What Is Crisis On Infinite Earths?
Crisis on Infinite Earths was a 12-issue mini-series released by DC Comics in 1985 to coincide with their 50th anniversary, giving all the characters they had created in that time a grand send-off. This proved necessary because the reality of DC Comics had become a hodgepodge of multiple universes over the years, as DC Comics bought up other properties and turned every newly acquired comic book line into an alternate Earth. This made things difficult for new readers in the pre-Internet days, as there was no way to easily look up why Superman's cousin in some stories was a teenage girl called Supergirl and in others she was a young woman called Power Girl or why Shazam never teamed up with the Justice League.
This confusion led writer Marv Wolfman (best known today as co-creator of the most popular incarnation of the Teen Titans) to propose a way to combine all of DC Comics' realities into a single shared universe. Wolfman created The Monitor - a cosmic being who was seen aiding the villains of various realities. It was ultimately revealed that The Monitor was a cosmic manifestation of all the material universes and that his opposite number, the Anti-Monitor, had begun destroying other realities so that only his anti-matter universe would exist. Testing the heroes of the various positive-matter universes through their villains, The Monitor began building an army that would be capable of facing the Anti-Monitor. Thus began the greatest battle in cosmic history, as the heroes and villains of multiple Earths joined forces to save all that existed.
How The Flash and Supergirl Died In The Comics' Crisis
While many characters died during Crisis on Infinite Earths, the deaths of Barry Allen (The Flash of Earth-One) and Kara Zor-El (Supergirl of Earth-One) were easily the most notable. Supergirl died in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, after being beaten to death in a one-on-one battle with the Anti-Monitor himself. Kara's sacrifice saved the life of her cousin, Superman, and destroyed the machinery the Anti-Monitor was using to forcibly merge several Earths, inflicting cataclysmic damage upon them all.
Barry Allen would meet his final fate one issue later in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8. Imprisoned in the anti-matter universe, The Flash found a way to break free and discovered that The Anti-Monitor had begun constructing a great anti-matter canon that would be capable of destroying multiple positive-matter universes with a single shot. Running faster than he had ever run before, The Flash was able to destroy the cannon by generating a vibrational frequency that weakened its unstable core, turning the energy contained within the doomsday device upon itself. Barry Allen seemingly died then, his physical form disintegrating and leaving behind only his costume.
Why Green Arrow And Superman Will Die In The TV Crisis
The Flash television series has hinted at Barry's eventual heroic sacrifice since its first episode, with a newspaper from 2024 proclaiming that The Flash disappeared after some manner of Crisis. This was reaffirmed in the most recent season, with a newspaper from 2049 and The Flash's daughter from the future confirming that The Flash never returned home. However, recent events on The Flash have shown that the timeline is malleable and the proclamation that Crisis on Infinite Earths is coming five years ahead of when it was anticipated indicates that something big has changed on a cosmic level.
All of this puts The CW in a bit of a quandary. The Flash is easily the network's most popular show and Supergirl is similarly popular with their core demographic, if not quite as highly rated. It makes little sense, from the network's perspective, to sacrifice two of their most popular series purely for the sake of emulating a classic comic book storyline. The shows' writers would probably also prefer not to precisely retell a story to which everyone already knows the ending.
Elseworlds suggested an out, however, with the idea that Barry and Kara had been fated to die in an earlier battle once reality had been rewritten by John Deegan. We know that Oliver Queen has paid some kind of price to save his friends, thinking they will be needed to save the Earth in the coming Crisis, though the exact cost has yet to be revealed. It is worth noting, however, that nothing has been said about Oliver Queen being alive in the future of Star City 2038 during Arrow's season 7 flash-forwards. It's also worth noting that Green Arrow has sacrificed himself to save others in several comic book storylines, including Grant Morrison's Final Crisis and his original death in the Green Arrow storyline 'Where Angels Fear To Tread'.
Clearly Oliver Queen is being set up for some manner of heroic sacrifice, but what of Superman? Elseworlds concluded with Superman effectively retiring so he could focus on being a father to the baby that he and Lois Lane were having together. Despite him feeling that Kara is more than capable of replacing him as Earth-38's chief protector, it seems highly unlikely that Clark would sit on the sidelines with all of reality at stake during Crisis on Infinite Earths. It seems likely then that he and Kara will trade roles with their comic-book counterparts and that Clark will sacrifice himself to save Kara from The Anti-Monitor.
The Future of The Arrowverse, Post-Crisis
Assuming that this plays out as predicted, there will be some major changes to the Arrowverse. Presumably the Arrowverse would emulate DC Comics immediately after Crisis on Infinite Earths and the wounded alternate realities would merge into a single, solid universe. This would leave Supergirl set on the same Earth as the other Arrowverse shows and make future team-ups a good deal easier to facilitate.
While it is possible that other versions of Oliver Queen and Clark Kent might be reborn into this new universe as in the comics, it seems unlikely the show-runners would cheapen their sacrifice in this manner. Arrow might continue, for instance, with Emikio Queen taking up her half-brother's bow and identity. On the other hand, there have been rumors that The CW might be interested in reviving Lois And Clark with Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch after seeing their interactions as Clark Kent and Lois Lane in Elseworlds. Whatever happens, 2019 is bound to bring big things to the Arrowverse.