Holy multimedia crossover, Batman! DC Comics’ classic “Crisis on Infinite Earths” miniseries—the epic 1985 multiverse-spanning crossover that brought comic book characters from different Earths together to fight a common menace—is a tale that could inspire Hollywood to bring the parallel universe idea onto movie and TV screens in a live-action adventure… if DC’s parent company Warner Bros. is willing, that is.
Pieces are already in place, depending on your perspective, and a movie-TV crossover of some kind may satisfy people who’ve long clamored for characters from DC’s shows and films to interact.
Many fans of The Flash show, for example, hoped that Grant Gustin, who plays the titular character on TV, would play the same character on the big screen. But Warner Bros. seemed to destroy that possibility when they announced in October that another actor, Ezra Miller, would play the Flash in a movie. Just this month, Variety reported that Will Smith would play the villainous sharpshooter Deadshot in the movie Suicide Squad, but Deadshot’s already been played by actor Michael Rowe in multiple Arrow episodes. Warner’s is also considering actresses like Viola Davis and Oprah Winfrey to play another big screen Suicide Squad villain, Amanda Waller, but Cynthia Addai-Robinson currently portrays the same character in Arrow.
At this point, an establishment of multiple Earths and universes may be the only way to get DC’s movies and shows to interact, and Warner Bros. owns the right comic book properties to make it happen.
Why the Multiverse Matters
DC creators designed “Crisis” to change their comics’ continuity and make stories easier for readers to understand. Over previous decades, DC adventures featured characters living on parallel Earths in different universes who were either different versions of the same people or different people with the same names. The Green Lantern from Earth-1 wasn’t the same Green Lantern from Earth-2, for example, but Earth-1’s Batman was pretty much a doppelgänger for Earth-2’s Batman, just older. The same people could exist on one Earth, but their doubles (or triples or quadruples, even) lived different lives on other Earths. These Multiverse Earths had a truckload of other things going on, too—at least one Earth had no superheroes at all, and another was populated completely by talking cartoon animals. It was confusing and fascinating at the same time.
Writers and editors tried to link the Earths’ various histories and merge them into one timeline. Readers learned in “Crisis” that a celestial experiment created the infinite parallel universes of the Multiverse and also two godlike beings, the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor. The Anti-Monitor ruled an antimatter universe and wanted to destroy all positive matter universes to absorb the energy and increase his own domain. The Monitor and superbeings from multiple Earths joined forces to stop him, but a final battle between the Anti-Monitor and a cosmic being called the Spectre produced an energy wave that altered time and space, creating a single, rebooted positive matter universe, Earth, and timeline.
DC stuck with the single-Earth timeline for a while but eventually brought the Multiverse and alternate Earths concept back to current comic book storylines.
What Parallel Universes Mean for DC Live Action
DC and Warner Bros. may be determined to keep their movie and TV universes separate, but the Multiverse could be the key to bring them together if the executives ever change their minds.
Who’s to say, for example, that television’s Oliver Queen and Barry Allen don’t live on, say, Earth-7? And maybe Superman from the Man of Steel movie lives on Earth-0 or something, where all the upcoming DC cinematic films will take place. This is all conjecture at this point, but it’s not impossible, given the source material.
In the comic book world, the DC Universe is famous (or perhaps infamous, in some people’s minds) for weaving together gigantic tales of heroes from far-flung parallel universes and dimensions who come together to fight common menaces. Why couldn’t they do the same thing with their live-action properties? All it takes is the will and the coordination.