If you only casually follow DC’s TV shows and movies, you might be a bit confused at the excitement over, of all things, the punctuation of a TV show’s script, namely the crossover episode between Supergirl and The Flash. Specifically, it says “Worlds Finest” instead of “World’s Finest,” implying that Supergirl and The Flash are in separate realities. But there’s reason for that: DC, it’s heavily implying, might bring in one of its most beloved, and bizarre, concepts.
If you don’t read comics, you might be asking, “What the heck is a ‘multiverse?” The short answer is it’s a solution to a story problem. In 1959, DC revitalized the long-dormant superhero genre by updating an old hero from the ’40s, the Flash. Instead of Jay Garrick, chemist in a goofy hat, he was Barry Allen, modern-day police scientist in a sleek, Jet Age inspired costume.
Yet people still remembered Jay Garrick, and wondered what had happened to him. So, DC created a comic stating Jay Garrick was still alive and well, along with all his pals, they were just on an alternate world. This was the start of a huge number of crossovers between DC’s old superhero team the Justice Society and their modern-day Justice League, and eventually a truly ridiculous number of alternate universes hosting everything from funny animal superheroes to the superheroes from companies DC bought out. It’s also led to some of DC’s best stories, like the groundbreaking Crisis on Infinite Earths, which was subtly referenced in the first episode of The Flash, and Grant Morrison’s string of one-shots from last year The Multiversity.
The DC shows, at least, are already toying with the Multiverse. Currently, the Flash is dealing with various bad guys and alternate versions of people he’s met from Earth 2, including the second season’s worst bad guy, Zoom. The question, of course, is how far they want to take the concept. It’s worth noting that Arrow has already acknowledged that NBC’s short-lived Constantine takes place in the same universe by having Matt Ryan guest star as an old friend of Ollie’s. But by the same token, you’d think Barry and Ollie would have checked out National City by now after hearing reports of a super-strong flying woman. However, Supergirl’s reality isn’t too different from our own, while The Flash‘s Earth 2 has a retro-future feel, with an Art Deco aesthetic.
Also, strangely, Jay Garrick is Barry’s contemporary, while the Legends of Tomorrow will be running into a few of his Golden Age colleagues back during the ’30s.
That raises the question: How far does this multiverse go? Is every DC movie part of the Multiverse? Will we see other DC shows from the past turn up? It’s an open question, but we’ll being finding out March 28, when the crossover happens on Supergirl.