“It will be the biggest, the most complicated one that they’ve done, but I am proud to say that they are doing it and we are supporting them,” CW president Mark Pedowitz said at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in January.
Although the big event — which involves all five of the CW’s Arrowverse shows — isn’t due until this winter, there’s already tons of information out there about it. To help you keep track of it all, EW has put together this handy guide that runs down everything we know so far. We’ll continue to update this as we find out more.
When and where?
The five-hour crossover’s first three episodes will air in December, with the final two installments arriving after the winter hiatus in Jan. 2020. Here’s the full schedule below, with some of the shows airing on special nights:
Supergirl: Sunday, Dec. 8 at 8 p.m.
Batwoman: Monday, Dec. 9 at 8 p.m.
The Flash: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 8 p.m.
Arrow: Tuesday, Jan 14 at 8 p.m.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: Tuesday, Jan 14. at 9 p.m.
What is it about?
The extravaganza takes its name from one of DC’s most iconic comic book stories, Crisis on Infinite Earths, written by Marv Wolfman with pencils by George Pérez. Published from 1985 to 1986, the epic tale saw DC’s heroes and villains unite to fight the Anti-Monitor, who wanted to wipe out the entire multiverse. In the end, several heroes died and the multiverse condensed into one Earth (that is, until this entire calamity was essentially reversed in Infinite Crisis, but that’s for another time). Given both super-producer Greg Berlanti’s recent comments and the many differences between the Arrowverse and the DC Comics universe in terms of character availability, it’s fair to assume that the former will diverge from the source material in several ways. “It’s our iteration of it,” Berlanti recently told EW.
Who’s in it?
At this point, it’s fair to assume that the titular heroes of Arrow, The Flash, Batwoman, and Supergirl will be part of the crossover. In terms of Legends, the only actor who has been confirmed to appear in the crossover is Brandon Routh, who plays the Arrowverse’s adorkable Ray Palmer, a.k.a. the Atom. Routh is going to reprise the role of Superman, which he played in 2006’s Superman Returns, and don a suit based on Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come design. Beyond that, it remains to be seen who else from Legends will join in the crossover madness.
“[Playing Superman again] is an opportunity for me to kind of say hello and goodbye to the character in a way I didn’t get to the first time,” Routh recently told EW. “Being a young individual of 24, 25, I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to do this for years and make multiple movies.’ And that of course didn’t happen. I’m just very honored to be able to do this one last time.”
Routh isn’t the crossover’s only Man of Steel. Tyler Hoechlin is also returning as the Arrowverse’s Boy Scout, and it’s been confirmed that his and Routh’s Supermen will be from different time periods. Elizabeth Tulloch is jumping back in as Lois Lane, along with Supergirl’s Jon Cryer, who will reprise his role as Lex Luthor.
Designated Survivor alum LaMonica Garrett will be pulling double duty as both the Monitor, the extraterrestrial observer he played in last year’s “Elseworlds” crossover, and the Anti-Monitor, the crossover’s big bad.
The Flash’s Tom Cavanagh, who plays the many versions of Harrison Wells, is also confirmed to play Pariah, a pivotal character from the Crisis comic who works for the Anti-Monitor. “Pariah is very much integral to unleashing the Anti-Monitor onto our multiverse, which then more bad things happen,” said The Flash showrunner Eric Wallace at San Diego Comic-Con. “For Tom to play such a pivotal character, not only is it exciting, but I think his interpretation that he’s going to be bringing to it is going to just tear your guts out and make you cry.”
Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries revealed at Comic-Con that Burt Ward, the Robin of Batman ’66, will also drop by in an unspecified role, according to KSite TV.
Some of Black Lightning‘s characters will make their Arrowverse debuts in “Crisis,” which is a big deal because the show was separated from the shared universe in its first two seasons. Black Lightning himself Cress Williams appears in The Flash and Legends hours. In even more exciting news, Kevin Conroy, who famously voiced the Dark Knight on Batman: The Animated Series and the rest of the DC Animated Universe, has been cast as Bruce Wayne from the future for the Batwoman installment.
The best news so far: Smallville‘s Tom Welling and Erica Durance will reprise their roles as Clark Kent and Lois Lane, and the crossover will reveal what they’ve been up to in the eight years since Smallville ended; Durance will also appear as Kara’s mom Alura in the Supergirl hour. Alas, Michael Rosenbaum declined to throw on the bald cap once more and appear as Lex Luthor.
Supernatural‘s Osric Chau will recur as Ryan Choi, a scientist who “who comes to learn that he has a pivotal role to play in the coming crisis.” Furthermore, Legends‘ Johnathon Schaech will return as Jonah Hex.
Birds of Prey‘s Ashley Scott has been tapped to reprise her Huntress role in the crossover.
