The CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths is over! The Arrowverse crossover that spanned five hours of television over thirty-seven days was the TV DC Universe’s most ambitious event yet, and it resulted in untold changes to the shows on which it played out—The Flash, Batwoman, Supergirl, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, and Black Lightning. As the dust settles on the Arrowverse’s biggest event ever, though, a question remains: what comes next? What do we know about the future of our favorite TV superheroes? And what could future crossovers hold that could ever compare to this? We’ll take a look at all of those questions (and engage in some friendly speculation) in this, your Post-Crisis Crash Course!
If you’ve been in hibernation for the past month-and-a-half and you haven’t had a chance to watch Crisis on Infinite Earths, you can get caught up in no time by reading our handy recaps of each episode of the crossover! Here they all are for your convenience:
What Just Happened
Before we get into what might be ahead for the Arrowverse, let’s take a quick look at what happened at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths. With the positive matter universe completely destroyed during the climax of Part 3, The Anti-Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) decided that wasn’t enough and travelled back to the dawn of time to remake all of creation in his image from the ground up. He was met there by the seven surviving heroes of the multiverse: The Flash (Grant Gustin), Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), Batwoman (Ruby Rose), Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), J’onn J’onnz (David Harewood), newcomer Ryan Choi (Osiric Chou), and Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer). The heroes were joined by Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), who, after dying in Part 1, had become an Arrowverse version of The Spectre.
While the heroes fought The Anti-Monitor’s shadow demons, Oliver and The Anti-Monitor engaged in a battle for all creation. In the end, Oliver unleashed all of his spectral power, sending a blast of energy out into the cosmos and, as he said to the heroes before the battle started, ‘lighting the spark’ for a reborn universe. The heroes, seeing what Oliver had done, focused all of their concentration and energy on the newly-forming cosmic stew, fanning the proverbial flame that Oliver had lit and helping to shape the universe’s creation. Oliver ultimately died (again) to defeat The Anti-Monitor, and the positive matter universe was reborn.
With some changes.
Supergirl’s National City is now on the same Earth as The Flash’s Central City and Green Arrow’s Star City. So is Black Lightning (Cress Williams)’s Freeland. All of the DC Comics superheroes with TV shows on The CW now exist on the same Earth, and as far as the general public knows they always have. The seven heroes who were present at the dawn of time remembered everything, and J’onn J’onnz was able to mind-whammy select others so they would also know the truth about what happened.
The combined Earth isn’t the only change, though. Formerly a known criminal, Lex Luthor is now considered a great humanitarian to the world at large, and is the head of the DEO. John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson, now no longer Harbinger) have not only a son, but also a daughter, restoring their original child from before Barry messed with the timeline and created the Flashpoint universe a few years back. Clark Kent (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch), who recently had a son, Jon, now apparently have two sons who are older than babies (sure to be explored in the recently-ordered-to-series Superman & Lois spin-off series). What other changes there’ve been to the histories of our heroes remain to be seen.
There’s more, though. A new multiverse was also born out of the Crisis. The main Earth, home to our heroes, is now called Earth-Prime. A quick rundown of the other Earths shows that all of the Greg Berlanti-produced DC properties, from both the DC Universe streaming service and beyond, are represented:
- Earth-2 is home to Stargirl and the Justice Society of America, from the forthcoming Stargirl series
- Earth-9, as before, is where the Titans live
- Earth-12, amazingly, features the Green Lantern Corps and Oa from the 2011 GL movie
- Earth-19 is the home of Swamp Thing
- Earth-21 hosts the Doom Patrol
Setting all of the DC Universe shows on separate worlds is a clean way to account for continuity issues between Titans and Doom Patrol. And the inclusion of Green Lantern (without specifically showing Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan) may have been groundwork for the upcoming HBO Max Green Lantern series.
There’s one other Earth, though. Earth-96, home to the Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh version of Superman, also survived into the new multiverse. It’s nice to know that that universe is still out there, and that we may even someday see Routh suit up as the Man of Steel again.
All of this was born of Oliver Queen’s sacrifice against The Anti-Monitor. In a way, even with Oliver gone, everyone will still exist in a literal Arrowverse.
What Comes Next
With Crisis over, things can get back to normal, right? Not exactly. New trailers released in the wake of the crossover show that the event’s effects will continue to be felt for a while. While Batwoman, Legends of Tomorrow, and Black Lightning appear to be relatively unaffected by the event, The Flash and Supergirl both look to be coming out of Crisis with some baggage.
The first half of this season of The Flash saw Barry and team preparing for his death and a world without The Flash. Now that the Crisis has passed, though, it looks like it’s going to be difficult for some people to move on from that mentality by the looks of this teaser. Beyond the emotional and psychological toll, it also looks like Team Flash is going to be doing some investigation of fundamental changes to the universe that took place as a result of its recreation.
