Let’s Talk Flash -&- Arrowverse Classic: World’s Finest

Arrowverse Review Index

The Flash kicks off its final story arc with Season 9, Episode 10: “A New World, Part 1”, and for Arrowverse Classic, we look back at the first meeting between Barry Allen and Kara Danvers in Supergirl – Season 1, Episode 18: “World’s Finest”!

I won’t pretend I loved everything about “A New World, Part 1”. There’s a lot of stuff that’s obviously just teases for the next/final three episodes. I’ve never been a fan of the metaphysical stuff involving Negative Speed Force avatars and the like. Nora and Henry were way too paternal given a) they didn’t know Barry was their kid, and b) they’re a couple of forty-somethings talking to a thirty-something. Plus, it had us go back to the night of Barry’s mom’s death yet again.

However, if we’re going to make one more trip back to that moment, having Our Barry finally become the Future Barry who rescues Kid Barry, bringing this time loop full circle: that’s a pretty satisfying way to do it.

More than anything else, though, I enjoyed this episode because you can feel the extra effort being put into it. There are a lot of stylish and creative directing choices that didn’t need to be there, that probably took some extra time on set to get just right, but give this ep just the sort of uncanny-meets-melancholy atmosphere it needs to really land. This doesn’t feel like someone cranking out just another episode of The Flash – it feels like someone involved went those few extra steps to make it something special.

Supergirl – Season 1, Episode 18: “World’s Finest” review

Barry & Kara’s first teamup went a lot smoother than Barry & Oliver’s, huh?

Some of that comes down to who the characters are. These versions of the Flash and Supergirl are both very friendly, outgoing people who approach superheroics with a similar blend of joy, wholesomeness, and optimism. Them instantly becoming best buds feels natural – there’s not the built-in conflict that comes from asking Oliver Queen to play nice with … well, anyone, really.

But the writers could have contrived a conflict between the heroes (and an excuse for a superpowered showdown), if they’d wanted to. They could have had Kara & Barry struggle with each wanting to take the lead and defaulting to of-course-I’m-the-most-important-hero-here mode. Or there could have been some misunderstanding that made them think the other was the baddie. Or, like in “Flash vs. Arrow”, good ol’ mind control could always have forced a confrontation.

Kara & Barry didn’t come to blows because the writers chose not to go down that road – because this is a very different sort of crossover from “Flash vs. Arrow”.

The Flash was a spinoff of Arrow – it was assumed most people watching The Flash had watched at least a little of Arrow, that they were familiar with this version of Oliver Queen, and so would hopefully bring some affection for the character to the outing. Thus they could devote the crossover to Barry & Oliver going at it, and be confident people were just as likely to root for the green clad guest star as they were for the title character. Plus, that crossover came with the promise that there would be more crossovers to come (including on Arrow that very same week), so the two spending an episode at odds doesn’t need to sum up the entirety of their relationship.

That’s not the case with “World’s Finest”. Supergirl wasn’t a spinoff of anything. Until this crossover, it had no connection whatsoever to the Arrowverse, and didn’t even air on the same network. Thus, a lot of people watching Supergirl would have never seen The Flash before – this was to be their introduction to Barry Allen. And introducing a character by having them fight and argue with the main character that fans of the show presumably like … not a good way to endear them to the audience.

And since orchestrating this crossover required not only collaboration between different networks, but also having Grant Gustin fly from Vancouver (where The Flash is filmed) to Los Angeles (where the CBS era of Supergirl was filmed), it was far from certain that they’d be able to arrange any future crossovers between the two. As far as anyone knew at the time, this could have been their only chance to have these two heroes teamup – why waste that on them squabbling with each other?

So instead of clashing over different philosophies or what-not, “World’s Finest” has Kara & Barry immediately get on each other’s good side. They go from strangers to besties in record time, and it is delightful.

So often on Supergirl, Kara is the hopeful ball of sunshine who has to defend their worldview to the more cynical characters surrounding them. Seeing Kara hang with someone who just instinctively gets them, whose reckless enthusiasm rivals their own, and who can match them guileless smile for guileless smile … it’s endearing as all heck. The bit where Barry superspeeds out for ice cream and Kara shouts “Yes!” became an iconic Arrowverse moment for a reason.

While this crossover does have a plot besides the two heroes bouncing off each other (and even ends on an ultra-ominous cliffhanger), it’s clearly designed as a bit of a light-hearted breather before sh*t goes down in the Season 1 finale. This is an ep that’s mainly about having fun, and these two characters together know how to bring exactly that.

Stray Observations:

  • All the hero-resents-new-hero-coming-onto-their-turf drama that they avoid with Kara & Barry, that gets thrust onto James instead. James’s insecurity here is meant to be standard romantic jealousy, but while the James/Kara romance was dropped after Season 1, I don’t think that insecurity ever goes away. I’ve long maintained that the real reason James became Guardian is that they saw all their friends becoming superheroes and secret agents, hanging out with other superheroes and secret agents, and were terrified of being left behind.
  • It’s a shame this is the last we see of Siobhan, as they put in a good performance as Silver Banshee. Though it’s interesting that the show had their powers be a straight up banshee’s curse, as the series hadn’t dealt with the supernatural before, and wouldn’t again until well into Season 3, but here it’s just, yep, banshees are real, no biggie.
  • I love the gag of Cat Grant immediately seeing through superheroes’ disguises – though I kinda wish they hadn’t eventually done the “Cat knows Kara is Supergirl” reveal, since I think it’s funnier if Kara’s glasses-and-ponytail look is the one disguise that’s utterly impenetrable.
  • Until rewatching this, I’d totally forgotten that Kara, James, and Winn had a special room at CatCo for Supergirl shenanigans. Kara having two separate support teams, one at CatCo and one at the DEO, always felt like two different pitches for the series awkwardly stitched together.

Question of the Week: Which characters would you say never got nearly as many scenes together as they should have?