This article consists of nothing but Elseworlds spoilers.
The 2018 DC TV Arrowverse crossover was a big one! While Legends of Tomorrow didn’t join the party this time, The Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl took us to multiple (if not quite infinite) Earths to take on The Monitor, Dr. Destiny, Amazo, and other foes. Oh, and we got to meet Batwoman, too. And did we mention Superman and Lois Lane?
Let’s get to work on this. If you spot anything we missed, drop it in the comments, or give Mike a shout on Twitter, and we’ll update this with more!
But let’s just start with the name, shall we? “Elseworlds” was the name of a line of DC Comics that told stories outside the normal continuity. Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, which told of a Victorian-era Batman taking on Jack the Ripper was widely considered the first of the line (even though it wasn’t called that upon publication), and the famed Superman: Red Son is also part of the line. Making this crossover Elseworlds is as important to DC Comics DNA as Invasion was, or calling a crossover Crisis on Earth-X (or really, calling any episode or episodes “Crisis on…” anything at all).
Also, the custom Elseworlds logo you see on these episodes? That’s the “stamp” that used to go on the comics to let fans know that these stories took place outside regular DC Universe continuity. Cool, right?
Now, let’s hit these episodes…
The Flash: Elseworlds Part 1
“When Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Oliver Queen (guest star Stephen Amell) wake up one morning and realize they have swapped bodies with each other, the two set off to find out what disturbed the timeline to cause such a shift. However, things quickly go from bad to worse when they present their case to Team Flash and the gang doesn’t believe them. Barry and Oliver realize they need Supergirl’s (guest star Melissa Benoist) help and travel to Smallville on Earth-38 where they end up meeting Kara’s cousin, Clark Kent (guest star Tyler Hoechlin), and intrepid reporter, Lois Lane (guest star Elizabeth Tulloch). LaMonica Garrett guest stars as The Monitor.”
– The episode opens on Earth 90, with John Wesley Shipp as…Barry Allen. Shipp was the original TV Flash, starring in an excellent, but short lived CBS TV series that ran from 1990-1991. He’s wearing a terrific replica of that TV costume, too.
What’s interesting is all the dead heroes surrounding him. On the original Flash TV series, there was never any indication of a wider DC Universe (hell, we barely got any villains from the comics on it). Here, it appears that in the last 27 years or so, there have been plenty of heroes popping up. Among the dead you can spot Stargirl, Ray, a Green Arrow wearing a costume that looks suspiciously like the Smallville version, at least one of the Hawks, and some others. Drop us a line in the comments about who else you spotted on Earth 90 and we’ll keep updating this!
– They quite clearly teased the old The Flash TV series theme at the very end of his scene, too!
Also, they really missed a trick by not letting John Wesley Shipp open the episode doing the “My name is Barry Allen, and I’m the Fastest Man Alive” narration, but whatever, this is still incredibly cool.
– We don’t really waste any time jumping into the multiversal craziness. The being putting Flash on the ground is the Monitor from Crisis on Infinite Earths, and we’ve got a lot more information on him right here. Potential spoilers await with him, though, so be careful!
– Jeremy Davies is playing John Deegan, aka Doctor Destiny. If you recognize the name, it’s likely from one of two places: the episode of Justice League where he made everyone but Batman fall asleep to take over the world, or the diner issue of Sandman. One was great! And one was also great but super messed up.
Dr. Destiny was created by Gardner Fox in 1961 as a Justice League villain. His powers are all over the place, but are of late generally tied to dreaming and sleeping. Uh-oh…I wonder if that means something for the crossover.
– The Monitor hands Dr. Destiny a book that apparently gives him the power to cause the crossover to happen. This book is chained and latched, but Deegan opens it and gets some kind of power. The closest comic book equivalent to the Book of Destiny appears to be in Final Crisis, there’s a book that Superman and Ultraman read that has every story ever in it. It could be this. Second theory coming later.
– You know that old sailor’s cliche: Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, something is desperately wrong with the Multiverse. Seriously, every time there’s a Crisis or a multiversal collapse somewhere, it’s preceded by red skies and yellow lightning.
– ”Ivo Labs” is probably founded by Professor Ivo, another Gardner Fox creation and one of DC’s stable of great mad scientists. His greatest creation (besides Tomorrow Woman) is probably Amazo, an android who can duplicate any superpower he sees. The problem? Well, the only Professor Ivo we know in the Arrowverse has been dead since the Arrow season 2 flashbacks. Does this raise a mystery for future episodes?
