The Flash stunned viewers with the ending of its season 2 finale when they had their protagonist, Barry Allen, travel back in time and prevent the murder of his mother. As most comic fans will be able to tell you, this hearkens right back to the famous comic book arc, Flashpoint, which has since seen successful adaptation as the animated movie The Flashpoint Paradox. Great film, by the way.
As in the TV show, Eobard Thawne, otherwise known as the Reverse-Flash or Professor Zoom, traveled back in time to kill the Flash’s mother, Nora Allen. Although initially successful, Barry Allen was able to travel back in time and prevent this from occurring. What he did not realise, however, was that with his inexperience in time travel, he could cause ripples in time and space, affecting events both before the time of his intervention as well as afterwards.Returning to the present, he found that not only had he never become the Flash, but Bruce Wayne had never become Batman, Superman had never reached Kansas and was instead a US military experiment, and that a war between the Amazons of Themyscira, led by Wonder Woman, and the Atlanteans, led by Aquaman, was threatening to consume the entire world. Eventually, Flashpoint ended with the merging of the mainstream DC universe, along with the Vertigo and WildStorm imprints. Emerging into this new reality, Barry Allen found that the present had changed yet again – though at least there was no dystopia to greet him this time.
In the current DC TV shows under the umbrella of The CW, there are three separate established universes. Earth 1, otherwise known as the “Arrowverse”, in which Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow are set; Earth 2, introduced in season 2 of The Flash; Earth 3, referenced in this finale, which is now known to be the home of Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick; and one more, un-numbered Earth, in which Supergirl is set.
With so many alternate universes, it’s not unreasonable to wonder whether, now that we have 3 Earths, that they might be amalgamated in some fashion, even if not entirely. Supergirl, for example, could be integrated into the “Arrowverse” proper – and could also be done in such a way to remove the ever hanging ‘why doesn’t Superman help’ question looming over the show since its inception. A recent acquisition from parent network CBS, Supergirl has early on been established as clearly distinct from its brethren over at The CW during its first season, existing in a universe where aliens are – whilst not exactly common place, not unheard of either, with an entire government organisation dedicated to rooting out and defeating alien invaders. For example, Supergirl and her cousin Superman, in particular are publicly known to be aliens. In the Arrowverse, we’ve seen magic and superhumans but we’ve not yet been introduced to more extraterrestial frontiers, so it definitely seems like a likely possibility.
With the superhero team of the Justice Society of America being teased to play a pivotal role in season 2 of The CW’s superhero team-up show Legends of Tomorrow, it’s plausible that – given time travel is in the mix – there are very great things ahead for the Arrowverse. Could this perhaps be the dawn of justice on the small screen?
Viewers will remember that in the end of the first season of The Flash, Eobard Thawne elected to flee upon witnessing a kettle helmet fly through a breach in space and time – the same iconic kettle helmet worn by the Golden Age Flash. I speak, of course, of Jay Garrick. Along with two characters on spin-off series Legends of Tomorrow, Jay Garrick is a long-time member of the superhero team, the Justice Society of America – in fact, he is a founding member. Folding him into the universe proper would explain why Thawne suddenly elected to flee so abruptly – in the timeline he originated from, the JSA had already been formed, with Garrick as a member, so Thawne feared that he was coming to aid his fellow Flash.
Moreover, as I mentioned earlier, there were other effects from folding multiple universes together (although it has since been hinted that this was due to an entirely different entity in the recently released comic, DC Universe: Rebirth). History was changed, relationships were altered or erased completely. So what does this mean for the current Arrowverse?
…the answer is likely to be, not much really. Logistics of coordinating the continuity of 3, and possibly 4 shows altogether combined, deleting away entire seasons worth of history and character development is simply not an option, no matter how much good it would do to certain shows. One of the pitfalls of the shared universe model that has become so popularised in today’s entertainment media is that they simply can get too big for their shoes and that’s definitely going to be the place here. Besides, having such a big, game-changing event occur only in one show, well – even though it is in a shared universe, if they were really going for a total game-changing reset of the entire Arrowverse, they would have made it a crossover arc between shows, from which we can infer that the fallout will not so drastic as to wipe away some of the bigger plots of the universe.
The Flashpoint arc will almost definitely not continue for an entire season – not only is that really dragging out the length of the actual arc, but considering that a 4-way crossover between all DC TV shows at The CW is planned, the Flash will have to regain his powers either during or before the actual event. Moreover, if it does drag on all season – what then? Since it is in the same universe as Arrow, must it then hold hostage its parent show? (Arguably, said parent show would be much improved given how its last season has been received, but that’s not the point.)
Whatever the writers have planned for us, I for one will be eagerly awaiting the return of The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl come October.