A crisis is coming to the Arrowverse.
At least, that appears to be the message in the post-credit sequence tacked onto this week’s episodes of Supergirl, Arrow, and Flash. The footage finds Earth-90 ravaged. The fallen bodies of heroes litter the ground. That world’s Flash (John Wesley Shipp) crawls toward a book that gets snatched up by the mysterious and powerful Monitor (LaMonica Garrett).
“You failed,” the Monitor growls.
“Why are you doing this?” a devastated Flash asks.
“You did this to yourself,” responds the Monitor. “And, now, all of you will perish.”
Then, the Flash zooms off. Fade to black.
Giddy comic book readers will instantly recognize the Monitor as a key player from "Crisis on Infinite Earths." Back in the '80s, the 12-issue maxiseries culminated with the utter destruction of the DC Multiverse and the formation of one cohesive Earth. Countless heroes died. Some were reborn with new or tweaked origins. Others were not so lucky. Now, the Monitor is wreaking havoc and testing our planet’s defenders in the three-night Elseworlds crossover that kicks off in Arrow on December 9.
Garrett recently spoke with SYFY WIRE about his affinity for the Crisis comics, the post-credit teaser, the Monitor’s motivations and the inevitable smackdown with the heroes.
How did this part come about? Was it all extremely hush-hush?
It was very hush-hush to the point that even after I got the job, I still didn’t know what character I’d be playing. They put out dummy sides and dummy character names, so people wouldn’t catch on. I had just found out I wouldn’t be coming back on Designated Survivor, so a week or two later, we got a call from casting about this role coming up. I went in and met with them. I got called back in, and the last appointment was with Marc Guggenheim and Eric Wallace. It went well, and they pretty much told me I had the part. “Oh, great. When do we start?” A few days went by and I was like, “Wait. Who am I playing?”
I’m a comic book fanatic as well. My mind was racing. This guy is all powerful. It was a Kryptonian name in the dummy sides. I’m like, “Am I Val-Zod? This would be sick.” My mind was racing. Then I’m like, “No, no. It’s not gonna be Val-Zod. Are they bringing in Darkseid?” They said he was a villain, but he’s not. You really don’t know. We got a hold of them and they said I would be playing the Monitor. I was like, “Which Monitor? Nix Uotan, the new modern Monitor? Or, is it like old-school, the first Monitor?” I said, “Oh, wow. That’s a big deal.”
My mind immediately went to "Crisis on Infinite Earths." I was thinking, “They can’t be doing 'Crisis.' Are they?” When I got the sides and all the material, I was like, “OK, it’s not 'Crisis on Infinite Earths,' but you’re playing the Monitor, so who knows what could happen when you are introduced.” The first thing fans think of when you hear the Monitor is that you are going to be one of the central pieces in this crossover.
Once you landed the role and they actually clued you in to who your character was, in what ways did the comic books inform your performance?
I reread "Crisis on Infinite Earths." There’s not a lot of material on the Monitor, the first one. He was kicking around in Teen Titans. He was in the shadows and was known as this weapons dealer to supervillains, but it wasn’t really a lot to go on. So I read other stuff. I read some stuff with the Guardians. You just read as much as you can. Krona. Another thing is this is the first time he’s been brought to life. You have nothing to go on but the work you put into it. What I did know is what his overall objective is, what his goal is and what he’s afraid of. What does he want, and what’s going to happen if he doesn’t get it? I let that drive his energy throughout the whole series.
Speaking of firsts, how did it feel when you put that costume on?
I felt like a world-beater. I felt like I could take on anything and everything, anywhere. I got choked up. It was a process. I would fly out to Vancouver and we would get part of the outfit done. We did it three or four different times. Then we finally got it going. I’m fully dressed now. I have the hair in. I shaved my beard to get the mutton chops going. The DC reps were there. Everyone was there. You could see their faces drop like, “This is incredible.” But I still hadn’t seen it. I’m like, “What? Where’s the mirror? I want to see.” When I went around and saw the mirror, I got a little choked up, about how spot-on it was. It was incredible.
What’s the Arrowverse’s take on the Monitor? Is he friend… or foe?
That’s the part I really can’t get into. But I will say they did a great job of being true to his character. You can’t classify the Monitor as good or evil. He does good things. He does bad things. It’s not a good thing giving Darkseid some super-weapon that could easily wipe out the Justice League, but he does it. But what is he doing this for?
He has his logic and his reasoning and ultimately, like in "Crisis on Infinite Earths," you see what it’s about and you realize he’s a good guy. So you get to see the backstory of the Monitor without going back billions of years on Oa. You briefly get to see where he came from and what he’s about. By the end of the crossover, you will know where he’s coming from, but you might not like how he got there.
Audiences viewed a foreboding teaser at the end of Supergirl, Arrow, and Flash. What were your thoughts on his dramatic introduction?
You are working with John Wesley Shipp. I used to watch this guy when I was in high school. I was rushing home to see him as Flash on television. Seeing the field littered with all this paraphernalia from superheroes and that this guy was responsible for it… “Wow. This is really about to happen.” To me, that was the best introduction. And then you are on top of this mountain, holding this book. It was this larger-than-life entity being introduced into the Arrowverse. “How are they going to tackle this?” I don’t think they’ve come across anyone this powerful before.
The teaser trailer features some interaction between the Monitor and Arkham Asylum's Doctor John Keegan [Jeremy Davies]. Who are some of the other characters he comes into contact with?
Pretty much everybody. He’s going toe to toe with all the heroes. You grow up reading all these stories as a kid. Your imagination goes wild. You put yourselves in these shoes of, I’d be fighting alongside these guys or you look to the left and there would be the Superman logo. You look to your right and there’s Flash and Batman. You picture yourself fighting with these guys in your dreams. Then, in reality, I’m the Monitor. The first day I get to work with everyone, it’s confrontational. It’s not like, “Hey, let’s all go out and get a beer.” They are trying to stop me, and I am trying to stop them.
You see all the logos of what you have been dreaming about your whole life. That was intimidating in itself. In your dreams, you are fighting alongside them. But now they want to stop you. That energy took over. The actors are great, but they are all the leads of all the individual shows you are working with. That was intimidating in its own self. It was surreal, but a moment in Arrow was the best time I had shooting any part of the crossover. You’ll know why when you watch it.
It sounds like the crossover only scratches the surface when it comes to the Monitor. In the comic books, he had an assistant, Lyla. He recruited Pariah. And, of course, there’s the ultimate bogeyman, the Anti-Monitor. How open are you to exploring those other avenues?
As a fan, I would love to explore those other avenues. On the show, there’s already a lot of pieces in place that could lead up to a bigger role for the Monitor and to pursue what the comic book fans want to see. I’m not sure where they are going to go with it. There is a Lyla already on the show, and her code name is Harbinger. You have Psycho-Pirate that’s being introduced in this crossover. You’ve got pieces. I don’t think there’s a Pariah… And, just adding superheroes over time, leading up to that, would be insanely awesome.