[WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for The Flash Season 2, Episode 13.]
By now, everyone even causally interested in the growing slate of comic book television shows knows that over at Marvel, the TV shows are set in the same Marvel universe in which the blockbuster Avengers universe takes place. Whereas over at DC Comics, the TV shows and Justice League/Suicide Squad universe are completely separate (for now, anyway). To complicate matters even further, the fact that the DC TV shows are spread across multiple networks led many to believe that a single shared universe was impossible. In other words, Arrow, The Flash and their shared universe Legends compatriots would have to suffice.
While we maintained that a single shared universe could be more possible than fans would think (since nearly all DC shows are being handled by the same people), the past few weeks have done the work for us. First, a crossover between The CW's The Flash and CBS' Supergirl was officially announced. But the producers saved their biggest surprise for The Flash's trip to Earth-2, when the trip offered a glimpse of the full DC Comics Multiverse - revealing how Supergirl connects to the show's world, a previous superhero show is also linked, and hints at even more characters coming to The CW and beyond.
We'll break down the standout visions, and why the showrunners may have just confirmed that not just the main DC Comics TV show, but any DC Comics TV show is taking place alongside the others... from a certain perspective.
Jonah Hex & Gorilla Grodd
First off, some of the visions are easier to classify, given recent developments in The CW's other superhero programming. A random gunslinger doesn't mean much on his own, but it seems this is the very first official look at the network's version of Jonah Hex (played by Johnathon Schaech). The legendary DC Comics cowboy will be coming to Legends of Tomorrow when the cast take a trip back to the Old West, and meet Hex who, according to this photo, has a much less grisly version of the facial scarring he's known for in the comics.
Following shortly after is none other than Gorilla Grodd, the former Flash villain who was dealt with earlier in Season 2 of the show. The last fans saw, Grodd had been shuffled away to Earth-2, deep in the jungles of Africa outside of what looked to be Gorilla City. The producers have confirmed that Grodd and Gorilla City are a long term storyline, but definitely more than a throwaway easter egg. Perhaps his appearance here is meant to reassure fans that he truly does have a future in The CW's superhero universe. Fingers crossed.
The Supergirl Connection Explained
From the moment the first rumors claimed that a crossover adventure was being planned between The Flash and Supergirl, the naysayers made their objections known. How, they asked, could a flying, superhuman alien have existed alongside Central and Starling City this entire time, without any character ever mentioning it? It was a fair point (although fans eager to see Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist share the screen would probably have suspended their disbelief). Thankfully, the actual solution seems to have been offered.
Supergirl doesn't exist in the same universe as The Flash and Arrow, but on a parallel Earth, in the sprawling DC Multiverse. With Barry and the S.T.A.R. Labs team having already hopped from their own Earth to 'Earth-2,' it's just as possible that another breach could be opened between their world and any number of parallel ones. Apparently, one of those is going to lead straight to National City, the stomping grounds of the Girl of Steel. The real question, then, is whether there's a version of Barry Allen and Oliver Queen walking the streets of Supergirl without anyone knowing it...
It's a clever solution, and shows how DC boss Geoff Johns' claim that all DC properties exist in one Multiverse was more than just lip service. It may have been written off as an excuse for a lack of crossovers, but it seems Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have at least some interest in mixing their properties. As this Supergirl appearance suggests, the shared-but-divided Multiverse may be their way of pulling it off, while keeping each story operating on its own terms (playing the same role as it did in the comics).