Ever since the very first episode of Arrow, fans have been wondering if DC's other heroes — the little-known Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, et al — also exist in this continuity. There have been tons of cheeky nods towards the Justice League which can be taken as hints that they exist in the #Arrowverse, from the multiple references to Green Lantern, to Earth-2 Barry having the entire Justice League on speed-dial.
But are these merely Easter Eggs, or actual clues? That's the question that we've asked ourselves (and the shows' creators) again and again — and with #Superman actually introduced to Supergirl's Earth-38, along with a crafty hint that he's worked with Batman in the past, it's difficult to separate the tongue-in-cheek references from legitimate hints. And then Nate just has to go and heck it all up.
In the mid-season premiere of #LegendsOfTomorrow, Nate named their antagonists the Legion of Doom, after "a Hanna Barbara cartoon [he] used to watch as a kid." With one simple statement Nate simultaneously proved the Justice League's existence in the Arrowverse... and unravelled years of carefully integrated continuity. Damn it, Nate.
A DC Show Inside A DC Show
Maybe it's just me, but the idea that parts of DC canon exist as cartoons within one of the DC continuities is just... messy. Especially when Nate just named the Legion of Doom after themselves. But it wouldn't be the first time this has happened. Thanks to the DC multiverse, literally anything is possible: Any arrangement of these characters in any imaginable way could happen and probably already has.
Somewhere in the Elseworlds, Clark Kent really is just a mild mannered reporter; in one continuity Iris West is a time-traveling vigilante; and there's even an Earth upon which Bruce Wayne was inspired to become #Batman after Batwoman saved his parents from dying. (You should really read DC's Bombshells, and not just because of the awesome Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy romance.)
So for the sake of argument, let's run with Nate's dumb reference. Giant nerd that he is, the show he loved as kid was Super Friends. It's an endearingly silly DC cartoon from the 1970s, featuring the #JusticeLeague saving the day with the help of Wendy and Marvin — two civilian kids who are inexplicably just kinda along for the ride, with their talking dog. Why and how Wonder Dog can talk is never really explained. Also, the gang from Scooby Doo are occasionally there too for... reasons. (Backdoor pilot network reasons.)
Super Friends is either hilariously delightful or a cringe-worthy chapter in #DC history, depending on how old you are (and how many substances you currently have flowing in your bloodstream). Knowing Nate, he probably very seriously adores it even as an adult and has all the action figures. And I bet he brought them all aboard the Waverider with him, too. Nerd.
So what does this mean for the Arrowverse? Well, it's actually very interesting. If the Super Friends cartoon does exist, that means that The CW heroes aren't just spontaneous vigilantes — they may well have got their ideas from the Super Friends show they watched as kids. This would explain why #Arrow's gadgets and hideouts all seem like lame Batman ripoffs... though this is also true in the main DC Comics canon.
But wait a minute, I hear you cry, Bruce Wayne does exist on Earth-1 of the Arrowverse! Indeed he does, as we know from that future newspaper from #TheFlash, which promised that 2024 will see a company merger between Queen Inc and Wayne Tech. Perhaps in this continuity, Bruce Wayne is just a humble billionaire who happens to share his name and most aspects of his personality with the Batman character from that 1970s cartoon. That's not too far fetched.
But what about when #Supergirl teamed up with the gang in the "Invasion!" crossover, you protest even louder. Yeah okay, that's a tricky one. Even if only Nate watched the Super Friends show, it's hard to believe that he wouldn't be jumping up and down and excitedly telling everyone how Kara proves the existence of his very favorite cartoon. Also, the "Invasion!" crossover featured a building that looks practically identical to the Justice League HQ from Super Friends...
So what even is going on here? Have these meta references gone too far, or is DC such a mish-mash of interconnected continuities that the characters are just living in one giant, refracting kaleidoscope multiverse in which no-one can really tell where reality ends and fiction begins?
That's what I like to think. Alternatively, the Super Friends cartoon might exist in the Arrowverse but just feature completely different characters that don't exist in our reality. Alright, this seems like the best explanation, because it doesn't step on the toes on the carefully established barriers of The CW's DC continuity.
Yeah. Let's go with that.