The Arrow-verse has been building to something unprecedented ever since the "Elseworlds" crossover last December confirmed that The CW would be adapting the legendary DC Comics arc known as "Crisis On Infinite Earths," which is bringing in a whole lot of heroes and superhero alums. All bets seem to be off, and the Arrow-verse is getting battier than ever. Now, an early clip from the Season 8 premiere of Arrow revealed something curious that could point toward an evil Batman in the Arrow-verse.
First, take a look, and then we'll get into the implications:
Longtime Arrow fans will recognize most of this scene as matching the very first scene of Arrow's pilot, and it's not until about 40 seconds into the clip that it becomes clear that this is very much not just all the same footage from 2012. Instead of the Deathstroke mask balanced on an arrow sticking out of the ground, as was in the pilot, there's a Batman cowl. Dun dun dun!
The clip makes it even clearer that this isn't what happened back in Season 1 when Oliver finally pulls down his hood and proves that he's not 2012 Lian Yu Oliver with the crazy hair and beard, but rather 2019 Oliver looking more clean-cut and also a little more gray. Understandably, after everything he's gone through!
So, it's not clear based on just this clip what's going on and why 2019 Oliver is reliving his 2012 race for rescue on Lian Yu, but given that Arrow Season 8 will lead up to "Crisis On Infinite Earths" and Oliver made a deal with The Monitor that will presumably take him throughout the multiverse, it may be a safe bet that this is Earth-1 Oliver on a different Earth. If that's the case, then this is an Earth in which the villain who menaced Lian Yu was not Deathstroke, but rather Batman.
Now, given that there are infinite Earths in the multiverse, this could be a one-off evil Batman, or even a misunderstood Batman. Still, would Arrow have showed the Batman cowl in the place of the Deathstroke mask as just an Easter egg or tease, when it's such a huge deal? Couldn't this be a sign that the Arrow-verse truly does introduce at least one evil Batman by or in the "Crisis" crossover?
The "Crisis On Earth-X" crossover already proved that some of the Arrow-verse's brightest heroes can be evil in different circumstances, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that a Batman could be twisted into a villain. I'm not sure that Arrow would go so far as to make Earth-1 Batman a bad guy, although it would give Batwoman a good excuse not to introduce the Dark Knight.
If this were any other time than the TV season that will feature the "Crisis On Infinite Earths" crossover, I wouldn't really believe that an evil Batman could come to a universe that hasn't even introduced a good Batman in the flesh. Now, as we're less than two months away from "Crisis" kicking off, I think it's more than possible. In fact, I have a theory about how an evil Batman could have a key part to play in "Crisis On Infinite Earths."
Remember when The Flash seemingly revealed Batman's future in the Arrow-verse last season? In a flash to the future, The Flash's Captain Singh named "the Red Death" as one of The Flash's biggest villains, and comic fans recognized the name as referring to the Batman of Earth- -52 who finally snapped after too much loss, crossed some major lines to gain superspeed, and became the villain known as the Red Death.
So, that right there is an evil Batman already named as a future Arrow-verse villain! Of course, the future is often changed when it comes to The Flash, so there are no guarantees, but it's something to go on. But why could a Red Death -- whether from Earth-1 or another Earth in the multiverse -- be a key part of the "Crisis" crossover?
Well, fans of the comic arc know that The Flash perished in the fight to take down The Anti-Monitor, and the Season 6 premiere of The Flash featured The Monitor dropping the bombshell on Barry that "The Flash must die."
The Monitor didn't explicitly say that Barry Allen as The Flash has to die. It's difficult to imagine The Flash killing off Barry Allen or The Flash coming to a surprise ending in the same TV season that features the end of Arrow, so couldn't The Flash substitute Red Death in for Barry Allen as the speedster who dies by the end of the "Crisis" crossover? Admittedly, it's not a perfect theory, as The Monitor did specifically say "The Flash must die," not "A speedster in a red suit must die" regarding Barry's death.
Still, The Monitor is apparently being pretty cagy with what he's communicating to the good guys ahead of the coming Crisis. He hasn't told Barry about Oliver's deal, which was supposed to guarantee Barry and Kara's survival in the Crisis, and he presumably hasn't told Oliver about the bombshell he dropped on Barry. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of the Red Death as taking Barry's place and serving as both an evil Batman and the speedster who needs to die in the Crisis.
I'll freely admit that this isn't a perfect theory. Arguably the biggest question is what could happen that Red Death could be convinced to take the place of The Flash in racing to stop The Anti-Monitor, if we assume it goes down the way it does in the comics. Perhaps an encounter with a living Robin could help him see the light? Burt Ward is appearing in "Crisis On Infinite Earths," and Batwoman did tease the existence of a Robin for the first time on screen in Arrow-verse history in a recent episode.
It's tough to rule anything out at this point. Fortunately, you can catch new episodes in the Arrow-verse in the weeks leading up to "Crisis." Supergirl on Earth-38 has mostly stayed out of the build to "Crisis On Infinite Earths," and Batwoman is busy establishing itself as a new series, but it looks like Arrow and The Flash will have a lot to do with setting up the long-awaited Crisis before it finally kicks off in December.
For now, you can catch new episodes of Arrow on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW, immediately following new episodes of The Flash.