(Part one is here.)
Continuing the run-down of the various easter eggs and references featured in the Crisis on Infinite Earths TV crossover. Part two covers the second chapter, which happens to take place as part of the Batwoman series.
In 1996, Mark Waid, Alex Ross, and Todd Klein teamed up to tell of a possible future that’s become one of the classics of superhero storytelling. On a meta-level, it was, in many ways, a response to what was going on in comics of the 90s—an industry-wide shift into edgier, more violent, and generally more extreme storytelling. The book sees the older heroes (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash among others) having abandoned the field to younger and more popular heroes who sate the public’s appetite for harsh justice, Superman in particular having lost the taste for fighting following the murder of Lois Lane. When Magog, most prominent and powerful of the young superheroes, goes way over the line, it draws the old generation back. Debating their roles in the new world order, Superman and a nearly crippled Batman lead conflicted teams before reconciling. The painted art of Alex Ross is stunning, and the stripped down logo adopted by Superman is iconic.
Brandon Routh, of course, is no stranger to the role, having played Superman in 2006’s Superman Returns. Though he’s played Ray Palmer/The Atom for several seasons of Legends and Arrow, this is his first time returning to the role in a decade and a half. He references his son, Jason, confirming that the Superman he's playing here combines the Returns and Kingdom Come versions.
Kevin Conroy, similarly, is a veteran Batman, having voiced the character for decades, most notably in Batman: The Animated Series (as well as in the Arkham games). He’s quite possibly the definitive Batman, despite having never played him live. Until now. His bat-look here is visually reminiscent of Kingdom Come, and Earth-99 refers to the Batman Beyond animated series, but his character is significantly darker than either of those earlier Bruce Waynes.
Constantine’s first appearance on Arrow and then Legends of Tomorrow a couple of seasons ago might have served as a bit of a test-case for the whole Crisis-on-TV concept. Matt Ryan’s 2014 series was popular with fans (being more faithful to the source material than the Keanu Reeves movie), but didn’t make it past a single 13-episode season. It was also on NBC at a time when a cross-network crossover between unrelated shows seemed inconceivable (Supergirl began on CBS, but came from the same producers and moved over to CW following its first season).
Nevertheless, though John Constantine has been a regular presence on the Legends team for some time now, his appearance in Crisis has a bit of extra resonance given this version of the character’s origins.
Lex Luthor, or at least the primary Lex Luthor of Earth-1, didn’t have a huge role to play in the original Crisis. Alexander Luthor, Jr. (created by Marv Wolfman, George Pérez, and Jerry Ordway specifically for Crisis), however, had a massive role, serving as a main hero of the the story, and then morphing into the antagonist of the 2005 sequel series, Infinite Crisis. The younger Luthor was born on Earth-3, home of the villainous Crime Syndicate of America (who first appeared in 1964). Each member of the Syndicate is an analogue for a member of the Justice League, and the team dominates their Earth with much the same passion and power that the League uses to defend its own world. There's one hero on that wild, mixed-up planet, though: Lex Luthor, who uses his genius to fight for good alongside his wife, Lois Lane-Luthor. As their world is consumed by the anti-matter wave that kicks off the series, he places his infant son in a pod and speeds him off through the multiverse. Alexander Luthor, Jr., artificially aged, becomes a key figure, instrumental in the downfall of the Anti-Monitor. Here, Luthor is just a jerk (so far), but he's been played by Jon Cryer--who also played Lex's totally tubular nephew in the (fairly) maligned Superman IV: The Quest for Peace way back in 1987.
Somebody Save Me
Finally, we visit the world of Smallville, the 10-season-long Tom Welling series. We find him having surrendered his powers and living on the farm with his wife, Lois, and two daughters. Lois is once again played by Erica Durance, who we saw in Crisis, Part 1, playing Kara's mom on Argo. Clark reveals that his Lex Luthor is now President of the United States, something that was foreshadowed in the show and projected to happen in 2018--so we're right on schedule.