On The CW’s The Flash and Arrow cross-over episodes, called “Legends of Today” and “Legends of Yesterday” respectively, Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) arrives in Central City with his sights set on Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renée), and after he attacks Kendra and Cisco (Carlos Valdes), they turn to Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) for help. Realizing how dangerous Vandal is, they go to Star City to get help from Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and his team to figure out how to stop this seemingly indestructible man. It is a massively epic story with big action, cinematic effects, the introduction of Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) and Hawkgirl, laughs and love.
Collider was invited, along with various other press outlets, to screen the episodes at The CW offices, after which there was a Q&A to discuss all of the major events, as well as what’s to come. In Part 1 of the interview, executive producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg, along with actors Teddy Sears (“Jay Garrick”) and Falk Hentschel, talked about wanting to tell one big two-hour story, having this story lead into Legends of Tomorrow, deciding which characters to include and which to hold back, the challenges of pulling it all off, introducing Hawkman and Hawkgirl, keeping death impactful, and whether there’s been any conversations about a Supergirl cross-over. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Question: This cross-over feels much more unified than last year’s did. Was the goal to make it feel like a two-hour movie?
ANDREW KREISBERG: Last year’s cross-over was the first time we had ever done it. We were very conscience that not everybody who was watching The Flash was watching Arrow, and vice versa, so we wanted to make sure that they both were self-contained episodes. This time around, given the success that we’ve had previously, and how people are viewing this as much more of a collective and shared universe, we felt emboldened and our partners at The CW and Warner Bros. were more supportive, so we were able to really have a two-hour true event with one story and one villain, and not have to worry so much about the mechanics of how it would air.
GREG BERLANTI: I also think that story wise it was appealing to us to try to do something different than we had done previously. They felt very episodic and contained in their nature, last year, with a contained villain for the episode. I think we wanted to challenge ourselves to see, if we really had two hours of storytelling and could follow everybody all the way through, what that would look and feel like. It was just our goal to try to do something different.
Because you had Legends of Tomorrow coming, did you also want to have this cross-over lead into that, as well?
BERLANTI: The studio and the network asked us, from the very beginning of the year, which characters from Legends were going to be in the two-hour, and they were encouraging us. We wanted to have a couple, but not all. It also felt right that we would use the characters that we hadn’t introduced on the individual series yet, with the exception of Rip Hunter, who we saved for the pilot of Legends.
What were the challenges inherent to constructing this cross-over?
BERLANTI: We had already started to shoot the first couple of episodes of Legends before we shot this episode, and we also knew there were characters who had been on The Flash and Arrow, who we were shooting out of those shows before shooting Legends, and then having to come back and do the introductions of some of the characters [for the cross-over]. So, it was about as out of order as you can imagine, and most of it was happening concurrently. There were a lot of conference sessions and logistical sessions with everybody, to discuss how we could pull this off on a basic level, let alone making it interesting, entertaining and coherent. There was stuff that we had set up in Legends, that we went back and put into this, and then will pay off again in Legends. They really speak to each other, in that way. We love that challenge, but the most rewarding part is when it’s over and done.
MARC GUGGENHEIM: I don’t think it’s impossible to overstate the incredible amount of difficulty for everyone involved. The actors are asked to shuttle from one set to two other sets, often in the course of a single day, to the crew of three different shows, to the ADs. Among their many responsibilities, the ADs have to handle scheduling, and they put together schedules that were like higher mathematics. People were bleeding inside of their skulls to make this work.
KREISBERG: It is one universe, but they really are three different shows with three different production teams. As much as we’re all friends, it was asking three different TV shows to coordinate.
GUGGENHEIM: It was unlike anything that’s been asked of three different productions before. This was new territory for everyone involved. The fact that it came off the way it came off was a testament to everyone that had a hand in it.
KREISBERG: You had actors not only working on different things, but Falk [Hentschel], Ciara [Renée] and Casper [Crump] had already been filming episodes of Legends, and were then asked to go back and introduce characters that they’d already established on Legends.
FALK HENTSCHEL: It was an acting marathon. Going from one set to another was a whirlwind, but it was really amazing to see it come together. When they told me about this, I was like, “How is this going to happen?!” The costumes had to be shipped here and there, and then they had to be back. I was like, “Okay, where do I stand? What do I say? Who am I? Oh, we’re on The Flash right now.” But, it was a blast. It’s great to see it come together and to see everybody doing something very creative.