– Oh hey, to nobody’s surprise Amazo is in this too! Funny enough, Oliver seems to take the Amazo name in stride, considering his own history with Professor Ivo and a certain ship from the early days of the Arrow flashbacks. TV Amazo looks way cooler than comics Amazo, but their gimmick of adapting to the powers of whatever heroes are fighting them is straight out of the comics.
– Ralph’s “He just klaatu barada kickto’ed our asses” is a Day the Earth Stood Still joke (that’s where Army of Darkness stole it from, but you already knew that because you’re all very smart), about how much Amazo looks like the shapeless robot alien from that movie.
– As cool as it is to see Amazo using Red Tornado’s powers to fly around, there’s no Red Tornado on this Earth (he did, however, appear in several episodes of Supergirl), and he was created by a totally different mad scientist (Professor T.O. Morrow).
– Diggle pukes every time he goes super fast, and I love that that joke keeps coming back. It always feels like a bit of a nod to how Laurie Jupiter can’t keep her lunch down any time that Doctor Manhattan teleports her anywhere in Watchmen.
– Multiversal numbering is weird. There’s the comics multiverse, which has its own numbering but is also limitless? But then there’s the DARK multiverse, which has similar numbering to the regular comics multiverse, but with negative numbers. And there’s the TV multiverse, where The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow take place on Earth 1; Supergirl takes place on Earth 38, and the old The Flash TV series appropriately took place on Earth 90.
It’s amazing how they managed to touch on so many different TV and movie versions of Superman in the few scenes with Lois and Clark in the episode…
– That’s the theme from Smallville playing when they get to Earth 38. That’s also the Kent farmhouse from that show. The red pickup truck was always prominently featured in that show, but its vintage here makes it feel more like a nod to the version seen when the Kents find young Kal-El in Superman: The Movie.
– The Superman: The Movie references don’t end there. Clark introduces himself as “a friend,” which is not just an on-brand thing for Superman to say, it’s how Christopher Reeve introduced himself to Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane after the famous helicopter rescue from that film.
– The relationship between our new Lois Lane and Superman feels very Lois & Clark. I don’t think that’s a mistake, although Elizabeth Tulloch’s Lois Lane performance feels inspired by Margot Kidder from the Christopher Reeve movies.
– On the other hand, she is wearing purple, which is a definite nod to the character design from Superman: The Animated Series. She even calls Clark “Smallville!”
– Lois makes a reference to having seen Krypton’s “jeweled mountains” and that is definitely a piece of Kryptonian geography taken from the comics. Hopefully they’ll get around to showing them to us on the excellent Krypton TV series one of these days, too.
– Tyler Hoechlin’s Clark Kent always reminds me of how George Reeves played the character on the old Adventures of Superman TV series from the 1950s. Reeves’ Clark was less a “mild-mannered bumbler” and more of a really nice, friendly, effective guy.
– Theory time! I bet we see some Sandman stuff in this crossover. Everything new in this crossover was created by either Gardner Fox – Ivo and Amazo, Doctor Destiny – or Marv Wolfman, who created the Monitor AND Destiny of the Endless, whose book is what was given to Destiny. The book from Final Crisis doesn’t make sense in this context, but Destiny’s book might. Also, if everyone’s asleep and sharing a hallucination, the Barry/Ollie switch makes sense and opens the door to a Dream/Sandmanconnection. Of course, I’m usually wrong with these predictions. This may be deleted by Tuesday. We’ll see.
– The sketch of Monitor and John Deegan that Ollie/Flash speed draws from memory is art by none other than Jim Lee!
– We hear a “Waid and Augustyn” shout out. We all know who Mark Waid is (and his endless contributions to Flash mythology) but Brian Augustyn was editor on The Flash during Waid’s tenure (and before…and beyond!). Perhaps even more relevant to Elseworlds, though, is that Augustyn wrote the first ever “Elseworlds” story (before they were called that) with Batman: Gotham by Gaslight.
– The episode closes with a quick glimpse of Batwoman, and we’ll give her some more space in tomorrow’s easter eggs. It’s worth noting that when Batwoman made her first appearance (in 2006’s 52 #10) it was in the final panel of the issue, and she was also perched on top of a building.
Arrow: Elseworlds Part 2
“With Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Barry (guest star Grant Gustin) still stuck in the other’s bodies, the two get a lead on John Deegan (guest star Jeremy Davies) and head to Gotham City with Supergirl (guest star Melissa Benoist) to figure out why their reality has changed. While there, they meet the mysterious Kate Kane (guest star Ruby Rose) who provides them with information that leads the group to Arkham Asylum.”
– Having a seemingly unrelated action sequence taking place under red skies is the most comic book crossover thing ever.
