This is essentially a high-level, Arrowverse retrospective, so it kind of goes without saying that there will be high-level spoilers for the entirety of the Arrowverse to follow. That said...
I was not one of the people who got in on the ground floor of the Arrowverse. Green Arrow had never been a particularly interesting character to me growing up. Pretty much my entire exposure to the character prior to the Arrowverse had been his relatively sparse appearances on the DCAU’s Justice League Unlimited. So, when it was announced that there would be a new television series for the character on the CW, I was not exactly rushing to my DVR to set up a recording.
However, in 2013 it was announced that Barry Allen, a.k.a. The Flash, would be showing up in season 2 of Arrow. It was then that the show got my attention. I have always been a fan of speedsters whether that be the original Flash or Sonic the Hedgehog. Super speed was always appealing to me over flight, invisibility, or strength.
The thing is, that was not the only real draw for me. Yes, I was more interested in The Flash because of the character, but also on some level because of what this backdoor pilot represented. Much as the DCAU Justice League had eventually formed through the combined successes of Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series, I could see this as potentially being the start of something larger. While Justice League is incredible in the fact that it brought these heroes together, it was still ultimately a single show that was built upon the shoulders of these predecessors. With this initial appearance of Barry Allen in Arrow though, we see the potential for a shared universe to match the power of the comics...separate series with their own stars who have the potential to cross paths with one another. Sometimes these would be guest appearances between shows, but the ultimate dream was that one day we could have our Justice League moment...an epic event during which multiple series come together to tell one massive story.
It did not take long for this line of thought to continue with the producers of the Arrowverse as well since in July of 2014 they announced a The Flash/Arrow crossover would happen later that year...which would immediately become an annual tradition going forward. While “Flash vs. Arrow” was ultimately billed as a crossover event, it was much less an event and more like two back-to-back episodes with guest appearances. It was fundamentally still two separate stories, but it was nice all the same to see these shows interacting like this.
2015 though would see the Arrowverse truly spread though with the introduction or expansion of several characters who would ultimately be assembled via Rip Hunter as part of the “Heroes Join Forces” event this year. This event consisted of an episode of Arrow and The Flash titled “Legends of Yesterday” and “Legends of Today” respectively. This of course was in reference to the new spin-off series they set up for, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. This was, on some level, the live-action equivalent to Justice League in that it consisted of an ensemble cast of heroes working together. Of course, The Legends are no the League by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a start.
Also in 2015, Supergirl was introduced, but it was initially a CBS show rather than a CW one which brought into question whether or not it was included in the Arrowverse universe. It was not until the mini-event, “World’s Finest”, that we received our answer...it was both in the Arrowverse, but NOT the same universe. The multiverse was already a thing early in The Flash season 2, but this small crossover with Supergirl confirmed that Supergirl’s world was part of the larger Arrowverse multiverse.
Additional shows and characters and references continued to be added to what had become known as the Arrowverse over the years. Small crossover special appearances occurred, the yearly crossover, multi-night events continued, Constantine was retroactively folded into the Arrowverse, hints were dropped regarding past DC live-action properties and their place in the larger multiverse of the Arrowverse, new characters including the 90’s live-action Flash and Superman himself were introduced, and additional CW shows based on DC properties were added to the slate, including Batwoman and Black Lighting. While Black Lightning was introduced as a standalone series, Batwoman was introduced as part of last year’s big crossover event, “Elseworlds”.
It was also here in the “Elseworlds” event that the foundation was laid for the stories that would unfold over the next year for the Arrowverse. All of which will culminate in a couple weeks with the 5-night crossover event whose name was dropped at the end of last year’s event, the ambitiously titled “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. For a lot of DC fans, this name alone was enough to get the hype train running at full steam for an entire year, especially after just coming off of a smaller but still enjoyable crossover event.
There is good reason to be hyped about an event titled “Crisis on Infinite Earths” though. The original event in the comics was a best-seller and is largely credited with saving DC comics at the time. For better or worse, it started the comic event trend which continues to this day. It took the convoluted and complicated histories and continuity of the DC multiverse as a whole and condensed it down into a single amalgamation. It was also the event that killed several heroes, notable among them being Supergirl and Barry Allen.
In particular though, these last two items are the ones that most intrigue Arrowverse viewers.
With the introduction of Supergirl on CBS and therefore in a different universe than the main continuity, it made Arrowverse somewhat disjointed. Then Black Lighting is introduced and it has had absolutely no ties to the Arrowverse thus far. Viewers have been left to wonder if perhaps the Arrowverse’s Crisis will, in fact, unify the currently separate universes into a new but similar amalgamation of them all. There are certainly signs that seem to indicate that with the current seasons of Arrowverse shows.