Meanwhile, on Supergirl, Kara has to deal with a world gone mad that now thinks Lex Luthor is a savior and a hero. Does Lex remember everything that happened before? And what does he want with his sister, Lena (Katie McGrath), who killed Lex at the end of last season? Does she remember killing him? Does he? Questions abound!
Beyond the immediate question of ‘What now” is a larger issue: with Crisis over, what will future Arrowverse crossovers look like? It seems at this moment like there’s no way they could ever hope to meet the scope or the audacity of an event that featured not only every CW DC hero, but also other heroes from past shows and movies like Smallville, Superman Returns, and even Batman: The Animated Series. Crisis on Infinite Earths was an event on a cosmic scale that crossed time and space and fundamentally changed the Arrowverse. What can they possibly do as an encore?
Don’t worry, I have a few suggestions.
At the end of Part 5 of Crisis, the heroes of Earth-Prime (The Flash, Supergirl, Batwoman, Black Lightning, White Canary, Superman, and J’onn J’onnz) gathered at an abandoned, off-the-books S.T.A.R. Labs facility to say goodbye to Oliver Queen. With that ceremony over, Barry suggested they could use this location as a future meeting site, and unveiled something he’d had made: a table, bearing a star emblem, surrounded by chairs for each of them. An outside look at the facility revealed the building to be the Hall of Justice.
The consolidation of all of our heroes onto one world, and the establishment of what is essentially the Justice League (or the Superfriends, if you prefer), means that anyone could appear anywhere at any time. The Flash can pop over to Metropolis for a charity race with Superman without it being a big deal that he had to switch Earths. Kara Danvers and Kate Kane, whose relationship was fleshed out more during Crisis, can hang out and watch movies on a Friday night. Black Lightning can show up on Legends of Tomorrow to lend a hand when the Legends inevitably screw something up. The possibilities for this consolidated world are endless.
Maybe, instead of another event where everyone gets together to save the world, the Arrowverse should take a year off and just do a series of smaller team-ups. We know in our minds that these shows all exist in an interconnected universe, but so far they’ve only gotten to show it off once a year. Wouldn’t it be great if that interconnectedness were on display all season? I’m not saying every episode of every show would have to be a team-up, but the fact that they’re all on the same world now is something I hope the creators of these shows lean in to. Obviously there are filming and budgetary limitations to take into account for something like this, but I personally would love to see more small-scale crossovers between characters and shows.
On the other hand, the Arrowverse could go even bigger. The Anti-Monitor is bad, but he’s not the biggest of big bads that the DC Universe has to offer. What if that season of smaller crossovers ultimately led to something even bigger?
Enter the Fourth World
Hear me out.
In the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, Darkseid and the characters of the Fourth World took largely a back seat. When Darkseid did appear, he played a pivotal role in ultimately defeating The Anti-Monitor. Funneling an energy blast through Alexander Luthor, Darkseid destroyed The Anti-Monitor’s body, sending the creature into the heart of a dying star. In effect, Darkseid was something of a deus ex machina at the climax of Crisis on Infinite Earths #12.
A being powerful enough to destroy The Anti-Monitor should make a pretty worthy foe for the entirety of the Arrowverse, right?
So far none of creator Jack Kirby’s Fourth World concepts have shown up in the Arrowverse. In fact, aside from the Invasion! crossover from a few years back, most stories set within the Arrowverse have been relatively Earth-bound (or Earths-bound, in the case of multiversal crossovers). Even the Legends of Tomorrow, who have a ship that allows them to travel through all of time and space, spend most of their time on Earth. Are there no time anomalies on other planets that need to be corrected?
Bringing in Darkseid and the Fourth World would open up the Arrowverse considerably. The small crossovers I mentioned before could be used to slowly incorporate characters and elements of that universe, building to a larger event that fully introduces Darkseid, Apokolips, and New Genesis. Basically they should borrow the mold that Superman: The Animated Series used, with an Arrowverse spin, to bring in the Fourth World.
Incorporating the Fourth World into live-action has been tried before, with mixed results. When Smallville attempted something similar during its final season, the climax was a disappointing ‘battle’ between a tiny computer-animated red-and-blue blur and the planet Apokolips (it was as terrible as it sounds). The live-action Justice League film featured a plot that was centered around Mother Boxes being hunted by the Apokoliptian Steppenwolf, but the failure of that film meant that any further development stalled. A live-action New Gods film is now in development from Ava Duvernay and Mister Miracle writer Tom King, so Warners might be hesitant to introduce similar characters and concepts on TV when they’re about to come to theaters (assuming that film actually gets off the ground).
Still, if you’re looking for a way to one-up Crisis on Infinite Earths, you could do a lot worse than to look to the work of the original cosmic king, Jack Kirby.
Will any of this come to pass? Who knows. The future of the Arrowverse certainly feels more limitless than it ever has before. Will they try to one-up themselves next year? Should they? We’ll start to find out soon as the adventures of DC’s TV superheroes continue on The CW.