The end of the annual Arrowverse crossover, Elseworlds, lit a fire under DC fans. Crisis on Infinite Earths, one of the most important superhero comics of all time, has officially been announced as the subject of the 2019 Arrowverse crossover. But what does that mean for our favorite heroes? And what does it mean for the CW’s lineup of shows? Well, we’ve been thinking about it since the title card flashed at the end of Supergirl, and we have some ideas.
Here are five things we expect from the Arrowverse Crisis on Infinite Earths…
You can’t have Crisis on Infinite Earths and not have the biggest villain from the comic in there. “Elseworlds” gave us Mar Novu, the Monitor who was testing heroes from around the Multiverse to see if they were prepared to face off against a mysterious, powerful, unnamed foe. That is almost certainly the Anti-Monitor, an antimatter version of the man watching over the infinite worlds of the multiverse.
However, the original Monitor never got a real name, and Arrowverse Monitor did, which means there’s a possible curveball in here. I don’t think it’s likely, but the dark power Mar was alluding to could be Mandrakk, the Dark Monitor from Final Crisis–. He’s likely too meta for a tv appearance, though, so I wouldn’t count on it.
Heroes Will Die
Crisis on Infinite Earths had a body count in the high-infinity range. Seriously, a boundless multiverse was collapsed down to one Earth that consisted of the mashed together remains of another five.
But it wasn’t just whole universes that were killed. Crisis on Infinite Earths focused on several characters in regular rotation in the DCU at the time, and a bunch of them up and died during the series, including Barry Allen and Kara Zor-El.
The Arrowverse is not short on heroes. Between the four “main” shows we can reasonably expect to take part in this crossover, there are something like 30 regular heroes combined. And that’s not counting the heroes we know are out there but don’t regularly appear, like the Freedom Fighters of Earth-X, the Council of Harrisons Wells (who we would gladly see sacrificed), Machete, Gypsy, or even the version of the Justice Society of America we met on Legends of Tomorrow. There are a lot of deaths that could have a meaningful impact on the characters on these shows and us as an audience without disrupting the CW’s television schedule too much.
You can also probably take to the bank that one of the three leads is going to die during the crossover. For reasons we explained here, our money is on Oliver Queen. Also Superman is definitely dying. Ollie had to make an even trade with the Monitor to save Barry and Kara, and Superman is the only other person who makes sense to be a part of that deal. He wouldn’t ruin an existing show by dying and he wouldn’t say no to sacrificing himself to save others, even if Ollie had to do it without him knowing.
Time goes to hell.
The second issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths starts with Anthro the First Boy and segues to the Legion of Superheroes within 3 pages. When the multiverse starts collapsing, time ceases to matter. We can reasonably expect heroes from all over the Arrowverse timeline to show up in this, not only the present day ones. That means the Legion from Supergirl. The JSA from Legends of Tomorrow. Hell, maybe even the Knights of the Round Table from Ray Palmer’s fanboy jaunt to the middle ages, or (dare we dream) a Justice League from the future of one earth.
Actually, hear me out…
We know that Batman exists on Arrow/Flash/Legends Earth-1. Superman and Martian Manhunter of Earth-38 are recurring characters on Supergirl. The Legends dropped Helen of Troy on Themiscyra last season. Flash from Earth-90 confirmed that Diggle is a Green Lantern there. And Aquaman was a regular on Smallville, which was clearly referenced (and will absolutely be part of this crossover, you can take that to the bank). Add in Oliver and either Sara or Laurel for your requisite Canary, and you have a nice mix of original and big guns multiversal Justice League. Then imagine a final battle with the Anti-Monitor with:
– A multiversal JLA
– The JSA from the Legends of Tomorrow
– The Legion of Super Heroes from Supergirl
– A team of Outsiders led by Black Lightning (let’s say Mr. Terrific, Arsenal, Katana, Atom, Grace Choi, and Batwoman?)
I’m not sure what’s more insane. That idea, or that you can’t dismiss that idea out of hand.
At least one Earth we’ve never seen before.
