Tonight on The Flash, The CW will begin their "Elseworlds" crossover, introducing the character of The Monitor and potentially setting the stage for an eventual adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
While The Monitor's earliest appearances were morally gray and sometimes confusing, a tone actor LaMonica Garrett is using to shape the villainous take on a character long understood as generally good, Garrett is a fan himself, and he reacted much the same way as the fans when he heard that The Monitor was coming.
"Before I got the role, I didn't know who I was reading for. It was dummy sides, it was a dummy character name," Garrett told ComicBook.com. "They didn't let any of the actors know who it was that you were going in for. And once I got the role, they said 'The Monitor,' and I'm like, 'Well, which Monitor? There's a lot of Monitors. Is it Nix Uotan, is it Mandrakk?' And they said, 'No, it's The Monitor from Crisis.' I'm like, 'Oh.'"
That realization came with the same weight for Garrett as it did for fans upon hearing that his character had been added to the crossover, and the actor told us that he had to make a conscious effort to approach the role one day at a time, and not over-think the potential long-term ramifications of The Monitor's appearance in the Arrowverse.
"You think of the scale of it, and what this character means, and him being introduced into the DC TV world, the first person when you think when you think Monitor is you think Anti-Monitor," Garrett admitted. "So, the scale -- where's this going? And then when you think Anti-Monitor, the next thing you think of is Crisis on Infinite Earths. So if you keep doing that to yourself, it makes it too much on your shoulders when you are going into it. You have to think about it later. To me, I'm a former athlete. When you think about the big games, the bowl games, you think about the Super Bowl, you think about the World Series, and you ask those players, 'what does this mean? This is a huge game, this is the biggest game ever.' And they downplay it. They don't want to think of it. After the game, they'll tell you how much pressure they were under, and how much stress. They couldn't sleep at night. So leading up to it, it's like they're trying not to think about that, because if you make that moment bigger than what it is, it's gonna get the best of you."
Garrett said that while he had seen the Arrowverse shows before, he was not actively following all of them, so his next order of business was to sit down and figure out what characters and concepts were already on the table, and which would have to be introduced in order to make a Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline work.
"I immediately, Anti-Monitor, Psycho-Pirate, Pariah, you just start thinking of all these names...so that's when I went and looked, and saw who is already in place, and who they would have to introduce to bring on the big picture," Garrett said. "And that was fun part for me too, 'cause you know, as a fan, as a comic book fan, that's where I would hope it would go to."
Crisis on Infinite Earths was referenced in the pilot episode of The Flash, and elements of that story have been teased again this year. The ten-year window originally suggested means that the series is about halfway there now, and during a recent celebration for The Flash's hundredth episode, we asked showrunner Todd Helbing and star Grant Gustin about the prospects for the storyline.
“Greg [Berlanti] really has a sort of master plan of things, and I’m really excited about how it’s going to pay off,” Helbing teased.
For the sake of "Elseworlds," adapting those early, mysterious appearances meant that they could give The Monitor a more villainous backstory that has nothing to do with the Anti-Monitor, saving that revelation for down the line.
Still, Garrett intimated that The Monitor's own mission in "Elseworlds" may have ties to Crisis. We mentioned how his take on The Monitor seems to be a cool, dispassionate character in spite of the cosmic scope and scale of his undertakings...and Garrett told us that The Monitor has been destroying Earths throughout the multiverse for a very long time.
"I think when you do something day in and day out, like say you have a job, and you've been at the same cubicle for the past five, 10 years...you show up, and there's nothing new that really sparks your attention. You know what the day is gonna bring you. You know at 10 o'clock they're gonna come ask where these reports are. You check in and you check out," Garrett said. "With The Monitor, he's been going to different Earths. He's been doing this, you know, they showed the teaser with Earth-90, that's not his first place he's visited. He's been doing this for countless years. So to him, it's just another day, just another universe, just another Earth, you know? But along the way of the crossover, things happen that haven't happened in past events where he's been on different Earths and things didn't go right for the people of that Earth. And I think through the course of the crossover, you'll see a change in his energy, and his interaction with the superheroes. But for the beginning part of it, he's just like, you know, it's just another day at the office. I'm pretty sure everything I think that's gonna happen is gonna happen, until it doesn't. And that's where the shift changes."
The "Elseworlds" crossover will begin on Sunday, December 9th with The Flash at 8/7c, followed by Arrow on December 10th at 8/7c, and Supergirl on December 11th at 8/7c.