Last year I wrote an article at my alma mater department’s website titled “Why Don’t They Kill Hitler?” (Hebrew) . In that article I pointed out how modern sci-fi shows from abroad introduce the possibility of killing Hitler (or a fictional in-show equivalent) and ending up not killing him for different reasons.
One of the shows I mentioned in that article was DC’s Legends of Tomorrow first season and in particular the episode that introduced Per Degaton, a child guided by the main antagonist, Vandal Savage who drove him to become a mass-murderer that killed a huge portion of the world population. In the future, one of the show’s protagonists (Captain Rip Hunter) tells the rest of his team, children learn at school about Per Degaton like children of the 21st century learn about Hitler.
And the reason I mention this particular show in this article is because it’s involved in this new change. But first, a short explanation to those unfamiliar with the show. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is an American series airing on CW and streaming on Netflix about group of superpowered misfits and outcasts. former b-list superheroes and villians who travel through time to save history. It’s based on DC comics characters and it is a spin-off show for Arrow and The Flash. This 3 shows together with Supergirl have an annual crossover events.
This year, titled “Crisis on Earth-X”, the crossover event saw the heros gather for The Flash’s wedding, and right before he got married the ceremony was disrupted by invasion of Nazis led by supervillians mirroring some of the hero’s powers. The heroes find out later that the Nazis aren’t time-travelers but travelers from another universe. From the 53rd earth designated Earth-X. On that earth, the Nazis won the world war and took over America. Now they came to Earth-1 both to conquer it, to catch Supergirl and to help the Reverse-Flash exact his revenge.
Apparently, the Reverse-Flash, a supervillian who keeps evading death somehow had a time remnant who traveled to Earth-X and became a pal of the new Fuhrer, which appears to be that universe Arrow (or rather, Dark Arrow) who is the first and most experienced hero on Earth-1. As a Fuhrer, Dark Arrow is in a relationship with one of his generals, that universe Supergirl, named Overgirl. Overgirl is dying and her only hope to live is to harvest Supergirl’s heart.
The choice to pit the heroes against their Nazi counterparts and the interesting choice of taking Supergirl in particular, who is part of the Superman mythos which was created by Jews and have clear Jewish elements to the character and turn her into some embodiment of Nazism and Aryanism and choosing to call her Overgirl really adds another layer of intrigue to the informed viewer.
During the crossover we also get to have a look of Earth-X and we see that there are still death camps. We see prisoners who wear yellow Stars of David or pink triangles (that’s how Nazis tagged gays). We also see what happened to Felicity of Earth-X, the counterpart of Earth-One Felicity, the love interest of the Arrow, codenamed Overwatch (see what they did there?) who also happen to be Jewish.
Luckily at the end of the day and the crossover, Earth-One heroes save the day, they beat the Nazis and Arrow kills Dark Arrow with an arrow to the heart. But not all is well, the Nazis have killed Professor Stein, a member of the Legends and a Jew. I saw people who don’t even like this show shed a tear for his death and funeral.
Still, the Arrow killed his evil counterpart, the Dark Arrow, who was a Fuhrer. Yes, it is not exactly like killing Hitler but it is killing the one who continued his legacy, a man in charge on the death of millions and suffering of millions more. A man who believed not everyone his equal and people should be punished to death because they were born to different ethnicity, are attracted to their own sex, or a just mere weak by his world-view.
This crossover is not just about killing Hitler or his successor. It’s about fighting off violent politics, about personal liberties and the dangerous of centralized power by state and the head of the state. It also points out what happens when extremists control education. Even the all-good cheerful Supergirl can turn into a genocidal maniac. Some might argue that this supposedly takes the responsibility out of people who grew up to such propqaganda in Nazi Germany from responsibility but we should also consider that there were other characters in Earth-X who became dissidents and rebels. People who have both good and bad Earth-One counterparts.
So why discourse about such topics are important now? Well. For several reasons. One of the reason is the soaring popularity in recent years of extreme philosophies who support centralism and taking personal freedoms. Usually under cute titles like Socialism. Another reason is because the threat of genocide still exists. We see what happened in recent years in Syria and Iraq. We also see the threat that Jews and Israelis face by Iran and its proxies who threaten to destroy Israel. Palestinians who are force-fed from childhood propaganda in schools, television on social media against Jews and are encouraged to go on kiliing sprees and suicide bombings. We see how they popularize Nazism and Hitler by naming shops after him, waving and using the Nazi flag alongside the Fatah flag.
This crossover gives us a glimpse of what happens when extremists get strong and lead armies, but in our reality, unlike the crossover, we don’t have superheroes to fight for us. Also, unlike the crossover, we can be aware and alert and we can do things to prepare. So instead of asking if someone killed Hitler, just don’t let him get to power in the first place.