Well, it’s finally here. Crisis on Infinite Earths kicked off with a tremendous, ridiculously ambitious hour of television. “Crisis on Infinite Earths Part One” is the Supergirl chapter of this year’s Arrowverse crossover, so naturally it put a lot of focus on what was happening on Earth-38, with plenty of time for Superman and Lois to shine, as well. But there was a big surprise death along the way, with lots of breadcrumbs and DC Comics Easter eggs leading up to it.
In many ways, the “Easter eggs” of this episode are surprisingly subtle. It’s more about the feel of things. For example, there’s a certain ridiculous to all of these events happening at once, often breaking down while heroes are trying to go about their “normal” business until the skies turn red. It’s the absurd exposition required for heroes from different realities meeting for the first time to explain themselves to each other. In that regard, the first chapter of Crisis on Infinite Earths is more faithful to the flavor of a ridiculous comic book crossover than even Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame were. The Arrowverse is here to just go for it, logic be damned. And it’s great.
If you spotted anything we missed, just drop it down in the comments or hit us up on Twitter! If it checks out, we’ll update this until it’s the most complete Crisis on Infinite Earths Easter eggs guide out there! Now, let’s get down to it.
“The Monitor (guest star LaMonica Garrett) sends Harbinger (guest star Audrey Marie Anderson) to gather the worlds’ greatest heroes – Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), The Flash (guest star Grant Gustin), Green Arrow (guest star Stephen Amell), Batwoman (guest star Ruby Rose), White Canary (guest star Caity Lotz), The Atom (guest star Brandon Routh) and Superman (guest star Tyler Hoechlin) – in preparation for the impending Crisis. With their worlds in imminent danger, the superheroes suit up for battle while J’onn (David Harewood) and Alex (Chyler Leigh) recruit Lena (Katie McGrath) to help them find a way to save the people of Earth-38.”
The DC Multiverse
The Monitor’s opening narration is almost exactly the same as the one that explains the DC multiverse on the very first page of Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. In fact, let’s talk about the multiple Earths that this episode takes place on!
The majority of the action in this episode takes place on Earth-38, which has long been the world where Supergirl takes place. It’s named for 1938, the year when Action Comics #1, the book that introduced Superman to world, was published. But before things kick off here, we’re treated to a quick tour of some others.
Using the ships of all of the alien refugees living on Earth-38 is like the Dunkirk evacuation on a planetary scale.
Earth-89 is the world where the Tim Burton Batman movies (and presumably, the regrettable Joel Schumacher ones) take place. The introductory shot looks almost exactly like the first shot in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie, with a Gotham City designed by Anton Furst. That’s clearly Danny Elfman’s famed Batman theme playing during this scene as well.
That’s Robert Wuhl reprising his Batman ‘89 role as Alexander Knox reading the Gotham City Gazette on a bench under ominous red skies. That illustration of Batman on the front page is by legendary DC Comics artist Jerry Ordway (who also did some work on the original Crisis on Infinite Earths comic) and it’s taken from the final page of the comic book adaptation of the 1989 Batman movie. Amusingly, to go with the generally grim nature of Burton’s Batman movies, all the other headlines are bad news: “Currencies Suffer Amid Uncertainty,” “Peace Talks Break Down” etc.
There are a couple of incongruities here, of course. First of all, that headline says “Batman Captures Joker.” Jack Napier’s Joker seemed QUITE dead at the end of Batman ‘89. On the other hand, that’s also not the same batsignal from the movies shining over Gotham City. Could these be legacy versions of Batman and Joker fighting it out?
Titans and the DC Universe
Earth-9 is now the designated world where the DC Universe Titans TV series (and presumably Doom Patrol and the unfairly cancelled Swamp Thing) takes place. It seems to have been wiped out by an anti-matter wave (you can catch a glimpse of the Jason Todd Robin and half of the Hawk and Dove team). Why does this have the designation of Earth-9? It doesn’t track with the comics – Earth-9 there is the Tangent universe. However, here’s a theory: if you count the CW Seed cartoons (Vixen, Constantine and The Ray), Titansis the ninth DC Comics-based show produced by Greg Berlanti. We think.
Earth-66 is the world where the 1960s Batman TV series takes place, so designated because the series premiered in 1966. While this is the present day, this Earth seems to have a retro feel to it. Note the way people are dressed and the vintage cars lining the streets. But more importantly, that’s Burt Ward, wearing Robin-appropriate colors on his sweater, who shouts “Holy crimson skies of death!” in response to the skies turning red. Ward, of course, played Robin on that TV series, and that’s where the trope of Robin shouting “holy” exclamations came from, each more ridiculous than the last (with perhaps the most ridiculous…and we swear we are not making this up…being “holy priceless collection of Etruscan snoods!”).
