It seems surreal to think about, but nearly two years ago fans of The CW's Arrowverse were gearing up for what may well be the most eagerly-anticipated event in comic book television to date, the epic "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover event. It's something that fans had already had to wait a full year for, with the Multiverse-shattering adaptation of the comic event of the same name teased at the end of 2018's "Elseworlds" crossover, and over the event's five episodes fans were delighted to see nearly every corner of DC's world of live-action entertainment brought "into" the Arrowverse. Everything ended on a high note with fresh stories and a world of possibility as well as the burning question of how The CW would top it. And then everything began to change, so much so that the question isn't how the Arrowverse will top "Crisis" but is instead if the idea of the Arrowverse crossover is simply a thing of the past.
The idea of the Arrowverse crossovers as we know them being a thing of the past is something that is, from a fan perspective, difficult to consider but is probably fairly likely at this point. There are three key reasons why those full-blown, multi-episode, multi-show crossover events are likely done, and they all make sense in terms of the direction DCTV's live-action universe is going. First, topping "Crisis on Infinite Earths" is itself going to be difficult. Second, there have been major changes in the Arrowverse itself since "Crisis" that do not lend to the ambitious event television fans came to know. And third, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a factor as well, with all three things collectively spelling the end for the crossover as we know it.
From a story perspective, following up "Crisis on Infinite Earths" is going to be a tough thing to do. As the comic book event it adapted before it, the crossover was a complete universe changer. During the event the entire Multiverse was ended only to be re-created with all of the various Earths of the old Multiverse sort of combined to become the new Earth-Prime -- finally bringing both Supergirl and Black Lightning into the main continuity -- and while other Earths were shown to the audience to still exist, the primary heroes of the Arrowverse were unaware of it. Everything was, in a sense, tied up with a nice little bow with the Arrowverse under one roof, as it were, while other DCTV shows on other networks had space to exist off on their own. There's no other story that would really have quite the impact that "Crisis" had.
Scale-wise, "Crisis" would be hard to top as well. While all of the Arrowverse crossovers are huge undertakings, "Crisis" took things to an insane new level as it brought cameo after cameo and reference after reference. Legendary Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy got to play a live-action Bruce Wayne. Batman star Robert Whul reprised his role as Alexander Knox from the 1989 Tim Burton film for a brief appearance on "Earth-89" while Burt Ward appeared as Dick Grayson/Robin on "Earth-66" and cried out "Holy crimson skies of death!" just as his earth was destroyed. The biggest appearance, though, may have been Ezra Miller appearing as the DCEU's Barry Allen during a brief encounter with Grant Gustin's The Flash -- a cameo that came together late in the process of the crossover and had previously felt "untouchable". With the sheer number of major cameos as well, it doesn't get much bigger than "Crisis".
The scope of "Crisis" notwithstanding, though, there have been major changes in the Arrowverse that would make such a crossover unlikely in the future as well. Right after "Crisis", Arrow ended its run after eight seasons but while that shakeup was something fans knew going in, there have been other major changes as well. On the heels of the Batwoman Season 1 finale, series star Ruby Rose departed the series leading to the series to have to replace not just her but the Kate Kane/Batwoman character. Supergirl and Black Lightning both announced that the upcoming seasons would be their last and, new shows were announced as well. Superman & Lois will join the Arrowverse in early 2021 and a Painkiller spinoff is in the works. Non-Arrowverse DCTV shows are expanding as well with DC Universe's DC's Stargirl becoming exclusive to The CW next season and a Green Lantern series is in the works for HBO Max. With all of these shifts, the Arrowverse as we know it doesn't really even exist anymore something that makes the likelihood of a crossover less and less.
We've also already more or less had the idea of a non-standard Arrowverse crossover confirmed by The CW. Back in May, network president Mark Pedowitz said that the network was working on a much smaller event, one that would see Superman and Batwoman come together with other characters though this was before the casting shakeup on Batwoman.
Outside of all of the network and Arrowverse itself based reasons why the big crossover events may be a thing of the past, the COVID-19 pandemic is also a major factor and it may ultimately be that more than anything else that serves to do away with the fan-favorite events. There are a lot of protocols in place and requirements that must be met in order television series to remain in production, especially in Vancouver where most of the Arrowverse shows film. There are quarantines that are required, regular COVID-19 testing, even strict distancing requirements. With all of these additional safety protocols having actors and crew cross between sets would be something of a logistical nightmare. Additionally, some of the distancing requirements would make things a challenge as well, limiting the number of actors who could be in a scene together as well as forcing a scaling down of the action. While some of that could be mitigated with the use of CGI, that's an additional cost on top of the extra costs of the COVID-19 protocols, creating a situation where a true "Arrowverse crossover" may no longer be economically feasible.
"Crisis on Infinite Earths" was a massive undertaking and it gave fans a truly epic and thrilling event that even a year later we're still talking about and enjoying. Given its scope and its impact, along with the subsequent changes to the Arrowverse and DCTV as we know it along with the way entertainment has been dramatically changed due to the pandemic, it may end up being the last of the big crossovers. The Arrowverse and the real world itself has changed and while we're sure to see smaller scale events for our favorite characters and shows in the future, it may just be time to let the concept of the crossover go, a product of a Multiverse that simply no longer exists.
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.