooting out of those respective shows before we went into ‘Legends,’ to then have to come back and shoot some of the introductions of some of the characters here,” explained Berlanti. “It was about as out-of-order as you can imagine, and most of it happening concurrently.”
“It is one universe, but they really are three different shows, with three different production teams,” said Kreisberg. “As much as we’re all friends, it was asking three different TV shows to coordinate.”
“It was an acting marathon,” added Hentschel. “Being carted from one set to another, it was a whirlwind, but it was amazing watching it come together … At some point, you do have to say, ‘OK, where do I stand? What do I say? Who am I? Was that this? Oh, wait, we’re on ‘Flash’ right now,’ but it was a blast and very admirable seeing it come together.”
4. No more crossovers for “Legends”
Even though “Arrow” and “The Flash” feel more intertwined than ever, once “Legends of Tomorrow” premieres in January, fans shouldn’t expect many crossovers with its parent series.
“As of right now, once ‘Legends’ is born in January, there’s really no intersection on the other shows,” said Berlanti. “‘Legends’ is kind of its own wacky, crazy thing that allows for all sorts of fun surprises in terms of who may visit and how, because they’re just flying through the timeline, and you’ll start to see more of that. But not on ‘Arrow’ or ‘Flash.'”
But no one ruled out the possibility of “Arrow” or “The Flash” characters showing up on the spinoff.
“There really is opportunity for all sorts of insane things,” Berlanti teased. “Which is one of the challenges we put forth for ourselves that makes the show its own thing.”
5. Consequences for “Arrow” and “The Flash”
Though the episodes served mostly as an introduction to the visiting “Legends” gang, there are developments that will have continued consequences for the leads on both shows.
As “Arrow” EP Wendy Mericle previously told TheWrap, “Oliver will have a very emotional and surprising storyline with Felicity in [episode] 408 that will have huge repercussions the rest of the season.”
Over on “The Flash,” this season’s Earth 2 newcomers Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) and Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) are the ones who find themselves amid events that may impact their usually frosty relationship going forward. Meanwhile, Cisco’s blossoming romance with Kendra puts him and his new Vibe abilities to the test as well.
“The Flash” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET, and “Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET. “Legends of Tomorrow” premieres Thursday, Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. ET.