This article contains nothing but Crisis on Infinite Earths spoilers.
Well, they actually did it. The CW and Warner Bros. TV actually told a live-action version of Crisis on Infinite Earths that not only managed to touch on the vast majority of DC TV history, but even paid significant homage to the classic movies of the ’80s and ’90s and even the most unlikely crossover ever with the DCEU. And its incredible final chapter was a masterful love letter to the entirety of DC history, just different enough from its source material to keep comics fans guessing, and emotional enough to give Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen the most heroic send-off imaginable. But holy moley, that ending was a LOT.
Earth Prime: A Unified Arrowverse
While perhaps the most famous moments in the comic book version of Crisis on Infinite Earths were the deaths of Supergirl and Barry Allen, those were really in service to the story’s big finale, and the book’s main purpose from the very start. At the time, DC Comics continuity with its sprawling multiverse was considered too complex (something that DC’s chief competitor, Marvel, didn’t have to deal with) and the very mission statement of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths was to simplify the DC Universe by collapsing the multiverse into one singular Earth. Twenty years later, DC brought the multiverse back, but that’s another story.
But what happened in the TV version was, in a way, as necessary as what happened in the comics. The simple reality is this: the only reason that Supergirl and Black Lightning take place in different corners of the multiverse is because they were initially developed for networks other than The CW. Supergirl‘s entire first season was on CBS, so the initial prospects of it being able to take place in the same world as The Flash and Arrow (back in the days when there were only three Arrowverse shows) were unclear. Black Lightning was initially developed for FOX before that network (foolishly) passed on it, and to be fair, much of the storytelling established in that show’s first two seasons was better served by keeping things focused on Freeland, in a world where superheroes aren’t commonplace.
But those days are over. All these shows air on the same network now. And it’s confusing to constantly explain why Kara and Barry (or more importantly, Supergirl and Batwoman) can’t hang out whenever they want, so it’s better to just merge these Earths together. How did that happen? Um…hoo-boy. To go by the logic of the book (where the Spectre also physically fought the Anti-Monitor), Spectre was aided in his fight against the Anti-Monitor by channeling the powers of the paragons: courage, hope, destiny, truth, honor, humanity, and love. Those seven qualities make up the heroic ideals of the DC Universe in general, and combined with Spectre’s cosmic (even godly) power, helped create a new and improved multiverse, and a single cohesive Arrowverse Earth-Prime that combines the best elements of a number of different worlds.
But if you think that sounds confusing, imagine being a character who lived through all this! So who remembers what? The way this works is similar to how it went down in the comics: only the heroes who were present for the battle at the dawn of time will even remember that things were different, let alone the Crisis itself. The rest can get the basics of the story via some telepathic cramming courtesy of J’onn J’onzz, but ultimately, the lives they lived were more or less the same. I say more or less because…
Lex Luthor is a Good Guy?
So Lex Luthor is a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, the head of the DEO, and Supergirl’s biggest fan. Yeah, of course he is. But as he was at the dawn of time, he clearly had a little influence on how the universe was re-shaped and thus his criminal past has been wiped out like it never even existed. There are a couple of possibilities here…
The first possibility is that Lex actually did enjoy being a hero (hey, it wouldn’t be the first time!) and realized that there are things in this universe way bigger than his petty hatred of Kryptonians and is finally doing what Superman has always hoped he would: using his immense genius for the betterment of mankind. Either we’re going to witness his tragic fall (which is unlikely) or there’s the more likely possibility…
From a storytelling perspective, ESPECIALLY with a Superman and Lois TV show coming within the year, it makes much more sense for Lex to have a “clean slate” and even to be in a position of authority. For years in the comics, Lex was a “respectable businessman” and scientific genius, all while working behind the scenes to make life miserable for Superman and the rest of Earth’s heroes. That’s probably what’s happening here, especially considering that Lex absolutely will remember not only the way things used to be, but everything he saw and experienced during the Crisis and at the dawn of time.
And, I repeat, Jon Cryer is the best Lex Luthor.
Diggle Has Two Children!
Remember Sara Diggle? John Diggle and Lyla Michaels once had a baby daughter named Sara. In Flashpoint, when Barry Allen changed the past so that Nora Allen was never murdered he ended up changing the present as well. While he ultimately did change things back, it wasn’t without consequences, and some elements of the present were changed. One of those was that Sara Diggle never existed, and was replaced by John Jr. One of the results of Crisis is that now both children exist, and it’s unlikely that John or Lyla remember that things were ever any different in this regard. And speaking of children…
Superman and Lois Have Two Sons!
Wait…what? Clark is surprised when Lois mentions that there are sons (plural), since he was at the dawn of time, and Lois was not. Of course, one of these is Jonathan Samuel Kent, the baby who caused so many headaches in the first few chapters of Crisis. The other? Well…that’s a mystery that we’ll have to wait for the Superman and Lois TV show to solve. Could one of these two sons be Damian Wayne? We have our theories about this.
Oliver Queen is Dead
Yep, Green Arrow is dead. It’s interesting that the President of the United States refers to Oliver as the “first” of the heroes, which seems a little strange considering that in all likelihood Superman has been operating longer and it has been established that Batman was around for a while. On the other hand, Batman is basically an urban legend in the Arrowverse so it makes sense that he wouldn’t be “officially” acknowledged like that.
