It’s no secret that one of the most famous quotes from a comic book is “Worlds will live, worlds will die….” To hear that uttered on the finale of the CW’s Elseworlds crossover was a landmark moment. The crossover already teased many elements from the multiverse altering 12 issue maxi-series, but with the title card at the end taken directly from the comic book logo, there’s no doubt Crisis on Infinite Earths is coming next fall to the CW.
Written by Marv Wolfman and Illustrated by George Perez, Dick Giordano, Jerry Ordway and Mike DeCarlo, Crisis on Infinite Earths was the first major universe altering event in comics. Up to that point, the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America had an annual summer crossover to address a Crisis, much like what the CW has done with its DC TV shows for the past three years. However, taking on Crisis on Infinite Earths promises something more than just a fun multiversal romp.
The original maxi-series was DC Comics’ attempt to streamline their multiverse. Someone had decided that the numerous parallel Earths were confusing. I’ve disagreed on this point since the intent of the series was first announced. It wasn’t confusing, the powers that be used it as an excuse for an event. Notably, comics have continued to do these events since, despite the events usually being either redundant or ineffective. As it is, Crisis on Infinite Earths is the standard by which all events are judged. Wolfman and company had a monumental task. They were supposed to merge the main 6 Earths from DC’s multiverse into one single Earth with a coherent history. No matter what came later, the actual story for the most part was quite good. For a comprehensive annotation, see Amazing Heroes #91, it’s not only informative, but hilarious!
The outcome of Crisis on Infinite Earths leaves a big elephant in the room for the CW. Are they really going to merge all the Earths? Hopefully, they’ve already learned what DC Comics has learned, parallel Earths are fun! The Flash TV show relies heavily on the multiverse for its content. It would be a true shame to merge everything and lose that element. However, there is a strategic merging that could work and provide a shared universe that more closely resembles its comic book counterpart. It would also provide the opportunity to tweak some things, most importantly the Justice Society of America, first introduced in the first season of Legends of Tomorrow, and bring back to life any deceased characters- hello, Laurel Lance!
Incorporating the JSA into a more prominent role in the history of the Arrowverse would allow for a more recognizable comics accurate universe. It could also spring board as a pilot for a JSA series. Oh, wait, what’s going on with Stargirl on the DC streaming service? Perhaps, this is a backdoor to incorporating the streaming shows into the larger Arrowverse, or at the very least, getting things right the second time. Is it possible to fully integrate a more recognizable JSA? It is, but it may be purely fan service and not integral to the modern world of the Arrowverse. There are probably some more important retcons.
If not tweaking the JSA, who wouldn’t want to see Laurel Lance come back? Or Ronnie Raymond? Or Professor Stein? There are a few deceased characters that would be welcomed back that would enhance the Arrowverse. Why do I think a Firestorm show with Stein, Ronnie and Jax would be a lot of fun? Crisis on Infinite Earths wasn’t really about bringing characters back, it was about streamlining…. With that in mind….
Consider a strategic merger, the CW could conceivably, merge the Arrowverse shows, Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow with Supergirl and Black Lightning. This would create a world that has Superman, Batman (MIA) as well as the main characters of the shows currently airing as well as next season’s Batwoman. This expands the possibilities for new characters in the Bat-verse and Superman stable of characters. Plus, it would allow some characters to be altered without the need for explanation. Let’s look at one particular character first, John Diggle.
When John Wesley Shipp’s Barry Allen saw Diggle in the Elseworlds crossover, he commented that John didn’t have his ring. This was a nod to the fact that some fan theories have placed Diggle as Green Lantern, John Stewart. Well, it would be easy to re-invent Diggle as John Stewart in a post-Crisis scenario. Ferris Aircraft has been shown a few times, and it wouldn’t be a far stretch to fill out Diggle, now Stewart’s history as a Green Lantern and even allude to Hal Jordan in the role. As a matter of fact, the Crisis could potentially give the creators license to reinvent the history of this fictional TV universe in any way they see fit. DC Comics followed their Crisis with a hardback publication, History of the DC Universe in order to make things clear (ha ha!). Having the benefit of history, the CW Arrowverse shows could easily write up such a history ahead of time to keep things on the same page. This would also allow the shows to incorporate the Justice Society more fully into the history of this TV universe as well as have a comprehensive plan for the TV universe going forward. Most importantly, what does this mean for John Wesley Shipp’s other Flash role, Jay Garrick?
Shipp’s Garrick is from Earth-3, and while it would be interesting and comic book accurate to have him incorporated to the Justice Society, there’s far too much mileage in the “Flash of Two-Worlds” concept to bring Jay to the main Earth. This doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have its merits as the post-Crisis DC Comics Universe showed. However, keeping Jay around on an alternate Earth is a little more satisfying. Who’s to say that Alan Scott Green Lantern and other JSAers aren’t also on Earth-3?
