The CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event not only merged the worlds of Arrow, Supergirl, and Black Lightning into one planet, it also connected a multiverse of TV shows and movies as different as Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the Adam West Batman show, and the cancelled 2002 WB drama Birds of Prey. From the standpoint of the resources typically available to broadcast network television, you could argue that this is actually, literally “the most ambitious crossover”. As a professional crossoverologist, I relish the opportunity to map out this new universe, going far beyond where even wikis dare to tread. But, first, let’s set some ground rules:
- A “character cameo” will be mapped from where the character first appeared to where they crossed over. It’s only a cameo if it’s reasonably the “same character.”
- A “spinoff” is defined as an established character from one project becoming the star of another project.
- I am only tracking characters. Things like offhand mentions of a location or sharing the same props or fictional companies do not count towards a crossover point.
With that said, let’s dig in to the weird new world of the DC Multiverse.
Arrow (2012): Oliver Queen goes from party boy to serial killer to mayor to interdimensional ghost wizard. It’s been a wild journey watching this show go from being seen as a Smallville knockoff to the heart of a sprawling television universe.
The Flash (2014): It’s appropriate that the show that introduced the concept of the multiple Earths to the Arrowverse has the most crossover points. I love these characters and their heartwarming relationships even if the show can’t stay as fun and upbeat as it is at it’s best. They never should have let Captain Cold leave the show.
Constantine (2014): Constantine was not allowed to be gay and smoke when he was on NBC but when he appeared on Arrow and later joined the cast of Legends of Tomorrow they let him be gay and smoke. I kinda hoped he was gonna meet the Keanu version during Crisis but no such luck.
Supergirl (2015): This show is sort of the American equivalent of a Super Sentai or Kamen Rider: wild costumes, over the top monsters, colorful battles — Supergirl even has a transformation sequence this season. The show first aired on CBS in it’s own universe before being visited by The Flash. After Crisis, Supergirl takes place on the same Earth as the rest of the Arrowverse heroes
Vixen (2015): I’m pretty sure the events of this animated series were wiped out by Arrowverse time travel shenanigans but it’s still pretty neat. It would be interesting to see a new season with all the new Vixens that have shown up in the live action shows.
Legends of Tomorrow (2016): This show is incredibly confident and ridiculous and has grown into being the closest thing to an old Sam Raimi show like Xena or Hercules. The Legends fight dinosaurs and wizards and serial killer puppets. They accidentally inspire the creation of Star Wars and Godzilla like the goofiest episode of Quantum Leap possibile. They protect Barack Obama from psychic apes. It’s the very best of the Arrowverse.
Freedom Fighters: The Ray (2017): A lawyer meets his doppelganger and gets powers to fight the Nazi regime of Earth-X. I wouldn’t usually include cartoons like Vixen or Freedom Fighters on a chart like this, but the shows and producers say that they’re canon. The problem is that if cartoons are allowed then you could argue that maybe Mark Hamill’s Trickster from The Flash (1990) is the same one who shows up on Justice League Unlimited and then we’re even more off the rails.
Black Lightning (2018): A show with great performances that is so politically relevant that it can be incredibly depressing. On the plus side it does have a rap Greek chorus soundtrack like Static Shock. Black Lightning joined the Arrowverse during Crisis on Infinite Earths where his world merged with the worlds of Flash and Supergirl. It will be interesting to see how this semi-grounded show deals with magic and aliens.
Batwoman (2019): Batwoman first appeared in the Elseworlds crossover event before getting her own show which is pretty solid and will probably get much better in season two. This year’s crossover episode had Kevin Conroy from Batman: The Animated Series as an evil Batman from a different earth!
Green Arrow and the Canaries (2020): The last two seasons of Arrow have flash forwards to the future where the children of the original Team Arrow fight crime and good gravy it feels like the longest backdoor pilot ever made. It’s like if half of every episode of Friends was an episode of Joey.
Superman and Lois (2020): That nice boy from Teen Wolf always seemed like a good Clark Kent when he was on Supergirl. I’m glad for him! Based on what I can figure out this show is literally about Lois and Clark having a jock son and a goth son and they all fight crime as a family like The Incredibles? I’m in.
The DC Extended Universe
Man of Steel (2013): The major points of this movie are that Superman kills a dude and destroys a city and there is prominent product placement for Sears and it’s dishwater grey and somehow DC figured this was their Iron Man.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016): This movie has one of the coolest Batman fights but it’s pretty bad because it’s really working overtime to stuff in a bunch of characters and history to play catchup to Marvel. One of those characters is Ezra Miller’s Flash who meets the CW’s Flash in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Suicide Squad (2016): Easy contender for top three movies that have made the most material profit for the Hot Topic corporation.
Wonder Woman (2017): I guess they made this World War I instead of World War II to be different than Captain America but it worked out pretty well. Wonder Woman was the beginning of a real upswing in quality for the DCEU. Anyway you should look up David E Kelly’s weird Wonder Woman TV pilot where she is a CEO and has three different identities because that is wild.
