(Warning, SPOILERS for The Flash's season finale - and potentially for things still to come in the wider DC universe - lie below...)
Now, if there's one thing that the CW's The Flash and Arrow haven't been shy in doing this past year (other than being awesome), it's pushing the boundaries of what we can expect to see in a mainstream television superhero series.
Where other shows are largely happy to slip into a conventional pattern, mastering their particular conceit and then sticking to it, the CW's flagship superhero shows have gone a very different route - consistently defying the expectations they've set themselves and throwing big, sci-fi-infused ideas at the wall until they stick to our memories like well-done spaghetti.
Both show's season finales were classic examples of this, with both series' being completely altered in their nature, setting up something completely unexpected in the coming fall. The Flash's, though, might just have set up something even bigger.
The Flash's Season Finale Might Just Have Explained Why the DCCU and DC's TV Shows Were Kept Separate
Or, rather, it may have begun the long process of gradually explaining why - for reasons that have always seemed inexplicable to most fans - DC have opted to exclude their TV properties from the Cinematic Universe that they're creating on the big screen.
The key reason for that? The recent interview with the show's executive producer Andrew Kreisberg, in which he revealed that:
"Part of the fun of The Flash is when you have people dabbling in sci-fi physics, they’re significantly altering the world. We established in the finale that the entire series of The Flash is, in itself, an alternate timeline that’s been skewed from the real one. Wells setting off the accelerator created all the metahumans, and the results of the singularity will also have long-term effects."
Or, in other words:
The Flash TV Series is Itself an Alternative Universe
Now, that could obviously have a whole lot of consequences for The Flash itself, but it might just mean a whole lot more than that, too.
Y'see, in one sense, Kreisberg's comments could be read as suggesting that The Flash's reality is just a screwed up variation on what it should really be, created by Eobard Thawne's meddling.
Which...sure, it might be. But his words can also easily be interpreted as revealing something pretty huge about DC's wider cinematic and televisual plans. Specifically, that:
There's a Whole Multiverse Out There
After all, the DC comic-book universe is pretty fundamentally defined by the existence - and periodically, the destruction - of a multiverse: the 'cosmic construct' encapsulating the multiple universe's that we've seen in DC comic-book history.
Now, the New 52 dramatically reduced the number of universe's that made up that multiverse (to, predictably, 52), but, though things are changing as we speak in DC's Convergence arc, the general gist of DC's comic-book reality is almost always that there are multiple universe's at play at any given moment.
Which, it seems, is also the case in The Flash (and therefore Arrow), as well as seemingly being set to be the center-piece of the forthcoming Legends of Tomorrow:
How Does That Explain the DCCU and DC's TV Shows Being Separate, Though?
Well, short answer? It might well explain it...by completely debunking it.
Y'see, if The Flash really is the 'alternate' reality, with a world in which Barry's mom didn't die still existing as a 'primary' reality, then there's every possibility that we've already seen a whole lot of that particular universe. Specifically, it's almost certainly this one:
Yup, none other than the mainstream DCCU itself - meaning that the world of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and even Suicide Squad is, in actual fact, simply one piece of manipulation away from the one we've been watching in The Flash.
Which would, for instance, explain why we didn't ever really see Harley Quinn in Arrow. As Willa Holland (Thea Queen herself) put it recently:
"We had big plans for Harley. But, I guess something came down from DC execs that told us to shut it down. I mean we had that tease with the pigtails and the ARGUS outfit but, we’ll never see it. We would love to Harley in Arrow but it will never happen."
Which, sure, could simply be DC not wanting to distract from their big-screen Harley - but it could also suggest that, in actual fact:
There's a Huge, Multiverse-Spanning Plan Afoot
One which just might bring together all of the DC universe's we've seen so far - from both the DCCU and Arrow and The Flash's, all the way through Gotham, Supergirl, the original Batman TV series, The Adventures of Lois and Clark, Smallville, and anything else the higher-ups at DC and Warner Bros. felt like.
After all, the differences between the DCCU and the CW universe are, as of yet, largely explainable away - especially if, as some suspect will end up being the case, Ezra Miller's big-screen Flash ends up being the Wally West, Jay Garrick, or even Bart Allen incarnation of the hero.
Into that space, then, DC and Warner Bros. would be able to gradually introduce the beginnings of a crossover that could actually compete with, or even outmatch, Marvel's Cinematic Universe: An interconnected set of DC universe's each separate, but equal.
In other words, we could see a modern day, on-screen Infinite Crisis on Infinite Earths - aka the classic DC crossover event, in which the multiverse was essentially destroyed, simplifying an increasingly convoluted set of DC continuity. One which could, potentially - let's say somewhere in the region of 2020 or so - actually combine the DCCU with its TV siblings.
The Biggest Reason to Think That'll Happen, Though?
The brain behind a whole lot of what DC does has already said it will...
Yup, that's right - Geoff Johns, DC's Chief Creative Officer, has already pretty much outright said that there's a multiverse out there...
"Well, Arrow and Flash are the same universe, and we get a lot of great story out of that — especially when we have episodes that cross them over, but that’s also where our superhero universe lives. We look at it as the multiverse. We have our TV universe and our film universe, but they all co-exist."
...as well as acknowledging that there have been discussions about how (and whether) to bring the movies and TV shows together:
"There’s been discussions over the years for both, obviously. You never say never. Maybe one day we’ll link a show to a film if it makes sense, but the creative process we’re going through right now is to let the stuff live and breathe and be its own thing and own it."
Which - when combined with Kreisberg's comments about their world being the 'alternate' reality, might just suggest that The Flash is currently in the process of starting that process...
Which...would be freakin' awesome...