Warning: this article contains major spoilers for the finale of Crisis on Infinite Earths!
Crisis on Infinite Earths has ended, and it’s safe to say the Arrowverse will be feeling its effects for a long time to come. Worlds lived, worlds died, and as revealed in Part 5 of Crisis, everyone from Flash to Supergirl to Black Lightning is living on the same Earth.
If the debut of “Earth-Prime” has you feeling confused, fear not. Read on for a breakdown of how the Arrowverse has changed and what it means for these shows going forward – including whether that Ezra Miller Flash cameo is a sign of crossovers to come.
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What Is Earth-Prime?
In many ways, the conclusion of Crisis on Infinite Earths mirrors the original 1985 comic book series. In both versions of the story, the battle against the Anti-Monitor ends with multiple versions of Earth being fused into a new, unified Earth. In the comic, the heroes of Earth-1 were joined by the Shazam family of Earth-S, the Justice Society of Earth-2 and the Charlton Comics heroes (Blue Beetle, The Question, Captain Atom) of Earth-4.
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Similarly, the TV version of Crisis ends with The Flash’s Earth-1, Supergirl’s Earth-38 and Black Lightning’s Earth-BL being merged to form a new, streamlined Earth-Prime. The characters are now able to freely interact in a way they weren’t before. And as far as the vast majority of the world’s population is concerned, that’s how it’s always been. Only the seven Paragons and those heroes who had their memories restored by Martian Manhunter remember there used to be three worlds where now there’s only one. In a weird way, those old Earths never existed.
That raises some major logistical questions, such as whether Earth-Prime has a massive overpopulation problem now that it’s housing three worlds’ worth of people. Given how much The Flash has dealt with the concept of parallel universe doppelgangers, we’d guess that most citizens of Earth-Prime originally existed as three distinct doppelgangers on Earth-1, Earth-38 and Earth-BL. In this new, unified world, they’ve each been condensed into a single person.
However, the opposite is true when it comes to the Diggle family. Originally, John and Lyla had a daughter Sara (named in honor of the temporarily dead Sara Lance), but Sara was transformed into John Jr. after Barry meddled with the timeline in Flashpoint. As we saw at the end of Crisis, Sara and John Jr. now both exist on Earth-Prime. Something similar appears to have happened to Superman and Lois Lane, as they now have two sons where before there was only Jon Kent.
At a recent press event, executive producer Marc Guggenheim revealed that the creation of Earth-Prime has been a long-term goal for the Arrowverse, with the wheels being set in motion during 2018’s “Elseworlds” crossover.
“We knew from last year, quite frankly, that we were going to merge and create ‘Earth-CW’ basically,” said Guggenheim. “But Earth-Prime sounds better even though, in the comics, Earth-Prime is our Earth. I just personally like the sound of Earth-Prime. So all the CW shows will be on the same Earth.”
What Happened to the Multiverse?
There is one crucial difference between the comic and TV versions of Crisis. The comic ended with the multiverse being completely wiped out of existence. Once the dust settled, there was only one Earth left standing (at least until 2005’s Infinite Crisis finally restored the DC multiverse). But in the TV version, the multiverse was restored shortly after Earth-Prime came into being. The very name “Earth-Prime” denotes how this world is the core pillar of the multiverse and the one from which all others formed. The closing montage of cameos shows there are still many other parallel universes out there, meaning that Earth-Prime coexists alongside the Earths seen on Titans (Earth-9), Doom Patrol (Earth-21), Swamp Thing (Earth-19), HBO Max’s upcoming Green Lantern series (Earth-12), the Earth that is home to the version of Superman played by Brandon Routh in Crisis (Earth-96), and probably also the DC theatrical movies.
Basically, the multiverse as it existed before Crisis started seems more or less intact. The only differences are the fact that three Earths merged to form Earth-Prime, and that Earth-2 (which was destroyed in Arrow’s Season 8 premiere) has been replaced by a new version that will serve as the setting for DC Universe’s Stargirl series.
With the comic, DC’s ultimate goal was to streamline its decades of convoluted history and give readers one Earth and one version of all its heroes. The Arrowverse doesn’t have nearly the amount of history and continuity baggage the comic book DCU did at the time, so there isn’t necessarily a burning need for one world and one set of heroes. Worse, eliminating the multiverse would mean either killing off the DCEU and countless other fan-favorite universes, or trying to shoehorn all those characters into one world. As difficult as it must have been to arrange Ezra Miller’s surprise Flash cameo, we can’t imagine WB would have allowed the character to be sidelined or wiped out of existence.
The Arrowverse’s Future
The creation of Prime Earth promises to have far-reaching consequences for every Arrowverse series. For one thing, the potential is now there for Barry Allen and Kara Danvers to have crossovers a lot more often, which can only be a good thing. The formerly isolated Black Lightning will have to start reflecting the existence of characters like Flash and Supergirl, while now literally everyone in the world will know who Superman is. And the fact that Lex Luthor has managed to cheat death and reshape the world so that he’s a Nobel Prize winner and owner of the DEO will no doubt have huge ramifications for both Supergirl and the upcoming Superman & Lois spinoff.
The closing moments of Crisis even set the stage for a full-fledged Justice League team on Earth-Prime. The “Justice League” name is never actually uttered (and we’re not even sure The CW has the rights at the moment), but our heroes have a Super Friends-inspired headquarters that is reminiscent of the Hall of Justice. How often this team will actually assemble remains to be seen, but it’s a safe bet we’ll continue to see these heroes join forces in future crossovers.
As for the Arrowverse’s future crossover potential, we’ll no doubt continue to see The CW unifying its various shows every December, along with what we hope will be a steady stream of smaller-scale crossovers in the vein of episodes like “Worlds Finest,” “The Brave and the Bold” and “Duet.” DC’s comics provide plenty of options should The CW want to attempt a direct follow-up to Crisis on Infinite Earths, but that’s a topic for another day.
For more on Crisis, check out our review for the final two installments of the crossover and see how Twitter reacted to Grant Gustin and Ezra Miller’s surprise crossover scene.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.