There’s a joke at DC Comics that during a Crisis, a Flash has to die. I don’t see anyone laughing, but it’s something that also began with the comic Crisis on Infinite Earths. Barry Allen sacrificed his life in issue #8 of the series in an emotional and impacting story. It set Wally West on the course for his own run (pun intended) as the Flash for a whole new generation of comic book readers. So if Barry died in the comic, which Flash dies in the TV show? It’s obvious Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen is safe, but it’s probably just as obvious that Shipp’s Barry Allen is going to have to sacrifice himself. In fact, it’s already been teased.
Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 opens with a series of panel showing the Flash (Barry Allen) trying to break through the time barrier to warn Batman of what’s going to happen. This is echoed in the Elseworlds crossover as Shipp’s Barry Allen does a similar thing through a breach to warn Team Flash of what’s coming. I don’t think that particular homage has run its course. In the comic this foreshadowed Barry’s death.
If Shipp’s Flash is to play a pivotal role in next Fall’s crossover, what of other DC shows? Crisis on Infinite Earths utilized the Earth-Two Superman as a main character and for a strong emotional arc, eventually evacuating him from the timeline. It would seem strange at this point to relegate Tyler Hoechlin’s Man of Steel to such a fate. The Arrowverse needs a Superman after all. However, since Smallville’s Kent farm was used in Elseworlds, is it too much of a stretch for Tom Welling to appear as an older Superman that will play an important role along side Hoechlin’s Man of Steel? Bring back Erica durance as well and it’s a perfect adaptation to the comic. It’s a lot of planning on the part of the show’s producers, but with a year out, not impossible. The only remaining question would be whether or not they would include a Superboy-Prime?
Superboy-Prime is a character from our own Earth where DC Comics publishes their books. The story goes that a Kal-El landed here, on our Earth too, and went on to discover his true history in the days leading up to the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Imagine, a viewer of the Arrowverse TV shows who discovers that he’s actually the Superboy of our Earth…and gets drawn into the melee. It seems far fetched, but when the CW teases Crisis on Infinite Earths, there are so many possibilities for the creative team to choose from, this one seems like a no-brainer. It also allows for a connection to the reveal that the Hoechlin’s Superman is expecting a baby with Lois, which will turn out to be another Superboy. Or perhaps, the CW will resurrect either John Haymes-Newton or Gerard Christopher (or both!) for an older Superman, both played Superboy in the 1990’s Superboy TV series. It wouldn’t even be out of the question to have a team of Supermen including Dean Cain and Brandon Routh appear for a battle- both have played Superman and Cain and Routh are already affiliated with the CW’s shows. There are numerous possibilities for what happens….
“Worlds will live, worlds will die…” So, what worlds die? If Shipp’s Barry Allen sacrifices himself, it’s a sure thing that Earth-90 will perish. Crisis on Infinite Earths not only merged Earths, but it also eliminated Earths entirely, some that were created solely for the series. This might be the fate of Earth-X. While some Freedom Fighters inspired characters like the Ray would be welcome in the Arrowverse, a good Leonard Snart wouldn’t necessarily have a place. I imagine Earth-X would be better as a world in the new multiverse if the Ray isn’t incorporated into the main Arrowverse Earth. Harrison Wells’ Earth-2 with Jesse Quick is also probably safe. That Harrison Wells will probably show up again next season anyway. It’s a shame that Adam West isn’t around to make an appearance as Batman ’66 either feeling the effects of the Crisis or at least going down swinging. I suppose there’s a way to acknowledge this in some manner. Burt Ward, anyone?
Lynda Carter has appeared on Supergirl, perhaps she has one more appearance as Wonder Woman left in her. Maybe, introducing a new TV Wonder Woman for the Arrowverse? Would anyone be up for Ben Affleck reprising his role as George Reeves for an appearance? Affleck played Reeves in the movie, Hollywoodland. It wouldn’t that big a stretch. Everyone else from DC’s first TV show has passed, and I don’t think there’s appropriate footage to cobble together anything worth the while, Christopher Reeve on the other hand….
And speaking of Christophers, Rick Springfield aka Christopher Chance aka the Human Target…does anyone even remember this? Oh, wait, there’s an even less memorable series from 2010?? Oh…..
The DC Comics Universe is immense. There have been numerous shows and films based on their properties. There have been five actors to play Batman- Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale. (Affleck doesn’t count, he’s George Reeves right now). If any of them appeared it would be a coup! The point is, the possibilities are endless. If Elsewords is any indication, the CW’s adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths will be a fun, exciting universe altering crossover that leaves the CW DC TV Universe in a very different place. Hopefully, it will not repeat the mistakes made in the comics, and will reinvigorate the shows by creating a shared universe while not losing the multiversal aspect that has been so enjoyable.
Infinite Earths, infinite possibilities. The CW has the opportunity to create a whole new synergy between their shows by incorporating Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Black Lighting, Batwoman and Legends of Tomorrow into the same shared Earth while maintaining a multiverse with Earth-2 and Earth-X out there. Who knows what other worlds these characters may encounter, but at first glance it seems like a strategic merging would be well-suited for these shows. While the tease is of destruction, worlds dying, etc…, it is in reality an opportunity for the Arrowverse to create an added level of excitement for these shows. With the quality of the Elseworlds crossover there should be no doubt that Crisis on Infinite Earths will surely exceed it.