Tonight, Arrow goes back to the relative normalcy of what we can start calling the Post-Crisis Arrowverse, even though tonight’s episode is technically a backdoor pilot for the new spin-off about near-future Star City and its new Green Arrow. Before that, though, let’s take a look back at the most interesting Easter eggs we noticed during the Crisis On Infinite Earths crossover and try to unpack what—if anything—that big-screen cameo really means.
There’s no better place to start than the beginning, and Crisis On Infinite Earths started with the reveal that pretty much every other live-action DC superhero show—and a movie or two—took place on their own distinct Earth within the Arrowverse’s multiverse. Earth-89 was the world of Tim Burton’s Batman (complete with a cameo from Robert Wuhl, who played reporter Alexander Knox in that movie); Earth-9 was the world of DC Universe’s Titans (the one universe where they can say “fuck”); and Earth-66 was the home of the ’60s Batman show (as noted by a cameo from Burt Ward, that reality’s Robin). Later episodes in the crossover revealed that Fox/Netflix’s Lucifer also existed in this multiverse, as did The CW’s Black Lightning.
When the heroes of the Arrowverse split up to try and assemble the team of Paragons that the Monitor believes will save the multiverse, their stops include a visit to a grim vision for a Wayne Manor and a similarly grim (yet still kind of sadly hopeful?) Daily Planet. At Wayne Manor, Batwoman meets a version of her cousin Bruce—played by Kevin Conroy from Batman: The Animated Series—who has succumbed to his darkest impulses and straight-up murdered all of his enemies, with the various battles leaving his body so badly damaged that he has to wear a metal exoskeleton. Over at the Planet, the tragic deaths of his loved ones has inspired Brandon Routh’s Superman to wear a black logo on his chest—both of these costume changes being direct references to the costumes worn by Batman and Superman in Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ excellent grim future Justice League tale Kingdom Come.
The moment Jon Cryer’s Lex Luthor gets involved in the events of Crisis On Infinite Earths, he does everything he can to ruin everything. That includes stealing The Book Of Destiny—a reality-altering tome from last year’s Elseworlds crossover—and using it to hop from universe to universe so he can kill as many Supermen as possible (including a visit to Tom Welling’s Smallville Earth). During one of these murder stops, we see news footage of Earth’s Lois Lane mourning the death of her Superman in a pose that is lifted straight out of DC’s iconic The Death Of Superman storyline.
Speaking of things lifted from the comics: The Monitor and the Anti-Monitor don’t quite have the nonsensical fashion sense of their print counterparts, but their lackeys do: Both Lyla Michaels’ Harbinger suit and Nash Wells’ Pariah costume are surprisingly close to the comics for the Arrowverse—though TV Lyla got the benefit of some pants. Seeing Lyla as Harbinger is also a payoff to something that’s been baked into Arrow ever since she first showed up, which was long before we ever expected to see superpowers on that show (let alone multiverse-ending events).
After missing out on Elseworlds (something that is periodically referenced throughout the last season of Legends Of Tomorrow and Crisis On Infinite Earths), Sara Lance and the Legends had a lot to do this time around, which means they spent a lot of time setting up or referencing interesting stuff. For starters, there are some references to a member of the team named Behrad who never physically appears. As Legends viewers know, Behrad is the brother of team member Zari Tomaz and is supposed to be dead—or at least he was, up until the Legends once again altered history. In the current timeline, Zari never joined the Legends and (as far as anyone remembers) Behrad has been there the whole time. Crisis, evidently, has not changed that. Also, on one of the alternate Earths, the heroes met a version of Legends’ Mick Rory who retired from saving time and just hung out on the Waverider all day with its alternate Earth AI, a digital recreation of Wentworth Miller’s Leonard Snart (who doesn’t seem to get to live on most Earths). Finally, the big blue guy the surviving heroes had to fight in Crisis’ final episode? If you don’t know Beebo, you don’t get to find out who he is here. Go watch Legends.