– While we’ve met Slade Wilson’s son on this show before, this is the first time we see him in the full blown Ravager armor. Kinda cool.
– This episode obviously goes deep on Batman lore, but in the course of it also also explains why we haven’t heard too much about him in the Arrowverse to date. Batman’s an urban legend “concocted by the GCPD to keep criminals in line.” Of course, Ollie doesn’t believe in Batman…but Barry does.
– Oliver’s “I’m the original vigilante” line is thus both hilarious and kinda meta, as it’s the question fans have been asking. Meanwhile, we know that probably isn’t true, because Legends of Tomorrow long ago showed us that there was also a Justice Society of America in the Arrowverse.
– Lots of firsts in this episode, including the first ever vision of Gotham City in the Arrowverse! Related: First ever GCPD in the Arrowverse!
– Vesper Fairchild in the comics is almost exactly as she’s presented here, only swap out “sleeping with Ollie” for “sleeping with Bruce.” She was a radio talk show host created by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones in 1997 and then killed in Batman: The 10 Cent Adventure in 2002.
– The first genuine, honest-to-god Bat Signal on live action TV since the original Batman TV series aired its final episode on March 14, 1969. And speaking of Batman ’66…
– Kara pulls a bust of William Shakespeare out of a box. That isn’t just any William Shakespeare bust, though, it’s the bust from the brilliant 1966 Batman TV series! Ol’ Billy Shakes’ head rolls back revealing a switch that, when thrown, opens a bookcase revealing the secret entrance to the Batcave.
This is unquestionably the best thing any of these shows has ever done.
– It’s not an easter egg, but Blake Neely definitely composed a bunch of great new original music for this episode, and I’m pretty sure we heard an actual Batwoman theme. Which makes sense since she’s getting her own TV series next year.
– Was that establishing shot of Gotham after the first commercial break…Chicago? Like the Nolan films?
– Our heroes are pinched by the GCPD at the corner of Nolan and Burton. As in Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton, the ultimate cinematic Batman visionaries.
– I am willing to bet a small amount of money that the driver who bailed the gang out of jail is Jacob Kane. He’s Kate’s father, an army Colonel and her handler. And at the moment in the comics, he’s also SUPER crooked, leading an army against Batman that’s also trying to recruit him. I’m a little behind on Detective Comics, though, so that’s probably changed.
– Of course the wifi password in the Wayne Enterprises building is Alfred. What else would it be? m0m&dadRdead?
– “Unless she has some Kryptonite stashed somewhere, I’m really not worried” My first reaction is that “of course she does, because that’s what Bat-people do” but then I remembered that there are supposedly no Kryptonians on this Earth and good lord, they need to merge Earth 38 with the main Arrowverse Earth.
– In fact, when Kara says her cousin is “frenemies” with Bruce, it drives it home even further that they need to merge these worlds already.
– Having a Flash appear in a cloud of blue interdimensional energy to deliver a garbled message feels very much like (intentionally or not) a nod to how it was done in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which itself was kind of a sideways reference to Crisis on Infinite Earths. That keeps coming up around here, doesn’t it?
– The attendant at Arkham is completely unsurprised by the existence of Cold villains. “We’ve got a few of those in here like that.”
– Of course, Arkham Asylum itself is a Batman Easter egg fiesta. From the cell doors we get…
Cobblepot, O. That’s the Penguin, but you knew that.
Isley, P. That’s Poison Ivy, who deserves so much better than Batman & Robin that they had better utilize her on the Batwoman TV series.
Karlo, B. That would be “Basil Karlo” the original Clayface.
Nygma, E. That’s the Riddler in case the graffiti didn’t tip you off.
The fear gas is property of one J. Crane…the Scarecrow.
Guggenheim, M. That’s the most fiendish evil madman of all, one of the architects of the Arrowverse!
– There’s some Riddler graffiti in Arkham Asylum that says “what’s blue and grey and red all over?” This seems like perhaps a clue to Batman’s defeat, but I wonder if this means that the Arrowverse Batman actually wore the classic blue and grey costume, rather than the endless black that other live action interpretations have favored! I bet he had a yellow oval around the bat, too.
-There’s definitely a boomerang on the ground in the Asylum’s armory, but Captain Boomerang is a Flash villain and extremely not insane. He’s just a coward.
The woman trying to reclaim Mr. Freeze’s gun is his wife Nora, who we’ve usually only seen on ice as the object of Victor’s quest/obsession. She’s played here by Cassandra Jean Amell.
– Thanks to the sharp eyes of W0NK042 on Twitter…you can also spot Bane’s mask from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises!
