Arrowverse Recap: What You Need to Know Before Crisis on Infinite Earths

Ahead of The CW's Crisis On Infinite Earths crossover event, here's a handy Arrowverse cheat sheet.

Crisis on Infinite Earths
Photo: The CW

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

Warning: contains Crisis on Infinite Earths comic book spoilers.

The Arrowverse’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover is all set to be an epic TV event. It will span episodes of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and Batwoman. This TV event is an adaption of a 12-issue DC Comics miniseries by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, which ran between 1985 and 1986. The comic-book version of Crisis served to condense the vast DC Multiverse into one standalone universe. A cosmic being called the Monitor recruited heroes to fend off his evil counterpart, the Anti-Monitor, and both Supergirl and Barry Allen died to save what was left of the multiverse. The comic gave us numerous iconic images, such as Barry’s face melting as he runs through the Speed Force, and Superman carrying the corpse of Supergirl in his arms.

The TV version will include the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor, with LaMonica Garrett playing both roles, and the overarching story will focus on heroes from various realities coming together to tackle a huge threat. This threat has already been described as “a wave of antimatter [which is] destroying everything in its path… [which won’t stop] until it obliterates all reality.” We’ve already seen this wave of antimatter destroy one universe, thanks to a recent episode of Arrow which showcased the decimation of Earth-2.

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If you’re interested in watching Crisis on Infinite Earths, but you’re not all that familiar with the Arrowverse, we’ve put together a primer to bring you up to speed. Based on our best guesswork, we think these are the core things you need to know…

Flash, Supergirl, Superman, Batwoman, and Atom

The stories so far

Although there have been foreshadowing hints going back years, the teases for Crisis on Infinite Earths really ramped up last year. Around this time in 2018, a crossover event entitled Elseworlds introduced a cosmic entity called the Monitor, who gave a reality-altering book to a mad scientist in order to test our heroes for a looming “crisis” in the not-too-distance future.

Elseworlds saw our heroes battling against numerous weird realities, and at the end of the crossover, Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen (aka the Green Arrow) promised the Monitor that he will do what is right to save the Multiverse when the time comes. Jump forward a year, and the time is basically now.

Arrow started out as a gritty crime show, but, following on from the revelations of last year’s Elseworlds event, this season of Arrow has seen Olivier doing the dirty work of the mysterious Monitor. Over the course of several episodes, Ollie has picked up dwarf star particles (which can be used for shrinking tech), a deadly virus (which could kill a lot of people), and a genius scientist (always comes in handy). 

Ollie also witnessed the destruction of Earth-2 – an entire reality crumbling into nothingness – which set the stakes nice and high. The Monitor wanted Team Arrow and their kids (who have time-travelled from the future to help out in the present day) to create a hi-tech weapon. They’ve done this now, so keep your eyes peeled for that weapon.

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Meanwhile, Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen (aka The Flash) has been building towards Crisis in his own super-speedy show. During the latest season of The Flash, Barry cast his mind into the future to see millions of possible outcomes (like Doctor Strange did in Avengers: Infinity War). Barry didn’t see a single reality that disproved an ominous prophecy from the Monitor: “to save billions, the Flash must die.” The Flash has been teasing for years that Barry will “disappear in a crisis” under red skies, with a future newspaper foretelling this fate way back in the show’s first season. The red skies have now appeared, so we’re definitely close to big things happening.

The Monitor has also popped up in Supergirl this season, shoving Martian Manhunter’s secret brother on a collision course with his shape-shifting superhero sibling. This was, apparently, the Monitor’s way of testing David Harewood’s Martian Manhunter (aka J’onn J’onnz) for the challenges ahead.

The most recent episodes of Batwoman, Supergirl, and The Flash ended with Tom Cavanagh’s Nash Wells, an intrepid explorer, being pulled into a blinding light surrounded by symbols. Meanwhile, on Arrow, Audrey Marie Anderson’s Lyla Michaels – who has been working closely with the Monitor – alerted Team Arrow that the much-hyped “crisis” has begun.

Katie Kane and Anti-Monitor

Cameos ahoy!

To make their final stand against the Anti-Monitor and his deadly wave of planet-destroying antimatter energy, the heroes of the Arrowverse will be calling on a lot of familiar faces. Keep reading for a rundown of everyone you can expect to see (although we are hoping for a few surprises, as well).

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Cress Williams will appear as Black Lightning, a hero with electric powers, who has his own show on The CW. This will be his first major crossover with the Arroweverse stable of superheroes.

Legendary voice actor Kevin Conroy, star of Batman: The Animated Series and the Arkham Asylum games, will play a live-action Bruce Wayne for the first time. He seems to have beef with Ruby Rose’s Batwoman, who debuted in last year’s Elseworlds event and will also take part in this crossover.