Crisis On Infinite Earths introduced Ryan Choi, a character known to comic readers as the guy who succeeds Ray Palmer as the new Atom. That in itself isn’t an Easter egg, but the character generated a few of them. For starters, he has a daughter named Simone in his CW appearance, which is presumably a nod to the character’s co-creator, Gail Simone. Also, when discussing the plan to use Ray Palmer’s Atom tech to shrink the Anti-Monitor into irrelevance, Choi suggests that they call this extremely tiny plane of reality the “Microverse.” Ray likes the name, but he says they might run into some copyright issues—because “the Microverse” was the original name of the place Marvel’s Ant-Man goes to when he becomes impossibly small, as seen in the Ant-Man movies. But wait! It goes deeper than that: Marvel’s Microverse was largely defined in a tie-in comic with the Micronauts toy line, but Marvel doesn’t have the Micronauts license anymore, so when it came time to make the Ant-Man movies Marvel renamed it “the Quantum Realm.” So yeah, there might be some copyright issues.
Less an Easter egg than a shockingly big cameo, this one nonetheless has some stuff that needs to be unpacked. After running into the Speed Force (basically another plane of reality that can be accessed by really fast people) to try and find his friends, Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen from The Flash bumps into… Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen, from Justice League and that Flash movie that’s never going to happen. The implication seems to be that the DC movies exist somewhere in The CW’s multiverse, but this scene took place after the multiverse had been destroyed. That means our Barry and that Barry were only able to meet each other because of their connection to the Speed Force, so the DC movies must exist in a separate multiverse that is connected to the CW multiverse by the Speed Force. That’s cool, but it’s not quite as huge as the extremely distant possibility of, say, seeing Ruby Rose’s Batwoman beat up Jared Leto’s Joker. We’re not saying it can’t happen, but one of them would have to get carried to the other universe by their Flash.
The Crisis On Infinite Earths comic ended with the multiverse being destroyed, with only a single reality left. The TV version actually rebooted the whole multiverse, replacing Earth-1 with a slightly better Earth-Prime that is shared by all of the CW shows. In addition to the recreation of the realities that were wiped out (we don’t see Earth-89 or 66 again, but we can assume they’re back), we also now know that DC Universe’s Titans, Swamp Thing, and Doom Patrol all took place in their own separate universes—or at least they do now, Post-Crisis. Also, Brandon Routh’s Superman has been returned to his world, and as seen in a montage of the new multiverse (which even includes the Green Lantern Corps), his moody Kingdom Come suit has been replaced with his classic Superman Returns suit (implying that the bad things that happened in his world have been reversed).
Relatively early on in Arrow’s run, lovable sidekick John Diggle and his wife, Lyla “Harbinger” Michaels, had a daughter. They named her Sara, after future Legends captain Sara Lance, who had recently been killed (she got better). Shortly after that, Barry tried to change history on The Flash, creating the bad Flashpoint reality and then causing more changes when he went back again and tried to fix that. One of those changes was that baby Sara Diggle was erased from reality and replaced with a boy, John Diggle Jr., who grew up to be a bad guy in Arrow’s future timeline. After the universe was rebooted, Crisis made a point to show us that John, Lyla, John Jr., and Sara now all existed as one happy family—a change that should have big implications for Arrow’s future timeline and its upcoming future-set spin-off.
It took a very long time, but the Arrowverse finally gave a distracting Stan Lee-style cameo to Marv Wolfman, one of the comic book creators whose work has been invaluable to the continued success of The CW’s superhero shows. In case the heavy-handedness of the appearance wasn’t enough of a tip-off (and we say that with nothing but appreciation for Wolfman), he’s the guy who appeared early in the final hour of the crossover, asking Barry and Kara for an autograph made out to “Marv.” They were more concerned about the reveal that they now lived on the same Earth, but they should’ve been more excited to meet the guy who co-created the Teen Titans and Deathstroke and—oh yeah—wrote a little comic book crossover called Crisis On Infinite Earths. There was even a subsequent reference to Pérez Pier, named after Crisis artist George Pérez!
Crisis ended with the Flash, Supergirl, and the rest of the surviving heroes mourning the death of Oliver Queen at the big abandoned warehouse that the good guys used as a home base in the Invasion crossover a few years ago. Then, Barry presented everyone with a gift: abig table, surrounded by logo-emblazoned chairs for all of the heroes (including the dearly departed Green Arrow). We all know what to expect when a group of DC heroes decides to team up, but this was no Justice League. No, as teased by a specific musical cue and the empty cage of an alien monkey named Gleek, this was supposed to be the birth of none other than the Super Friends.
It was the perfect kind of silly gag for such an enormous crossover to go out on, and it speaks to the inherent positivity that the CW shows possess when they’re at their best. They may never call themselves the Super Friends, but we’ll always have Barry and Kara’s song.