If you’ve seen the trailers for The CW’s “Elseworlds” crossover, which kicks off this Sunday, you know the operative word is big. Massive. Huge. In fact, “Elseworlds” is so enormous that one universe may not be enough to contain it. This week’s episode of The Flash ended with a post-end title scene that showed an utterly destroyed Earth-90…which we discover is the Earth of the 1990s TV Flash. Fortunately, John Wesley Shipp’s Scarlet Speedster survives, but not until a confrontation with the figure who seems to be behind it all—the Monitor.
Anyone who’s read CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, or any of DC’s follow-up Crisis events, should be pretty familiar with just who that is. An otherworldly being of great power who came into existence at the very start of the Multiverse, the Monitor’s role in “Elseworlds” is still a little uncertain at this time. While the discovery that he seems to have destroyed an entire world suggests he’s a villain, comic fans know things aren’t likely to be so simple with a character like the Monitor. To shed some light on all of this, and to give us an idea of what we can expect from this much-anticipated TV crossover, we spoke with the man bringing the iconic character to life, LaMonica Garrett. If the Monitor is here, does that mean a Crisis is coming?
How much did you know about the Monitor when you got the role?
I didn’t know anything about what I was auditioning for. During the audition process, we had dummy sides. I think the character’s name was “Lon-El,” and they said he was a powerful Kryptonian. There were two long scenes with me going toe-to-toe with Superman, and I’m wondering who it is. Are they bringing Val-Zod out? I could play black Superman! I mean, I didn’t know where we were going.
But after a few auditions, I found out I got it, but I still didn’t know who it was. That’s when they said, “You’ll be playing the Monitor.”
So, then I’m wondering which Monitor. Is it Nix Uotan? But no, they said it’s the original Monitor—the Anti-Monitor’s brother. And when you hear that, the first place you go to is Crisis on Infinite Earths. So, I was excited to see the script because I was thinking, they can’t be doing Crisis. That’s a big deal.
I read the script and was amazed, and just couldn’t wait to jump into it.
So, you clearly DO know who the Monitor is and what he means to DC.
Yeah, his place in DC mythology is very significant. It’s a big deal.
Since we’re both pretty up on what his role is in the DC Universe, what can you tell us about the Monitor’s role in the “Elseworlds” crossover?
He’s the driving force behind the crossover. Without going into detail about exactly what he’s doing there, he gives this book, which pretty much destroyed one Earth to Dr. John Deegan. You don’t know if he’s good or bad. It’s hard to classify him as evil or good, but he’s doing this for a purpose. You’ll figure out what the purpose is by the end of the crossover.
Dr. John Deegan isn’t a name that DC fans will necessarily know. What can you tell us about him?
He’s diabolical. He’s extreme. I think his energy and how he views the world and superheroes is why the Monitor approaches him. He can help Deegan carry out what the Monitor needs done because of who he is. He’s an intelligent guy. He’s a doctor. He’s creative enough to get some stuff done if he gets the right tools.
How would you say this year’s crossover compares to previous years? It seems like these things just keep getting bigger and bigger.
After last year’s, I really didn’t want to be the one to come on and screw it up because they raised the bar so high! Now, I’m the new guy, so to me, this is all amazing. But when you hear Stephen Amell talking about it, and he’s saying it’s the biggest thing they’ve ever done.
I mean, just the fact that you’re bringing in Batwoman, that’s significant enough in itself. That would make the crossover on its own. But then you bring in Arkham Asylum and Gotham—just the history of that in the DC Universe. Then you bring in the Monitor. Then you bring in ’90s Flash. You’re just hitting them with so many different angles! Any one by itself with be significant, but every one at once?
Of course, then I have to ask, where do you go from here? I mean, this seems like the pinnacle, but that’s what people said last year. The writers are getting more creative. They’re bringing in more characters. The sky’s the limit!
Let’s talk about Batwoman for a moment. This crossover introduces both Kate Kane and Gotham to the Arrowverse. What do you think they bring to that world?
