The first chapter of Crisis on Infinite Earths introduced a variety of new parallel Earths to the DC Universe. Most Arrowverse action takes place on Earth-1 (home of Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow), with a significant portion also taking place on Earth-38 (home of Supergirl). Over the years we’ve been introduced to other Earths including Earth-90, the world where the classic The Flash TV series from the early 1990s took place, and where John Wesley Shipp plays Barry Allen. Crisis on Infinite Earths aims to designate even more of those worlds (probably before destroying them), and part one introduced two Batman-centric ones, the retro-flavored Earth-66, and the somewhat gothic Earth-89.
What is Earth-89?
Earth-89 is the world where the Tim Burton Batman movies, 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns take place. Crisis on Infinite Earths establishes this fact by using an introductory shot that looks almost exactly like the opening of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie, depicting a Gotham City that looks very much like the one designed by Anton Furst. You can clearly hear Danny Elfman’s famed Batman theme playing during this scene as well. But Crisis doesn’t stop there, as it even brings in a character from Burton’s first Batman movie: Robert Wuhl as Alexander Knox, spotted reading a copy of the Gotham City Gazette on a bench as the skies above him turn ominously red.
Who is Alexander Knox?
Alexander Knox has made only one appearance in the DC Universe, in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie. There, Knox was an investigative reporter for the Gotham Globe (why he’s reading his competitor’s paper here in Crisis is anybody’s guess). Knox was one of the earliest reporters to take the case of the Batman seriously, and while the Gotham City Police were trying to dismiss the character as an urban myth, Knox continued to show up at the scene of crimes Batman had stopped to ask police uncomfortable questions.
Knox partnered with photojournalist Vicki Vale on the Batman case, which eventually became the Joker case. Knox ended up helping Vicki uncover Batman’s true identity as Bruce Wayne. It helps to explain his rather familiar sounding referral to Batman as “big guy” in Crisis as the batsignal shines over his head.
The inclusion of Robert Wuhl as Alexander Knox is a fun way to bring some of the most beloved movies in DC Universe history into “official” continuity, but it also leaves a number of unanswered questions. Let’s start with that newspaper.
What’s in the Newspaper He’s Reading?
That illustration of Batman on the front page is by legendary DC Comics artist Jerry Ordway (who coincidentally also did some work on the original Crisis on Infinite Earths comic). It’s taken from the final page of the comic book adaptation of the 1989 Batman movie which Ordway illustrated. Amusingly, to go with the generally grim nature of Burton’s Batman movies, all the other headlines in the paper appear to be bad news: “Currencies Suffer Amid Uncertainty,” “Peace Talks Break Down” etc.
There are a couple of incongruities here. First of all, that headline says “Batman Captures Joker.” Jack Napier’s Joker (played by Jack Nicholson in the film) seemed QUITE dead at the end of Batman ‘89. Apparently, he’s still running around 30 years later, as is Michael Keaton’s Batman. Unless, of course, these are legacy versions of those characters who picked up the mantle of their predecessors. It would explain why the Batsignal shining over Gotham City here isn’t consistent with the one from those films. But again, it wouldn’t necessarily explain Knox’s seemingly personal familiarity with Batman indicated by his “big guy” remark. In any case, I’m probably reading into this too much.
But there’s another question: if Batman and Batman Returns are part of Earth-89, what about the less beloved Joel Schumacher movies, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin? While technically those are sequels to the Burton movies, they had a drastically different feel to them (not to mention different actors in the roles). Perhaps they occupy Earth-95 or something. Hopefully that one got wiped out by the Anti-Monitor’s antimatter wave.
Crisis on Infinite Earths will continue until January. We expect more explorations of the DC Universe to continue.