Falk, what was it like for you to put on the outfit?
HENTSCHEL: The very simple answer is awesome. The first time was at my fitting, and it was like I was 11 years old. It’s just a dream come true. You get a costume that’s fit for you, and you feel really good about life. You’re like, “This is cool!” And then, you get the helmet on. It was awesome.
For people who aren’t familiar with Hawkman and Hawkgirl, what can you say about those characters?
HENTSCHEL: They come as a team, Carter and Kendra. For me, that’s what I enjoy most and what I think is most fun. Their dynamics are like a bickering old couple. He’s gone through four thousand years of loving her and having her love him back, but she doesn’t know about it yet, so there’s this fun dynamic of him being like, “You’ll love me. It will be good. I’ve seen it.” Underneath that, I think he’s always terrified of losing her. Imagine that you’ve seen everyone you know die. It’s pretty lonely. And then, here’s that one person who is always constant. I hope everyone will enjoy that couple dynamic between the two of them as much as I did.
KREISBERG: The thing that’s interesting about Carter is that he remembers loving Kendra and he remembers all of the adventures they’ve had. Now, he’s staring at this woman who’s look at him like he’s crazy. There was that Channing Tatum movie where his wife got knocked in the head and didn’t remember their lives. That’s what it always reminds me of. And one of the things I love about watching Falk is that he literally has the patience of that guy, in that situation. He’s like, “It’s gonna happen. It’s gonna come.” But there’s a sadness about the whole thing because he knows how great it can be, but he’s looking at her, looking at him like he’s a stranger.
Teddy, what’s it like for you to just drop into the story and learn about your character’s backstory, as you go?
TEDDY SEARS: It’s wonderful just to drop into the universe that already exists and slowly have these things revealed over time. For an actor, it’s a lot more fun. When you get the script, you’re like, “Oh, I didn’t know that. I didn’t realize we were going to do that this week.” It’s really exciting, especially to come into a world where so much has already happened, and there’s a voracious appetite from the fans to peak in on the lives of the guys and gals around S.T.A.R. Labs. For me, it’s the most ideal way to join a show.
KREISBERG: It’s under-rated how difficult it is for actors to step onto a fast-moving train, like all of these shows are, and just own it from the get-go.
With so many different ways that people have been brought back to life on The Flash and Arrow, whether it was through the Lazarus Pit, time travel or reincarnation, how do you keep death impactful?
GUGGENHEIM: Well, we’ve certainly taken care of the Lazarus Pit. Legends will explain why time travel can’t be used in a deus ex machina way, and not just with respect to death, but with respect to any plot contrivance. We’re going to answer that question very definitively. It will be part of the rules of time travel on Legends.
BERLANTI: It’s different than other TV shows. To me, it’s much more like the comic books. There are characters that would die, and sometimes they’d die for 20 years. So, dead will still mean dead, but it doesn’t always mean dead forever. With some characters it will, but with some character it won’t. We even say that sometimes when we sit down with the actors to let them know their fate for the season. If something comes to us that’s a really cool, organic way to bring the character back and is exciting to us and doesn’t devalue the death, but introduces them into the narrative in an interesting way, the genre that we’re making is different from other shows, in that way. I think that’s part of what makes it interesting. We try to hold ourselves to certain standards, but when a character is lost, they could be lost forever, or they could not be, if we can find a valid, cool way to bring them back.
KREISBERG: The key is the consequences. When Sara was brought back, when Thea was brought back, when Barry changed the timeline, or any of these things that feel like the right thing to do, there’s always a price to be paid. Whether or not that price is paid immediately, or whether that price gets paid later on, in ways that you don’t foresee, it always comes back to haunt you. On Legends, Vandal is the big bad, but the big bad truly is time itself. Time wants to go in one direction. When people die, the universe wants them to stay dead. Anything you do to change that is going to have a cost, and these characters are constantly paying that price. As much as they have these powers, abilities and technologies that they have, there’s always a price to be paid for using them.
Have there been any conversations about possible cross-overs with Supergirl?
BERLANTI: Only because we just received the pick-up, not at this point.
The Flash and Arrow cross-over episodes air on The CW on December 1st and 2nd.