CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS is no doubt DC’s live-action counterpart to AVENGERS: ENGAME. Uniting all heroes across the CW’s various shows to stop a universal (or multiversal) threat, the ambition of this project is immense. Sure it lacks Disney money so the budget can never go all out. But in terms of worldbuilding, it’s a far more fantastical setup than anyone could have predicted when ARROW first aired in 2012.

Yet even with all the emotional moments and action sequences, what stands out about CRISIS are its cameos. If the original CRISIS comic sought to simplify DC’s past fifty years of storytelling, the CW did the same for its adaptations. So many film and TV actors signed on to this for mere appearances just to hint how every past incarnation of DC encapsulates a single multiverse. It shows the extent to which this lineage has defined generations of comic book reader’s love for the medium. Not to mention reinforce the stakes of this conflict by literally killing parts of everyone’s childhood.

Now, three-fifths of the way through, it’s time to see how those event cameos turned out. Join me as I list all the standout “who’s who” moments from CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. And don’t worry that at this point the entire multiverse is dead. For all we know, they could easily re-emerge for a final smackdown against the Anti-Monitor.

Honorary CRISIS Mentions: The Opening Earth Victims

Right from Part 1’s opening minutes, we get a taste of how many recognizable faces were consumed by the anti-matter wave. A handful of new faces like the Ray of Earth X and the Titans from DC Universe’s TITANS were amongst those casualties. And Burt Ward of Earth-66 made his brief cameo as an older Robin walking Ace the Bat-Hound. Ward even has a convenient “Holy Red Skies of Death” remark for nostalgia’s sake.

But easily the most high-profile cameo was on Earth-89, where we glimpse Robert Wuhl’s Alexander Knox from Tim Burton’s BATMAN. Although Knox never transitioned into the comics, seeing Wuhl reprise the role, and with Danny Elfman’s score no less, further legitimizes the conflict’s stakes. After all, BATMAN was the first superhero film to be marketed as a blockbuster event, paving the way for legacies set by Christopher Nolan and the MCU. Acknowledging its presence in the larger DC universe- that’s just awesome.

Oh, and Will Wheaton plays a doomsday sign holder on Earth-38, Kara’s home. That’s not exactly a DC reference, unless you count his various voice roles as Aqualad and Ted Kord.

7. Birds Face Extinction CRISIS

BIRDS OF PREY was one of those short-lived superhero shows from the early 2000’s, on CW’s predecessor The WB, no less. It only lasted 13 episodes and didn’t fare quite as well as that other show SMALLVILLE, but clearly CRISIS remembered its existence. At least before erasing the show world from the multiverse.

With less than a minute’s worth of cameo in CRISIS episode 3, the BIRDS OF PREY scene is still pretty cool. Ashley Scott reprises her role as Huntress, i.e. Helena Wayne, the metahuman daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle, who sees the red skies unfold. She tries to communicate with Oracle (Dina Meyer, in a voice cameo) for assistance, but the anti-matter wave envelops her world. Dark.

Admittedly, it would have been cooler if Rachel Skarsten joined the scene as an older Dinah Redmond. Since Skarsten is currently playing Alice on BATWOMAN, it wouldn’t have been that hard to arrange this reunion. Who knows: maybe they’ll be revived for the final fight. It would definitely be weird for Kate Kane though, seeing a hero who resembles her sister and all.

6. Black Lightning is Back

Although Jefferson Pierce’s world was affected by CRISIS in that week’s BLACK LIGHTNING episode, it’s not until the end that more cosmic forces come into play. The episode mainly saw Jennifer witnessing multiple realities of herself (both worst case scenarios), but kept things in the context of the overarching ASA battle. At the end, Jefferson is yanked away from his family before the wave kills them and is given little time to mourn before he gets swept up in CRISIS.

While he’s not on there for long before the Anti-Monitor reveals his backup plan, Jefferson still leaves an impact. There’s a great scene where he and Barry discuss the legacy of their fathers: both good men, both taken far too early by bad men. Yet they both continue to live up to their ideals. It’s the little things in these interactions that make CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS so much fun to watch.

5. Flash Vanishes in CRISIS, and Worlds Collide

The appearance of John Wesley Shipp’s Flash from the 1990 TV show in ELSEWORLDS was epic fan service, but far too short. This time, he gets a much more emotional role to play in CRISIS. Turns out the source of the anti-matter wave was under Team Flash’s nose the whole time- the chamber Nash Wells, now Pariah, opened up via manipulation by the Anti-Monitor. Inside the chamber, they find Earth-90 Flash acting as a speed battery for the anti-matter cannon, which is still annihilating worlds.

However, when Cisco uses his regained Vibe powers to get Earth-90 Flash out of the machine, it triggers the machine’s failsafe. To contain the machine’s energy, Pariah, as a means of atonement, brings in another cameo to join the team: Black Lightning. While he contains the machine’s energy feedback, Barry is given the opportunity to overload the machine with his speed.

You can piece together where this was going for THE FLASH’s storyline. All season long Barry resigned himself to the inevitability of death, that the Flash would sacrifice himself to save the multiverse. Turns out it just had to be a Flash. Earth-90 Flash temporarily steals Barry’s speed to overload the cannon, sacrificing himself in the process.