Could that cuddly German Shepherd he’s walking be Ace the Bat-Hound? I certainly think so. What a good boy! Ward has dedicated his post-Robin life to rescuing large dog breeds and making sure they find good homes. You can learn more here.
Jonathan’s pod winds up in Oliver’s bunker over on Earth-16 in the year 2046. We haven’t seen much of Earth-16 on DCTV, but in the comics it’s the Young Justice Earth. Apparently, on this Earth Sara Lance died on the Queen’s Gambit and Oliver lived a more solitary existence.
Superman and Lois
– Setting Lois and Clark (and young Jon Kent) up as the sole survivors of a universe destroyed by a Crisis is very much the concept from DC’s Rebirth initiative of 2016, which saw the New 52 Superman supplanted by the more classic (and family minded) model.
– Don’t be surprised if baby Jonathan gets sidetracked again during Crisis so that some timey-wimey shenanigans allow him to be an older boy or young teen by the time Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch are starring on the Superman and Lois TV series next year.
– Clark’s musing that he always pictured him and Lois living on Earth with two children is a nod to certain Silver Age comics which occasionally offered imaginary stories of the pair marrying with children. Jon Kent seems fated to remain an only child in canon. For now, at least.
– Lois says to Jon before he blasts off in the escape pod that they’ll always look out for him “even in the face of our deaths.” That’s a direct quote from the speech Marlon Brando’s Jor-El gave to baby Kal-El in the opening moments of 1978’s masterful Superman: The Movie.
– Surely, you do not need us to tell you that Jon escaping the destruction of not just Argo City but the entire universe that houses Earth-38 mirrors how Kal-El and Kara escaped the destruction of Krypton, right? But what if we told you that in the Crisis on Infinite Earths comics, there was a child from a parallel universe, the son of a HEROIC Lex Luthor, who had to escape the destruction of his universe in the opening moments of that legendary story? Well, it’s true. Presumably the Jon Kent/Alexander Luthor parallels will end here, but it would be malpractice not to point it out.
– Anyone have any ideas what the Argo 139-65 designation means? We’re stumped.
– Clark lamenting how “I couldn’t save her” in regards to his Aunt Allura sounds like the words he spoke over Pa Kent’s grave in Superman: The Movie after his foster father died of natural causes. This show just GETS Kara and Clark right, particularly how even in the face of a menace that threatens literally the ENTIRE UNIVERSE, Superman will still be hung up on the lives he was unable to save. Like Oliver in his climactic scene, there is no tradeoff that makes the loss of life worth it.
– Sara Lance assures Earth-16 Oliver that he’s “a good man on every Earth.” Ahem, have we forgotten the one where he is a NAZI DICTATOR already?!?
– Kara and Clark have a heartfelt conversation about the loss of Argo City, the last remains of their home. Kara tells Clark that Krypton’s not just a place it’s a spirit, and because they have shared what Krypton stands for, it lives on in them and Krypton will never die. This parallels the conversation Yao Fei had with Oliver in the Arrow episode “Purgatory” about the Mandarin word “shengcun.” Oliver says it means to survive, but Yao Fei tells him it’s about more than the body, it’s about the spirit living on in someone else, like Yao Fei did in Shado and Oliver after he died.
Given the death (or “death”) of Oliver Queen, there’s been a lot of discussion on the show and off about how the only thing he has left to do is leave a legacy. On this, the legacy thing is something DC has historically done better than Marvel, although Marvel has been better about it over the last couple years. The shows have never been subtle about anything, but they’ve also been good at picking up themes and ideas that the comics put down.
Legends of Tomorrow
Of COURSE Sara Lance is a Janis Joplin fan! How much do you wanna bet that when all of the craziness and paradoxes of Crisis have been ironed out, we’ll learn that Janis’ final song is once again “Mercedes Benz” and not “Little Robot Man?”
The trivia team that beats out Ray and Sara is the “Strange Visitors.” This is yet another Superman reference, referring to how early Superman radio shows, cartoons, and TV shows referred to him as a “strange visitor from another planet, with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.”
Miscellaneous Multiversal Stuff
– The Monitor’s quantum towers come straight out of the comics. They’re kind of like dimensional tuning forks – in the DC multiverse, every different reality vibrates at a specific frequency. The reason the Flashes can travel between worlds is because the Speed Force gives them control over their own frequency, and lets them phase through to different worlds. We don’t want to get into too much detail right now, but there’s a reason the Monitor left them on worlds he deemed important.
– Those Shadow Demons are straight out of the comics, and they were always the Anti-Monitor’s foot soldiers in the original story. They were originally the Thunderers of Qward, elite troops from the anti-matter planet that first created Sinestro’s yellow power ring, turned into Shadow Demons by the Anti-Monitor. We’ll see if that’s what they end up being here.
– Holy moley, that Pariah costume is utterly perfect!
– No, the “end is nigh” sign guy isn’t Rorschach! It is, however, Wil Wheaton!