Lady Quark was a member of the ruling family of Earth-6, a world where the colonies lost the Revolutionary War and technology took off afterwards. She was one of the key players in Crisis on Infinite Earths. She and her entire Earth had never appeared in a DC comic prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths #4.
The point here isn’t to impress you with my nerd credentials, although if you stick around to the end I might try and rip a Spider-Man: Clone Saga omnibus in half. The point is when you’ve got an infinite multiverse to play with, the creative teams tend to let their imaginations run wild. In the Elseworlds crossover, we got references to the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, Man of Steel, Smallville, and the location of the Earth where the 1990s The Flash show took place. These writers love the comics too much not to throw one or two fun throwaway Earths in there for their own amusement. Maybe we’ll actually see the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 (although in the Arrowverse, Earth-3 is where classic Flash Jay Garrick lives, but you get the idea).
Major Changes to the CW DC TV Shows
Crisis on Infinite Earths was a groundbreaking comic not only because of its in-universe storytelling importance. The Psycho-Pirate may have gone on about worlds living and worlds dying, but in the real world, books also lived and died by Crisis. Coming out of the series, both Wonder Woman and Superman had their entire continuities reset, while Batman saw massive, wholesale changes to many of the characters in the books (looking at you, Jason Todd). It’s hard to believe that the Arrowverse crossover won’t have a similar impact.
Ollie or Barry could die without advance warning, but as we’ve pointed out, our money is on Oliver. Also, Arrow is the show that can probably best manage a continuation without its lead – the CW can’t cancel any of these shows without tipping us off to a death in the crossover, but we can almost certainly have a season of Diggle training Ollie’s kid to be the Arrow while the rest of the CW pays their respects.
You can also make a case for Barry dying. They’ve been teasing Barry’s death in a Crisis since literally the first episode of The Flash, with the future newspaper predicting his death. However, Ollie’s speech to Barry at the end of Elseworlds seems to augur against that. On the other hand, the date on that infamous future newspaper headline doesn’t line up with next year’s crossover, although this could be a matter of time collapsing, or perhaps Nora’s arrival has had more far-reaching consequences than we first thought.
But a Flash must die in a Crisis – it’s one of the real world’s immutable truths, like Newton’s First Law, or Rule 34. However, we’ve got enough Flashes bouncing around the multiverse – Jesse Quick, two John Wesley Shipps (three if you count the departed Henry Allen), Wally West, hell, there’s probably another Zoom ghost running around – where I don’t think Barry is gone for more than a short bit of time. Then again, it doesn’t have to be “our” Barry who dies, either. John Wesley Shipp’s “classic” Barry Allen certainly could do with a heroic send-off, with his death being a deciding factor in the saving of the Multiverse.
Could other WB DC TV Shows Take Part?
While the comic book version of Crisis on Infinite Earths eliminated the entire Multiverse (well…temporarily), that’s unlikely to happen here. DC’s multimedia multiverse is actually a very good thing, allowing shows that simply can’t line up together for various reasons (Gotham, Krypton, Titans) to exist in their own individual corners of the DCU, while giving fans the satisfaction that even the movies “exist” within a shared DC Universe of some kind. It’s a weird idea, and one we went into more detail with here.
But while they won’t eliminate the entire Multiverse, they certainly will condense all of the CW DC shows to one Earth, while shows like Gotham (which is ending soon anyway) and Titans will remain on their own. Krypton could go either way, but since that’s a show that plays with alternate timelines anyway it almost doesn’t matter (although…what if the finale of Krypton season 1 is what broke everything?)
But from there, who knows? It seems almost certain that Supergirl and Black Lightning will be folded into the main Arrowverse alongside The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Batwoman. But at the same time, we’re watching Netflix take a hatchet to their Marvel shows reportedly because of Disney’s upcoming streaming service, and guess what launched earlier this year and could really use a bunch more content? Ultimately, the best thing about Supergirl announcing Crisis on Infinite Earths is that it gives us a good nine months to lose our minds about what might be coming next, and with these shows’ track records of success, it promises to be a hell of a lot of fun when we get there.