The Pros and Cons of the DC Multiverse

Although some people despise it, I'm a huge fan of DC's multiverse storytelling device. For the uninitiated, the idea is "simple" -- (almost) everything written in the pages of DC Comics is part of its overall continuity because every different version of its characters "exists" on a different Earth. The problem arises when even the multiverse concept cannot fix the unavoidable mistakes and contradictions by various artists and writers that pile up when the company is almost a hundred years old.


The above image by artist Alex Ross perfectly illustrates the multiverse's dramatic storytelling potential and also its overwhelming clutter. The Golden Age Superman from the 1930s and 1940s can appear alongside the Silver Age Superman. All those heroes, villains, and storylines coexisting, while cool to behold, becomes information overload. The classic "Crisis on Infinite Earths" was meant to streamline it all, creating a catastrophic event that would in the end simplify the DC Universe. Of course it was only a temporary solution.  The multiverse idea was too good to abandon as Pre-Crisis elements continued to appear in modern tales.


The CW's hit television series The Flash has embraced the idea of the multiverse.  Like Fringe and other science fiction programs about alternate worlds, the possibilities for fun, mind-bending adventures seem unlimited. The promotional art shown above pays homage to an early cover of The Flash comic, which started the ball rolling for DC's multiverse concept as Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash, teamed up with Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash. I'm excited to see how the TV series handles this.

While this has the risk of becoming a continuity nightmare, it also promises to make the story full of more depth. Could The Flash of 1990 on CBS also exist for Barry to meet someday? (John Wesley Shipp, who played the speedster back then, has a recurring role in the CW show as Henry Allen.) DC Entertainment has cast Ezra Miller to portray the Flash in its current movie series -- maybe we'll see a cameo or reference in the TV show if the cinematic universe co-exists with the TV version, all thanks to the multiverse.

My fanboy wish of course would be to see a multiverse Batman film with every actor who has played the caped crusader in a live-action motion picture (Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, Ben Affleck) appearing together. The multiverse makes this a possibility. Now we just need a talented writer and director to pull it off (and Warner Bros. to have all their agents sign the contracts on the dotted line to make it so.)

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