Basically, they just gave us an entire Batman rogues gallery without ever showing us Batman. And don’t forget, they had shown us Harley Quinn back in the day on this show, too!
– What’s a trip to Arkham Asylum without an escape, right?
– The guy in the gold mask is Psycho Pirate, who is crucial to any potential future Crises on however many Earths this show wants to play with. His mask allows him to manipulate emotions, but when we finally get to the real Crisis on Infinite Earths (in another decade or so), Psycho Pirate plays a big role.
– Crane’s fear toxin makes Ollie and Barry each fight their greatest villain, but I’m a little frustrated with the choices here. Ollie-Flash fights Tom Cavanagh-as-Reverse Flash, and Barry-Green Arrow fights John Barrowman as Merlyn. The point was to make Ollie and Barry respect each other more, but they should have just gone for it and cross-cast Reverse Flash and Merlyn, too – make Barrowman Reverse Flash and Cavanagh Merlyn.
– Kate, aside from lighting the fires of a million Kara/Kate shippers, cracks about how they would make “the World’s Finest team.” World’s Finest was not only the title of the first Supergirl/Flash TV team-up but more importantly, it was the first comic to regularly feature Superman/Batman team-ups. And it did for nearly 40 years.
– Kate Kane’s express elevator to the Batcave is reminiscent of how Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne accessed his HQ in the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy.
– I’m not 100% sure if this is what they were going for, but the wood and water around Batwoman’s costume reveal might be from her first solo book story arc, Hydrology, where she battles La Llorana, a woman who drowns kidnapped orphans with her tears. Holy shit that’s goth.
– Well, it turns out that on Earth 90 John Diggle is actually a Green Lantern. Remember when fans were briefly obsessed with the idea that Dig would turn out to be John Stewart? Well, they were wrong, but it’s nice to have it confirmed what we all knew all along, that Diggle is absolutely worthy of wearing the ring. This is absolutely the most explicit Green Lantern callout we’ve ever had on this show, too.
– My god they’re actually doing Crisis on Infinite Earths. In 1986 as sales were slumping for DC, they decided that 50 years of impenetrable continuity was to blame, so they tried to streamline it by having a mega-crossover that collapsed the multiverse down to one earth. It’s where so much of these references came out of, but I never expected them to actually talk about a Crisis coming. It all started with a Monitor testing the heroes of various worlds to see who could stand against a bigger threat. Sound familiar? This is probably going to take a while to get to.
We’ve also been reminded that Crisis on Infinite Earths took place simultaneously across the timeline, so this could very well be the start of the actual Crisis where Barry disappears…the event that they’ve been teasing us with since the very first episode of The Flash!
– Was that a turtle on the lock of the book of Destiny? Could this be a reference to recently introduced DC Comics concept, the Still Force?
– Ollie and Barry are turned into the Trigger Twins by a re- powered Dr. Destiny, and that’s hilarious. The Trigger Twins were separated at birth identical twins who only found each other when they decided to rob the same bank at the same time. They were killed by Wild Dog and Vigilante in Infinite Crisis #7 and returned to life as Black Lanterns during Blackest Night. Extralol: Both Barry and Ollie have been dead in the comics also.
Supergirl: Elseworlds Part 3
“Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), The Flash (guest star Grant Gustin), Green Arrow (guest star Stephen Amell) and Superman (guest star Tyler Hoechlin) engage in the battle of their lives.”
– Deegan starts the Supergirl episode in Superman’s body and in Superman’s black suit, which is hilarious. The black suit first appeared as Superman returned from the dead in the comics in 1994. It was part of how he regenerated after his near-death experience (is how they explained it…). It’s been hinted at, referenced, or rumored for just about everything else – Justice Lords Superman was in a modified black costume in the Justice League animated series’ pivotal episode; it showed up in concept art for the Tim Burton/Nicolas Cage movie; it was in a deleted scene in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. It’s the last one that’s going to be a recurring theme tonight, we think.
There is one big difference between the traditional black costume and what Deegan Supes is wearing: the megadouche high collar from Superman’s New 52 costume redesign. It’s perfect that bad Superman is wearing his worst costume.
– Also, any time there’s an evil brain in Superman’s body, while it has happened a bunch of times, it always makes me think of Action Comics #584, which was John Byrne’s first issue on the title, when someone took over Superman’s body and made him kick the hell out of the Teen Titans.
– Making STAR Labs Superman’s HQ is actually a cute reference to its comic origins. STAR Labs first appeared in Superman #246 as the base for Professor Emil Hamilton. It’s also where Cyborg’s father worked and where he was created, and didn’t become a Flash thing until the 1990 TV show with John Wesley Shipp.