Justice League (2017): The awkward mix of Zack Snyder’s corny edgelord attitude, Joss Whedon trying to make The Avengers again, and Superman’s mustache removal graphics meant that every subsequent DC movie was sort of allowed to forget this ever existed.
Aquaman (2018): Aquaman was a fake joke idea of a movie on HBO’s Entourage until it suddenly became real and somehow one of the best parts of this universe.
Shazam! (2019): Somehow, the Man of Steel Superman shows up in this movie without a face or voice and feels way more like Superman because he helps a kid deal with bullies by sitting at a cafeteria table. The DCEU is a land of contrasts.
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020): I can take or leave this movie but I truly hope playing Renee Montoya leads to an explosion of success for Rosie Perez.
Wonder Woman 1984 (2020): Why are you ruining my date format like this Warner Bros? I do hope the time period allows for a scene where she skateboards like that one episode of the Lynda Carter show.
The Suicide Squad (2021): Please just forget the previous Suicide Squad movie existed we’re just gonna… y’all like Harley Quinn right?
Black Adam (2021): It’s currently unknown how this movie will connect to Shazam! but it will be the second film franchise to make The Rock into an impossibly ancient Egyptian monster-man. Also, did you know there are FIVE Scorpion King movies?
Aquaman 2 (2022): Holding out hope that they’re making some sort of cyber “Aquaman 2.0” like how Robocop 2 had a literal “Robocop 2”.
Shazam! 2 (2022): Everyone’s hoping for Black Adam in this one but all I know is they better have a proper live action version of Tawky Tawny the talking tiger-man or what’s even the point?
The Flash (2022): It will be interesting to see if this endlessly delayed movie ever comes out but I really hope this Barry Allen gets a better looking suit because he looks like a Christian robot that’s here to tell children about bicycle safety.
The Flash (1990): A cool show in the vein of 1989’s Batman including a rad Danny Elfman theme. Nearly every main cast member on this show played a new version of their characters on The Flash (2014) and eventually this show’s Barry Allen transported over to the Arrowverse during Elseworlds for a proper crossover.
Smallville (2001): There was an episode of this show where a Stride gum factory shut down because the flavor lasts too long like in the commercials and Kryptonite leaked into the gum and Pete Ross became a stretchy superhero by eating the gum. Smallville’s Lois and Clark appeared on Crisis on Infinite Earths and they’re married and have daughters now. It’s all very cute.
Birds of Prey (2002): This show has Batman and Catwoman’s daughter Huntress constantly making jungle cat sound effects while fighting characters like “Slick” Waters, a man with water powers. It rules. This show’s Huntress and Oracle briefly returned as the multiverse was being destroyed in Crisis.
Lucifer (2016): Okay, so in one season of this show, the bibical Cain, the first murderer (played by Smallville’s Tom Welling), joins the LAPD and Cain and Satan go undercover as a gay couple and Cain makes an Adam and Steve joke. That’s pretty much all I know about Lucifer. The Arrowverse’s Constatine was already familiar with this version of Satan despite being from a different Earth which opens up several theological questions.
Titans (2018): This gritty version of Teen Titans has improved in its second season, exploring lots of fun corrners of DC lore but I feel like people are always gonna think of it as the show where Robin says “Fuck Batman” in the trailer after murking a bunch of dudes. Several Titans appear at the beginning and end of the Crisis event.
Doom Patrol (2019): A show that absolutely lives up to the promise of the phrase “Brendan Fraser as Robotman”. It’s very good. These characters technically appeared on Titans first but their personalities seemed very different from their own show. Crisis explains this by saying that Titans and Doom Patrol take place on different Earths.
Swamp Thing (2019): This solid little show was sadly cancelled after just one season but we did catch one last glimpse of his universe at the end of Crisis. Legends of Tomorrow has alluded to the Arrowverse’s own Swamp Thing so perhaps we’ll see more of the character someday.
Stargirl (2020): Is this is the first time footage from a show that literally does not exist yet has appeared within another show? The character Stargirl has appeared on other DC shows but they seem to be setting this one within Earth 2 of the newly formed multiverse. Is it still the Arrowverse’s Earth-2? We’ll see if they end up meeting any of The Earth-2 characters we know like Harrison Wells or Jesse Quick.
Superman (1978): A movie that understands that true evil is a real estate tycoon.
Superman II (1980): This is the one where he rips an extra “S” symbol off his chest like a Kleenex and it turns big and plastic and wraps that dude up.
Superman III (1983): The things about this movie are that Evil Superman gets drunk and Richard Pryor is a hacker. Anyway they should bring back the Richard Pryor Hacker as a character that could be pretty good. In Crisis on Infinite Earths, Brandon Routh’s Superman mentions a version of this movie happening to him.
