How the DC Comics Multiverse Could Be DC’s Saving Grace

If there’s one thing DC has always embraced more than Marvel, it’s the multiverse. While Marvel does have a multiverse, they have never spent much time to flesh it out or clearly define how it works. Additionally, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made no hint of a multiverse crossover, even though it is technically part of the Marvel multiverse. Mutiverse crossovers are common in comicbooks, but most might say that including a multiverse in a cinematic universe would be too much to handle. However I would have said the same of a shared universe 10 years ago, and Marvel proved me wrong there.

In this post, I have a lot of seemingly random details to cover, so I’m just going to state my argument here, then slowly show you how it all works. My argument is that DC should, and probably will, use the concept of the multiverse in their film/television universes. By that I mean, they will have a crossover of their film/television universes (and potentially other mediums as well).

A Brief History of the DC Comics Multiverse

But first, I need to clarify some multiverse history. In the early days of DC Comics, the multiverse was created in order to cover up continuity errors and other inconsistencies. It grew to be so complex and complicated that DC saw the need to consolidate all of them into one. This led to the comic event called Crisis on Infinite Earths, in 1985. It brought the entire multiverse into one single timeline. Basically, it was the end of the multiverse, but the beginning of a single shared universe. This was arguably the best decision DC ever made, as some of the best stories were released in the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths.

In the 2000s two spiritual sequels to Crisis on Infinite Earths were released: Infinite Crisis, and Final Crisis. In these comics, it was revealed that a multiverse did exist, but consisted of 52 distinct universes, not an infinite number as existed before Crisis on Infinite Earths. Some of these alternate universes were not just comicbooks. Some were television universes, such as the DC Animated Universe, or Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

At the end of 2011, the primary DC Comics universe officially ended with the Flashpoint storyline, and the multiverse of 52 universes was rebooted for the first time since 1985. The downside is that most people did not like the reboot. The New 52 storyline has not been nearly as successful as previous comics, which is what leads to….

Convergence!

Beginning in April 2015, DC will be releasing a multiverse spanning event. It has been confirmed as including characters from the pre-52 storyline for the first time since 2011. Many speculate that this will reset the 52 universe so the newer versions of the characters will be replaced with the older, more popular ones. This hasn’t been confirmed, however, and some of the 52 comics will continue after Convergence. However, many New 52 comics will be ending in April, 13 to be exact. So there’s reason to believe that much will change beginning this April.

This event, though it currently has nothing to do with the film/television universes, could easily make way for a film/television crossover. It would be a nice way for DC to introduce the film and television universes into the multiverse, opening the doors for a crossover in the future.

The Multiverse Map

Concurrent with the release of the world-building event called Multiversity, DC released this graph of the multiverse. This is easily the most brilliant and explanatory info that DC has ever revealed for the multiverse. It specifically deals with the multiverse as it exists post-Flashpoint. For a detailed explanation of what we know of this map, I recommend reading this wikipedia page. However, that can feel a little overwhelming, so I also recommend watching these two videos to get an idea of how it works.

So what does this have to do with my argument? Well, you will notice that several of the 52 worlds are marked with a question mark. Plus they make a pretty cool pattern, which if you watch the second video, you’ll realize that is probably not a coincidence. Additionally, there are several of the numbered worlds that we know nothing about and could be anything. I think it’s very likely that the film/television universes will fill in some of these mystery worlds. This would clearly establish the film/television universes as an active part of the multiverse. If they are one of those ‘?’ worlds, this is even more likely, as those worlds seem to have a special significance to the multiverse, based on their positioning. But on to other points.

The DC Move

This April (concurrent with the release of Convergence), DC will be moving from New York City to Burbank, California. This is a very interesting move. It’s a clear indication that DC will be focusing more on film and television than before. This is terrific news for DC film/television. It means that DC will probably have a more hands-on approach to their films, instead of letting Warner Brothers call most of the shots. It means that the DC Cinematic Universe might have a singular guiding mind, much like what we see with Marvel Studios. Marvel is still based in New York City, but Marvel Studios (their film production division) is in California. DC doesn’t have their own studio, but with this move to Burbank, they might not need it.

The move from NYC to Burbank, makes me believe that DC will have better synergy across all of their platforms. While Marvel Studios is very separate from the rest of Marvel, DC has the opportunity to link all of their properties and shared universes into one cohesive multiverse. A prime location in Burbank will, from a business perspective, make this much easier.

