When Kara Danvers met Barry Allen on Monday night's stellar episode of Supergirl, the result was nothing short of magical -- like walking into a room full of puppies only to be handed a cone of vanilla ice cream adorned with rainbow sprinkles and edible gold flakes. It was a damn delight. Finding two actors with more charisma than Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin is near impossible. It's like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. In fact, if it were possible to clone Gustin and keep him around the Supergirl set, I'd do it.
But, sadly, I can't clone Gustin. His Barry Allen belongs on Earth-1, where one look into Jesse L. Martin's teddy-bear eyes can solve any existential crisis. Alas, the Supergirl-Flash crossover, albeit tragically brief, was a perfect reminder that being a superhero can be a heck of a lot of fun, especially when you can travel at super-speed.
That being said, it's hard not to compare Supergirl and The Flash's cheery small screen team-up to the other superhero match-up currently making pop culture waves: the critically maligned Batman v Superman. Seeing two superheroes come face-to-face for the first time is exhilarating. But the reception, both from critics and fans, to these two superhero meet-cutes couldn't have been more divisive.
On Supergirl, Kara Zor-El wants to be a hero. She wants to live up to her Kryptonian destiny and protect mankind. So like Barry, she's proactive about this hero business. Meanwhile, in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent are burdened by everything, even their own extraordinary existences. And that's OK.
In other words, if I can't clone Gustin, you can't project Greg Berlanti's blinding optimism onto provocateur Zack Snyder's particular brand of cynicism.
The world Snyder has created for these DC titans is dark and serious, oftentimes egregiously so. Every action has seismic collateral damage, resulting in not only tremendous loss of life but also the loss of one's self. For Supes and Bats, being a superhero isn't supposed to be fun -- I'm not even sure they know what fun is -- it's work. It's their duty. And at times, it's a serious slog. Shows like The Flash and Supergirl, however, regularly feature more levity. Berlanti and co. manage to strike the right balance of whimsy and angst, as projected in the Golden Age of comics.
So, yes, tonally, the worlds Berlanti and Snyder have created couldn't be more different, but as much as we want to compare the two, and suggest that one is better than the other, we just can't. Yes, Supergirl and The Flash face adversity with positivity and teamwork, while Batman and Superman would rather smash things and pout, but everyone has their own coping mechanism. For some, the glass is always half full, and for others, the world is already a horrible place, so why would we want to see even more death and destruction? But if Bruce Wayne wants to brood, then we need to let the man brood.
Snyder created a world grounded in the shadows, while Berlanti would rather see his heroes glisten in the sun. Neither approach is fundamentally better than the other. Barry and Kara aren't superior because they'd rather eat ice cream and talk about superheroing -- though, that does sound like a fantastic time. Conversely, Batman and Superman aren't cooler for using brute force to get their way.
That's the beautiful thing about the DC Expanded Universe; all of these different interpretations can exist together in one multiverse. Gustin's Barry Allen can hang out on Earth-1, fighting metahumans of the week with the team at S.T.A.R Labs, while Ben Affleck's Batman can growl into his Batsuit, clenching his fist toward the sky in frustration. They can both exist at the same time in the same universe. Superheroes can be broody and vengeful, and they can also be optimistic and adorkable.
So let's stop comparing the two and accept things for what they are: two universes vibrating at different frequencies. While you can certainly prefer one over the other, saying Batman V Superman should be more like Supergirl and The Flash, would be like telling the moon to be more like the sun. It's just doesn't make any sense.