Also from the Bat-world, Burt Ward is set to appear. Ward famously played Robin opposite Adam West’s Batman back in the 1960s, but it’s unclear how Ward will fit into this story. Is his Robin paired up with Conroy’s Batman, perhaps?

Tom Welling will appear as Clark Kent for the first time since Smallville finished. Erica Durance will reprise her role as Lois Lane, too.

Tyler Hoechlin and Brandon Routh as Supermen

Speaking of Supermen, Tyler Hoechlin will return as the Supergirl TV show’s version of Superman/Clark Kent. Elizabeth Tulloch’s Lois Lane will appear alongside him.

And there’s also one more Superman to look out for: Brandon Routh will reprise his role from Superman Returns, although now he is playing a greying Kal-El with a cool new suit. Routh will also play Ray Palmer/The Atom, his shrinking superhero character from Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow.

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Speaking of Atoms, we know that Osric Chau will make his Arrowverse debut as Ryan Choi, who becomes another version of the Atom in the comics. Could we see a lot of shrinking and embiggening here?

There will also be multiple versions of The Flash at play, with John Wesley Shipp (star of the 1990s The Flash TV show) once again reprising his iconic role. He has appeared alongside Grant Gustin’s incumbent scarlet speedster before, loads of times, thanks to the sci-fi mumbo jumbo of travelling between alternate dimensions. In the parlance of DC Comics, it’s commonplace to call them alternate Earths. Hence the title, Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Remember the Birds of Prey TV show? If you do, you’ll recognise Ashley Scott, who is set to reprise her role as Huntress. And on the topic of random reappearances, Johnathon Schaech will return as the cowboy vigilante Jonah Hex, who he previously played in Legends of Tomorrow.

There have also been rumors of Tom Ellis appearing as Lucifer and Lynda Carter reprising the role of Wonder Woman, but neither of those has been confirmed. An image has also leaked showing Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne in a newspaper clipping, which also refers to Michelle Pfeiffer’s Selina Kyle from Batman Returns, but neither of those iconic actors has been confirmed to appear in the flesh. It would be cool to see some more people from the movies, though.

Crisis Crossover cast photo

Ones to watch

With all of those superheroes showing up, which characters will play the biggest roles in Crisis on Infinite Earths

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Lyla Michaels, AKA Harbinger, has been in Arrow for years (mainly as a government agent/John Diggle’s love interest), but she finally has a major role to play here as the Monitor’s main contact on Earth. It’ll be interesting to see what she ends up doing in the crossover itself, having played a large part in setting it up.

The importance of Jon Cryer’s Lex Luthor, who was recently brought back from the dead with help from the Monitor, has also been teased in the build-up to Crisis. It seems that Lex intends to use his new lease of life in a more heroic way than what you’d usually expect from him.

The Monitor claims that he has seen Oliver Queen die, so will we see the Green Arrow making the ultimate sacrifice during Crisis? Of course, prophecies don’t always turn out to be true, but the fact that Arrow is in its final season could lend credence to the idea of Oliver making a similar sacrifice to that of Tony Stark in Avengers: Endgame. Also, Ollie’s grown-up daughter (Katherine McNamara’s Mia Smoak) has already been established as a natural successor with a spinoff of her own on the way.

Similarly to Oliver’s prophecy, Barry Allen has been told that to save everyone, the Flash must die. Will Barry give his life to save his friends, or will someone else sacrifice themselves for Barry? Only time will tell.

Blackstar and Green Arrow

The aforementioned Nash Wells, the latest character in the Arrowverse to be played by Tom Cavanagh, seems to play a big role. He’s already opened up an important-looking portal, and next, he seems to be wearing a super suit. He’ll become Pariah, a genius scientist from the original comic

Also, seeing as he had a whole pre-Crisis subplot in Supergirl, does Martian Manhunter have a major part to play in the crossover itself? Shapeshifting is always a handy skill to have, but it’s hard to see how it can help against a huge antimatter wave.

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And what about David Ramsey’s John Diggle? Falling in line with years of fan theories, will Oliver Queen’s bodyguard-turned-vigilante-ally finally become Green Lantern? It was teased during last year’s Elseworlds event, but it’s unclear if we’ll see a payoff here.

One thing we do know is that ‘seven paragons’, who are basically the seven best and most important heroes ever, will need to come together if there is any hope of stopping the Anti-Monitor’s apocalyptic plans. Your guess is as good as ours concerning which heroes count as the prophesied paragons.

The Flash in the 2018 Crossover

How to watch Crisis Of Infinite Earths

Your Crisis on Infinite Earths viewing order kicks off with Supergirl season 5 episode 9 on Dec. 8; then it’s Batwoman episode 9 on Dec. 9; then comes The Flash season 6 episode 9 on Dec. 10; followed by Arrow season 8 episode 8 and a Legends of Tomorrow special episode on Jan. 14 to wrap the whole thing up.