You can’t have a Crisis without real stakes. The CW set fans into a frenzy with confirmation that next season’s Arrowverse crossover event will tackle the iconic comic storyline "Crisis on Infinite Earths" — and as anyone who has read the comic can attest — the pressure is on to pay it off.
In the comics, the event had wide-reaching consequences across the entire DC universe. It combined a big, messy multiverse; killed Supergirl; and caused Barry Allen’s Flash to disappear and be replaced by Wally West. Just to name a few of the highlights from the fallout. Looking to translate it to the small screen will be tough — heck, making it into a $150 million blockbuster would be tough — but there are ways to rework the story that could make it just as impactful.
First of all, The CW would be hard-pressed to kill off the stars of two of its most successful shows, so it’s unlikely Supergirl and The Flash will end the Crisis dead or (permanently) missing. There’s always the chance they could kill off some supporting players or guest stars (maybe Superman has to permanently pass the mantle to Supergirl?), but something like "Crisis" demands stakes. Impactful stakes. This is something that carries the weight of comic history, not to mention a five-year TV set-up after being teased in the first season of The Flash. If it doesn’t completely reshape the reality of the Arrowverse moving forward, it’s not really a Crisis.
So what could this Crisis do to show it really is a Crisis? It could kill the Green Arrow.
Arrow started a full-on multiverse when it launched seven years ago, with the Batman Begins-y origin gradually spawning a super-powered universe that spans at least four shows and dozens upon dozens of heroes. Closing out the series that started it all would certainly be a fitting way to pay off an event literally years in the making.
Currently in its seventh season, Arrow is still doing fairly well in the ratings (by CW standards) and is working hard to reinvent itself and stay relevant creatively. The show is experimenting with flash-forwards this year, and has kept its cast fresh with new additions over the past few seasons. That said, the story of Oliver Queen is getting a bit long in the tooth — reusing themes and going through a rough patch when it comes to keeping a compelling big bad on the roster. There’s also the logistics of keeping a show on the air beyond what would be (next year) an eighth season to take into account, meaning if Arrow goes beyond 2019, it’d be in its ninth season at that point.
Actors get more expensive as the years go on, and though Arrow is a consistent performer for the network, it now falls well behind The Flash these days. At least on paper, eight years makes for a natural endpoint for any show — especially one as physically demanding as Arrow.
There’s also the fact that The CW is heavily eyeing a potential Batwoman series that could need a spot on the schedule next season. If they keep Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow, Supergirl, and Black Lightning all on the dial (plus Batwoman), the super-shows really would start to fully overtake the line-up. The network has been selective about overloading the schedule with too many super-shows, so it stands to reason green-lighting Batwoman could push things to a tipping point that would require a bit of space to be cleared out on the back end. Arrow would be an obvious target at this level in the game, especially considering Batwoman and Arrow arguably occupy a lot of the same narrative and tonal space, focusing on a non-superpowered hero trying to keep their crime-riddled city safe.
The recent “Elseworlds” event also provided some hints toward a potential end for the Green Arrow. With Flash and Supergirl facing death in an effort to slow time and stop John Deegan from rewriting reality, Oliver seeks out the Monitor and offers to make an off-screen deal to keep them alive — because he knows the looming Crisis will need their leadership, and their heart, for the world to survive. We don’t know what deal Oliver cut to rewrite their fates, but he seems somber yet content about his decision, so he certainly could have traded his own life for theirs — with a bill set to come due in Fall 2019.
Looking to the wider message and story of the Green Arrow, having Oliver sacrifice himself to save all of reality would certainly make for a fitting end to his adventure. He’s grappled with his inner-darkness ever since the day he took up the bow, and he’s made a lot of mistakes along the way that weigh on his soul. Making the ultimate sacrifice would be a brave way to end his story, and using "Crisis" as a frame of reference, there’s no greater stage to have it play out.
What better way to wrap up the biggest event of them all then with a regular man — a hero trying to do what’s right — to be the one to save it all?
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.