Supergirl (1984): Supergirl has to battle a witch played by Faye Dunaway for the affection of a weird Himbo. Jimmy Olsen from 1978’s Superman appears in this movie so technically it is part of the Reeve series.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987): Jon Cryer who played Lex Luthor’s wacky nephew Lenny in this movie, plays Lex himself in the Arrowverse.
Batman (1989): Batman is the template for the modern superhero movie and also a fantastic Prince album. Commissioner Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth are the only characters who are played by the same actors in all four of the ‘90s movies. Robert Wuhl reprised his role as Alexander Knox for Crisis.
Batman Returns (1992): Making the dapper gentleman character of The Penguin into a feral sewer man is very good and I also like the scene where Batman has a CD turntable in his car and scratches it like a DJ. Paul Reubens technically reprises his role as Penguin’s dad in the Fox series Gotham but that’s not quite enough to make this chart.
Batman Forever (1995): I am a Schumacher Batman defender but Tommy Lee Jones replacing Billy Dee Williams is one of the wackest recastings of all time. For this reason, I can only label this “sequel-ish.”
Batman and Robin (1997): Mr. Freeze makes tons of great ice puns but the sweatiest one is “What killed the dinosaurs? The ice age!” 10/10
Superman Returns (2006): Brandon Routh was a great Clark Kent in a bad, depressing movie. Technically a sequel to Superman II, this movie uses footage and pictures of Marlon Brando and Glenn Ford to make them reprise their roles as Clark’s dads. Crisis on Infinite Earths had Returns’ Clark show up and it was an absolute delight
Green Lantern (2011): At this point, Green Lantern is mostly known for being a joke in various Ryan Reynolds projects but it was written by Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim who went on to create the Arrowverse. Footage from this film showed up at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
The Batman ‘66 Universe
The Addams Family (1964): Yes, The Addams Family is actually in the DC Multiverse. They’re well adjusted and loving even though they’re goths! That’s how the theme song goes, right? The Addams’ butler Lurch appeared in a window gag on 1966’s Batman. I mean so did Santa Claus but he didn’t have a TV show.
Hogan’s Heroes (1965): This wacky comedy about a Nazi POW camp is on this chart because one of the Nazis popped up in the window on Adam West’s Batman. Batman was too busy trying to catch the evil cowboy named Shame to stop an escaped war criminal. This chart only counts character crossovers, but the events of Hogan’s Heroes are mentioned on Green Acres which would also bring in The Beverly Hillbillies, Mister Ed, and Petticoat Junction.
Batman (1966 TV Series): The TV series previously had revivals in fantastic comics and animated movies, but it was a pleasant surprise to see Burt Ward and the sunny, silly version of Gotham City briefly return in live action on Crisis on Infinite Earths. I don’t care that it’s a comedy, every cameo on this show is Double Canon.
Batman (1966 Film): There is a scene of true existential horror at the end of this movie where the United Nations Security Council, after being dehydrated, combined into a big dust pile, and rehydrated, have traded physical mannerisms and the very languages they speak. Batman casually refers to this as some accidental “mixing of the minds”. What is to become of these people’s careers, their families, their lives? Anyway, it’s funny when he carries that big bomb.
Green Hornet (1966): Bruce Lee was so impossibly good in his role that in Hong Kong it was just called “The Kato Show”. Green Hornet and Kato met Batman and Robin in a window gag before having a full fledged crossover. Technically, Green Hornet is a descendant of The Lone Ranger but that never came up on the show..
Felony Squad (1966): Weirdly, this straight laced cop drama decided to try and get a ratings boost by doing one of the Bat-Climb window cameos. It didn’t really work out but maybe the show would have lasted longer if it had gone by it’s original incredibly good name “Men Against Evil”.
Judd, for the Defense (1967): A lawyer show that had a crossover with Felony Squad.
Halloween with the New Addams Family (1977): In this TV special, Wednesday and Pugsley are adults and Morticia and Gomez have had two new kids named Wednesday Jr. and Pugsley Jr. so I guess they are going for the George Foreman thing.
Legends of the Superheroes (1979): Burt Ward and Adam West reprise their roles as Batman and Robin in this superhero comedy roast hosted by Ed McMahon. This is the first live action appearance of several DC heroes and thankfully the last appearance of a black superhero named Ghettoman who says “Hakeem” instead of “Shazam”.
Hogan’s Heroes (202X): A sequel show that is somehow in the early stages of production about the millennial descendants of the original crew becoming treasure hunters and honestly this is a good idea to do for all old TV shows. I say it’s time for F-Troop: The Next Generation.
After Crisis on Infinite Earths, the characters in the Arrowverse’s new Earth-Prime aren’t able to see the multiverse anymore. Refugees from other Earths are also beginning to appear. Is there a chance that next year’s event will be about reconnecting to all the other DC dimensions? If so what worlds might we see? An Earth based on the 1940’s Batman serials? Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman? Shaquille O’Neal in Steel? Only time will tell.