After what feels like 18 months of anticipation and suspense, The CW’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” concluded the only way it could on Tuesday night on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Taking its inspiration from the 1985 DC Comics maxiseries, a certain change to the status quo was inevitable. But as the producers of the various programs explained to Rotten Tomatoes, this change was always the plan and key to the Arrowverse’s growth moving forward.
The new format may not be a surprise to readers of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths comics, but the choice to pull the trigger and do it on television — to say nothing of its implications for other DC Entertainment media — is unexpected. Well, perhaps not as unexpected as Crisis writer Marv Wolfman’s cameo, of course. Nevertheless, the change means the individual Arrowverse shows will look different when they begin to return next week, so take a tour with us as we investigate this new world and what the Arrowverse will look like in 2020.
As revealed on Tuesday night, the universe was reborn. In its wake is Earth-Prime, an amalgam world in which the CW heroes all co-exist.
“We knew from last year that we were going to merge [the worlds] and create Earth-CW, basically,” executive producer Marc Guggenhim said of the “Crisis” conclusion. In choosing a name for this new existence, Guggenheim and the other showrunners latched on to “Earth-Prime,” which in the DC Comics tradition is the Earth where we, the readers of DC Comics, are said to exist.
Of course, Earth-Prime became a fictional world when a Superboy appeared on it shortly before the original Crisis series. And it only gets more messy as subsequent writers returned to the idea and its “Superboy Prime.” But for Guggenheim, the name was the right fit for their new reality. “I just personally liked the sound of Earth-Prime. So all the CW shows [are there],” he said.
“[But] Riverdale’s not there,” Batwoman executive producer Caroline Dries interjected.
“That would be very weird,” DC’s Legends of Tomorrow co-showrunner Keto Shimizu added.
“The CW superhero shows,” Guggenheim clarified.
Though now united on one Earth, Guggenheim was quick to point out this new Earth is not the Earth-1 of Arrow, The Flash or Legends.
“It’s a completely different Earth,” he explained.
What that means in the long-term will be revealed as the individual shows move forward. For The Flash and Legends, Earth-Prime’s resemblance to Earth-1 means various quirks may continue to appear for seasons to come, like Nash (Tom Cavanagh) being a distinct entity from Harrison Wells. But for Supergirl and Black Lightning, both of which inhabited worlds of their own, Earth-Prime will be major changes to their status quos.
Supergirl co-showrunner Robert Rovener teased the Crisis was “a huge event,” and “impacts everything going on in the show.” This is certainly the case from the brief glimpses of the Earth-Prime National City in the final “Crisis” episode. Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) is a beloved humanitarian who owns the DEO. He is also Supergirl’s chief supporter, or so we’re told. How this will actually play out is anyone’s guess, but we assume the Lex’s presence may alter Kara’s (Melissa Benoist) problems with Lena (Katie McGrath) and Leviathan considerably.
But even as these concerns simmer, the show’s technological bent will continue with Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) returning from the 31st century. Hopefully, the 31st century of the Legion of Superheroes is a brighter place thanks to Winn’s time there. Maybe he can bring some of that positivity back to the 21st century.
Though Black Lightning‘s creative team was unavailable for comment on the Earth-Prime status quo, stars Christine Adams and Marvin “Krondon” Jones III offered a few glimpses into their post-“Crisis” reality.
“We are exposed to [the] other universes. It’s going to become bigger in Freeland,” Jones said.
But even with new worlds opened to them — and Jefferson (Cress Williams) obtaining a seat at the Hall of Justice — the situation in Freeland may leave them walled in for some time yet. Of course, Jefferson’s new membership in the superhero community may leave viewers to wonder why Barry (Grant Gustin) and Kara are not rushing to his aid. In our reality, it comes down to the fact Black Lightning is shot in Atlanta while the rest of the shows are produced in Vancouver, but Earth-Prime will need to find a good answer for the series standing apart from its Arrowverse siblings.
As Adams put it, “In a world that was kind of real before and set in a real place versus this crossover world, how are we going to marry those two things?”
Of course, moving Black Lightning and its situation to Earth-Prime means the Markovians will be dealing with more superheroes beyond the Pierce family. Maybe Jefferson can finally form the Outsiders.
