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‘Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part One’ 4K UHD (Blu-ray review)

Warner Bros.

We’re awash in multiverses!

The appeal of the multiverse, an escape to another world, another you, another everything, sounds really good after a doomscrolling session.

Of course, the promise of multiverses and parallel realities for ongoing projects also creates the Pringles Dilemma: once you pop, you can’t stop. Rick & Morty built an entire cartoon off it. The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Five is completely tangled up in it after Loki unlocked it in Avengers: Endgame.

They all could have learned from comic books, especially DC.

Ever since the publisher took a sledgehammer to decades of stories and character histories in Crisis on Infinite Earths nearly 40 years ago, DC has been in a loop of reintroducing characters and building Crisis after Crisis.

And then they had the bright idea of making it possible for The Flash to change time and reset realities with Flashpoint, which became another story obsession for fans and adaptations across TV and film.

So it makes sense that The Flash is the key character in any adaptation of Crisis On Infinite Earths. He was for TV’s Arrowverse, which all in all was pretty fun. For the DCEU, he turned back time in Justice League and did Flashpoint again.

In DC’s home video animation, The Flash rebooted the franchise twice already. Warner Bros. Animation used Barry Allen to move an unconnected bunch of adaptations into the streamlined DC Animated Movie Universe based on the New 52 storylines from 2013-2020 with Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. That universe’s storyline ended in its 16th film, as Barry reset the timeline again in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War and ushered in what fans now call the “Tomorrowverse” thanks to initial film Superman: Man of Tomorrow.

Do you need to know all this silliness in order to sit down and watch Justice League: Crisis On Infinite Earths – Part One? I’m not sure, but the ability to bring decades of DC fanboy knowledge to viewing this movie, engineered and overseen by said fanboys, surely does mean something.

Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part One is one of three parts and begins the end of the Tomorrowverse, a line of connecting DC home video movies that began in 2020. It just would have helped if I had known going into this movie that there was a Tomorrowverse, or a throughline to follow that brought us to this moment.

That glaring continuity weakness sits in my struggles to comprehend this movie at first. But once I remember that lore is for suckers, Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part One remains entertaining nonetheless thanks mainly to Matt Bomer’s affecting voice performance as Barry Allen/The Flash.

Part of the confusion may also stem from the fact that Jim Krieg’s script has The Flash jumping through time as well as between parallel realities. Barry finds himself “time-tripping” when a mysterious beggar places his hand upon Barry’s brow and tells him to “remember.” Pay close enough attention after the second or third time we just around in Barry’s lifetime, and it begins to make more sense. And the time trips, and Barry having to re-orient himself in time, allows for characters to provide quick exposition to pull the audience along.

Another note of confusion is that, without seeing all of the prior “Tomorrowverse” films, I didn’t know where various characters fit into the timeline of this continuity. Are we talking years between Superman: Man of Tomorrow and Justice League: Warworld? I missed out on seeing the Justice League form, the Green Lanterns showing up, Supergirl going to the 31st century, and a whole lot more.

This lack of a straightforward timeline of this age of heroes developing is screwing with me, especially as the previous run of 16 connected movies did a very good job of that. But it seems clear the architects of the “Tomorrowverse” wanted to unfold this differently, and Crisis is using Barry’s time-tripping to fill in the details on things coming together.

We see the forming of the Justice League here, for example. But another flashback seems to hint that “our” Batman of Earth-1 (Jensen Ackles) never adopted Dick Grayson because there’s no Robin mentioned?

Viewing this movie is like getting a jigsaw puzzle out of the box. Upon seeing the disarray of pieces, we then start assembly by making the edges first. I hadn’t seen many of the “Tomorrowverse” films, which I didn’t even know were connected, save for the uniform art style based around Dusty Abell character designs.

Several more character reveals and plot points emerge, including an extended sequence with the famously evil JL counterpart, the Crime Syndicate. And watch closely for a link to the previous universe that builds promise for the chance of seeing many more animated versions of these characters drawing from 85 years of DC history.

Extras include two featurettes, one focusing on the Flash character, and the other on the current “Tomorrowverse” continuity.

For being Part One, this film also does a fine job of giving a beginning, middle and end conflict across Barry’s past and present before throwing in a cliffhanger and new players on the board to set up a tense Part Two.

In the meantime, I may go back and watch the Supergirl and Green Lantern movies and then see how this movie lands again.

Aw dang it, ya got me!

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