Batwoman alone, she’s so kickass. Supergirl comes in, and she’s wreaking havoc just on her own. But then you bring in a Batwoman, and she’s like a counterpoint. Seeing the two of them onscreen together, it’s just…wow. Women unite!
Batwoman’s character is kind of like a Bruce Wayne-type. She gets rubbed the wrong way easily. She’s not outgoing. Supergirl’s the friendly one. Batwoman’s not so friendly, so I think it’s a great dynamic when the two of them are on screen together. Plus, bringing in Batwoman, you also bring in Gotham and Arkham. Each time you bring a new superhero to the fray, you bring in their villains. So, this is just going to introduce a whole new set of villains that we grew up reading about, and that will be fun to watch play out live.
The Monitor is traditionally one of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe. He’s also more or less immortal. What do you think that much power and longevity does to someone?
That’s the hard part of trying to figure out how to approach playing this character. He’s nearly omnipotent. He’s everywhere—he sees all, he hears all. He doesn’t fight. He’s not going to get into hand-to-hand combat because he’s all powerful. He can die, and we all know from Crisis that he knows his own demise. He sees it coming. He knows exactly what Harbinger did. He knows how it’s going to happen, and he lets it happen, and in turn she gets the powers. He gave them to her.
Preparing to play someone like that, I studied other powerful beings in comics books and movies. Just looking at how they move and interact. They don’t have to do a lot. When you’re playing someone that is so powerful, the less you do makes it all mean that much more. I know you can say that about anything—less is more. But with a being this strong, you really don’t have to do much. That’s the hard part as an actor. You want to do a lot, but you can’t because he’s not the dude to do it with.
How do you think he views the human race?
This Earth that he’s on right now, it’s like a speck when compared to his view of the big picture. He sees it all. There are infinite Earths. There are infinite galaxies. If he gets rid of one, he just moves on. How we see people, with mortality and the way we value human life, he doesn’t see it that way. As a result, we might not understand the way he thinks. I mean, humans use like, what, 8-10% of their brains? Something like that? He has full knowledge of the whole picture, so when you look at it through his eyes, I’m sure you’ll see life differently.
It’s hard to justify some of the things he may do. Like back in TEEN TITANS, before Crisis on Infinite Earths, he was dealing weapons to villains. He was doing things that weren’t on the up and up. Now, he had a reason behind everything, and you saw it play out in Crisis. But before Crisis, you would think he’s the worst villain of all the villains. Really, he did what was necessary for his objective.
This crossover deals with altering reality. I feel like it’s a very human desire to want to change reality at times. Have you ever found yourself wishing that? Would you say you understand Deegan’s motivations?
When you watch television or films, or when I was growing up reading comic books, it was an escape. You’re escaping your own reality. I was a middle child. My parents both worked two jobs, day and night. I had my own key when I was nine, and I would walk to school and come home—I had a lot of alone time. So, I got lost in this reality to get away from mine. I didn’t have a bunch of friends. I was into comic books and I got lost in that world. People who read novels, they get into those worlds. When you watch movies, you just want to check out from your own reality for a while and be a part of something else. That’s why I think people gravitate towards comics because that’s exactly what it is.
With Deegan, his reality wasn’t what he thought it should be, and he explains why he’s doing what he’s doing. He explains how he views heroes, and how he thinks they see themselves. He has a problem with that. So, he does something about it, and I’m there as Johnny on the spot, “Here, you have a problem? Let me help you fix that problem.”
I think, just in general, people watch shows and movies, and read books, to escape their reality, even if it’s briefly. I think we all need that.
So, do you think we’ll be seeing the Monitor again in the Arrowverse?
I hope so! I’ve been sworn to secrecy, but I think it opens up a whole world, and I don’t think it would do this character justice to bring someone this significant into the fray, just to never hear from his again. It’s hard to see the Monitor having his own show because there’s not a lot on him and you know his demise is not far away. But for the time being, I think you’d want to use him as much you can before that final curtain call.
“Elseworlds,” a three-night #DCTV crossover event, begins on Sunday at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST), before continuing at the same time on Monday and Tuesday on The CW.