Audrey Marie Anderson, who plays Diggle’s wife Lyla on Arrow, will suit up as Harbinger, an integral character from the comic book event. In the original Crisis, Harbinger’s real name is also Lyla, but she was raised by the Monitor and worked with him to prevent the titular calamity.
How did we get here?
“Crisis on Infinite Earths” has arguably been in the works since The Flash premiered in 2014. The speedy drama’s pilot ended with a shot of a future newspaper that foretold Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) would vanish in a crisis in the year 2024. However, that date has since changed to 2019 after Barry and Iris’ (Candice Patton) daughter Nora messed with the future in The Flash season 5 finale.
The most immediate setup for “Crisis” is last December’s crossover “Elseworlds,” which saw Barry/the Flash and Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) swap lives because the evil Dr. John Deegan (Jeremy Davies) used the Book of Destiny to rewrite reality at the behest of the Monitor. In order to defeat Deegan and prevent Barry and Kara’s deaths, Oliver had to make a deal with the Monitor: In exchange for saving their lives, Oliver had to promise to do whatever it takes to save the multiverse from an impending crisis (there’s that word again!) whenever the Monitor came for him. Of course, the Emerald Archer took that bargain and didn’t tell anyone about it…
Well, that is until Arrow’s season 7 finale. After saving Star City from his evil half-sister, Oliver and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) retired to a secluded home to raise their daughter Mia (Katherine McNamara) in secret. Unfortunately, the Monitor came to collect his chip shortly after Mia’s birth, and Oliver had no choice but to leave with him, even after the Monitor told him he would die in the coming crisis.
How will the each show build to it this fall?
Of the five Arrowverse shows, “Crisis” will loom rather large over Arrow and The Flash. As EW revealed prior to Comic-Con, the former’s eighth and final season is focused on the big heroes-uniting shindig. “Everything relates to what’s going to happen in our crossover episode, which we’ve never done before,” Arrow showrunner Beth Schwartz told EW in our first monthly issue, on stands now. Executive producer Marc Guggenheim added, “Oliver [is told] he’s going to die, so each episode in the run-up to ‘Crisis’ has Oliver dealing with the various stages of grief that come with that discovery. So the theme really is coming to terms, acceptance.”
Learning of one’s impending death will also have an effect on The Flash’s Scarlet Speedster, who receives a similar prophecy from the Monitor in the season 6 premiere. “The Monitor shows up at the end of our first episode and says the universe is in danger and says the only way to save it is for Barry Allen to sacrifice himself,” Gustin said during The Flash’s Comic-Con panel. That knowledge precipitates an interesting connection between Barry and the season 6’s first big bad, Bloodsport (Sendhil Ramamurthy), who is determined to find a cure for death. “Because this year’s big bad is facing kind of the same circumstances Barry Allen is going through, it’s going to bring them closer together in a darker way than villains that perhaps we’ve seen in the last few seasons,” Wallace previously told EW, adding “We found really unique ways to make the season fresh that we never expected, thanks to ‘Crisis.’ This season is really divided up in a way that the episodes before the crossover are pre-‘Crisis’ episodes. Then the back half of the season is all about dealing with the fallout from the events of ‘Crisis.’”
Supergirl’s season 4 finale ended with the Monitor not only doing something to a deceased Lex Luthor’s body (presumably resurrecting him), but also bringing J’onn’s hitherto unknown brother Malefic to Earth. “I think the Monitor wants to make sure J’onn is ready for the crisis that is coming,” Supergirl co-showrunner Robert Rovner recently told EW. “This is J’onn’s test, and I think it’s an interesting story because there are levels to that relationship that even J’onn wasn’t aware of that will take them on quite a journey and impact everybody in our cast.”
As of right now, it’s unclear if the first half of Batwoman’s inaugural season will set the stage for “Crisis” in a major way. Dries previously told EW that she’s hoping to keep the freshman drama, which stars Ruby Rose, as grounded as Arrow was in its first season, at least until the big event.
What does ‘Crisis’ mean for Legends?
Unlike the other four shows, which all bow in the fall, Legends, which concludes the crossover, won’t be back until 2020. However, executive producer Keto Shimizu, who is currently working on both the crossover and season 5, assured EW that whatever transpires in the event will allow Legends season 5 to unfold as planned. “I’m there making sure that, no matter what happens in the massive craziness in the crossover, we have the characters that are participating in [‘Crisis’] land in a very particular place,” she said.
Batwoman and Supergirl premiere Sunday, Oct. 6, at 8 p.m. ET and 9 p.m. ET; Black Lightning bows in Monday, Oct. 7 at 9 p.m.; The Flash returns Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 8 p.m. ET; and Arrow’s final season premieres Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 9 p.m. ET; all on the CW.
This post has been updated with additional details.