– Barry and Ollie open a dingy apartment door and end up in the Monitor’s headquarters. In Crisis on Infinite Earths he just had a satellite that he operated out of, and this looks more like one of those discs they play jai alai on in Tron. However, the apartment part is actually pretty similar to where Nix Uotan was banished to in Final Crisis – he was in a dumpy apartment, working in a fast food restaurant, trying to figure out how to solve a Rubik’s Cube in 17 moves.
– Gary from the Legends of Tomorrow Time Bureau is the fanboy bartender at Cisco’s villain bar in Deegan’s remade Earth. See? They got all four shows into this after all!
– Related: why is Cisco a crime lord in every alternate timeline?
– It’s not a 1:1 comparison, but the world Deegan created is very similar to Earth 3, the Crime Syndicate Earth. That’s where all the good guys are bad guys, and Alexander Luthor is the world’s only hero. Here, Gary, Jimmy, Cisco, Superman, Green Arrow, and Flash are all villains. Then again, the Earth 2 we visited in The Flash Season 2 (one of the bad seasons) kinda went this way, as well, but this feels more like it.
– As it always does on Supergirl, the Fortress of Solitude is modeled on the Christopher Reeve movies. Cisco appears to be messing around with a Phantom Zone projector, so he’s lucky he didn’t get banished to that dimension. But the best is probably Steel’s hammer that Lois ends up using later in the episode.
– It feels like a waste of energy to go through all the Christopher Reeve Superman references one at a time and separately since the entire episode was like watching the Berlantiverse staff go Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Man of Steel. So here’s a brief list of them:
– When Superman says to Destiny “Doctor? Can I have a word please?” That feels so much like something Christopher Reeve would say that it’s insane. It’s similar to his “General, would you care to step outside?” fuck yeah moment from Superman II.
– Kara and Barry save the world by slowing time by running real fast in opposite directions around the planet, basically how Superman saved Lois in Superman: The Movie. I mean…it makes about as much sense. Which is to say, none at all.
– When Clark is grilling for Lois in the Fortress, she’s wearing the same nightgown as Margot Kidder from Superman: The Movie.
– I mean, Superman catches a helicopter and sets it gently down on a roof, for cryin’ out loud.
– Clark turning the coal into diamond is from Superman III.
– Stan Lee and Brodie discuss little Jon Kent kicking through Lois’s stomach in Mallrats, itself a reference to Larry Niven’s 1969 “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex” essay.
And since we’re here, here’s a list of all the times this episode pooped on Man of Steel:
– Basically, Deegan Supes behaves the way Zack Snyder seems to think Superman should behave normally.
– Deegan Supes hesitates when Ollie shoots the crane and causes it to fall at the group of kids.
– Deegan Supes is an insecure putz who needs constant reassurance from his adoring public. Why even have that scene in the church, Zack?
– Also there’s the neck snapping scene.
Anyway, back to the serious stuff…
– The big plan to save the Earth involves Barry and Kara running real fast around the world, and the Book of Destiny says they’re both going to die from it. In Crisis on Infinite Earths, both Supergirl and Barry Allen died to bring down the Anti-Monitor. In fact, Barry specifically disintegrated (as we almost see here) while running really fast to take down Anti-Monitor.
– They’re not even hiding the Crisis on Infinite Earths references in this episode. The ending reveal shouldn’t have been a surprise. Lois’s “We’re better in a Crisis” to Kara is another one, as was the flash of Earth-X on STAR Labs as Deegan rewrote reality.
– “Hey! Bizarro!” What a wonderful show. Someone yelling that as Superman and Deegan-Supes fight through an office building on the rewrote Earth 1 means not only did Deegan write Bizarro into the story, but he wrote him into everyone else’s memory of the story, too. Further proof that they really need to merge these worlds.
– Deegan’s face at the end is what Dr. Destiny looks like in the comics.
– Barry and Ollie end up at a bar at the end of every one of these crossovers, and it’s always delightful. Their conversation here feels a lot like the double date issue of Batman from earlier this year, where Superman is telling Lois why he admires Batman so much, and Batman is doing the same with Catwoman. Only here, Ollie and Barry are telling each other.
– Lois is pregnant, which means recent fan favorite creation Jon Kent is coming to a TV screen near you one of these days. One half of the Super-Sons team (with Damian Wayne), and boasting a very cool costume, Jon has made the idea of Superman as a Dad way more palatable than Superman Returns (which I still love) ever managed to.
And what about what Oliver sacrificed? I have a feeling that’s going to have a major impact on things going forward.
– As for Crisis on Infinite Earths? Well…that’s too big to be contained by this article. We have a more detailed explainer here.