The Flash Pilot Tease

A few months ago, The Flash aired its Pilot episode. At the end of the episode, we got this interesting glimpse into the future of the show. This supposedly takes place 10 years in the future of the show. Notice the headline, “Flash Missing, Vanishes in Crisis.” The word “Crisis” has long been associated with these multiverse events. Flash himself has always been a pivotal part of these multiverse events, due to his ability to vibrate himself into other universes. The bottom right of the newspaper says, “Red Skies Vanish.” The red skies are also a big part of the multiverse events, and they are very clearly hinting at some big event that could involve a multiverse of some kind.

While I don’t think this bit is clear evidence that DC has plans for a multiverse crossover, I think they’re definitely leaving the door open for one. If this were part of their plan, using the Flash would be the best way to introduce it. They could do so with The Flash television show, starring Grant Gustin, and/or the film of the same name coming out in 2018 and starring Ezra Miller.

Geoff Johns Interview

Possibly the most convincing evidence of a multiverse crossover comes from Geoff Johns. Geoff is the Chief Creative Officer at DC, and the producer behind the DC television universe (Arrow and Flash). Basically, if a multiverse crossover were possible, he would be the one to know about it. Recently, he had a few words to say about the possibility in an interview with Buzzfeed.

“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. For us, creatively, it’s about allowing everyone to make the best possible product, to tell the best story, to do the best world.

Everyone has a vision and you really want to let the visions shine through. I think the characters are iconic enough. I like [Marvel’s Agents of] S.H.I.E.L.D. a lot. I love what Marvel does. I’m a huge fan. It’s just a different approach … You have to have conversations about what’s happening in TV and film between everybody because you don’t want to do the same thing. That’s super, super important.”

So he’s very specific that the film and television universes are separate, but still part of a multiverse. That’s not really surprising, as they’ve gone on record to say that everything is part of the multiverse. However, the interesting part comes in his next statement. Here, he is addressing the possibility of a television/film crossover, or a separate television show set in the film universe.

“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.”

So, while it doesn’t sound like a multiverse crossover is in their immediate future, they’re definitely not saying no to the possibility, and that’s important. Kevin Feige said something similar about the possibility of an Avengers film, around 2006 when Iron Man was first announced. Look how that turned out.

Let’s Think Hypothetically

For a moment, let’s just think of the possibilities. Let’s assume that a multiverse crossover is in the works. Ideally, it would probably involve the entire Justice League, but the Flash would be a huge part of it (as he usually is). If you are going to include the television universes, you would need a good reason to include the characters from other universes. Perhaps an evil universe attacks the film universe, and they need the help of other Justice League members from another Earth to defeat them. Perhaps a multiverse level villain (like Darkseid, or the Monitors) are used in both the film and television universes. There are many possibilities, but they could definitely present a case for it.

Marvel has been slowly building up a storyline about Thanos and the Infinity Gems. This is Marvel’s ultimate crossover event, set for 2018 and 2019 with Avengers: Infinity War, parts 1 & 2. While the multiverse is kind of DC’s big thing, the Infinity Gems are Marvel’s big thing. It’s absolutely huge, and impossible to show on film without a lot of build-up. The same would have to be true of DC Comics multiverse. If they decide to use the multiverse, it would probably be hinted at in the first wave, but not come to fruition until many years later. But of all the storylines that could possibly compare to the scale of Infinity War, a “Crisis” story would do the trick.

In Summary

DC has a chance to establish themselves as being unique to Marvel. So far, they’ve been a few steps behind Marvel in their shared universe, but they have had a few firsts. For example, they will be the first to release a female-centric Superhero film (Wonder Woman, 2017). They will also be the first to release a film based on villains (Suicide Squad, 2016). They’re definitely taking a different approach, and using the multiverse in their films and/or television shows would be one more thing that would set them apart from Marvel. I personally think this is likely, based on the following facts:

  • The 52 Multiverse is primed to include the television and film universes.
  • DC’s move to LA will make the business side of linking story worlds much easier.
  • DC’s move will give them the chance to increase synergy across all platforms.
  • The Flash CW show hints at a Crisis timeline, something that always involves the multiverse.
  • Geoff Johns hints that a crossover is a possibility if it fits the story they want to tell.
  • It would be a chance to build a story as significant as Marvel’s Infinity War storyline.

Would it be a risk? Of course it would, but so is creating a shared universe. Sometimes risks are worth taking, especially when it could be so cool! I mean, imagine seeing a Crisis story unfold on film! Those stories have always been a huge part of what DC is, and I believe that will continue with DC’s television and cinematic universes.

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