On one hand, you could argue this is a cop-out for Barry’s arc. I mean his show still had half a season left. But from another point of view, it’s a melancholic conclusion to 90’s Flash’s show, which infamously only lasted one season to (at the time) a really high budget. And mixed with footage from that show, it does feel like a conclusion.

4. Knocking on the Devil’s Door

Ever since John Constantine joined LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, I’ve been dying for a crossover between him and LUCIFER. Constantine is the bane of most of Hell’s existence; Lucifer Morningstar is the actual Devil. They’re morally ambiguous, have expressive sexual tastes, cause a mess wherever they go- it’s perfect. CRISIS finally gave me that crossover.

This cameo is only two minutes long, but it’s more than satisfying. With the multiverse dying, Constantine’s magical options are limited so he seeks out Lucifer’s help entering Purgatory. That’s the path to him, Diggle and Mia finding Oliver’s soul. It’s also hinted that the two have a history together, as Lucifer apparently owes John for helping him with Maze. What that means right now is unknown, but it might lead to a Constantine cameo on LUCIFER Season 5.

Basically it turns out Tom Ellis was lying about just being in Vancouver for a wedding- what a Lucifer thing to do. Now, if there’s any chance to make a demonic spinoff featuring him and Matt Ryan, sign me up!


Now we’re getting to the big ones! Even though Tom Welling was probably reluctant to become Clark Kent again post-SMALLVILLE, I think CRISIS found a decent compromise to bring him back. While searching for the Paragon of Truth, Earth-38 Clark, Lois and Iris West-Allen find SMALLVILLE Clark chopping wood on the Kent farm. Before they can convince him to join their cause, Lex Luthor transports all three away with the Book of Destiny.

Yeah even in the face of the world ending, Lex still feels the need to keep killing every Superman possible. Welling’s Clark makes a fun reference to his universe’s Lex being President before Jon Cryer’s Lex shows up. Unfortunately his big kryptonite plan fails on account of Clark giving up his powers. He and SMALLVILLE Lois (Erica Durance) got married and had two daughters so Clark had no need to keep playing dress up. He’s “still stronger” in terms of punching Lex, though, but the lack of powers kind of took the fun out of revenge.

This scene was short, but satisfying for SMALLVILLE fans. It acknowledges Clark got his happy ending, even if CRISIS means he has little time to hold onto it. He’s got a family and he’s happy now, which is what matters. It’s good at showing the character’s future without having to make any drastic changes.

2. Superman Returns… Again

Everyone was stoked about Brandon Routh donning the red and blue tights again as Kingdom Come Superman. Given how SUPERMAN RETURNS is a continuation of the Christopher Reeves films, one could imply him to be the same Man of Steel from the 2006 pre-DCEU sequel. And since Routh doubles as Ray Palmer on LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, his cameo character is given the most flexible screentime.

Apparently on this world the Joker, after feeling the Daily Planet wasn’t giving him the best press, killed a number of Clark Kent’s friends. Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane… he thought it would be a funny joke. But Clark persevered in spite of such loss that he proved the requirements of a Paragon of Truth. Even Lex using the Book to have him fight Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman wasn’t enough to have him join team CRISIS.

If Warner Bros is still figuring out how to keep Superman “relevant…” just watch SUPERGIRL and Routh’s performance in CRISIS. Not only did Routh not lose his Super-charm after 12 years, but he looks and acts the part beautifully. Just watch his “hope” speech regarding the inclusion of black to the iconic insignia. A big of grey hair along the sides hasn’t dented his belief in humanity’s best.

1. The REALLY Dark Knight

For a generation of DC fans, Kevin Conroy is still the voice of Batman. CRISIS, however, was his first live-action debut as Bruce Wayne, and a much darker version than expected. It’s a shame he only lasted episode 2, though I’m still holding out hope for a second appearance, or even a reoccurring role on BATWOMAN. When Kara and Kate seek out another Paragon, the “Bat of the future,” they travel to Wayne Manor on Earth-99. There they find an aging Bruce Wayne in a full body exoskeleton, years of crimefighting having taken a toll on him.

Or at least that’s what we thought. Turns out this Bruce, while somewhat happy to see Kate, is a bit jaded. Not to mention criminal. Not only did he lose faith in the fight, but Bruce went full Snyder and just straight-up murdered all his enemies. That includes Superman, which he justifies in fear of “a strange being from another world with abilities beyond that of mortal men.” Perhaps the death of his Kate Kane, who for all I know met the Jason Todd fate, pushed him over the edge.

As a continuation of Arrowverse storylines, meeting this Bruce holds up a mirror to Kate’s arc. She’s been low on hope after her attempts to save Alice not only failed, but resulted in more tragedy befalling her family. But this Bruce gave up on hope entirely, even trying to kill Kara with kryptonite rather than desire to be a hero again. Hell, it’s literally his dying words. So seeing Bruce’s fate as a worse-case scenario pushed Kate out of her depressed funk.

Still, what matters is that we got to see Kevin Conroy in live-action. There are few things more awesome than that.