The Flash, Supergirl, and Batwoman all seem to have two plots this season between the first and second halves of their seasons...which are conveniently divided by the Crisis. Sure, it makes sense to wind down a plot before a big crossover event and season break, but that’s not really been the case in previous seasons. Yeah, maybe they get a relatively big win, but they’ve pretty much never resolved a major villain prior to the season break. Admittedly, Batwoman’s story structure is likely attributable to the fact that it surprisingly did not receive a full season order initially, but has since been expanded.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is a higher budget show than most of the Arrowverse. That combined with their quirky nature puts them in a position where a much smaller season fits them better than the 24+ episodes common to the Arrowverse. They are also placed mid-season typically as well, so their placement in regards to the Crisis does not really indicate anything other than they wanted to include them in the crossover this year.
Black Lighting is not included in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” slate. However, Jefferson Pierce, a.k.a. Black Lighting, will be appearing in at least two episodes of the event on other shows. It is hard to read what this might mean for Black Lightning entering the fold as part of this new amalgamation world if it were to happen. If he is showing up in the crossover, he is clearly part of the Arrowverse, but the fact that it is only him rather than the whole show indicates that the Crisis will likely not have significant long-term effects on that show. This is likely due to logistics if nothing else since Black Lightning is filmed in Atlanta, Georgia, while the rest are filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia. Still, they could be a merged world, but just in their own little corner of it.
Lastly, but certainly not least, we have Arrow. The show that started it all is coming to an end with a shortened season which has been both a revisiting of Oliver’s past but also a setup for the coming Crisis, a trend among most of the shows this season. You see, at the end of the “Elseworlds” event last year, Oliver made a deal with The Monitor in order to save Barry and Kara. It is not immediately clear whether this deal was exclusively in regards to the events of “Elseworlds” or if that included the upcoming Crisis for which the Monitor was allegedly preparing them for. So, we have known for a year now that Oliver was quite possibly a dead man walking, but was most certainly going to disappear in some fashion.
This Crisis has been something that the Arrowverse has been working towards since The Flash’s pilot episode alluded to Barry disappearing during a Crisis in the year 2024. The events of the Arrowverse has since bumped up the Crisis to the year 2019. 10 years was always a rather ambitious goal in terms of how long they expected The Flash to run, but I believe the end of Arrow provided them a wonderful opportunity to bump up armageddon in order to send Oliver off in what has essentially been the culmination of the universe that he started eight years ago.
The cloud of Barry and Kara’s death looms over the Arrowverse, explicitly in the case of one Barry Allen as it has been predicted since the series’ beginning. Due to that long standing prediction, this season of The Flash in particular has highly focused on preparing the team and even the world for a life without The Flash. Barry has accepted his fate and in doing so has taken a step back in order to allow the rest of the team to come into their own...and in the process he’s learning from them as well.
As for Kara, her death is more a concern due to the original story in the comics, but her death has not really been hinted at. Should it be the case, she would not have nearly the heartfelt farewell as Barry considering she is not preparing herself and is actually going through one of the hardest times in her career as Supergirl at the moment.
Ultimately, we all expect that they will not die in the end since we have half a season left for both shows, so it’s unlikely that they’ll both lose their main stars. I do not expect for them to even temporarily leave their respective shows and I expect that Oliver will be the one to take their places, if only due to the circumstances of production.
It is hard to believe it has been eight years already though. At a decade, the MCU’s Avengers: Endgame was an incredible crossover event which was the culmination of almost two dozen films. While it cannot be argued that Endgame was quite likely the largest crossover event in history in terms of scale, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” has the potential to be the largest crossover event in terms of scope. With over 20 seasons between them and pushing 300 hours of content, the Arrowverse is probably the most time I have spent with a single media franchise outweighing the MCU movies and possibly even including the “MCU” shows which are not really even connected anymore.
To take it even one step beyond strictly the Arrowverse content, we have already seen John Wesley Shipp return as the 90’s Flash, there’s a history of Batman which occurred outside the scope of the Arrowverse, there’s Jay Garrick as Flash which occurred before the Arrowverse, and there are additional spin-offs waiting in the wings to fill the spot left by Arrow as well as expand the universe even farther. The Crisis has already confirmed to include multiversal level threats...threats to DC properties from throughout their history! This includes nods and appearances by characters from all corners of the DC on-screen history, including Smallville, Birds of Prey, Superman Returns, Tim Burton’s Batman, the quintessential voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy, and even the 60’s Batman show! Where Endgame capitalized on a decade of on-screen history, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” will be capitalizing on over 50 years of on-screen history from different eras, stylings, and personalities involved...and the showrunner just last night teased even MORE cameos that have not even been revealed yet!
Will “Crisis on Infinite Earths” live up to the lofty expectations hoisted upon it by the name alone? Will all the different cameos and nods to DC’s on-screen history hold up or will the event collapse under its own weight? Will it properly send off Oliver Queen and give him the ending he deserves after everything he has done for DC media?
We obviously cannot know the answer to these questions until the event airs. I am however optimistic considering that they have done a pretty exceptional job in previous events. I think the bigger question I have even now is...where can they go from here!?
RadzPrower is a Georgia native with an interest in video games, science fiction, and comic books. He is a software engineer, but enjoys writing in his spare time. For a more in-depth bio, read here.