The Multiverse Still Exists
The DC Multiverse is dead! Long live…the DC Multiverse? Yes, it would appear that while a number of Earths were collapsed and combined to form the new Earth-Prime, many (if not all) of the others were either restored to their former glory or re-created entirely in a slightly new form. We even get homes for the entire DC Universe stable of shows past and present. Let’s get into this…
Earth-2, Stargirl, and the JSA
Let’s be real: is anyone gonna actually mourn the loss of the previous Earth-2? The one where everyone was eeeeevil and basically just needed a pointy goatee to indicate that things were worse over there? No. Making Earth-2 the home of the upcoming Stargirl TV series with its Justice Society of America focus is absolutely perfect, since in the comics, Earth-2 was indeed the home of the original Justice Society.
The heroes that we see in this brief glimpse are modern versions of JSA members Doctor Mid-Nite, Stargirl (and her gigantic robot sidekick STRIPE who looks awesome), Hourman, and the Yolanda Montez version of Wildcat. One other fun connection to the comics, it was in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths that Yolanda Montez took over the Wildcat mantle from Ted Grant.
Of course the world of Titans still exists! Titans season 3 is in production and due later this year. It might have been cool to put Stargirl on the same world as Titans since that’s a world that has an incredibly rich DC history operating in the background, but hey, what do I know.
Earth 19: Swamp Thing
Even the canceled way too soon Swamp Thing gets a final nod here, again on his own, horror-tinged Earth. Hopefully this drums up enough interest in the character to get #SaveSwampThing some momentum again. That show really could have been something.
Earth-12 is the Home of the Green Lantern Corps
For the first time ever we genuinely get to see the Green Lantern Corps in the Arrowverse. Hopefully we’ll eventually get an Earth-Prime Green Lantern (give Diggle a ring, damn it!), but for now, it’s a safe bet that this is a tease of the Greg Berlanti-produced Green Lantern TV series coming to HBO MAX about which I may or may not know more than I am allowed to say.
Earth-21 Doom Patrol
Interestingly, Doom Patrol takes place in its own universe. I say “interestingly” because the series had its introduction on an episode of Titans, although there were just enough continuity inconsistencies to explain why this couldn’t continue on. Anyway, this show is a perfect chunk of weirdness in its own right, doesn’t need any more crossovers, and Doom Patrol season 2 can’t get here fast enough.
Earth-96 Superman Lives!
Any worries that Brandon Routh’s Superman of Earth-96, who is not only the same Superman that Routh played in Superman Returns but intended to be Christopher Reeve’s Superman, was going to die in relatively unheroic fashion at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths Chapter 3 because of Lex Luthor’s treachery were put to rest in triumphant fashion. Earth-96 is restored, and based on the fact that Clark is back to wearing a red and yellow “S” as opposed to the black one, it’s possible, even likely, that it was restored to a point that gave him a happier ending than he had with Lois before Crisis reset things. It’s a happy ending that both Routh and the character deserve.
The Arrowverse Justice League!
No, your eyes do not deceive you, we absolutely, more or less officially, have an Arrowverse Justice League. It’s a hell of a lineup, too, consisting of The Flash, Superman, Supergirl, White Canary, Batwoman, Black Lightning, and Martian Manhunter. That’s as solid a “big 7” for a Justice League team as you can hope for. Of course, they never actually use the words “Justice League” (gotta save something for next year’s crossover, right?), and for now, the team might have to go by a different name…
Wait, really? Yes. The music that’s playing is a charged-up version of the original Super Friends Saturday morning cartoon theme song. The abandoned STAR Labs facility is a dead ringer for Super Friends headquarters the Hall of Justice (which has now been adopted by the Justice League in the comics) and then there’s the little matter of…
What the hell is a Gleek? I AM SO GLAD YOU ASKED! Gleek is a blue space monkey who was the pet of Zan and Jayna, better known as the Wonder Twins. On the Super Friends cartoon, the Wonder Twins were basically junior members of the team (and in the current comic series, which is one of the funniest superhero books of all time, they are Justice League interns) and Gleek has a super strong tail that assists on adventures.
Is The Anti-Monitor Really Dead?
Not exactly. The Anti-Monitor has been shrunk to sub-subatomic size, eternally shrinking and trapped in the microverse. He’ll be back as soon as they need a big enough threat, but don’t expect him to be the villain of next year’s crossover, which is likely to be smaller in scale.
But…Is Oliver Queen Really Dead?
Yes. Well, probably. But yes. But he can probably come back as the Spectre. Maybe. I guess he could return, but when that happens it might not be a good thing. We’ll see. Then again, the fact that Oliver does the narration introducing the new Multiverse, similar to how Spock did the “space…the final frontier” narration after he (spoiler!) croaked in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan would seem to indicate that they’re leaving the door just a little bit open. Don’t count on it. Is this definitive enough for you? No? Too bad. But remember the first rule of superhero deaths: if there’s no corpse (and even THEN), they can probably come back.