Crisis on Infinite Earths: New Look at Kevin Conroy's Batman Raises Huge Arrowverse Question

Shortly after The CW announced that they had recruited Batman: The Animated Series star Kevin Conroy to play his first-ever live-action version of Bruce Wayne, we wondered whether the actor might somehow end up becoming the real (canonical, Earth-1) Batman of the Arrowverse. While it remains far from a sure thing, some fans are already wondering whether the fact that Conroy's Batman recognizes Ruby Rose's Kate Kane might mean that he is the Batman from her Earth. It's worth thinking about, although we should say up top that it probably is not that simple -- if only because basically all of the trailer for "Crisis on Infinite Earths" happened on Earth-38, where Supergirl takes place, rather than on Earth-1.

While the exoskeleton has led a lot of outlets to refer to Conroy as the "Kingdom Come Batman," a distinction that makes sense given the visual, it seems unlikely that he will be from the same Earth as Brandon Routh's Superman, who makes no appearance in this trailer after having been featured fairly prominently in several of the promotional photos and teasers. Where is he from, then? Well, again, the most likely answer, based on the context of this teaser alone, is that he might be from Earth-38.

While Batman has been alluded to several times over the years, and eventually named outright during "Elseworlds" and in the Batwoman pilot, fans of the Arrowverse have never seen Bruce Wayne or Batman in the flesh. Conroy will be the first, and has been identified only as a Bruce Wayne from the future when people actually involved with the shows talk about him. Several of the characters, particularly Black Lightning and Brandon Routh's Superman, are already established to be from different Earths. Of course, Crisis on Infinite Earths centers on a battle between the combined superheroes (and even some villains) of the DC multiverse and an immortal, cosmic threat known as the Anti-Monitor. Like The Monitor, the Anti-Monitor will be played by LaMonica Garrett in the Arrowverse. As the Anti-Monitor destroys realities, he replaces their positive matter energy with antimatter, growing his own power and sphere of influence. In the comics, he was eventually stopped by the sacrifices of several heroes, including The Flash and Supergirl, as well as the merging of multiple universes to save reality by becoming a single, unified timeline. Fans have long wondered whether the events of "Crisis on Infinite Earths" might bring Supergirl and possibly even Black Lightning to Earth-1, where the rest of the series take place.

As we already talked about, Black Lightning will also -- at least temporarily -- lose his world, and seemingly take on something like the role that Lady Quark played in the Crisis from the comics.

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(Photo: Warner Bros. TV/The CW)

If a merge were to happen, it doesn't seem entirely implausible that the "merged" version of batman from Earth-1 and the Kevin Conroy Earth could be Conroy -- allowing for him to essentially reprise the role he played on Batman Beyond, where he could have some kind of advisory role to Batwoman. That could allow them to only use Batman once in a blue moon, like Supergirl does with Superman -- and to give a plausible, acceptable explanation to fans as to why Bruce Wayne doesn't come back to Gotham (his absence is key to the premise of Batwoman, but has been a point of contention for Batman fans who want to see him show up in the Arrowverse).

Basically, the events of "Crisis on Infinite Earths" would introduce him as "the Batman of Earth-38" or whatever, and then when the Earths merged he would overwrite Earth-1's Bruce, giving the Arrowverse Batman a longer history in-universe and a reason to be off the board (age), while also allowing Batwoman to replicate the successful formula of Batman Beyond, where an aging Bruce could help shepherd the next savior of Gotham and cement his legacy.

This, of course, is a lot of "ifs," but it's a fun thought experiment, a single one of the many plausible outcomes of the "Crisis on Infinite Earths." And it could give fans a lot more fun with Kevin Conroy's Batman on The CW down the line.

All of this is built on a lot of supposition, and it should be said that the idea that Bruce recognizes Kate, and Kate recognizes Bruce, should not immediately be taken to mean he is "the same" Batman. It's entirely possible that the Bruce of his Earth had a Kate that looked quite like Ruby Rose when he was younger, and that Kate can recognize that this man looks a lot like Bruce -- and that he's in Wayne Manor, by the look fo things, is a giveaway too.

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"Crisis on Infinite Earths" will be the biggest crossover event that The CW's DC Universe TV series have attempted yet, with five series (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, and Batwoman) participating over two quarters, presumably in December and January. The story will, at least according to the onscreen canon established so far and comments by cast and producers at Comic Con, feature the death of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), who struck a mysterious deal with The Monitor during last season's "Elseworlds" crossover in order to save the lives of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist), who were "destined" to die in the event.

“Crisis on Infinite Earths” kicks off on Sunday, December 8 on Supergirl, runs through a Monday episode of Batwoman and that Tuesday’s episode of The Flash. That will be the midseason cliffhanger, as the shows go on hiatus for the holidays and return on January 14 to finish out the event with the midseason premiere of Arrow and a "special episode" of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, which launches as a midseason series this year and so will not have an episode on the air before the Crisis. Black Lightning's midseason finale will have a "Crisis" tie-in as well, as evidenced by the aforementioned trailer.