Since Earth-Prime resembles Earth-1, Dries said the biggest “Crisis” shock wave Kate (Ruby Rose) faces will stem from that broken Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) she encountered in Part 2.
“She just looked at her future in the mirror, and is like, ‘Is this who I’m going to become?’” Dries said of the crossover’s lasting emotional impact.
That worry will also seed the continuing friendship between Kate and Kara — a “World’s Finest” pairing already glimpsed in “Crisis” itself and further cemented by Kate’s presence alongside the Danvers sisters in the story’s final minutes.
As for Alice (Rachel Skarsten) and the other characters?
“It’s a little tricky, because our characters aren’t yet exposed to this notion of multiple universes, and superheroes with powers and stuff,” Dries said.
“’Crisis’ hits [Sara] pretty hard,” Shimizu said. “[But] in a good way.”
It’s easy to think Oliver’s insistence on the heroes building trust will be part of Sara’s story going forward. With Constantine (Matt Ryan), Mick (Dominic Purcell), Nora, and Charlie (Maisie Richardson-Sellars) always ready to choose the morally-gray option, establishing trust is definitely a good thing — even if its just trusting Mick to rob a place blind.
And as “Crisis” seemingly left Sara as the overall leader of the superhero community, it is possible the new season of Legends will focus on her becoming comfortable with the idea.
Also, there’s that issue about Behrad (Shayan Sobhian) replacing Zari (Tala Ashe) as a Legend. That will no doubt be a runner as the Legends attempt to return history’s greatest monsters back into Hell.
“Sue’s such a delight,” Wallace told us back in October.
But do not expect any of season 6’s stories to lead in the direction of Nora West-Allen’s birth.
“Not this season,” Wallace said. “But that doesn’t mean a huge hint to Nora isn’t coming.”
And, as it happens, some of Iris West’s experiences during the Bronze Age of comics may become fodder for the show.
“We do need Iris emotionally to get to this place,” he teased. “Now, that storyline supports that.”
And considering Nash’s role in the final part of “Crisis,” we imagine he will be atoning for his misdeeds and finding a new life for himself on this new Earth-Prime.
For those with quick memories, Felicity was last seen in 2040, telling the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) she was ready to be reunited with Oliver. Does he still live on some other plane of existence or will she also reach for the peace Oliver accepted at end of “Crisis?”
Though not discussed by the showrunners when we spoke to them about “Crisis,” Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois’s (Elizabeth Tulloch) survival leads into their own series, Superman and Lois. The program will debut in the 2020-2021 broadcast season and see the two adjusting to life as working parents. Lois’ reference to “the boys” suggests Clark will have to deal with more than baby Jonathan when he gets home. Presumably, the series will age him to a tween or teenage while the second child takes his place as an infant. Anything is possible — just look at the way Sara Diggle was restored and made a little older than J.J.
And as revealed in the “Crisis” conclusion, Stargirl (which will stream on DC Universe and air on The CW the next day) will take place on a newly reformed Earth-2. It makes total sense as Stargirl (Brec Bassinger) has strong ties to the Justice Society of America — a team traditionally placed on Earth-2 in the comics.
Meanwhile, it was also nice to see Titans recognized as the show of Earth-9, Doom Patrol as happening on Earth-21, and Swamp Thing taking place on Earth-19. Since most of the DC Universe shows are also produced by Arrowverse mastermind Greg Berlanti, giving them a place in the Multiverse was one of the miniseries’ greatest surprises.
As for the Multiverse, it has been born anew with Earth-Prime as its new anchor. While the original Crisis comic book condensed all realities into one new Earth, the producers of the television “Crisis” saw the value in keeping the concept around around.
Now, the DC Universe streaming series, theatrical films, and upcoming shows like HBO Max’s Green Lantern all exist within a framework very close to the CW’s reality. And as Ezra Miller‘s absolutely shocking appearance in “Crisis” confirms, the Arrowverse is a place where anything can happen and just about any DC Comics character can appear. It is, oddly enough, the best of all possibilities and an inadvertent fix to DC Entertainment’s wild and sometimes contradictory array of content — they are all true in the infinitude.
At least until the next crisis. But at least there will be a group of Superfriends to defend reality against it.