Fan anticipation is running high for Justice League to debut in theaters this November, and every trailer has only increased our excitement for the upcoming superhero adventure. However, the latest trailer has us thinking that some significant changes may be on the horizon for the DC Extended Universe. In fact, the emphasis on the color red has us wondering if Justice League might wind up adapting the legendary DC Comics story known as Crisis on Infinite Earths, effectively rebooting the continuity in the process. Does it sound bonkers? Kind of, but let's dive in and talk this out.
To get a closer look at just how much redder Justice League has become in the months since Joss Whedon took over the project, just take a look at a side-by-side comparison of the same shot below. The one on the left is Wonder Woman taking on Parademons in a version of the trailer that debuted this winter, while the one on the right is the same moment in the most recent trailer.
With that comparison in mind, let's explain why the red skies are so crucial in a DC context. Though an informal term, "red skies" typically imply a major DC crossover event -- with the name originating in the seminal 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline by Marv Wolfman. The basic plot of the story isn't necessarily relevant because Justice League doesn't look remotely close to a straight adaptation of the tale. However, it's the final result of the story that matters: the various Earths of the multiverse converged into one, thus resulting in a massive reboot for the entire DC comic book universe. With the arrival of the red skies perhaps coming to life in Justice League's expensive reshoot phase, it could indicate that Warner Bros. and DC want to use the essential DNA of Crisis on Infinite Earths to cause a massive status quo shift in the DCEU that will ripple through the upcoming solo movies.
Again, we're not saying that we think a full-blown adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths is on the horizon. In the same way that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice borrowed numerous visual cues from stories like The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman (while never really adapting either), so too could Justice League do the same for this iconic story. The Anti-Monitor might not show up, and Barry Allen might not die, but the red skies could still serve as a harbinger for a similar outcome that wipes the slate clean for this cinematic universe.
This idea seems even more plausible when we consider the fact that elements of this story have already popped up in the DCEU. For example, Batman's Knightmare sequence is considered by many fans to be one of the most absurd moments in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, with Barry Allen's arrival through time capping off the scene in spectacular bizarre fashion.
That said, it makes quite a bit more sense if you are familiar with the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline, because something very similar happens in that tale. In Crisis, Barry Allen finds himself jumping around through time, popping up at random moments throughout the DC timeline. If DC has been secretly building towards Crisis on Infinite Earths, then it shows that they had the foresight to include Barry appearing (utterly free from context) as Bruce was preparing for his first battle against the Man of Steel. Zack Snyder has already stated that Flash's Dawn of Justice cameo will pay off in a future film, so he could've easily been referring to Justice League.
Take a look at Crisis' version of Barry's out-of-context arrival to see how it compares to the one seen in Dawn of Justice.
Then there are the little moments -- those visual touchstones that a guy like Zack Snyder always manages to sneak into his movies. In particular, there's one moment from the recent San Diego Comic-Con trailer that shows Barry Allen shattering a glass-like structure with the Speed Force.
While that could just turn out to be a great moment for The Scarlet Speedster, there might be an even more profound connection to the DC lore than we realize. Specifically, shattering moment conjures memories of the moment in Geoff Johns' Infinite Crisis storyline (a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths) in which Superboy Prime shatters a glass-like reality with a punch.
The results of this moment were far-reaching and changed the DC landscape for years. That shatter not only altered the origins of several superheroes, but it also caused the resurrection of Jason Todd from the dead following his death at the hands of The Joker -- an established moment in the DCEU. If DC goes all in on a multiverse-altering reboot, we could see similar watershed DC moments play out on the big screen over the next few years as the consequences of this film become more and more apparent.
Of course, at this stage in the blockbuster hype game, all of this is conjecture. We don't know if a Crisis on Infinite Earths adaptation is coming to the DCEU, and DC could easily save a possible universe reset for the events of The Flash: Flashpoint. That said, there's mounting evidence to suggest that it's a possibility. If it does indeed pan out that way, then we can rest easy knowing that Justice League could become one of the most insane and mind-bending comic book movies ever committed to film.