Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for Crisis on Infinite Earths.
In the end, the Arrowverse crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths lived up to the tagline it shared with the DC comic book mini-series that inspired it. “Worlds will live, worlds will die and nothing will ever be the same.”
To say that Crisis forever changed the state of the CW’s shared reality would be a vast understatement. Indeed, the mini-series changed the state of DC Comics’ television and film adaptations as a whole, revealing every superhero show and movie ever based on a DC Comics’ property to be part of the same multiverse. This included even the DCEU, with the penultimate chapter of the mini-series confirming that Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen was a part of the Arrowverse, as he met Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen while they were both traveling through the Speed Force.
That surprise cameo was only the beginning of the many surprises that unfolded as Crisis on Infinite Earths came to a close. For as deeply steeped as the story was in the lore of the Arrowverse, the event still borrowed heavily from the original comics. Yet there were still enough changes to keep even those fans who had read Crisis on Infinite Earths on their toes. Here’s what happens in Crisis on Infinite Earths‘ ending, and what it all means.
Teleported into the dimension known as Vanishing Point, the Paragons (a team of 7 special heroes said to hold the key to saving the multiverse) spent several months trying to find some way to escape. All hope seemed lost when The Flash’s attempts to enter the Speed Force dimension failed. It was at that moment that Oliver Queen, now possessing the power of the cosmic being known as The Spectre, appeared to the Paragons and explained how they might yet save their reality.
The Paragons split into two teams, with Ryan Choi, Lex Luthor and Supergirl being sent to the planet Maltus ten-thousand years in the past. Their mission was to stop Mar Novu (the scientist who would become The Monitor) from testing a temporal portal that would take him to the dawn of time and accidentally create both the multiverse and the anti-matter universe. The rest of the Paragons and the Spectre would go directly to the dawn of time to fight the Anti-Monitor before he could enact his plans.
After most of the Paragons became briefly lost in time and Lex Luthor tried to manipulate Mar Novu into reshaping the multiverse into something he found more agreeable (i.e. no Kryptonians), the Paragons were reunited in the anti-matter universe at the dawn of time, facing down the Anti-Monitor and his shadow demons. The Spectre told the Paragons to hold the line and that he would “light the spark” so that they could “fan the flame.” As the Paragons fought the shadow demons, The Spectre met the Anti-Monitor in battle, releasing a vast amount of energy. This spurred the Paragons to use the same page from the reality-altering Book of Destiny (which Lex Luthor edited to make himself into the Paragon of Truth) to reshape the energy unleashed by The Spectre and transmute it into a new universe.
The final chapter of Crisis on Infinite Earths ended with Supergirl waking up in her apartment. It quickly became apparent that something was wrong, with none of her friends and family remembering their Earth being destroyed and Lex Luthor being awarded the Noble Peace Prize. Shrugging this off, Supergirl went to work to deal with a report of a super-powered villain causing trouble, only to run into The Flash, whom identified the villain, Weather Witch, as one of his enemies. This prompted both heroes to ask what they were doing on one another’s Earths before they realized the truth; the new universe they had created had combined Earth-1 and Earth-38 into one world!
By the end of the episode, it was revealed that Black Lightning’s reality had also been folded into the new Earth, which was dubbed Earth Prime. Unbeknownst to our heroes, they did more than save their own universes in forming a new shared reality; they also created a new multiverse. Some of these Earths, such as the settings of the DC Universe Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing shows, have been explored already. Others, such as the Earth-2 of Stargirl and the Earth-12 of the Green Lantern Corps, are brave new worlds.
The victory over the Anti-Monitor came at a high cost, with Oliver Queen dying a second time to save his universe. His sacrifice did not go unnoticed, however, as The President of the United States was informed that Green Arrow died in the battle to save reality and a nation-wide moment of silence was held in his honor. His fellow heroes went a step further, however, with The Flash setting up a display case holding the Green Arrow costume and Supergirl lighting an eternal flame to honor him in the disused STAR Labs hangar where the heroes of two worlds first joined forces to fight the invasion of The Dominators.
The Flash had another idea for how the assembled heroes (which included White Canary, Black Lightning, Superman, Batwoman, and Martian Manhunter along with himself and Supergirl) might further honor Oliver Queen’s legacy. To that end, he suggested the hangar might act as a base of operations for whenever Earth faced any future disaster requiring all of the World’s Finest heroes join forces again. He then unveiled a round table with 8 chairs – each decorated with the symbols of the assembled heroes, plus an empty chair with the Green Arrow emblem. While the name of the Justice League was not spoken, the implications were clear even before the shot revealing that the hangar looked just like the classic Hall of Justice from the Superfriends cartoons.
The chief take-away from Crisis on Infinite Earths is that it will be far easier to justify crossover episodes in the future, with all of the CW’s series now set on a single Earth. The new shared Earth will also result in some interesting changes to the storyline of Supergirl and the upcoming Superman and Lois Lane show, now that Lex Luthor runs the DEO and is considered to be a hero by the world at large. This will also result in a major change to the world of Black Lighting, where metahumans were not as wide-spread as on Earth-1 and Jefferson Pierce was fighting a corrupt government organization that had sealed his hometown of Freeland, Georgia off from the rest of the world.
Crisis on Infinite Earths #10 saw The Spectre uniting the heroes and villains of five universes and guiding them to the Dawn of Time; the one place from which the Anti-Monitor could complete his plan to destroy all the positive-matter universes. The battle which followed saw The Spectre fighting the Anti-Monitor directly, backed by mystic power of Earth’s few surviving sorcerers. This led to the creation of a new universe, made up of a mixture of elements from all five of the surviving Earths.
Crisis on Infinite Earths #11 revealed that the Anti-Monitor was not quite defeated and that the newly rebuilt world was still vulnerable. This culminated in one final battle with the Anti-Monitor in Crisis on Infinite Earths #12. The end result was a fresh start for DC Comics’ universe and few beings remembering that the multiverse had ever existed.
While nether The Flash or Supergirl died fighting the Anti-Monitor as in the original comic book storyline, the Arrowverse adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths stayed largely true to the original story and hit all the major plot points, with only a few cosmetic differences. For instance, the original Crisis also had Lex Luthor working with the heroes only to betray them in a bid to take over the multiverse for himself. The only difference is that the comic book had Luthor leading an army made up of the supervillains of five Earths to the planet Maltus, whereas he acted alone in the television series.
More: Arrowverse Theory: Flashpoint Erased Earth-16’s Metahumans