Earlier today, DC announced that the Tim Burton version of Batman and the Richard Donner version of Superman would be coming to comic shops in a pair of titles called Batman '89 and Superman '78. Ever since Batman '66 and Wonder Woman '77, fans have talked about the possibility of bringing back the iconic, big-screen versions of the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel...and the timing here is pretty interesting. Why? Well, because fans now know that Michael Keaton will reprise his role as the 1989 Batman in the upcoming feature film adaptation of DC's The Flash, and apparently in some other films beyond that as well. That raises the obvious question: could Brandon Routh's Superman appear as well?
The last time these worlds were visited was during the 2019/2020 CW TV event "Crisis on Infinite Earths." At the start of the Crisis, audiences saw Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl), who hoped aloud that Batman was there to help with the reddening skies above. Later in the same event, Brandon Routh showed up, playing the role of the Christopher Reeve Superman -- a role he had originated in 2005's Superman Returns before coming to The CW to play Ray Palmer/The Atom.
"Can we? I mean yeah I think that's always a possibility," Routh said recently, when asked whether his Superman might show up in The Flash. "Of course, they're bringing in Michael Keaton, which I'm excited about, and some other people from the past DC projects. I think it's very exciting - it worked really well in 'Crisis On Infinite Earths,' and I was extremely proud and honored to be a part of it and to reprise my Superman. So it's absolutely a possibility - you can do anything! Everybody lives and dies all the time in those things."
"You can do anything" seems to be the ethos animating a lot of DC's live-action work right now. In the past, characters like Deadshot and Amanda Waller had to be killed on Arrow because their then-upcoming appearances in Suicide Squad was a higher priority, and Warner Bros. didn't want brand confusion. But "Crisis" -- and the management change that happened around that time -- seems to have changed the mindset significantly.
There's now definitively a multiverse that stretches across movies, TV, and more. Ezra Miller's Flash appeared in the Arrow hour of "Crisis on Infinite Earths," a move that would have seemed unheard-of not long before, given the aforementioned adjustments the TV shows have been expected to make in order to stay out of the way.
There have been some rumblings and rumors about Routh's Superman showing up in The Flash, although nothing especially credible. Routh himself has really only addressed it with that one comment above that seems like there's no ongoing discussion, but it could happen in theory.2comments
But the twin announcements of these two long-awaited comic series, along with news that The Flash is set to go into production in April, are going to raise some questions among the faithful.