It’s all been leading up to this moment! The CW’s DC primetime universe is about to get a full-on reboot as the countdown to “Crisis on Infinite Earths” begins and an anti-matter wave comes closer to erasing the “Arrowverse”.
And then all of a sudden…there was one! One primetime universe that is! If you watched last night’s episode of The CW series Batwoman into the final act, similarly to last year’s “Elseworlds” stinger, it was revealed that Nash Wells (Tom Cavanagh) interpreted the mysterious hieroglyphs uncovered in the tunnels beneath Central City and has unleashed something sinister upon the multiverse! We’re not exactly sure what that might be — at least not yet (but we have an idea)! The intrepid adventurer disappeared in a blast of intense white light!
If you’ve read DC Comic’s 12-part epic maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez published in 1985, and carefully deciphered the teaser trailers that have been promoting this season’s crossover event then you have an idea what role Nash has assumed in our still developing melodrama. “Some worlds will live, and some worlds will die...but nothing will ever be the same again,” was the tag line promoting the comic book run of “Crisis” and ultimately it made good on its promise. The series altered the fabric of the publishing imprint’s 50 year history.
Unless you were a Marvel Comic devotee at the time, readership was very low across the industry and new audiences coming into the genre were finding that DC’s extensive and very convoluted history was turning readers off. In order to make sense of its “Golden Age” heroes versus their contemporary “Silver Age” counterparts, DC introduced very early on the concept of a “multiverse” of earths separated by unique vibrations where its heroes like Barry Allen, The Flash of Earth-1 could join in adventures with Jay Garrick, The Flash of Earth-2.
To Infinity and Beyond!
Somewhere along the way it became too much for anyone to follow (or even care about) and the brass at DC was eager to find a way to simplify the continuity. Enter Wolfman and Pérez who came up with the story that would solve the issue of why there were two Supermen, Batmen, etc. and streamlined the natural narrative of the DC Universe into a much more cohesive chronology that enhanced the legacy of our heroes through the ages. The idea of the multiverse came into play early on The CW network with The Flash starring Grant Gustin in Season 2.
When The Flash returned for its sophomore season in 2015 it immediately went to work to expand the worlds of the “Arrowverse” (the title given to The CW primetime series that featured DC comics properties, launched with Arrow in 2013 and produced by Greg Berlanti). By then the primetime spectrum incorporated the team ensemble series DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl starring Melissa Benoist as the Maid of Steel. The urban vigilantism of Arrow starring Stephen Amell as the Green Arrow gave way to a world of metas, magic and more!
While the intrepid cadre of “losers” on DC’s Legends (made up of several featured players that had appeared on Arrow and The Flash) navigated the time-stream, Supergirl firmly established that its storyline existed outside of The CW’s “Earth-1” — and thus a multiverse was born. Gustin and Benoist on the virtue of their personal and professional history (both were featured on FOX’s Glee) immediately engaged in teaming up. The Flash appeared in Supergirl’s National City (on “Earth-38”) during the show’s First Season.
Crossover Event Spectacular!
Since then and on an annual basis (when the series schedules work themselves into the winter hiatus) the series have found a way of crossing over in much the same fashion that the superheroes would team-up in the comic books they’re based on. For “Crisis” the latest crossover epic, a similar expectation is being lump onto it’s televised adaptation as was envisioned by the imprint when the 12-issue maxi series was released — in a dramatic 5-part televised event that at its conclusion will in some way have a lasting effect on the mythology of its characters.
Taking advantage of the primetime multiverse The CW network has benefited from since the debut of Arrow eight seasons ago Marc Guggenheim, one of the architects behind the success of that series and many of the “Arrowverse” spin-offs that followed, has been the executive producer pulling the strings behind the curtain to bring “Crisis” to primetime. The groundwork had been laid down since last season’s “Elseworlds” event, which had been scaled down to 3-parts and centered mostly around the TV Trinity of heroes: Green Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl.
That crossover event immediately established the significance of a perpetually long-established “multiverse” and was illustrated with the appearance of John Wesley Shipp (a series recurring guest star on The Flash) reprising his titular role as The Flash as the hero appeared in the CBS 1990 series, facing off against the mysterious “Monitor” (guest star LaMonica Garrett) an omnipotent character warning the heroes of an impending “Crisis”. The “Elseworlds” crossover also introduced Ruby Rose as Batwoman and Gotham City, which has since gone to series.
With Arrow coming to a close this season, and its star Stephen Amell accepting the fate of Oliver Queen’s Emerald Archer (whom it has been established would be meeting his demise at the end of the “Crisis” event) The Flash will inherit the mantle as the lead series, with Supergirl running closely alongside, helping to shepherd in the returning DC’s Legends (entering into its Fifth Season) and welcoming Black Lightning starring Cress Williams into the mix, while Batwoman carves her own path across the primetime fabric of DCTV storyline.
Setting an extremely high bar for itself, the writing staff for each of these series have the unsurmountable task of defying expectations for literally a story narrative that was so expertly crafted more than 30 years ago and is still held up as the benchmark of epic comic book storytelling. In any event, it’s an incredible feat in of itself and undoubtedly fans will have their own take on “Crisis” — Some will tune-in, others will tune-out, but the DCTV universe…
…well you get where this is going.
Crisis on Infinite Earths the 5-part crossover event begins Sunday, Dec 8 on The CW and concludes on Tuesday, January 14.