There's a lot being packed in the Arrow-verse's upcoming "Elseworlds" crossover, from the debut of Ruby Rose's Batwoman to the return of John Wesley Shipp's Flash from the 1990 TV series. But for longtime DC Comics readers, perhaps the biggest element of this story across The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl is how The Monitor, a longtime cosmic player in the DC universe, is also being introduced, marking the first time the character has appeared outside of the comics.
Designated Survivor's LaMonica Garrett is bringing The Monitor, a.k.a. Mar Novu, to life in the "Elseworlds crossover, and as we seen from a recent trailer, it looks like he's the one responsible for Doctor John Deegan's ability to radically alter Earth-1's reality, which includes Oliver Queen and Barry Allen switching bodies. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Garrett about his time working on "Elseworlds," and he provided some extra insight on what we can expect from his version of The Monitor in a few weeks.
How This Monitor Compares To The Comic Book Versions
The first Monitor was introduced to the comics in 1982's The New Teen Titans #21, although he wasn't fully seen until three years later in G.I. Combat #24. He subsequently became an important character in the Crisis on Infinity Earths storyline, which saw The Monitor's polar opposite, the Anti-Monitor, attacking the DC multiverse. While this Monitor died during that event, the Monitor concept was brought back when the multiverse was reborn and new Monitors were tasked with each looking after a different Earth. When asked how the "Elseworlds" Monitor compares to his comic book predecessors, LaMonica Garrett told CinemaBlend:
Well, physically they nailed it. They got it on point. Marv Wolfman, he tweeted out, 'Just the look of him and he fits the part.' Now I got to do my job, but I think this Monitor, before he was on Crisis [on Infinite Earths], he was in the shadows. He was a weapons dealer for different villains. So I think the writers did a great job bringing in the backstory on The Monitor without going back billions of years when him and Anti-Monitor we're fighting on the moon and Oa and doing stuff like that. The other Monitors, there have been bad monitors. There've been, you know, like Mandrakk. There have had been evil Monitors. There've been good Monitors. There's the version of Nix Uotan. This Monitor, I think the significance of him is just what he does and what he's been a part of and what he's about.
The Monitor is definitely significant when it comes to the goings-on in the cosmic side of the DC universe, and it seems that the Elseworlds crossover did a good job getting the basics of his backstory right (there's no way all of those details could be explored in these episodes), as well as handled his physical appearance properly. LaMonica Garrett also mentioned that his Monitor paves the way for other Monitors to be brought in. He said:
Like right now, it sets the stage for all the other Monitors come. So I think there is a difference between the other Monitors. Like after everything happened and there was Monitors assigned to each multiverse, to each Earth. So there was 52 of them, but the significance of the first one, without the first, none of none of the rest of them happened.
It remains to be seen if more Monitors will eventually be introduced to the Arrow-verse, although since this TV franchise has introduced many Earths over the years, presumably the chances are good that Mar Novu isn't the only one of his kind.
What The Monitor's Role Will Be
Although the original Monitor brought various superheroes and super villains together to fight the Anti-Monitor in Crisis on Infinite Earths, as LaMonica Garrett previously pointed out, he was also dealing weapons to some bad people. There was a fair amount of complexity to the alien. There's still a lot we don't know about Garrett's Monitor, although the fact that he's offering Dr. John Deegan "godhood," which has subsequently caused a lot of problems, does raise an eyebrow. When I asked whether this Monitor is a good guy, bad guy or dabbles in shades of grey, Garrett responded:
I think that's the fun with like watching it to see what he is going to do. And I think with the Monitor, you can't classify him as good or evil because he's done bad things, but he does it for a purpose in the comic books. He's about that balance. So like I said, on Teen Titans, he was in the shadows, he was doing stuff, he was a weapons deal for villains. Like, why would someone who's good that wants to see all the good in the world, you're giving weapons to super villains. But in the end he sacrifices himself to be the biggest hero in the DC mythology. Like, he set the table for continuity. He did the most heroic thing. So how do you classify that? But I think what you just asked is what people are going to really dig, and watching it throughout the crossover, those questions will be answered.
The Arrow-verse shows do their best to keep a lid on spoilers, particularly when it comes to the crossovers. So while more "Elseworlds" promos are surely coming, we'll just have to wait and see what The Monitor's deal is in these episodes. Maybe this version of him does simply have sinister intentions, or perhaps he's playing the long game and his current actions are ultimately leading to a benevolent goal.
The Monitor's Costume
As far as The Monitor's physical look goes, "Elseworlds" did a good job making the character's costume look faithful to what he wore in the comics. And fortunately for LaMonica Garrett, he doesn't have any major action scenes in the "Elseworlds" crossover, as The Monitor's power levels means he doesn't need to exert himself that much. As Garrett put it:
It'd be extremely difficult for action in that costume. Thank God The Monitor's cosmic, all powerful. He doesn't have to do a lot, and it's fun playing someone like that where you are just that powerful. My old acting coach said if you're carrying a gun, you don't have to yell and scream, the gun does all that for you. And he is the gun. The Monitor, he's that powerful.
There are plenty of powerful individuals within the Arrow-verse, but if The Monitor is like his comic book counterparts, he's on another level entirely, whether it's through his natural abilities or that mysterious book he's lugging around. In any case, LaMonica Garrett noted that it would have been incredibly challenging to do anything action-oriented in that outfit, saying:
So there's not a lot of movement, but that suit is restricting, and the cape alone is like, 15-20 pounds. That book that we're using in the crossover, that book's like 30 pounds. You got to pick that thing up with one hand and yield it around. But all the suits, I don't think anyone is just comfortable. Just, 'Oh yeah, I'm gonna put this on and let's go for a walk.' I think they're all uncomfortable to some extent, but I wouldn't change anything like it. It was fun. And thank God I don't have any crazy action scene, but you'll see what I'm talking about when you watch it.
It sounds like LaMonica Garrett got quite the workout simply wearing his Monitor costume and carrying that book. But, as he mentioned, the actors who play superheroes are rarely comfortable in their crime-fighting get-ups.
The Arrow-verse's "Elseworlds" crossover kicks off on The CW Sunday, December 9 with The Flash at 8 p.m. ET, followed by Arrow in its normal Monday timeslot and Supergirl concluding the event on Tuesday, December 11 at 8 p.m. ET. Don't forget to see what's coming in the near future by checking out our midseason premiere guide.